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Monthly Archives: March 2008

My friend Linda, wrote a poignant post in her blog recently about shoes. She mentioned that she had saved a pair of her son’s shoes. (Her 20, (almost 21) year old son, was found floating in a river, not quite a year ago.) It’s still a mystery…

It got me thinking about shoes. I talked about shoes at my step-dad’s funeral. When I met him at the age of 7, he was the biggest man (6’4″) that I had ever seen, and he wore a size 13 shoe. That fact never left my mind. (No one else will ever be able to fill his shoes.)

Shoes are a very personal part of a person’s wardrobe. They are worn daily or very often, unlike most apparel. Somehow they develop a character of their own, that is a reflection of the person that wears them.

Whether they are boots, loafers, sneakers, or high heels, they have their own style and personality, that speaks volumes about their owner. I think about Kellie Pickler and her “Red High Heels”, and Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, and Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Soldiers are certainly known by their boots. I think of all the pictures I’ve seen lately where the deceased soldier’s boots were placed with his rifle and helmet, as a memorial. It always gets to me.

Shoes can be playful, comfortable, sexy, classy, rugged, sedate, ugly, pretty, and comical. Every woman knows how much fun they can be.

But there is not much sadder, than the shoes of a loved one no longer here. Their shoes represented life, and the roads they traveled, and the things they did. (And were going to do.) And looking at their shoes, knowing they will never again walk in them, is a lonely, gut-wrenching experience. But letting them go hurts more…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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Lonnette Harrell

“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death.” Harold Wilson

Courage–do you think you possess it? It means having the strength to resist danger, fear, or hardship. I think it also means being able to keep your spirits up, as you face difficulties. It’s more than just opposing something with resolution and persistence. It’s having the fortitude to look something ominous in the eye, and say, “I will overcome this, and my spirit will not be broken in the process.”

Courage has gotten many people through serious illness, through the devastating loss of loved ones, through physical and emotional threats, and through life’s greatest challenges.

Bravado is not bravery. Bravado is the pretense of courage–a false show of bravery. Bravado beats its chest like a phony Tarzan, parading with pride. But true heroes are probably most often scared inside, and yet they rise to the occasion. When it’s on behalf of others, they do it for love. Think of the firemen that went into the Twin Towers on 9/11. They were most probably frightened, but the call of duty, and their desire to help others, was stronger than their fear. And the passengers on the plane that decided to fight the hijackers, rather than let them crash the plane into the Capitol or the White House. Yes, they were fighting for their lives, but also the lives of the other passengers, and the lives of the people on the ground that might be killed and injured in such a crash. We’ve all heard the stories of a soldier taking a bullet for a buddy, or throwing his body on live ammunition, to save his comrades. I think these heroic acts prove what I’ve always known was true–courage is not the absence of fear, but moving forward in the face of fear. I like what John Wayne (an all-American hero) said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” Courage is facing things in spite of our fears.

But courage is not just for soldiers, firemen, and policemen. Each one of us have faced struggles, that required us to do something in the midst of fear. We all have our own fears–fear of failure, fear of physical pain, fear of emotional pain, fear of rejection, fear of humiliation, fear of dying, and even fear of living. Let’s be honest-life requires courage. Are brave people ever afraid? Most certainly–they just don’t let those feelings paralyze them.

If you have ever overcome your fears, and achieved something that was scary, and seemed impossible, then you know the good feelings such action brings. It gives us determination to face the next trial with courage.

Eleanor Roosevelt had it right when she said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

So many things that we’re convinced we cannot do, we’ve never even tried. We have talked ourselves into a life of dreary routine, taking little risks, and achieving little, as a result. When did we forget that life is an adventure, not something to endure? Facing our fears and taking chances can lead to growth. It takes courage to realize our potential, and even if we experience failure, we have the satisfaction of knowing we tried. Who wants to look back on their life, and know that it could have been more fulfilling, if we had just been brave enough to try something we’ve always feared? We must come to the place where our fear of staying the same, is much greater, than our fear of changing. That’s when we’ll gain the courage to try something different.

I love what Steve Pavlina wrote in his article, The Courage To Live Consciously. He admonished, “Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be.”

What about you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but you’re afraid? Something you’ve always wanted to be, but you’re frightened by failure? Take a risk–take a chance. Go ahead. What have you really got to lose? But what a loss you will suffer, if you go your whole lifetime, and don’t realize your deepest dreams. You can make it happen. Start with one small step, and then another, and another. Move toward your goal in steady progression, and reformulate your dreams if necessary. It’s not too late. You can do it. You can face those fears, and be a hero. All it takes is your will, and a little bit of courage…

Sources: http://www.ejectejecteject.com/archives/000033.html

http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/courage-to-live-consciously.htm

Please read other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Lonnette Harrell

Living without regrets seems like an impossible endeavor, but I believe there are several ways to accomplish this goal. Nothing in life is ever really wasted, if you have learned something from it. You’ve gained experience, wisdom, and knowledge about what works, and what doesn’t.

On the other hand, living life while always looking in the rear-view mirror, is really no life at all. You will find yourself serving a life sentence of depression, guilt, sorrow, and shame. Living in the past makes you feel unworthy of the love of others, and even of God’s love. You can so easily become convinced that no one would really like you, if they really knew the kind of person you are. Your regrets can be like a noose around your neck, that gets tighter and tighter with each passing day. Often it isn’t God’s judgement, or the judgement of others, that will cause you to suffer unbearably. It is your judgement of yourself that is the most harsh.

So what is the answer? Simply put–forgiveness. Forgiveness from others, forgiveness of others, and most of all, forgiveness of yourself.

If there is a way to make things right, then you certainly should make every effort to do so. Apologize where necessary, and try not to hold grudges. Sometimes you simply can’t continue in a relationship, because the hurt has been so deep, but do everything within your power, to reconcile and restore. If the other person doesn’t reciprocate, then rest in the knowledge that you have done your part.

What if the person is no longer alive? God can give you peace, even in this situation, knowing that you are forgiven by Him. All it takes is to acknowledge your offense, and ask forgiveness. Then receive it, and try to move forward.

It is not possible to live a life without regrets minus an understanding of God’s forgiveness. It is His forgiveness that sets us free; it’s a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else.

The Apostle Paul, once known as Saul, was responsible for having many Christians persecuted terribly and murdered. He later became a believer in Christ. I imagine that his regrets must have been monumental!

And yet, he was able to say, “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

How much better off would all of us be if we could forget the troublesome things in our past, and reach forth to our future, pressing toward the mark? Most often, to move forward, we must let go of the past. Not the precious memories of good times, but the regrets, the “if onlys” and the “what ifs.” We have to quit dwelling on our failures, and move on toward success, because you cannot drive a car looking only in the rear-view mirror. You must look ahead. And so it is with life.

If Paul had only focused on his mistakes, sins, and atrocities, he would have been of no use to God. Satan’s trap is to convince us, that because of our past, we are not deserving of forgiveness, or worthy of being used by God. But if you look at numerous Bible characters, you will soon see that none were perfect. All of them made mistakes, and some committed terrible sins, including adultery and other sexual sins, disobedience, lying, and even murder, and yet God forgave them, and used them mightily. Why? Because they were willing to repent (to turn around and go another direction), and  they were willing to receive God’s forgiveness, and then move on. It can be the same for you.

Another aspect of living without regrets, is learning to make the most of every opportunity–living life to the fullest, and making your dreams come true. Taking risks and being adventuresome is sometimes necessary, if you want to achieve your goals. And even if you fail, hopefully, you have learned a lot along the way.

Living life without regrets also means being thankful and living life with gratitude, remembering that each day is a gift, with new possibilities of accomplishments. One of my favorite Bible verses talks about God’s mercies being “new every morning.” Sometimes we spend so much time pursuing big dreams, that we overlook the miracle of each new day.

I read an article recently, that suggested imagining that you were at your own funeral, and four people from different areas of your life (friends, co-workers, family, etc.) had been asked to make remarks about your life. What would you want them to say? The article suggested that this would be a good exercise in determining your purpose in life.

This really caused me to think deeply, as I realized that some people could be a great “success” at work, but fail miserably with their own families. If you have failed to love your family properly, you have failed horribly, regardless of the “so-called success” in other areas of your life. But even in this, you can find redemption. It is never too late to begin again, and to get your priorities right. Realizing that you are not just making decisions about today, but for eternity, is important.

Consider this–most likely within two (possibly three) generations, there will be no human likely to remember your name (unless you are terrifically famous.) Most of us don’t even know our great-grandparents names, and few, if any of us, know anyone beyond that (unless we’re deeply into genealogy.) I would like to do an article soon about the things that people do in order to obtain immortality. It’s amazing and ridiculous, and yet only the things we do for Christ really count. They are the only lasting achievements, and the only eternal ones.

So-if you want to live your life with no regrets, then examine your life closely. Look at your motives, your goals, your dreams, your priorities. Then look at them in view of eternity, and live your life to please God, and to advance His kingdom, and you will have no regrets…It’s all by forgiveness and His grace…

To read other articles that I have written please  view this page:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  Pablo Picasso

Perhaps we are most like God when we are creating. As a child, we all create, because we all freely imagine. We are all artists, whether we are creating a picture for mom’s refrigerator gallery, or building sandcastles on the beach. When we are creative, we are happy and fulfilled. We mold clay into fun shapes, we finger-paint delightfully messy murals, we color, we draw, we dress up in our own creative designs, and we smile. We smile because we are free to express all that’s within us. Free to say, “I see the world in a different way than you.”

But one day, someone comes along and says, “You must stay inside the lines.” It is then that our creativity is stifled. For staying inside the lines, means being conventional, law-abiding, and heavily confined. We saw beauty outside the lines, and loved to play freely on the edges.

But someone came along, and gave us a new definition of what was acceptable. And the minute we conformed to their image, we lost our innocent creativity. We lost our own unique way of interpreting life. We lost our originality. We lost so much when we stayed within the lines.

Oh yes, the picture was pleasant, with no dissonance or confusion, but pleasant is not always imaginative. Pleasant is not always powerful. And pleasant is not always artistic.

I suspect that true creativity belongs to those who venture outside the lines, whether in art or life…

Please read other articles that I have written here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

It’s too late to write anything tonight, so I’m sending a dance to cheer you up. (If this doesn’t do it, nothing will!) Who says white boys can’t dance???? LOL! (He can jump too!)

Please see some (serious) articles that I’ve written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

As we drove in the van to tell my mom that my step-dad had died, my heart was absolutely broken. I wondered if her heart could take the news, and I was so glad that we were going to tell her in person, for no other way could even be an option. She had previously suffered a heart attack, and I knew that this shock would be precarious to her health, so we wanted to be there for her. I was in shock myself from the events of the day, and felt like I was in another world, where things happened and I was watching from afar, with no say in the outcome, and no way to change the devastating results.

I will never forget that I was the first one in the door. My mom had said that she was exhausted after her morning visit to the hospital. (We had gone early at the request of a nurse, who told me on the phone, that she didn’t think my dad would make it through the day. My mom knew that he had gotten worse, but she didn’t know about that comment. I just made sure that I got her there sooner than we normally went, in case the nurse’s feeling was right. I felt as I stood by his bedside, that this would be the last time I would ever see him alive, and the pain was unbearable, as the tears spilled from my eyes, and ran down my cheeks. I cried for him, I cried for my mom, I cried for our family, and I cried for the great loss I was personally experiencing. But I did not cry out loud, as I would later, because I was trying not to further upset my mother.)

As I entered her house, much to my surprise, I did not find her napping, but sitting at the kitchen table. With an absolutely desperate look on her face she said, “Lonnette, Sam died.”

How can I ever tell you all the feelings that welled up in me at that moment? I could not understand how she could possibly know this, as all the nurses had been informed that we were going to tell her in person, and that we would ask her if she wanted to see him, before they moved him from the room. They knew how important it was to us, to tell her in person. (So I was fairly sure that they were not to blame.) So who was?

It turns out that the Organ Donor people had called her to ask if she would be willing to donate his organs. Can you imagine? Getting a call like that, when you did not even know he was dead? I was so mad, that it was a wonder I didn’t have a heart attack. I wanted to punch someone, and even now as I write this, I have to fight the urge to scream with rage.  (Please know that I think organ donation is wonderful, but to approach someone about getting their loved ones organs, before they have even been told he was dead, was a royal mix-up.) How could something like this happen? It was cruel and heartless. It was inexcusable.

My mom was finally able to explain that the woman on the other end of the phone was horrified, when she learned that my mother had not yet been informed of Sam’s death. She told her to call the hospital immediately. (Imagine my mom trying to deal with the fact that he died, and being told that way.)

Once we somehow partially recovered from the shock of that situation, we asked my mom if she wanted to see my dad before they moved him. We told her that it was entirely up to her, and that we would do whatever she wanted. She decided that she wanted to see him. So we set off for the hospital immediately.

When we got to the Critical Care Unit, the nurses there had apparently heard what had happened, and expressed dismay and sorrow. We understood that it wasn’t their fault. There had been a terrible mistake in communication somehow.

We all went into the room together-my mom, my husband, my brother, his wife, his son, my daughter, and myself.

I began to cry immediately upon seeing him. Huge sobs of anguish found their way to the surface, and my husband gently whispered in my ear, to remember that Sam wasn’t there anymore. He held me tightly as I cried. My mom was in total shock, as she sat in a chair next to his bed. They had lowered the bed from the height it had previously been.

(During his hospitalization, and while he was still responsive, earlier in the whole scenario, I had made him a gift basket, with some golfing magazines, and some other small gifts, along with a little adorable stuffed bulldog. The magazines were never touched, because he was just too sick to read them, though he loved golf, but the little bulldog became a mascot of sorts, representing his tenacious fight to live. As he was moved from room to room, the little bulldog would always mysteriously end up right by his side. Once in Critical Care, my mom and I came in, and like so many nights at that point, my dad was heavily sedated, and not aware of our presence that we could tell, though we always talked to him lovingly, just in case he could hear us. There on his shoulder, a nurse had placed the little bulldog. It looked like a flea on a giant, as my dad was 6’4″. Even lying down in a hospital bed, he was amazingly tall, and had an overwhelming presence.

So as we entered the room, after his death, once again a nurse had placed the little bulldog on the bed beside him. My mother was in complete shock, as I mentioned, but she immediately grabbed the little dog, and hung onto it for dear life. She could not cry; she could only stare in disbelief at her beloved husband of 44 years. My brother’s face had tears rolling down it, and my daughter was distraught, as we all were. My husband was trying to console me. But I could not control my sobs of grief, and I did not try. I wept for all that he had meant to me since I was 7 years old. Sam often would tell me he loved me, as the three of us watched TV, when I visited their home, as an adult. I must have thanked him over and over, in recent years, for the wonderful care that he gave my mom. He retired to take care of her. She is an insulin dependent diabetic, with many other health problems. He was the one I ran to when I had a problem, (not so much emotionally), but to get advice, and for him to fix things. I used to say that if the world broke, Sam could fix it. And now it was broken beyond repair, and he would not be here to help.

One of the things that I noticed, as I walked into the room, was the peacefulness. There were no machines clicking, no respirator noises, no blood pressure beeps. Just quietness, except for the sounds of sorrow.

As painful as it was, to be gathered with my immediate family around my dad’s death bed, I am so glad that we made the decision to be there one last time together. Never again in the mad dash of informing relatives, making funeral arrangements, ordering flowers, etc., was there ever a chance to grieve quite like that again. It was always too public, and there were so many times when we needed to be strong for each other. So in those moments by his bed, I grieved, and felt a pain that was raw and guttural, in its depth.The sounds that came from my throat were literal wails. It was only later that I wondered how it sounded to those outside the door. But in that moment I could care less, and I couldn’t have stopped crying if I was ordered to.

I cried at other times, in my room, and in the presence of my husband, but it was never like that day. In fact, my husband and I are ordained ministers, so we did the funeral, and we sang the songs, only by God’s grace. At the visitation, I shook hands, greeted, and hugged everyone, as I stood by the casket, and directed them to my mother, who was also greeting people nearby. My brother drug in my dad’s golf clubs, and placed them by the coffin, at the visitation. It was the right thing to do.

When the extended family (not immediate) first gathered at my mom’s house, the night before the visitation, I remember being so frustrated, because there was laughter coming from the kitchen, and I wondered how anyone could laugh at a time like this. Didn’t they realize that Sam was gone, and was never coming back? I could not stand the sounds of it, and so I had to leave. (I was exhausted from several weeks of his illness, surgery, and hospitalization. I was also emotionally and physically drained, from caring for and worrying about my mom, and from now trying to deal with his death. My mom was resting in her bedroom, so I knew that she was away from the laughter.

The funeral was wonderful. Even the funeral directors said it was the best funeral they had ever witnessed, and since they see at least one every day, we were pleased. (I believe the reason that they said that, was because it was so personal. Everyone who spoke knew my Sam well, and therefore everything came from the heart. My brother spoke of how his dad had “loved him back home” after many years of a wandering, wild lifestyle. My stepbrother told how my parents had taken him, and his brothers, into our home for awhile, to try and give them a better life. It didn’t seem to work initially as there were too many adjustments, but later he got a chance to come back, and it made a huge difference in his life. Today he is a lawyer, and so is my husband, so I guess we’re well legally represented. Sam came from a family of 9, so one of his sisters spoke for the family, and shared what a wonderful person and brother he was. His co-worker and golfing buddy shared his memories of Sam, on behalf of his friends. I told my memories of him, as the biggest man that I had ever seen in my life, at that time. He wore a size 13 shoe. I spoke of his many talents, and told of my love for him, and of my mom and dad’s love for each other. My husband and I sang “Precious Memories”, “Amazing Grace”, and a beautiful song at the end of the funeral, “There’s A Light At The End of the Darkness.” (Thank God for that!) My husband told everyone how to be sure that we would all get to see Sam again in heaven–by accepting Jesus, and inviting Him into our hearts. It was a moving and beautiful service, and Sam deserved a wonderful send off.

So here I am-almost 3 years later, remembering his death, and holding onto the love I will always have for him. There is a light at the end of the darkness…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Hi Everyone: I promise that tomorrow (hopefully) I will finish my story about my stepdad’s death. (Seeing the Face of Death)

I was just so busy this weekend, that I couldn’t get back to it. But I did write an article for Associated Content, that was accepted and published today (Easter). How surprising is that, and I think you would enjoy reading it. Well maybe enjoy isn’t the right word for this article, but you will be informed of some risks you might not know about in the hospital environment. So I’ll include the link, and I appreciate your support so much. (It helps me financially, when I get page views.) Hospitals are truly dangerous to your health these days, and it’s best to avoid them, if at all possible. If you can’t, I’ve included some suggestions to protect yourself from the many hospital hazards.

Here’s the link: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/660991/hospital_dangers_and_risks_how_to_survive.html

If you or a loved one has to be admitted to the hospital, be sure to have a strong advocate to watch over them, because I feel they let my dad die through negligence and hospital aquired infections, even though we spoke up continually. It’s so exasperating trying to fight the system. So far I haven’t been able to go back into that hospital (the only one in our town) though I know someday I will have to…

As many of you know, I was a Moderator on a Grief Board for quite awhile, and the one thing I am sure of, is that we all feel deeply the loss of loved ones and friends. Many will disagree with this, but I feel that regardless of who we lost, we should never try to compare our grief. We are simply heartbroken, and that is universal.

I’ve been reading the blog of a sensitive, wonderful writer, who is writing a book about the death of his wife, Jenny, from breast cancer. He is telling the story as he felt it then, and I have been very moved by his writing. I can so relate to the heartache of watching a loved one suffer. His website is: http://thepriceoflove.net/2007/08/09/prologue/

You will cry, but you will know that what you are reading is honest, and poignant.

Since experiencing the illness, and subsequent death of my dad, in a horrible way in the hospital, I can tell you that when you have faced death, nothing will ever matter as much. No hurt can ever be as deep, no mourning or sense of loss over anything else, as painful…until you experience another loss of someone you love. You learn quickly what is important, and what is not. Sometimes you still forget that small things don’t matter, but mostly you remember, because you can’t help but think that if you have actually survived your worst nightmare, nothing can devastate you as much. And devastation is the only word for watching death rob you of your loved one.

One day when I walked into my dad’s hospital room, I found him as I always did-yellow, swollen, gasping for breath on a respirator, and unresponsive. But this day was different. I was looking into the face of death. I cannot explain it to you, unless you have have experienced it yourself. If you have, then you know what I’m describing. In fact, it was so different from the other days, that when my mom came into the room, she immediately sensed it also. We tried to talk to him as we always did, but what we were looking at was frightening, and we knew it, and she ran from the room saying, “I can’t do this today.” I followed close behind, leaving my poor precious husband to look at the face of death alone, as he prayed.

As much as I prayed for my dad’s healing, I had an understanding inside that he was going to die. And looking at him that day, I realized that I would not want him to continue to suffer that way. I have always been a strong pro-life individual, and definitely against assisted suicide or euthanasia, but I can tell you that when it is someone you love, watching them suffer will test those beliefs. It will test your faith in God, and in life, because you hurt so badly, that you can’t make sense of any of it. You feel angry, depressed, grief-stricken, shocked, crazy, and every other emotion, because in your deepest imaginations, you never realized that life could be so cruel.

I remember when our family was given 24 hours to consider whether to take him off life support. We decided that if there was any chance that he could survive, we would give him the chance to fight for his life, for he was indeed a fighter. My mom had been on life support previously, and wasn’t expected to live either, so we knew that miracles did happen. But it was so painful to endure, for him and for us. He did take a turn for the better, right before he died, and that gave us a momentary false hope.

Somehow I think my knowing that he was going to die was a protection. It was just a little time to try to get used to the idea, because I never dreamed that he would go first. He had retired to take care of my mom, who had been at death’s door several times. Then he had ongoing shortness of breath, and it was discovered that he needed a triple bypass. He came through the surgery well, but got pneumonia, staph and serratia–all hospital acquired infections. Also, they sent him home too soon after the surgery, and his potassium dropped so low that even the doctors were astounded. He fell once at home, and then passed out on the floor of his bedroom. We called 911, and they took him out on a stretcher, and that was the last time he would ever be home. They had him in ICU for awhile, and then later sent him to physical therapy. He could not even sit up in the bed. He could not eat. He was incontinent, and so very, very sick. But he got up (with their help) and went where they told him to every day. And they let him die, despite our pleas. And we had to watch. And I had to watch my mom go through watching him get worse, with each passing day. He ended up in Critical Care for over 2 weeks on life support.

He came off the respirator for about a day or so, (it took him a couple of days to even start to wake up, because he was so sedated) and he managed to weakly mouth the words “I Love You” to my mom. It was all that she got, but we will always be eternally grateful. He took a turn for the worse after that, and had to go back on the ventilator. And not long after, he died.

I remember earlier when our family was given 24 hours to consider whether to take him off life support. We decided that if there was any chance that he could survive, we would give him the chance to fight for his life, for he was indeed a fighter. My mom had been on life support previously, and wasn’t expected to live, so we knew that miracles did happen. But it was so painful to endure, for him and for us. He did take a turn for the better, right before he died, and that gave us a momentary false hope. It was the last cruel trick of death.

One morning I called, as I always did, to see how he made it through the night, and the nurse said, “Are you coming today?” And I explained that we would be there in the afternoon as usual. (My mom was not well, and mornings were really rough for her, so we always went to the hospital in the afternoon.) Sadly, there was nothing we could do, but be there–but we wanted to do that faithfully. She never missed a day, as sick as she was. I sensed some hesitation on the part of the nurse, and I said, “We can come sooner if you think we should.”

What she said next shocked me completely. She said, “I don’t think he’ll make it through the day.”

I guess that all the days of watching him die, still didn’t prepare us for his actual death. All I could think was how to break it to my mom in a way that she would understand that we needed to go immediately, but also taking care not to give her a heart attack. I called her and said that Sam had a very bad night, and that the nurse said we needed to come sooner than we had planned.

I called my brother, and he got off work, and met us at the hospital.

Standing there by his bed, the tears were spilling down my cheeks, and I said, “I love you, Sam.” (He was my step-dad since I was 7, and I called him Sam.) He gave me away at my wedding, even though my biological dad attended. He was my dad.

I kept thinking that I knew he was going to die today, and wondering if my mother grasped that. Just like each day previously, there was no response from him. We couldn’t even touch him without wearing gloves because of the staph infection, and we felt so cheated. Of course, we would hold his hand, or touch his arm, but it was so impersonal with the gloves. It was maddening to have to be afraid of catching something, when we just wanted to throw our arms around him, and kiss his face over and over again. But we were not able to even do that.

So after awhile, we left. We took my mom home, and she said that she wouldn’t be able to go back again that day, and she was going to lie down. She was so exhausted. We all were.

It seems so strange, and I’ve never told anyone but my husband, but I stopped in a store at the mall to get a black jacket for my dad’s funeral. I was leaving the store, when I got a call from my brother. He said that after he left, he had a feeling to go back–like my dad was calling him. So he did. He was in the room with Sam, when suddenly the machines went crazy, and they rushed him out. A nurse told him that his organs were shutting down. We debated over the phone whether to go get my mom, but decided that it would be too much for her.  So, I drove straight to the hspital. About halfway there, I got another call from my brother, and with anguish he said, “He’s gone.”

I had to pull over, because I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see the road. My brother was crying also.

I raced into the hospital, and found him in one of those “family rooms” where they give you bad news. We hugged each other and cried. A nurse stopped in, to ask us if we wanted to see him, after they had bathed him. We said we would ask my mom, and do whatever she wanted. My brother’s son was there, and his wife joined him, and my husband also came to the hospital. Through our tears, we decided to all go together to tell our mom. The ride to her house in the van seemed like an eternity.

(I will tell the rest tomorrow as this is getting too long for one post.)

But I can tell you that what we had planned was not at all the way it worked out. (You will not believe what happened.)

Saying goodbye was the saddest thing that I have ever experienced, and I was sure that my heart would break right there in his hospital room…

This morning as I was getting dressed and putting on my makeup, I was acutely aware of a nearby wall clock tick, tick, ticking away. For just a moment, I had a realization that it represented my life. Moments were quickly ticking by that I could never retrieve.

To tell you the truth, I felt panic. (Not just because I was running a few minutes late for my appointment, but because I was running so many minutes late for my life.) It seems that for several years now, I cannot get my act together. First it was the continual stress, caused by a rebellious, strong-willed daughter. Then it was the illness and death of my dad, and the subsequent care of my mom. (I could barely stay organized when I was living my own life, but living two adult lives is total chaos.) You won’t understand what I mean by that, unless you’ve been there. Multiply all your errands, doctor appointments, hair appointments, grocery shopping, banking, pharmacy errands, etc., by two, and you’ll get the picture.

So today as I listened to the tick, tick, ticking, I realized that if I am going to actually live my life, before I die, then I’ve got to make some changes. I’ve got to find time for my own relaxation, my exercise, and for activities that bring me pleasure. I have to get off the roller coaster, and sit in a porch swing. I have to find myself in all this.

I have to find time for my husband, and my daughter, and my friends–the few I actually have left. (There is not much room for friends in the schedule I now keep.) But there should be.

Perhaps my first step along this path will be to get my sleep schedule back to normal. (Okay, maybe not–maybe somewhat normal.) I have always been a night owl, but since my dad’s death, I have developed a sleep disorder. I have to change this. Then I will have longer days, my health will be better, and I can begin to become the organized person that I once was, and long to be again. It’s called time management.

Time–when you get right down to it-time is life…

Please read other articles that I ahve written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Ambushed by a memory–has it ever happened to you? Something that you thought was long past forgotten, or pushed down deep in your soul, just pops up out of nowhere, to let you know that it was only sleeping. There are often the simplest triggers for it-a song on the radio, a photograph, a note on a scrap of paper, a Christmas card, a scene in a movie, a certain scent, or a passage in a book. And suddenly you’re there–right back in the moment. A moment long ago, or not so long ago. A moment that refuses to be forgotten.

You’re feeling all the feelings. You’re crying the tears, or smiling the smiles. You’re feeling terrific, or just horrible.

But you thought that was all behind you–neatly buried in a coffin of yesterday. After all, time has moved on, and so have you. (But the heart remembers.)

You’ve been ambushed… 

Please view other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html