Saturday, November 14, 2015

I Saw Kim Again Yesterday

I know that people around the world are grieving every day, just like I am.
For instance, for the last two days, people in Paris and around the world are grieving for those killed in Paris.  Molly Hahn, who does her lovely Buddha Doodles, posted this drawing in love and support of the citizens of Paris:

I could probably post the pic myself, but I don't know the rules, so you can just click it if you want to see it.

Yesterday (a few hours ago), my husband and I went out for my belated birthday dinner (health problems prevented the outing last weekend).  Our waitress was one of the several Kim look-alikes I've seen since my sister's passing three years ago.  It's always hard when that happens.

Now, it's not like any of them really look like her, if you get close enough, but often if there is a woman with short blonde hair and a profile like Kim's, I can for just a second think that I am seeing her.

Our waitress was very nice.  She didn't look at all like Kim when she talked or smiled, but when she was farther away and waiting on other tables and I saw her from the side, or when she was behind the partition arranging things on plates or something and was looking down, I felt like I was looking at Kim.

It just was so strange that on the anniversary of Kim's passing, when I was wearing my "Kim" necklace and thinking about her so much, we had to have this particular waitress.  Maybe it was another sign, maybe it was a test of my strength, maybe it was just a coincidence and means nothing, but still it's always hard to see my sister, when it's not really her.

I'm sure that many of you have experienced something similar.  It sort of takes your breath away or makes your heart skip a beat, doesn't it?

So many people really loved Kim, and her son really needs her, yet she is gone.  Life is often so unfair, and still we are supposed to carry on, be strong, live, and be happy.  I try, I really do.  I know there is a lot to be thankful for, but this loss will forever be difficult, for any of us who loved Kim.

For anyone reading this who has lost anyone very special, I hope that you can breathe, find peace, and feel more joy again.

We Love You, Kim

As I've said before, I don't remember death dates - not for people or cats or anyone else, but I do remember Kim's, because it's her and because it's a week after my birthday.

We lost our sister Kim three years ago.  I can remember it like it was yesterday, but in many ways it feels so, so long ago, because these years have been difficult - missing her.  And even three years later, I still can't totally believe that she is gone.

I love this picture of Kim because it's how I remember her most - laughing like that.  I wish I had more pictures like this.  They are probably on Facebook, but I am not.

I will be wearing this necklace from my best friend Barbara this weekend, in memory of Kim, just like I did on her birthday last month.  It helps me to feel closer to her somehow. 

I can't say it gets any easier, this grieving stuff.  It just gets...different.

All Glitter Graphics Should Look Like This

I was just putting this graphic into an email to someone and decide to blog about one of my many pet peeves - so-called "glitter" graphics that aren't glittery. 
When I search Google images (one of my favorite things to do) for glitter or sparkle graphics for various occasions, I find that about 90% of them are just images that people put white dots on and called them "glitter" or "sparkle" graphics. 
I might not be posting this graphic in the proper way, because the site this was from wanted me to paste in some code, and I don't know how.  I only know how to upload.  So, in case their code provides a link back to their site, to try to make up for not doing it the right way, I'll provide the link (but be careful if you are easily offended, because some naughtier pics were below on that page tonight when I went there).
So, what I'm saying is, the above gorgeous graphic is a glitter graphic, and I wish all of the ones that don't really sparkle but instead have jiggling white dots would stop calling themselves glitter.  Sorry for ranting.
But, man, oh man, isn't this butterfly pretty?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

There's Nothing More Precious Than a Spouse or Partner Who Really Listens

I'm not trying to brag - really, but I do have the best husband in the world.  He not only puts up with my craziness and my problems, but he actually listens to me and cares about me every day.  He continues to love me, despite my many flaws, and he just made my birthday so great, because he has listened to me for years and bothers to remember what I like.

He can list my favorite colors and my favorite flowers.  He once knew, many years ago, when looking at a full-page print ad for a vintage jewelry auction, which one of the pieces of jewelry on the page I liked the best.  I was shocked that he knew it, but he just pays attention, so he knows my taste.  Not that we could buy any, but the fact that he knew what I liked just made me feel so great.

That's why yesterday he just gave me the perfect presents for my birthday.  He always does, and for Christmas, our anniversary, and Valentine's Day, too.  Of course, he writes a beautiful note in my cards, too, and usually he has to say "and I really mean it" after I read it, because I find it hard to believe that such a wonderful man can love dopey old me, after all these years.

He even knew, when I was taking a picture of one wrapped present up close, why I was doing it.  I said, "It's not about the present, but about art."  (I just liked the way they made the design on the wrapping paper.)  He said, "I knew that."  He just "gets" me, and it's a great feeling.

Even though we've always said that one of our songs is "Danny's Song" by Loggins and Messina (just the chorus part - "even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with ya' honey"), he's always managed to spoil me, at least according to my tastes.

So, the first things I opened were the biggest presents, because he knows I like to end on sparkly presents (which are small), so those go last.  Price means nothing, so even a super-cheap, sparkly bracelet makes a better ending (for me) than something expensive (or sentimental either - I mean, I am very sentimental, but for presents I have that sparkly ending that is necessary).

The first present was a Fart Blaster, from the movie Despicable Me.  Of course, that seems like a weird present for an adult woman, but Dean knew I really, really wanted one.  Our nephew has one, and it makes us all laugh.  It makes a nice variety of farting sounds and we like to sneak up behind each other and pull the trigger.  Dean said once that I'm like Ethan's younger sister, even though I'm his aunt.  We laugh at so many goofy things, and he's 8 now, and I'm still like 5 when I'm with him, so he's my big brother, just like Charlie and Lola, which is the next thing I got.

The Charlie and Lola DVDs.  Two seasons of it, at least.  I just like that show so much.  We first saw it when Ethan was watching it a few years ago, and I just love how silly and fun Lola is.  We even named one cat after her.  What's best about the show is that Lola's older brother is just so patient, kind, and caring with her, even when she's a bit (or a lot) annoying or mischievous (so Charlie is like Dean, when he is putting up with me, too).  I love their British accents, too.  It's so cute.

Ethan and our mom (his grandma) used to talk to each other with British accents and call each other Charlie and Lola when he would have sleepovers at her house and they were going to sleep.  I wish I had recordings of that, too, but those don't come on DVDs.  Darn it. 

Then there were the Stargate Atlantis DVDs, that I've wanted for years.  I love that show, except for parts that are too gross, where I look away, but mostly I love the humor in it (especially the Rodney McKay character), just like I love the humor in Stargate SG-1.  These shows can make me laugh, on some episodes, more than most sitcoms do.  But that's just when you know the characters and how they are, like with most shows.

Dean also gave me some bracelets from Michael's (the craft store).  They have had these beautiful crystal bracelets there for the last few years, from around now until around Christmas, and they only cost $4 each.  They are so sparkly and pretty (better than the photo shows), and I love the new ones he finds, and even to get more of the ones I already have (in case some get broken or scratched up).  Of course, Dean knows which ones I already have (he remembers all that - he has a good brain), but he knows I never mind having more, especially when something is so reasonably priced.

Actually, I did tell him to spend much less on me this year for my birthday.  He didn't really listen, and got me all of these nice things, but I told him that he really had better cut down from now on, because we can't afford it.  It's not like these things are super-expensive, for some people who buy "real" jewelry or designer stuff or give each other cars for presents and whatnot, but to me these things are all treasures.

Still, there is more.  Dean got me a Swarovski crystal bracelet and also he made me an amazing necklace (shown above - it's even prettier in person).  The necklace is made from a piece of quartz from the Star Trek warehouse.  Actually, it's a piece of a big chunk of quartz he bought from Paramount or somewhere.  It may have been used in an episode of Star Trek Enterprise, I think he said.  Anyway, Dean made the necklace himself, from that cool piece of quartz.  We both love Star Trek, by the way.  Matching set of geeks, we are.

It's not about the presents, but that my husband listens and cares so much.  He never complains or criticizes me, and just loves me all the time (no matter what).  We both try to be very good to each other all the time and say "thank you" for little things we each do around the house, etc.  It's just so nice and friendly around our house that it would make most people disgusted, maybe (his aunt used to jokingly complain about our sweetness), but it's how we like to be, for many years now.

He just knew so much this year that what I really needed were things that could make me feel happier, make me feel better - things we could watch together, things I could wear, things that would bring me continuing joy.  We've been through a lot, and he got me so many things that would help us to feel happier, like I've been saying that we need to do. 

I know this is probably all too personal, for those of you who don't know me, but I'm just talking about some fun shows that I like and about being grateful for the good in your life.  If you can find all of this in that special person in your life, you are truly blessed, so just realize it and be grateful every day, like I try to be.

I mean, even though we have grief, loss, and pain, if we have someone like this in our lives, we can make it through everything.

I'm also just trying to write about finding ways to have joy when we are grieving from loss (even losses that are several (or more) years ago and still causing us lingering pain).  My husband bought me things that he knew would make me feel happier to watch them, wear them, or play with them (like the Fart Blaster).  We need to find moments of joy and fun, to be able to live with the pain that is also inside of us. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Grief Advice from a Zen Buddhist Nun

My husband recently got me a book by the people who make Prevention magazine.  I think the title is Prevention Happiness Now because that's what the inside page says.  I think he got it at the grocery store.  It says on the front of it "Display until December 19, 2015," so as of this writing, it would probably still be available somewhere.  I tried to find it for sale online, to put up a link, but couldn't find any.
Anyway, it's a pretty good book overall.  I liked a lot of it.  It had one chapter in it that was about a woman who lost the love of her life 14 years ago and then became a Zen Buddhist nun.  Her name is Sister Dang Nghiem, M.D.
Some things she had to say in this chapter were pretty good.  She said:
Breathing heals; time doesn't.
"It's a myth to say that time can heal.  Time cannot heal.  Breathing and mindfulness can.  [Long after a traumatic event happens to you,] a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch can trigger the complete stress response as though it's happening all over again.  What saved me was the mindfulness of breathing.  Sometimes I would lie down to breathe and put my hands on my belly to slow it down and anchor my body.  Through breathing, you learn to slow the stress response, the fight-flight-or-freeze response.  If you can do that when going through a very intense experience, the next time you recall that trauma, you will do so with more peace, mindfulness, and clarity."
You can cultivate joy even when you're hurting.
"It's been 14 years since John died.  I still miss him every day, but I have learned to cultivate joy and peace in each breath, even though I feel that pain.  You have to do them both at the same time.  It's like a garden:  You have to take care of the weeds, but you also have to plant flowers.  If you only weed, you'll be exhausted and lose hope.  And if you plant enough flowers, eventually there will be less room for all the weeds."
You can keep the dead alive.
"When a person dies and you lose all your joy, then it is like you are making sure that person is as dead as possible.  But you can learn to call on the spirit of that person for help and learn to see him or her around you.  When I see a purple flower, I remember that John loved purple flowers, and I smile.  That flower, in that moment, becomes him."
Her words helped me a lot.  I know that I've been guilty of losing most of my joy, since my sister died and we lost other very important people.  But I also have felt that presence of the loved ones and have even asked them for help.  I remember when my husband was having his heart surgery and I was so frightened and I prayed to all of our dear departed loved ones and told them that if they see Dean coming toward them (coming toward the light) to please tell him to go back, come back and fight to stay alive, come back to me because I need him so much.  I don't think he experienced any of that during his surgery, but I had to say it to them, just in case - make him come back to me.
I also have felt the presence of loved ones in ways I've mentioned before - in signs, in inspiration, etc.  I guess I have to work on feeling that even more, and also cultivating more joy in general.  I have been trying, but many days it's very hard, as some of you might really, really understand if you've experienced a major loss (or several, like we have).
I just hope these words (from the book) help you as they are helping me right now.
May love and peace be with you,