Archive for the ‘Tucson’ Category

I am compelled to write today, for I must think out loud…
Hard work is a blessing that I miss very deeply. Has it been 7 years since I lost my job? It is as if it has disappeared, and now is only a faint image on the side of a discarded old milk carton. “Missing: Julie’s job. Last seen in Westlake Village, California. January 2010”.
I long for the old days of the gift of being cursed with the early morning demands and slowing down in my car balancing my coffee cup in one hand, putting on lip gloss with my other hand as the yellow light looks down upon me with a condescending glance as it dares to turn red just above my head, out of reach.
Today, I quietly carry the burden of longing to have the mental and physical strength to work once more.  I dare not say this out loud because what I desire immensely, really, is to hear about a friend’s day at work and I do not want my truth to leave them with odd feelings of discomfort. “What are you doing? Tell me everything”, I say, as if they were on vacation in a beautiful countryside villa. “What was on the agenda? What did you wear? Who did you see? Where did you have lunch? What did you talk about with the other tourists?” Oh, to be a part of that rat race once more.
Not too long ago, I foolishly pushed my body beyond it’s limitations day after day while I ran in this undesirable race that I miss so terribly this morning. I miss it so much that my heart aches. Somehow, I managed to work for 11 additional years with this horrific illness until my body and my mind gave out and my job was taken away from me. (Twice. Two jobs.)
Chronic Lyme Disease and the co-infections are a tricky foe. I try to hang on tight to this horrific unfortunate roller coaster ride. Free falling. Exhausting. Frightening… I did manage to actually give an attempt to socialize a couple days ago at my neighborhood annual street party, but now I must continue to pay the price for using all of my precious energy. I did not pace myself well enough. Perhaps I still need that yellow street signal just above my head to tell me, “Caution – slow down Jules!”…
Today I have made the decision to accept that I am unable to count traffic lights as they turn from yellow to red on my way to work, instead, I choose to count the blessings that I can see from my bedroom window. 3 beautiful quail, a couple humming birds, another bird being outsmarted as it chases a crazy old moth zig-zagging about, white puffy clouds – and the changing shadows on the ground from the morning sunshine… Soon I will step outside just so I can say I got outside today. I know the familiar fragrance of my own back yard will fill my spirit with gratitude.
Perhaps I will call my son just to thank him (once more) for everything he does for me. No fun for my boy to have had a sick mama for half of his life. I find him to be the most compassionate, caring, funny young man that I know. In fact, if he wasn’t my son, I’d want him to be my friend, you know, I mean, if I met him at work, or something. My son and I both have gotten good at counting our own special brand of blessings and knowing just how lucky we truly are…

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I continue to whisper out loud, I am doing the best I can, of course I will be ok and this too shall pass – I know this to be true. However, with that being said, I just had to share my truth for today with you, my universe outside my window.
I do not sleep well, however, last night I slept from 11pm straight through to 11am this morning, until the pains in my body woke me up like an angry old-fashioned alarm clock. Every ounce of my body felt like I had gotten bounced around in a bad car accident, or perhaps I stumbled and fell down a flight of stairs like a lifeless rag doll. This is nothing new and the description of the physical pain isn’t necessarily needed to make my point here… It’s the description of the emotional let down that haunted me since my tear filled eyes opened this morning. As if some kind of a grief for my own body landed heavily on my emotions during my sleep last night. It has not lifted from me for a moment today. A ball and chain wrapped around my emotions along with a king python showing no mercy. An emotional death grip.
Yes, yes, of course I count my blessings. Yes, my faith is strong. Yes, I have everything I need. But all around, every tiny crevice of today, was rough. Every movement of my body. Every thought that passed through my brain. Every beat of my heart. Every blink of my eye. Every moment I kept my focus in front of me. Tying the bow on each shoe lace. The hair touching the back of my neck. The lost voice of encouragement. Today. Today was an enormous insurmountable death defying effort as I gently wrapped my hand around the handle of my great-grandfather’s cane. Please, let’s keep our balance.
My list of things to-do will wait for me. Unanswered Emails will stand by in their inbox. Messages from doctor’s offices on my voicemail will wait. My cat, and my father’s cat, will still nap on the foot of my bed in their perfect harmony. The lizards and Quail will still stop to look in at us through the sliding glass door. The laundry will still patiently wait to be washed. My car will still be there when I feel up to driving it. And the sun will surely rise again tomorrow.
Nonetheless, somehow, without my permission, life is passing by too quickly for me. Like learning how to play double-dutch jump rope for the very first time, I am unable to skillfully jump in and join my friends. And my friends, bless their hearts, they continue to play outside without me – and I get that – it happens. But today I opened my eyes and something had shifted like Andrea’s Fault deep below my surface. Today I do not have the energy to be “happy for them“. Today I had a realization of the soul that I have officially missed the last flight to freedom as I struggle to withstand the force of the exhaust that successfully pushed me to the ground on the filthy burning hot runway in the desert.  
I have a grueling fantasy that maybe, just maybe, they are missing out on what I still possibly may have to offer. They are missing out on the beauty of my humble back yard. They are missing out on the nature that unfolds before my eyes as fall begins to get closer to winter in the desert.
As I continue to remain at rest in my bed, I look out my large south facing window and see the silhouettes of the trees darken on Tucson, as this particular day of important painful spiritual growth comes to an end. I’ve come to know that, “slow is the new fast”. Why not? It could happen. So, I’ve personally granted the body to take all the time it needs to get as well as it can. And that will be enough for me. And in this moment, as I witness the white stars begin to appear outside my window to the universe, I become acutely aware of what a blessing the life is that breathes in and out of my body. I am blessed – and for that – I am enough.

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cactus heartI’ve missed writing immensely. I just have not been up to it. It’s not because I’ve been on vacation. It’s not because I’ve been too busy throwing dinner parties or something. And it sure isn’t because I’ve been out riding my bike. The reason I’ve missed writing immensely is, well, because I’ve missed me immensely. My life as I knew it – as well as the woman who lived it – seem to be long gone. Not just with my chronic health challenges. But at this moment, it is my truth, that as soon as my 85 year old father was diagnosed with his cancer, something shifted within myself as well. The shift happened deep with in my soul. And since I said goodbye to him the morning of February 20th, 2014, my heart has been missing – perhaps misplaced in Tucson somewhere.

What an amazing lesson I’ve learn as my life was turned upside down in a heartbeat – the greed of both of my father’s ex-wifes came gushing towards me.  Now, I’ve seen cheap. And I sure have seen frugal. But, greed? Never have I seen such a sight. It is quite unattractive in a person. I can see now why greed is included as one of The Seven Deadly Sins.

I’ve had to pull the plug on my dark thoughts quite often. And it sure can come out in my writing. Which is bringing me back to the beginning: I’ve missed writing immensely – it is just too dark to share.  And I miss my father so deeply that it’s completely unbearable. How do people do this? I do not know how they have gone before me, but for that I am grateful. Yes, I am grateful for every woman who has shown me that it is possible to continue living with out their father. I am sorry for anyone’s grief who has walked this path before me. For now I understand. For now I know.

It has been too long since I have felt good physically. No one really can actually know the depth of my health challenges – I believe the reason is that it is so personal. And because what I really need in a conversation is hard to come by – don’t give me unsolicited health advise – give me encouragement. And the only person who filled me with encouragement my whole life was my father. He was not perfect. But he never left me. He did not speak negatively of his ex-wife (my mother) when she walked out on us when I was a child – he gave me encouragement as he himself tried to do the things “the mom” is supposed to do.  He did not offer much advise unless I asked – but he sure did give me encouragement! Someone like that is hard to come by. I miss the lost art of encouraging words. I miss my father… I am grateful and honored that I got to be his voice. And I am grateful and honored that I’ve been given the opportunity to be in Tucson.

As for my heart, it is just misplaced, I’m sure I left it here somewhere. Soon, I will hear God’s voice directing me towards it. And just maybe, just perhaps, it will be better than it ever was before…

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IMG03689-20131103Another long challenging day in Tucson, Arizona as we all try to do our best to care for my father.  I’m hoping the explanation to his deep confusion is because of the many weeks of meds and no solid food.  He did not feel this sick when he had the beginning stages of throat cancer. Now he is someone recovering from the damaging effects of chemo and radiation. What are our choices here? My father is 85 years old.  Die because we have cancer?  Or die because we are fighting cancer?  Is it just a different journey with the same end result?  But not being able to eat?!  As for me, if I don’t eat I can not function. . .

I am mindful of my brief but lovely and blessed experience today when I went out side for some fresh air to take a moment.  The air so pure it made me feel lighter.  The clouds were putting on a magnificent show of many colors. With a motion of their own, both my arms stretched to the clouds.  They longed to grab on and be carried away into the cold brisk clean air.  What a freeing moment that would be. . .

Turning around I see the doors of the skilled living facility where my father is literally putting up a wicked fight to get his life back and get back home.  In his rough of a whisper agonizing voice he speaks of his cat.  The cat I am taking care of.  The cat he misses that is inside of the home that he misses. . . Perhaps it was the clouds.  Perhaps it was the wind. Perhaps it was because I felt a little cold. But I knew in that moment that this is not my sadness.  This is not my struggle.  This is not my day to be in a wheelchair fighting to stand up.  All of this belongs to my father.  My father the lifeguard. The swimmer at Michigan State. The original lover of dogs and cats. The Sierra Club leader. The tennis player. The single father during the late 60’s and 70’s.  The guy telling a funny joke at the bar while he sips his beer. The golfer who loves the sport so much that he bought a home in Tucson with a view of a Golf Course.  The guy who keeps trying with all his might to stand up from his wheel chair.  He’s frustrated. Confused.  The caregivers and nurses kindly ask him to “please sit back down”. They have to speak over the loud buzzing of the high-pitched bells.  And all I am is the daughter who gets the honor of standing by his side and holding his frail arm and says, “I’m right here Dad, you stand untill you want to sit back down.” It was for quite a few more seconds, but he did it. I kneeled next to him looked up and I told him my truth, “Dad, I admire you.”  And it was good. It was simple. It was empowering.

Tomorrow I get to do it all over again – except tomorrow – I’m going to bring his cat with me.  Let’s change-up this journey a bit. . .

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