Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Celebrating By The Shore...

I have kept it no secret that I am in love with the ocean.  It has always been the place I run too in times of trouble, where I go to find peace.  The sound of the waves crashing against the shore has always been calming to me.  Paul and I used to go to the beach.  First it was the Jersey shore back in the day, then we graduated to island trips when we were engaged.  He loved the water so much he might as well have been a fish!  I guess being a Pices was close enough.  

After he died I didn't make it back to an ocean for a long time.  And when I finally decided I could let go I went to the ocean  Memorial Day weekend with some friends.  Late that nite I walked down to the shore myself with his wedding ring and tossed it into the sea.  Then I cried. But then I felt a sense of letting go enough to move on.  That was a year before my cancer diagnosis.  

Yesterday was a celebration.  It was my birthday...my 39th!  I never thought I would live to see 32 and here I am at 40's door!  Instead of dreading it I look at it as a celebration of life, my life, the one I thought I would loose 7 years ago.  

My husband surprised me this birthday with a 2 nite stay in a beautiful beach cottage in Newport, RI.  It is my favorite place.  It is where he proposed to me out on the rocky shore at the ocean.  We headed out on Sunday and I was able to wake up on my birthday to the sounds of waves crashing and this time it wasn't just my good 'ol sound machine!  As I glanced out the window I thought about how lucky I was, how lucky I am to be alive.  Although I still am sad about my dad and will be for a while, I was trying to enjoy this moment given to me.  

I thought about how celebrations should happen everyday and not be reserved for the "special days".  Everyday should be special.  I am still working really hard to make that a reality in my life.  Time is so very precious and I have had to learn that lesson way to many times.  

So Lou and I spent the day just sitting on the deck under the umbrella feeling the ocean breeze blow through our hair.  As I looked out to the sea it seemed so endless.  Much like how life is endless with possibilities.  I thought about how I want to focus more on the possibilities of life rather than the losses.  I couldn't help but wonder why that is so hard.  

While we were outside we both were taken aback when we saw an older couple who were in the cottage right next door.  They appeared to be 70-80ish and they too were sitting on the deck just taking in the sights.  The man wrapped his arm around his girl and they put their heads together and smiled.  It was weird because they looked like what Lou and I could be years from now. And I am talking literally here!  As I glanced over at them I felt it was no accident that they were there.  I thought about that possibility.  Growing old with the man I love.  Although it is harder to imagine growing old since having had cancer I was looking forward to the possibility open to me.....to us.  

I thought about all I have lost, how Paul promised me we would be together for 50 years, and now tried to focus on what could be with Lou.....

It was truly a special birthday, spent with the man I love, at a place so very special to me....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I have always believed in life after death.  I really haven't posted about it much if at all and maybe I should.  I am very curious how many of you are fellow believers.  I believe that our loved ones can still communicate with us from the "other side"  as some have coined it.  I have had some experiences like that over the years and most of my life.  

One of the ways I believe the dead communicate with us is through dreams.  Since my dad passed away he no doubt has been on my mind alot.  I  have had dreams of him already.  I have also had many dreams of my husband Paul over the years which I will have to share with you sometime.   I used to keep a little notebook on my endtable and when I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream I would write down what  I could remember right away cause if I left it till the morning I couldn't recall much of it.  I wish I had continued with that over the years.  I have been too inconsistent.  

So the other nite I woke up in the middle of a dream about my dad.  He looked much younger and healthier than last I saw him.  I was the age I am now but he looked about 40ish.  All I can recall was sitting with him at a table, him looking upset and grumbling about something (no surprise with him) and it was known somehow that he had cancer.  This is the only dialogue I can remember...

"Dad, what's the matter?"  I asked

"That disease is so unnecessary."  He replied in a somber tone as he held his head cupped in his hands.

"What?  You mean the cancer?"  inquiring again to figure out what he could mean.

"No.  I mean self hatred."  as he looked at me matter of factly.

And that is when I woke up.  That is all I can remember.  Although it is not much it somehow speaks volumes and sent me a huge message.  I think he was trying to tell me that the time he spent with that "disease"  wasted away much of his life.  Interesting to me he labeled it as such.  I don't think that many people view it that way.  I never did either until I thought about that dream.  It makes sense though doesn't it?  I for one know that I spent way too much time disliking myself and never feeling good enough.  I have spent most of my life that way.  It is only in recent years, since I had cancer that I have learned to love myself.  Unfortunately my dad never experienced that.  And I can't help but wonder why it took cancer to wake me up to what I was doing to myself.

I believe he sent me a pretty big message, one that I can keep with me.  Its amazing to me that I am given the opportunity to learn from him even in death.....

As he watches over me from the "other side"....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Think Before You Pink

Its hard to believe that in a few short months, 3 to be exact, it will be October.  And we all know what that means.  Pink everywhere.  Now, don't get me wrong, pink always was and still is my favorite color, but for the month of October it takes on a different meaning.  It symbolizes breast cancer awareness month.  There will soon be pink ribbons on almost every product in the stores ad nauseam.  

As a breast cancer survivor I don't want to come off as ungrateful or bitchy about the bc awareness campaign.  Its just I can't help but wonder as I do every year if some companies tag themselves with that pink ribbon to increase their sales.  That is why I was glad to find out about a campaign looking out for just that.  Its called Think Before You Pink.  A project of Breast Cancer Action, it was launched in 2002 in response to an increasing concern about the huge number of pink ribbon products and promotions on the market.

This campaign also focuses on what they call "Pink Washers".  These are companies that say they care about breast cancer and promote its awareness but produce products that are linked to disease!  One example is Avon.  This company produces cosmetics with known carcinogens in the ingredients that have been linked to cancer.  This is of special interest to me as I try to avoid using products with bad stuff such as parabens and other chemicals/toxins.  

Be sure to check out this campaign and let me know what you guys think!  Am I the only one suspicious of  all those pink ribbons?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Finding Comfort

I just can't believe it is already one month ago today that my dad passed away.  Time flies by so quickly and yet seems as though  it is standing still.  I have neglected many things in my life lately one being this blog.  I am sorry I have been away so long and I hope to be posting more on a regular basis.  I think it would help me sort things out.  It would give me some comfort.

So if you are wondering what I have been up to over these last few weeks....I wish I could tell you!  That sounds promising now doesn't it!  It really seems to be a blur.  Some days I am ok and then others I am in tears.  I hate feeling like this.  It is all too familiar.  The sadness, the fatigue, the anxiety, the moping around.  And yet I know I have so much to be grateful for.  But my dad is gone and I can't even fathom it yet.  It doesn't feel real yet.  I stupidly thought that because I had already lost a husband, and my grandma that it would prepare me for this loss.  But this time it is a parent, and I feel like part of my history is gone.   My dad was  absent in my life and yet so present in my mind much of the time because our relationship was so dam hard, so dysfunctional.  I spent 7 years on the couch trying to figure it all out, figure him out, figure out why it didn't work.  Why I had to keep him at 10 arm's lengths in order for me to function and have a life.  

I just feel very thankful that my dad and I had that moment on his birthday to let the past go and share a hug and hear him say the words I had missed so much from him my whole life.  My brother said to me recently in an email that "Love is always there no matter how clouded by painful memories, anger, or resentment.  Once the persons gone the stuff that wasn't important fades and what's left is what was real and always there in the first place."

I can't help but wonder though why the unimportant stuff doesn't fade while people are still alive?  Is it because we are all caught up in all the crap of life, the hurts we sustained, and the anger we feel?  I faced this dilemma when my husband was killed, then when I had cancer, and now here it is in my face again.

I have often been asked how I have survived through all that.  How did I get to where I am?  How have I moved past the pain, and fear.   I have to admit, I still feel that sometimes, I think it is only normal to.  But what I have done to help myself get through the bad stuff and still feel present, less fearful is to focus on what I love to do.  First I had to figure that out.  So I started years ago with that one question.  It was then I began to discover what was inside of me.  I focused on my writing, I started to take pictures which lead to a class in photography, and also realized that I liked crafting.  What I came to find was that all of these hobbies kept my mind in the present,  in the moment, until I lost track of the time.  It made me feel good and kept my creative mind from moving toward the fear, toward the negative.  

Something else that helps me is being surrounded by things that are familiar.  Things like routine, home, smells, music and my puppy.  There seems to be comfort in the daily routine, comfort in what we know.  I think it helps to ground us.  And I think the grounding keeps the mind from wandering to all the bad places it seems to like to go....