Tag Archive | grief

my balanced life (me and lot’s wife)


I am Lot’s wife.

Frozen in place.  A pillar of salt.

Eye on the past, no thought for the future.

Carrie and Regina Mae

I haven’t written a word since my last post on my beautiful friend, Carrie.  Afraid to write, afraid to think or feel.

Afraid to lose my friend.

Not the kind of loss that can be overcome by a long talk and a foot soak over a favorite pastry from The Corner Perk.

My sweet friend who taught me how to listen to my body.  How to walk into a room full of stretchy-bendy yoginis and just do my best.  Not compare myself to their best.

My sweet friend who taught me how to recognize peace.  How to walk away from the toxicity in my life.

My friend who taught me as much about bravery as any sheepdog I know.

I keep looking back to when the studio was open.  My safe haven from the ugliness and pain in my life.

Always looking back.  Frozen in place, my own little pillar of salt.

After spending the evening with her, I realize the fear is mine.  The despair is ours.  She’s made her peace and is ready to move on.  It’s those of us who will be left behind who struggle and despair.

Holding my breath, holding my words, won’t change the outcome.

Maybe breathing again, sharing my pain, will provide the salve my soul needs to keep going forward.

Maybe sitting next to her, absorbing her peace, will crack away at my pillar of salt.  Allow me to break free and face forward again.

Carrie

I love you, my friend.

I’ll miss you.  Always.

Sweet dreams.

See you on the other side.

my balanced life (or my broken heart beats)


 

I’ve never understood how a heart can be broken and still keep beating.  And yet, here I sit once again, heart broken and still beating.

Carrie and Herman Wandall

Checking Facebook is mindless and automatic.   Glancing past the inanities of our every day life as a way to pass the time, fill an overactive mind always seeking new information.

Sometimes buried in the food porn and relationship updates, I stumble across life-changing, heart-breaking news.

Hello Family and Dear friends,

Our dear Carrie will not be with us as long as we would like. Please send your love, visit, call, send a note or what ever way you would like to show Carrie your Love. Thank you all again for all that you have done for Carrie and I. We are both eternally grateful for all your love and support. Love to all Herman and Carrie

Herman and Carrie, who personify Sufi poet Hafiz’s “A Love Like That”.  Carrie, who has fought so valiantly to beat ovarian cancer.  Carrie, who will not be with us as long as we would like.

Carrie standing in the surf

Last time my heart was broken, Carrie healed me. Saved me, really. I wish there were a way to return the gift she gave me.

Heal her, save her, the way she did for me.

I have a hard time imagining my world without Carrie.  Without yoga classes and healing Reiki sessions.  My world is different, I am different, for having met her, for having spent hours in her yoga studio.

Carrie’s love, her legacy, will live on. The lives she touched will touch others, passing on her legacy to all we touch.

Carrie had a way of blanketing people in love and peace.  In my darkest, most painfully heart-broken days, I knew if I could just make it to her yoga studio, I’d be okay.  I’d survive another hour, another day.  Even when I was too beaten to do anything but child’s pose, life was better if I could just get there.

Now it’s our turn to send a blanket of love and peace to cover Carrie as she finishes her journey on earth.

Our turn to cover Herman with a blanket of love and peace as he says goodbye to his love.

Heart broken but still beating.

my balanced life (or my frozen lungs)


Grandma and Grandpa Banis on their Hawaiian vacation

Grandma and Grandpa in Hawaii

My chest feels like someone has been beating on it with a ball peen hammer.  Like someone is trying to get in.  Or get out.

Bang.  Bang.  Bang. 

 

Each deep breath is punctuated by face-reddening, uncontrollable coughing.

Hack. Hack. Hack.

 

I am sick.

Bronchitis, I think.  The good doctor who loaded me up with steroids, cough syrup with codeine and antibiotics didn’t say, specifically.  But he talked about reducing swelling in my lungs.  Sounds like bronchitis to me.

Ancient Chinese Medicine teaches that each major organ in your body relates to an emotion.  The lungs represent grief.

As I lay in bed, feeling the effects of the ever-present tapping on my breastplate, I wonder which grief has frozen my lungs.

The death of a marriage.

The disappointment of a lying boyfriend.

The literal death of my grandmother.  My last living grandparent.

Grandma Banis stood next to me that summer day I pulled in more than my share of fish.  She loved telling the story over the years, imitating my girlish delight with each caught-fish. Wheeee!”

She taught me to sew, a meticulous taskmaster who still managed to make it fun.  I remember scouring through patterns and fabrics with her for hours.  Picking blouse and skirt patterns that would be easy enough.  Choosing different fabrics so that once I had a pattern set to my measurements, I could make it over and over.

I remember my first lesson on zippers.  I think I ripped it out six times, because as Grandma said, “We don’t do no half-ass work around here, Gina.”

After that first lesson, I never ripped out another zipper.  I wish all of my life-lessons were as effective as her lesson on zippers.

Grandma’s passing wasn’t a surprise.  Over three years in a nursing home left her a shell of her former sassy self.  I don’t like to remember her like that, and hate some of the pictures posted of her with her face sunken because the nursing home lost her teeth.  I prefer remembering her with her hair just so, make-up carefully applied, smart pantsuits (that she most likely whipped up on her trusty sewing machine.)

A widow-woman for the last ten years or so, as far as I know she never dated or even entertained the notion of being involved with another man.  I think she was content to wait to reunite with Grandpa Banis.

And now she has.

Good-bye, Grandma.

adventures in dating (or there is none like you)


I struggle with the desire to find the perfect mate.  The perfect person to understand me, touch me, love me.

Dance with God and He will let the perfect man cut in.

A soul mate, if you will.  The one.

That perfect person to be by my side, through life’s ups and downs.

This is a struggle I share with many of my single friends.

As I was getting ready for church last Sunday morning, I turned Pandora on to the Praise and Worship Radio.  Before the music started playing, a song popped into my head.

“There is none like you.  No one else can touch my heart like you do.  I could search for all eternity Lord, and find there is none like you.”

A scant second later, Michael W. Smith sang the echoing refrain to my heart’s song.

“There is none like you.  No one else can touch my heart like you do.  I could search for all eternity Lord, and find there is none like you.”

They say the Holy Spirit speaks to you if you’re listening.  I haven’t had many of those moments in my life.  As soon as I heard those words surrounding me in perfect harmony, I felt God’s presence, heard God’s message.

I can search for all eternity, and there’s only one man who can touch my heart the way I need it to be touched.

Only one man who understands me.

Loves me unconditionally.

I stood in my shower that morning and sobbed.  Tears of grief for all the years I tried to make my husband that soul mate.  Tears of frustration for all the men I’ve cried for because they weren’t who I needed or wanted.

Sobbed with the realization that God is my soul mate.  Or at least, He wants to be.  If I’ll only let him.

Question:  Has God ever spoken to you?  How did His words come through to your heart?

adventures in dating (or miss independence)



lit sparklers

Three years ago this month I leapt madly toward independence.  It was like jumping out of a tenth floor window of a burning building.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if there is something waiting to break your fall.  Where you are is so bad, you have to take that leap of faith.

Asking for a divorce was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  I tortured myself with self-doubt.  What if I was wrong?  What if he was right, and we were supposed to stay together?  What if the separation destroyed our kids?

What if I went through all the pain of the separation and then ended up with someone else exactly like the one I left?

What if I ended up ALONE?  I couldn’t imagine a fate worse than being alone.

I found a dead Monarch butterfly on my back patio around that time.  I saved it, wrapped in tissue in a Premier Jewelry box.  Whenever I was tempted to call my ex, I’d pull the box out.  I’d remind myself that if I stayed in my marriage, my soul would be as dead as that little butterfly.

Three years later, I look back on the woman I was like she’s a character in a book I read. Her grief is a distant memory, more like something I’ve watched on TV than lived firsthand.

Her anger and bitterness a distasteful chapter in a book I never want to read again.

power to choose

I’m thankful for my beautiful children, who worried about me and took care of me as much as I took care of them.  We grieved together.  For a family lost.  A husband and father absent.  For what could have been.  And never was.

As I write these words, tears pour down my cheeks.  A reminder that maybe the pain isn’t as distant as I thought.

I’m thankful for my friends who remind me of Jeremiah 40:31.  But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

My friends stood next to me.  They soared with me when I could.  They ran with me when I couldn’t.  They walked with me when that’s all I had left.

A couple of times in the last few months, I’ve thought to myself, I love being single.  Or, I like being single more than I ever liked being married.  It’s taken most of the three years to get to this point.

Being alone doesn’t scare me anymore.  I know there will always be people in my life.  Family to love.  Friends to lean on.  Boys to play with.

It takes time to get to this place.  And it’s a good place.

Maybe it’s because I’m in this place that Nature Boy finally found me.

Nature Boy is my biggest surprise.  He drifts in and out of my life like an unanchored boat.  When he’s around, he brings peace and stillness.  He soothes my soul.  As I soothe his.

Five years before I met him, I pointed out his sailboat to my photographer sister.  She snapped the pic and it’s been hanging in my office ever since.  From my desk, if I look left, there’s a picture of Sweetness.  If I look right, there’s a picture of Nature Boy’s sailboat.

Serendipity?  Fate?  Whatever brought Nature Boy to me now, I’m in a good place to enjoy it.  Enjoy him.

Question:  Have you declared your independence yet?  Or are you happily dependent?

where the light enters you


“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Rumi

I’ve accumulated my share of wounds.  I keep them safely hidden away from prying eyes.  Wounds of past loves, past regrets.  More often regrets of things not said or done than of things said or done.

swiss cheese

I’ve loved two men in my life.  The first love left me with as many wounds as Swiss cheese has holes.  If it’s true wounds are where the Light enters you, then Light illuminates me like a lighthouse.

lighthouse beacon

After that first love, I worried I’d never love again. But life keeps sending me people to love. Two children of my womb.  Many children of my heart, whom I call my bonus children.  One beautiful bonus granddaughter, and now another on the way.  Parents.  Siblings.  Nephews and sweet little nieces.

I know women who always have a man to love. As soon as one leaves, another replaces him.  That’s never been me. Men don’t gravitate to me that way.

I attract children. Children who need to be loved unconditionally.

Unconditional love is what I offer to everyone who enters my heart.  Children who need love seem to naturally gravitate to me.  They instinctively know I love them just as they are.  I fuss at them if they do things wrong. I listen when they want to talk. I feed them when they let me.  And I love them all.  Just as they are.

Maybe that unconditional love is what keeps men away.  Maybe it’s too hard for them to believe that I will love and accept them just as they are.

Maybe the Light from my wounds attracts those who need Light the most.

I used to worry I wouldn’t have anyone to love me. I’d never find a man to love me the way I want to be loved.  Someone to be a safe haven for me.

I don’t worry about love anymore.  As long as my heart is open, I will find people to love.  People who will love me.  My children and family.  My bonus children who call me Miss Regina or Mama.  My friends who would do anything for me.

I was overwhelmed by the darkness once. Love pulled me out.  Maybe my wounds illuminate me so that I can pull others out of the darkness and into love.

i found my voice. are you willing to share yours?


Everyone experiences life in a way that makes us feel unique.  We are sure our hardships are harder, our joys more joyous, our pain more painful, than anyone else.  We are so embarrassed by our mistakes (or more often it seems, the mistakes of our partners), that we don’t talk about it.  Don’t share it with anyone else. We silence our voice.

We don’t realize our hardships prepare us to comfort others who are going through similar trials.

I have a friend who is the epitome of Sorority Girl.  She’s beautiful, talented and popular.  To the outside world, it looks like she has the perfect life.

subcutaneous abdomen injection for infertility treatment

I remember the day she confided in me that she and her husband were going through infertility treatment.  Hormone shots, acupuncture, meditation.  Miscarriages, failed treatments.

For women who get pregnant easily, her story is inconceivable.  Her confidences came after I shared my own infertility issues.  It took several years to conceive Sweetness.  I was in law school at the time, and the stress of infertility tests combined with law school exams was more than I could take.

I’m one of the lucky ones.  Sweetness came along in her own good time, and she’s been moving along on her own sweet time ever since.

My friend and her husband eventually conceived as well.  They have a beautiful little boy now.

young woman suffering from postpartum depression

After his birth, my friend endured the worst case of postpartum depression (PPD) I’ve ever seen.  She bravely chose to seek treatment.  She left her husband and the son she’d waited for, wanted, dreamt of for so long, because she knew she couldn’t stay and get well.

Thanks to successful treatment and doctors who got it, thanks to her braveness in standing up and admitting she had a problem and needed treatment, she saved herself.

As quiet as she was about infertility, she now proudly uses her voice to reach out to other women suffering from PPD.

Everyone has a story.  As much as we want to think we are unique, we really aren’t.

While we are going through hardship and misery, we don’t have the energy or desire to seek out someone to help us.

After we’re through the storm, we have a choice.  Keep silent.  Or use our voice to help someone else.

What’s your story?  If you’re like most of us, you have many stories to share.  Each story represents someone you can help.  Because you survived.  You’re on the other side.

lighthouse beacon shining in the distance

The question is:  Are you brave enough to share it?  Will you use your story to help someone else?  Will you stand tall and be a beacon, a bright light in the darkness, to lead others through the rocky waters of life?

If you are brave enough to share your story, you will always find someone who needs to hear it.  Your story may not resonate with everyone, but it will resonate with someone.

Whether your story reaches the masses, or just one or two people, you will make a difference in someone’s life.  But only if you are brave enough to let your voice be heard.

This blog is my voice.  It tells my story of forgiveness, my search for balance.  It shares my struggle with heartache and my search for a new soulmate.  I hope I tell it with grace and humor.  I hope my healing brings comfort to someone else.

Question:  Are you willing to use your voice to comfort someone else? Have you been comforted by someone else who is willing to share their story?