Hear This…

 

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Hear me when I say that your unhappiness is not my problem. Hear me when I tell you that as hard as you try to bring me down, I won’t fall. Hear me when I say that you can scratch and claw at me all you want but, you will never hurt me. Hear this loud and clear and once and for all, I will not join your unyeilding pity party. I would rather stand on my own in the sun than be in the company of your constant misery.

Hear me when I say that my struggles with sarcoidosis are real. I wrestle with the same hardships of living with chronic illness as you do. I just refuse to wallow in it. Hear me when I tell you that my happiness isn’t about you. If you are offended by my happiness that only means you’re jealous of my serenity and that ain’t my problem. Hear me when I say that your judgement of my decision to live a joyful life despite my illness, says more about you than it does about me. Your spite makes you sicker but it doesn’t do a thing to me.

Hear me when I tell you that I’ve become immune to your constant criticism of my continued enthusiasm to live a peaceful life. If you don’t want to see what is still good in your life because you got sick, go do it somewhere else. I can’t afford to expend what precious little energy I have on your relentless negativity. Hear me when I say no one with this disease has it easy and hear me when I say that it’s not a competition.

Hear me when I say that it’s not always easy to choose happiness but it’s still a choice. Hear me when I say that there is a difference between grieving the losses of life with a chronic illness and reveling in suffering and anguish. Hear me when I say that I understand all too well the pain, both physical and emotional, that chronic disease heaps upon us because I feel it. I feel it one way or another every day. Hear me though, when I tell you that despite this pain, I make a choice every day to look beyond this darkness and seek the light.

Hear me when I say that my gratitude for my life, no matter what befalls me, is how I cope. If you want to linger in your despondency be my guest but, I will not join you there no matter how hard you pull at me. If that’s the place you feel most comfortable then by all means stay there in that place but, stop trying to take me there with you. Hear me when I say that I won’t go.

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The Sarcoidosis Promise

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I promise to rise each day and fight for a life…my life! 

I promise to take care of my mind, my body…my soul.  

I promise to eat a healthy diet.

I promise to get regular exercise. 

I promise to rest when I need it. 

I promise to push when I can.

I promise to be grateful. 

I promise not to cry too much.

I promise to be there for others in need who suffer as I do.

I promise to be voice for the voiceless. 

I promise not to be defined by my disease. 

I promise to seek joy.

I promise to march through pain.

I promise to believe in the power of hope.

I promise not to judge what I don’t know. 

I promise to look my best.

I promise to raise awareness about sarcoidosis.

I promise to advocate for myself when doctors try to belittle us. 

I promise to continue to seek adventure.

I promise to appreciate my loved ones…to thank them every day. 

I promise to remove negativity and unnecessary stress from my life.

I promise to cling to faith that something better waits for us. 

I promise to make love a priority in all my actions. 

I promise to be an agent of peace.

I promise not the hang on to anger. 

I promise to let go of what is out of my control. 

I promise to remember that life is short…too precious to be squandered. 

I promise to hug my dog every day. 

I promise not to give up. 

 

A Question Of Transcendency

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Here’s what I don’t know. I don’t know if we assign meaning to the random out of sorrow when we are longing for those we lost or, if there is something truly transcendent that happens when we need it to. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the only thing that does matter is that these otherworldly events bring us comfort when our hearts are heavy, that they make us feel connected to who we lost and what we miss.

I’m in the mist of grief right now. The loss of my Zoey, my precious 14 year old Old English Sheepdog, to sudden death has rocked my world. Some have said that I will feel her presence around me if I am open to it. I’ve suffered profound loss in my life before and I admit, this has not generally been my experience so, to hear this yet again makes me skeptical. That being said, I’ve had two moments since Zoey’s passing that have given me cause to be more open minded.

The other night, I was walking my other Old English Sheepdog Abby. An evening walk was something Zoey, Abby and I did every night together before bed. It was never a long walk, just enough for them to do their business and get a little fresh air before bed. This particular night, was the first time I took Abby alone. I knew it would cut through me and it did. I felt Zoey’s absence intensely, just seeing the bush she usually stopped to sniff every night brought tears to my eyes but, in my desire to keep things as normal as I can for Abby, I swallowed my sadness and we slogged along, a knot in my throat.

Then, I looked up. The sky was full of clouds blurring even the half moon but there was one star that shone brightly. It danced and twinkled in the mist of the dark night sky and as I watched it, a feeling came over me like no other. I felt enveloped by warmth and for the first time in the past two weeks since Zoey’s passing, I felt calm. I didn’t want to cry anymore, at least for that moment and, I knew that star was Zoey. I felt that it was her letting me know that she would always watch over me.

Today, I spent most of the day feeling very numb. I thought I was done weeping, that there was no more use for tears. Crying was feeling like a pointless undertaking, like there was no more cathartic value in it. I don’t want to be numb but when the tears don’t come, they don’t come and you can’t force them. I also don’t want to be crying all the time. I can’t really have what I want, which is Zoey back at my feet, by my side or playing with her sister. So, I spent most of the day going through the motions, functioning but not really present. I even attempted to go to the grocery store but on the way, I turned on the radio and the song, “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston came on. It’s a song I have not heard for years.

The song begins like this…”If I should stay, I would only be in your way. So I’ll go but I know I’ll think of you every step of the way. And I… will always love you…” I burst into tears. I immediately thought of Zoey. I thought of Zoey being old and deciding it was her time to go, that she felt she was in the way long enough, that she didn’t want to be a burden anymore, not that she was but she always thought of me first. I know she did. She only wanted my happiness. Her love was completely unconditional. I think she knew my greatest fear for her was that she’d lose her independence. So, she did the last loving thing she could do for me and died quickly, without ever losing her dignity.

The song goes on…”I hope life treats you kind. And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of.  And I wish you joy and happiness. But above all this I wish you love.”  The tears continued to pour down my face. I had to pull the car over. I wasn’t numb anymore. I was a puddle but, again I felt this incredible feeling of Zoey’s spirit. I felt like she wanted to tell me one last time so that I would have no doubt, just how much she loved me because she really loved me. As I did her. This was not nearly the comforting moment I felt looking at that twinkling star in the sky the night before but, it was poignant and profound and somehow made me feel yet again, that perhaps there is something to being open to allowing the spirit of those we love to surround us in our sorrow, that maybe it’s a good thing to be open to idea our love transcends all earthly understanding. Love is in fact forever and it will find its way to us after death, if we allow it to.

The Truth About Grief

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It is universal…

It is lonely…

It does not end…

It changes over time…

It makes other people uncomfortable…

It resurfaces with every new loss…

It is individual…

It cannot be avoided…

It has no timeframe…

It strikes without mercy…

It is as natural as breathing…

It is part of life…

It is inconvenient…

It both clouds and clarifies our thinking…

It should be felt without guilt…

It means we loved deeply…

The Hardest Part Of Love

ZOEY ISABELLA – RIP – 11/6/02 to 12/22/16

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(Preamble: Anyone who knows me or anyone who follows my blog, knows that my dogs are my world. On Thursday December 22nd, I lost my beautiful 14 year old Zoey to a sudden unexpected neurological event. Life is a funny thing…so out of our control. I am sure my blog will be filled with stories about her over the coming months…the things she taught and the joy she brought me. For now though…I grieve. Please bear with me.)

What can be said about grief that hasn’t already been said? That it is the last expression of love we have to give? Or that it is the end of one thing and the beginning of another? In time our memories keep love alive? These are not new ideas. There is nothing new that can be said about grief because grief is universal, an inescapable part of life. We all experience it throughout our lives in a myriad of ways and for countless reasons. Grief is ubiquitous. It is an ever present part of being alive. It is the ultimate consequence for loving unreservedly and is it relentless and unceasing. We learn to make it quiet, to put in the background after a time. It stays with us always though, because grief is the very last part of love. It is the hardest part of love. It is all we have left of what we have lost.

Grief is cumulative. The more we live and the more we are open to love, the more grief invades us, often in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times. Grief plies up and with every new loss, old wounds re-emerge, forcing us to ache all over again, again and again. Grief has its own schedule. We are at its mercy and its mercy is not tender or kind. Grief is the hardest work there is to be done when it comes to the truest of love. If we fail to feel it, to acknowledge its power and purpose, to do what it required of us, we stay stuck in darkness and sorrow.

In the midst of grief it is hard to understand that the pain is meant to bring us to a new understanding of life, that on the other side of grieving there is gratitude. There is peace in the knowledge that grief means we accepted the full value and benefit of real intimacy into our lives. In a weird way, our lives are made richer in grief because it means we made a conscious decision to accept that with our deepest affection comes our greatest sorrows and that we were brave enough to take a chance on love despite the ever present risk of misery and heartache that grief makes known to us at the end of life.

There are no right or wrong ways to grieve. It is as individual as the love we lose to it and just as the love we lost, grief is eternal. It does not really ease with time, it simply changes with it. Every event that stirs grief up in our lives is different. Each situation that creates grief is unique but, the one true thing about grief is that it is essential to our understanding of life. Without grief we cannot know the complete and abiding joy of love and we won’t experience the pure beauty of our purpose. It really is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Life without grief is no life at all.

Sarcoidosis Is Not A Victimless Crime

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I’m a crime victim.

I’ve been robbed. Sarcoidosis has robbed me of my career, my confidence, my brain power and my physical strength. It has stolen my air and without my permission, it has attempted to take my passion for life.

I’ve been beaten. Sarcoidosis has tackled and battered my drive and it has pummeled my will. It has whacked at my dreams and it has thrashed my creativity. It has pounded my relationships.

I’ve been stabbed. Sarcoidosis has punctured my body with vague unrelenting pain. It has skewered my energy and gored my aspirations. It has jabbed at my peace and lunged at my serenity.

I’m a crime victim.

My attacker is my disease.

Sarcoidosis is not a victimless crime. Its destructive reach goes well beyond my body. It impacts every area of my life. Like all violent crimes, it has a ripple effect. It has isolated me from my former self forever.

Precious Lovely Cherished Facts

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Facts, facts, facts…trustworthy, inconvenient, dependable facts…Oh, how we’ve broken you…Facts, oh facts…Isolated and alone…Facts, you make us too uncomfortable to care about truth.

Facts, oh facts…Once grounded in reality…You’ve been abused too long, tortured and tormented by ideology, the internet and 24 hour news…Facts, facts, facts…Once so reliable, so steadfast and true…It’s not your fault you’ve been abandoned for lies.

Facts, facts, facts…Where have you gone? Facts, oh beloved facts…What we have done to you…Twisted and turned, manipulated and impeached…Facts precious facts…How you’ve been lost…Surrendered to falsehoods and fakery.

Facts lovely facts…Some of us miss you. Facts, facts, facts…Precious, unblemished, truth telling facts…You’ve run away from our flights of fancy…You’ve taken our sanity, our reason and our dignity.

Facts, facts, facts….We ruined you. We took you for granted. We disregarded your importance. Facts, oh cherished facts…How we did you harm. Facts, facts, facts…The precious lifeblood of honesty and integrity…Some of still need you, dear facts….Please come home.