Up in Smoke…

Tonight I saw a friend in pain. In our profession, you don’t let your guard down in front of anyone.

It was a busy night and luckily, a coworker was close by and came in to help.

We were all running in different directions and I knew my friend had to be experiencing some emotion as to what was going on.

His grandparents former home was burning down. His family no longer owned the property but he had spent many days and nights in that home.

His grandparents have been gone for many years but the residence was still known as their place, for those of us who knew them.

When everything settled down, he and two more guys came into my office; by now the room that was so earlier crowded with people was now empty except for me.

He came in and for a few moments he allowed us to see that there was pain. He talked about his grandparents even telling some amusing tales on himself.

As he spoke, you could see the emotion on his face. He spoke of his grandfather and how his music room was up stairs.

When he talked about the kitchen, I could see it clearly. I have been in the house many times. I could almost see his grandma sitting in her chair in the kitchen, her cup of coffee beside her and a cigarette in her mouth. You see, this is where she held court, where she welcomed visitors into her home.

As he continued, he said well, both my grandparents houses have burned down. My heart broke for him.

The place where so many memories were made is now gone, not once but twice for him.

I live in my grandmother’s house and I have so many memories of her and I, just having real conversations in this house. My cousin lives in my other grandparent’s house.

I can go back anytime and look at the wall where I wrote my ABCs in crayon although they are long gone. I can visit the place where I spent my years before entering kindergarten.

My friend no longer has a place to visit. That went up in smoke. He does however have some great memories of grandparents who loved him so very much.

I hope in my heart of hearts that his healing began in those wee hours of morning, just four friends sitting around, sharing his memories and his pain.


Six Years…

It has been 6 years. 2,190 days, 52,560 hours, 3,153,600 minutes, 189,216,000 seconds. That is how long it has been since my world changed.

I remember walking into my house after he had to leave me. The transition had happened. He was out of pain. I was in pain.

My mom was with me. My best friend was the first one to show up. I sat on the sofa holding my little dog. It was more his dog than mine. They were there all day together while I worked until he went in the nursing home then most of my time was I there.

I sat there as people wandered through my house. I felt nothing. I watched as they carried food into my house and they sat and talked and honestly, I didn’t hear a sound.

As night fell, I began to pray. I was praying to make it through that first night, just one night was all I prayed for. I laid in the bed that we had slept in together and I cried. I laid there for some time. I remember when I woke up and saw the sun, I said I made it through the first time. I was going to be okay.

I couldn’t go back in my house and I walked off 135 pounds just walking to kill time so I didn’t have to go home to an empty house. Just something to do became therapy, which became a habit, which made me feel better mentally, physically and spiritually.

He had made me promise him that I would be alright and on the days and months that followed when I wanted to give up, I reminded myself of that promise.

When it got unbearable, I decided to end my own life. I knew how I was going to do it, I had a plan. Nobody would have thought anything except that I had grieved myself to death.

On the same day I was going to do it, I was sitting in my chair and I got  a response from a post on facebook that said “I feel ya but that first part isn’t right.” I asked the person to explain themselves. The response “I personally think you are hot and gorgeous”. I remember screaming all over the house. A friend of mine thought that I was hot and gorgeous. Me. Nooooo….. but at that point, I had a reason to want to live again. This man was gorgeous. He was sexy as hell and he thought I was hot and gorgeous?!?!?

I had been flattered by men since my husband had died but this one was different. I had sparked to him the first time I had met him. There was something more to him. Something of quality. Something worth me getting to know him better. That was five years ago. We have been through a great deal together. I have fallen in love for the second time after I thought I wanted to die. He became my person. That person I want to share everything (and I do mean everything) with.

If anyone had ever told me that I would fall in love again, I would have slapped them. If they had told me how deeply I would fall in love the second time, I would have laughed. Yet, here I am.

For the second time in my life, I am in love with a good, honorable man. A man who cares for me. A man who treats me with love and respect. A man who treats me an equal, he doesn’t talk down to me because I am a woman.

Does he still think I am hot and gorgeous? I can’t answer that . Only he knows the answer to that. I hope he does. In my mind I wonder. I am not 20 and skinny. I am not a model. He sees his share of those. I am not the kind of woman men trip over themselves to get to know although, sometimes people tell me I get a second look from time to time. It would be nice to hear it from him from time to time,  that he still thought that.

Life has changed for me a great deal in 6 years, 2190 days, 52,560 hours, 3,153,600 minutes, 189,216,000 seconds. At times it seems like a lifetime and at times it seems like it just happened.

I had one love and we honored those vows to the very end.  I have just found a new way of living and a new way of loving. the heart can mend and it can love again if given enough time and patience.


The Coin



I would like to tell you my story. Now, to you I may look like a normal silver dollar and if you found me, you might spend me or you might put me in a treasure chest or a piggy bank. I don’t have a great deal of value on the market but I am more valued than you will ever know.

When I was new, a man gave me to his father in law. I was new and shiny. I was fresh out of the mint. I was brand new. The word liberty was stamped was stamped on the front of me over a picture of President Dwight Eisenhower in profile which was in the middle and my year of birth was along the bottom of the coin. On the left side of the front of the coin were the words ” In God We Trust”

Tattooed on my back was an American Eagle, “The United States of America ” and “One Dollar”. My edges were ridged. I was beautiful.

The father in law thought so much of me, I went every where he went. I went to work with him, when he worked in the field, I was right there. Even when he ate his meals, I was there.  When he slept at night, I was on the chest at the foot of his bed. The next morning we would start all over.

I lived in his pants pocket. I met other coins but the came and they went. I was the only one that stayed. For 23 years I was with him every step he made.

When the man got sick and knew he was going to die, he placed me in the hand of his daughter. Give this to your youngest daughter. She said she would and she  put me away in a safe place.

For another 23 years I stayed locked away. I didn’t see any light. I just laid there, waiting. The other day,  I saw light for the first time in a long time.

Yesterday, the daughter spent the day with her mother. They did a little shopping, took  a nice long drive and went back to the mother’s house.

The mother reached into her pocket and pulled me out. She handed me to her daughter and told her my story.

With tears in her eyes, she (the daughter) ran her finger across my surface and felt how smooth I had become. Some of the letters in Liberty were gone. She had to strain to see the words “In God We Trust”. The eagle was still perceivable. The words on the back, they had all but disappeared. My edge was now smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Here I am old and worn. I have be aged by time and pressure. I am not shiny and new anymore but yet in this woman’s hand, I was treasured. I was LOVED!!!  I am of infinite value and she wouldn’t sell me for a million dollars. You see,  she knows the value of the fact that her grandfather wanted her to have this precious thing.I matter to him and now I matter to her.  He wanted to make sure that I was taken care of after he was gone and now I am on my new home. Tonight, I am  in her pocket as she works. She introduced me to her person today. He held me on his hand, he seems like  a great guy. She is her happiest when she is with him.  She also  showed me to some of her coworkers and they all seemed touched by my story.

When she gets home from work tomorrow morning, she will remove me from her pocket, she will lay me up on the chest at the foot of her bed, just like her grandfather.

My journey begins again, only with a different person to love, just like her.

Maybe that is why she is supposed to have me. She knows what it is like to be loved for a second time. This is going to be another awesome journey. We are both excited to see where it will lead.


I Had To Laugh…

I got to spend the day with my person. We had a great day just roaming around. Just exploring seeing what we could see, sometime riding around in circles. There was  a large amount of laughter.

I work night shift so my mom calls to make sure I am awake for work. She worries that I sleep so soundly that I won’t hear my alarm.

Today she called me as usual. She talked to me for a couple of minutes. She asked me if I was awake. I said yes. She asked me where I was. I told her. She asked me what I was doing. I told her that also. What I didn’t tell her was who I was with. She didn’t ask. I  would of told her had she asked. She knows who I want to spend my time with. Then she asked me about some cake I brought home yesterday.

Suddenly, right in the middle of her rant about me getting the wrong cake,  she said, Oh you are not alone. I’ll let you go. Bye. I tried not to laugh. It was hard to do. It was like she had just walked in on something she shouldn’t have.

Now, I am a middle aged woman and my mother respects the fact that I value the time alone with my person. Just as he respects the time I spend with her. She knows how I feel about him. I think everyone who has seen us knows how I feel about him. I don’t hide it very well.

We are both very private for the most part, I am probably more open with my feelings. I am more vocal about wanting to make memories and how he makes me feel.

You have to remember that 5 years ago the world as I knew it ended and now I know the value of time and not to take even one second for granted.

I would have also never thought there would be a chance in you know where that he would want to share time with me.

I don’t have the best image of myself, although, I will admit I have come a long way. So when we started talking, I couldn’t see him having an interest in me at all. From the moment I met him, I knew he was someone that I wanted in my world.

He is so smart and he has taught me so much. He lets me explore not only the world around me but the world within me as well. He is one of the most amazing people I have every had the pleasure of knowing. I tell him that all the time. I just wish he could see himself through my eyes.

I want to spend every moment I can loving him, being with him, laughing with him.

I come from a place where plan A was to sit on the side of the road and die. To plan B which is to live every moment of my life to the fullest.

After walking through the fog of grief and the oddness of loving someone in a very different way yet just as strongly. I am living my life.

Even if I do get a chuckle out of it from time to time.

The Art of Conversation…

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend. It was the Barbie person in my world. She was going to be near the area and she texted me and wanted to know if we could do lunch.

I had to check my schedule and see if it was doable. It was.

Since I was going to be there anyway, I scheduled a doctors appointment before we met. I hadn’t said anything to anyone but my arm has been going numb so I needed to have that checked out.

I finished in plenty of time before we were supposed to meet, I decided to fulfill some promises I had made to co-workers  from my previous job. You know those, come by and see me, promises.

I wasn’t sure why today, when I went but okay, I do what I feel I am supposed to do.

I went in and was promptly greeted with hugs. I spoke to one lady who is retiring in about a year. She told me of her grand children who live in Florida. You could see the sadness in her eyes when she talked about being away from them.

I spoke to one lady who was having the usual trouble with one of her co-workers. She said I have a question for you. The house? I knew which house she was talking about, “The Queen”. I said it is gone. She said I wondered, I hadn’t seen any photos of it in a while.

She had fallen in love with this old house through the photos I had taken of it. Her reply was well at least you have pictures of it.

I spoke to the dry humor, monotone speaking, member of this group of my friends. She told me that the guy who worked at the comic book store who had led her to think he was interested in her was married with two kids. She told me “For twenty years I have been saying that all the good men are married, gay or dead”. She is still sticking with the plan of paying off her bills and joining a nunnery.

Then I went and had lunch with my friend. We had Thai food, bad Thai food. She talked about how she wanted to finish paying off her student loans so she could stay home. She is living with her boyfriend but still doesn’t have a ring and she is already planning to stay home with the children that aren’t here yet. She talked about how her home had been robbed and her dog had to be put down because he had cancer. She told me that she had been to Switzerland. I told her I traveled about 3 counties over barely being in a different state. We talked about life, jobs, love, all the things you talk about when you haven’t seen someone in a while.

After lunch, I went to see a friend who lost her mom to cancer just 3 weeks ago. She is just getting back to work. She is having to answer the where have you been questions. She answered it three times while I was waiting to speak to her.

She talked to me about how all this was effecting her. I totally get that, each time you are asked where you have been you have to relive it. You know people mean well but it still hurts your heart just as badly.

She said she was glad I stopped by because I had lost someone to cancer and she just needed someone to talk to. I understand that, it is different but the same.

Since I was in the area, there were two more friends I needed to see, so I shoot across the county I was in, taking the scenic route of course.

I walk through the door of  a different location. I slip in and when I am seen, my friend stopped what he is doing and runs to hug me, tells me to sit down and finishes what he was doing. We talk and at one point he looks at me and says I envy you. Me??? You envy me?? Why?? Because you took your chance and you look happy and healthy.

The last person I spoke with was my sister in widowhood. She says she looks to me as her inspiration. Not really sure why I am a mess most of the time.

She talked about taking her first vacation. She talked about how for the first year she was left alone but now people are noticing her and even being so bold as to move to her table when she sits down in a restaurant. She asked me how I deal with such things, I told her that wearing clothes from my new job helped keep creepers away.

She eluded to but didn’t say that she has feelings for a friend and doesn’t know what to do about it. I told her in a round about way that it was fine to love again that the guilt was part of it. I felt guilty when I realized that I had feelings for my person. I got over the guilt. I am still alive, in every way, I AM STILL ALIVE.

She told me that there were days now when she didn’t think his name, that too is okay. It is called moving forward with your life. They are always with you but not at the forefront of your mind. They just kind of hang out.

She told me that there was a photo of a pine cone that I took many years ago, when he say it in my first exhibition, he said it was the perfect photo. She asked if I still had it, she would like to purchase it.

As, I said goodbye to my friends and started the drive home, I thought about all the conversations of the day. Maybe I helped them, maybe I didn’t. I just know that there was a great deal of hurt in these people and they needed a safe place to unburden themselves.  They just wanted to be heard and acknowledged. I know how that feels. Maybe they wanted someone to look them in they eyes and say I care.

And maybe, somewhere, some way, along the way, I made a difference for them.

Maybe, someone does miss me…. after all.

Five Years Later…

It had happened. It was a Tuesday. It was 12:35 pm (yes, I looked at the clock, I need to remember the exact time). Some Disney channel show was playing in the background.

I stood up from the chair where I had pretty much been planted for the previous 2 months.

I went over to the door that had been closed for the past few days because I didn’t want people going up and down the hall peeking in the door to see if he was still there.

I walked up the hall as casually as any other day. I looked at the nurse standing at the nurses station and I calmly said, “He’s Not BREATHING”.  I turned and I walked back to our room.

They rushed past me into the room. There was no reason to hurry, his struggle was over, he was free. They couldn’t touch him anyway, he had a DNR.

I looked at someone in the room and said “Go get Shawn”. Shawn had been his CNA, who became his friend.He had made me promise that when something happened that he could be there.  I wound up holding onto to him because he was crying so hard.

It was silent when it happened. There was not letting of breath, there was no sound. Death eased into the room and ushered the him that I knew, away.

As the staff asked me to step out into the hallway so they could attend to him, I made a call.

“I need you”. “Is he getting worse?”. “I need you now”. “Oh!!! I will be right there.” That was the whole conversation. The person on the other end of the phone was my friend, the local funeral director.

The second call I made was to my mom. She asked me if I was okay. I said yes, what else could I say. I was fine, I was standing in the hall way talking on the phone. My heart had been ripped out and lay in the floor in front of me in shards but I was still standing.

My sister came first. My dad was going to get my mom. It was real, it was happening and it was happening to me. You always think it is someone else, until you are that someone else.

He had battled kidney cancer for 18 months. When I say he battled it, he fought like a trooper, in his words “just to stay with me”.

I stayed until his earthly house left the building  The thing I noticed how quickly he started getting cold. Once his spirit left his body, it happened fast.

I gathered what I would need at that moment and left room 5 for the last time.

As I walked out of the building, I noticed what a beautiful day it was. Sunny with just a breeze stirring.

I walked toward my car and my mom said “Let your daddy drive you home”. I looked at her as straight as I could and said “I Will Drive Myself”.

I drove myself and my mom to my house. I walked in the door and I picked up my little dog and I cried. I was where I would be safe to cry. Nobody was here to see how I would react. I could finally feel.

I went to let all our friends know that it had happened. Not being able to think of anything else to say I simply typed “It is Finished”. Someone had already shared it with the world, I noticed later that the first sharing of the news was not from me, it was from someone else.

The next few days were a blur. I do remember the first person to my house was my best friend and her daughter. I remember our little dog sniffy the shoes of every man who came into the house and walking away because it was not him. I remember how  many people came to pay their respects. I remember my middle great niece straightening his tie during the viewing.

 I tucked him in for the last time as they closed the casket at the funeral home. My friend called me up and said I know you have tucked him in many times. I want you to help me do it one last time.  It was the final thing I could do for him. I did it through tear filled eyes but I am glad now that I did do it.

In that moment chapter 2 of my life began.

Well, here I am five years later. If anyone would have told me what I would have done in the past five years, I would have laughed in their face. All I wanted to do was die. I even had a plan on how it would happen. Luckily, the right person at the right second, said the right thing. It was eight words that changed my life.

I am not going to say it has been easy. It hasn’t.

I went from living with my parents, to living with him, to at the age of 43 living by myself for the first time.

I had to figure out how to navigate the waters again on my own. Without the man, I planned on spending more years with that what I got, beside me.

I learned (and am still learning) who I am and what I want out of my life.

I have fallen in love with an amazing man who understands that that part of my life did happen and I will speak of it from time to time. He has been patient, loving and kind. He makes me laugh. He encourages me to be the best I can be. He is smart, funny, creative and handsome. He allows me to be the incredible mess that I am and still comes back for more. He is one of those once in a lifetime people.

Me, the person whose plan A was to sit on the side of the road and die, am in love.

I have taken on more challenges and made more changes than I ever thought I would or could. I have chased waterfalls and lightening  with camera in hand. I am starting two businesses. I changed careers.

I have amazing people in my life, I would be lost without the friends I have been blessed to have in my life. My best friend has been an anchor calling me every day since that fateful day and I am living my life.

Tonight, I even went out with some of those friends. It was a very enjoyable evening. There was love, laughter and life. It was great.

So tomorrow, I will not be sitting around thinking about the past. I will be celebrating life. I will be thankful that his spirit was freed from a very sick body and he is free from those things which kept him earthbound.

I will wake up tomorrow and be thankful that I have not only gotten to love once but twice in my life. I will spend the day exploring with my new love.

I guess if I could ask  one question, it would be if he is proud of the woman I have grown into. I think I know the answer….he would be and he would be happy that I have lived a life I enjoy and have loved again.

If I could tell him one thing that I want him to know, that would be that the caterpillar finally sees the butterfly that he saw and that I am sorry I didn’t see it before.

 I think he is smiling on me, nah, I know he is.

If You Had Told Me Then…

It is coming up on five years since I started chapter 2 of my life.

Five years, it really doesn’t seem like that long in some ways but in other ways it seems much longer.

I was thinking about a great number of things yesterday. I was thinking about how I had changed over the course of said time.

It started with me thinking about my jewelry business and how I am somewhat overwhelmed at the moment. I have a great deal to do. I am working it down bit by bit but I still feel like I am running behind. I always do though, that is not a new feeling to me. I feel like I am going to be in over my head, that I am going to be either really disappointed in the outcome or that I will be overtaken with the success of it.

I am really not sure how it will turn out. So I did what I always do, I prayed. I tend to worry about things that I have no control over. It does me no good but it gives me something to do. After I finished praying, I decided to take a different approach. I decided to go for a walk. I do that a lot.

As I was walking, I thought about the things that had changed over the past five years.

I never would have thought that I would or could love again. I do love again. Very much I do love. I look at this man who takes my breath away every single time I look at him. When I see him walking my way, I have to remind myself to breathe and I still get butterflies in my stomach upon each thought of him, yet I can’t look him in the eye and tell him.

I want to tell him how I think he is so smart, talented, creative and funny he is but I just stumble and fumble with my words and I am sure  leave him dazzled by my clumsiness.

If only he knew what ran through my mind when I look at him, talk to him, share my life with him….but he doesn’t cause I am stupid and afraid to tell him.

If you had told me that I would walk out of one career and into another at the ripe old age of 47, I would have told you that you are nuts. I was happy in my job until I wasn’t. I was pretty miserable and I thought there was no way out. Little did I know that a door was opening for me that I didn’t even see coming.

It was huge for me to leave a job that had a lot going for it but the negative vibes I got, far out weighed the good I was trying to do. Now, I work with people who accept me as I am, don’t try to change me and accepted me with open arms. It changed my entire outlook on life and I have to laugh that people tell me how much more relaxed I look, in what should be a more stressful job.

If you had told me that I would be pouring out my heart on the web in this blog, and that anyone would read it, I would have given you a hearty laugh. Nothing I could say would matter to anyone, I remember saying that to my person when we were talking about me starting it, yet people in 21 countries have read at least one post in the last 3 years. In that I am humbled.

If you would have told me that I would be starting a business and not just one but two, I would have thought you completely bonkers. I have never been of that mindset, yet here I am.

Five years ago, I thought my life was over. Plan A was to sit on the side of the road and die, luckily with a lot of love and a great deal of support. I am still here, not just surviving anymore, I am thriving.

As I was walking, I thought about the current state of affairs and suddenly it was as if someone said you are in this place at this time for a purpose. You have not been given the talents you have just to sit on them. Spread you wings, trust the wind to carry you where you are supposed to go.

At one point, I realized I was almost dancing as I walked. I felt the worry lift off me and from where I stood, the view was lovely.