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Posts from the ‘Grief’ Category

Risking

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Taking a risk….

We have been taught that one of two things can occur from such an action:

Something bad, with  an unfavorable outcome..

Or….

Something magnificent, soul empowering and life-affirming.

So what happens when you take a risk and both occur?

Would it be a mutant? An “X-Men” of risks?

A grey area that few talk about or like to admit to?

Or is risking something of ourself….of our life, always going to have both outcomes?

You know what. That’s what I believe. Because at the end of the day, when we take a risk and our dreams come true, we forget to admit that even the magnificent is finite.

And when the “bad” occurs, we forget to see and honor the great wisdom that comes from the hardships.

And maybe, just maybe, by embracing that risk will not have one of the outcomes….but both….maybe that allows us to cherish, and be grateful, and honor the roses and thorns that occur from such a noble and courageous act.

Marrying Michael at 19 was one risky move….I can admit to that. Not only because of age but because he was Infantry in the Army in the middle of a war.

But you know what…. I refuse to look at that risk as one I shouldn’t have taken because he died and I was left a widow a 21 years old.

He was one of the greatest risks of my life.

And yes, a “non-favorable” outcome occurred that temporarily shattered me.

But if he had come back and lived another 70 years by my side, one of us would have eventually passed-on….and that wouldn’t be favorable either.

But the risk is always worth it.

I can’t decide the timing or the turmoil or the triumphs that happen as a result of such an action….but I want to keep risking.

I want to keep milking every ounce of beauty in the risks that turned out the way I planned, and keep honoring the teachings from the risks that didn’t (seem to at the time) end as hoped for.

And what is life if not one short or long and beautiful stretch of hoping, trying and loving and living…..but only if you risk to feel/experience it.

Risk on.

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There’s No Place Like Hope

 

 

I was spending my Friday evening perusing a used book store when my eye was caught by this very catchy title.

 

Being an avid “Wizard of Oz” fan, the switch of HOME with HOPE struck such a chord with me.

 

Home, for me, has never equated to a physical structure, but rather a place to fully be me.

 

To be immersed by all that I love.

 

To let me hair down.

 

Dance around naked.

 

Talk out loud.

 

Find myself.

 

Cry.

 

Laugh.

 

LIVE…

 

A breeding ground to create memories and share moments with those I care about.

 

A place of peace.

 

Unapologetic.

 

Quirky.

 

Me.

 

 

When thinking of all that I hope for, I saw that it literally embodied what “home” was/is.

 

Hope is nothing more than us trying to find our way back to all that we are when we find ourselves in a space/energy/place that embraces all that we are and all those that add color to our canvas….hope in disguise.

 

I have no freaking clue what that darn book is about that stirred this realization…But I sure as hell know that it made me realize that there really is nothing like hope.

 

Nothing like ‘home’.

 

Nothing like remembering where the yellow brick road leads to and what that homecoming means to one’s soul.

 

Sometimes we just need to click the heels of our hearts and mind together to remember where it is.

 

 

Evolve

The 4 Fires we created the last night for the 108 aka the 108 times we walked across them for graduation.

Evolve.

We all hopefully do it.

Peel the layer off the onion to reveal the next.

It was hard and unthinkable to have any other “layers” after Michael’s death…but surely, 5 years later, I’ve evolved.

Grown.

Learned.

But the growth has been like watching a snail crossing a road:

It’s surely moving, but when you watch it continuously, it looks as slow as molasses…when you turn your glance and look back a time later, it seems as if it’s gone leaps and bounds.

This past week though…I saw the growth happen before my eyes…without taking my eyes off the whole time.

I went to become a Certified Firewalk Instructor for new things I have planned in the future for my passion and cause…but left having learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined.

It was a crash-course in the obstacles, faults, fears, and goals we all have in life.

It was like taking a sip of what I thought was water, to have my system shocked when I realized it was sprite.

I pushed myself (along with the help of a god-sent group of individuals all trying to attain the same goal or facilitating), mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Together we cried, cheered, were inspired by each others faith in the other, by each person’s perseverance when things got bad, by the ability to find a place in our mind that was pure, unscathed, and there to show us the truths within each of us.

There were moments of doubt and apprehension…but always a hand to reach out (Thank you Kathy). There were moments of realizations that we are not alone in are connections (Thank you, Del) and there were realizations that some people will test you to make sure your spirit and soul are reinforced in your being (Thank you, Robert).There were moments that I saw the utter goodness of strangers who want to do nothing more than help other’s achieve the goals set forth (Thank you, FIRE team).

Only one other moment since Michael’s death have I been so utterly sure that the things I learned would change my life forever.

I am now a certified Firewalk Instructor.

But more than that, I am a better person. A person that has much growing to do, but can finally see life with clear eyes and an open heart.

I didn’t want our time at F.I.R.E. to end and had a bit of hesitation in the outside world being able to fully comprehend all that took place…all that will run through my veins from this point on…and they may not…but I knew that for 4 days I learned amazing and extreme tools of enlightenment and empowerment, I met people who are more than people, but now family, and I have no doubt that I was where I was supposed to be…with Michael’s amazing spirit alongside me the whole time.

 

“Courageous risks are life-giving, they help you grow, make you brave, and better than you think you are.”

Clearing

 

Life’s pretty darn comical.

I get all I could ever dream of…then that gets taken from me.

Next, I get used to the grief and pain and in a way have it take the backseat to the life still before me…but then I’m slammed with something else that clouds the clearing my heart and mind had worked so hard on clearing.

A recycling of the good and bad…a recycling that fogged over the beauty still present in the midst of the uninvited madness that made its presence pretty darn known.

I was never good at juggling…or surprises.

Everyone’s been telling me to take me time, in hopes that a clearing can be made once more.

But it could be clouded over again…or it couldn’t….or maybe I was too preoccupied by the clouds that crept in to not look a bit further to see the clearing was still there….just a bit harder to see.

I think I’m going to have to go with the last theory.

It’s slowly getting brighter and brighter. I’m finally kind of enjoying the whole recycling thing, too…keeps me on my toes.

And I’d rather be on them than my knees…

Recap

The past week has been a roller coaster.

Charlie was laid to rest and it was one of the hardest moments of my life. It was also during that time that I was moved by my friends kindness. I was lucky and blessed to have some of my dearest and best friends there…friends that weren’t like the friends that were around when Michael died….these are friends that aren’t going anywhere and laugh and cry and grieve without questions or answers. TT told me she wasn’t used to being so open with her feelings, as we all shared our love and memories with Charlie…the secret is…it’s because they were there that I was able to. I love you all so very much. Thank you for helping me, loving me, and allowing me to be called your friend…I’ll never feel deserving of such kindness.

The flip side of this major loss is a major gain! My organization, as of today, has it’s first official office! I hold the key and smile…it’s more than an office…it’s a brighter and more beautiful future for myself and the fellow widows of the AWP. I’m so excited and know that this means nothing but good. It’s in my dream area. My dream 360 square feet. And will be a place where even more dreams come true for all we serve.

I’m spending this month to absorb all that May has consisted of. A month of growth, pain, survival, and the further assurance that Michael’s love is always present.

That’s it.

The end .

Last Walk


Charlie…

Charlie is more than a dog.

Though my family had him since he was a puppy, in 2004 he came to live with me full-time. He became king.

Always having been an outside dog, he was thrown into a world where he didn’t have to fight to get to the dog bowl and got to sleep among pillows and soft comforters. An escape artist, he’d flee and be back within the hour, waiting on the front porch. The same porch he’d eagerly await my arrival after class each day. He was my best friend.

Michael and Charlie had a special bond. Something I was admittedly jealous of. Charlie would do special tricks and give extra kisses to Michael. He was a daddy’s boy.

When Michael got deployed to Iraq, Charlie was his wingman. Michael had a talk with him to watch over me and take care of me….Charlie never faltered from that agreement they silently made looking into each others eyes before Michael kissed him goodbye for the last time.

When I was sad, Charlie would quietly walk up to me and give me a kiss. He always let me know everything was going to be alright.

On May 21st, 2007, Charlie would have to step up to the plate even more. Michael had been killed and I was shattered. I refused to eat or drink, and Charlie, who never left my bedside, refused to do the same. He was the only reason I would get up….to ensure he’d eat to live another day.

I never thought I’d live longer than Charlie or Maximus. I even have in my will who each are to go to.

In the months following Michael’s death, I stayed inside, planning my escape route from Earth. And yet, Charlie, with his deep brown eyes, always found a way to ensure I face a new day.

He’s a quiet soul who reminds me of Michael. He rarely barked but was known for being a fighter….literally and hypothetically. He had sent a couple of dogs to the vets whenever they got to close.
(I remember one day, napping, when I heard a barking scuffle outside. Pillow in hand, I ran to find Charlie and a boxer going at it. Pillow’s swinging left to right, I feared for Charlie’s life, only to find that the giant boxer was the one harmed.)

As I ventured into a world I decided to fight for, Charlie rooted me on. I talk to him, you see. He’s the child of Michael and I, and I feel he understands what I’m saying…never doubts or challenges.

The next 3 year’s I would travel so much in hopes to bring the AWP to life, but no matter what, he’d be there at the front door to greet me and give me a kiss hello.

In October of 2010 things changed. One night while on the carpet with Papas (one of his 20 million nick-names), I noticed his eye looked weird. Right away I knew something was wrong and asked my parents to take him into the vet (I was afraid to face any bad news).

My dad called me. “Taryn…Charlie has cancer. He has a tumor growing on the top of his head. He doesn’t have much longer….”

No.No.NO. Our baby couldn’t go. I frantically started making calls within minutes of finding out and set up a meeting with a veterinary oncologist.

Many tests were taken, biopsies done, needles poked.

In November they called to let me know that Charlie had squamous cell carcinoma. I went in to see what the options were.

The doctors told me that I could put him through radiation and chemo. Once done with the treatments it could possibly add no more than a year to his life.

I agreed, and so began our new life of waking up each morning for months. Traveling over 2 hours each day. Things would look good and other times I’d bring him in crying, afraid that I had made the wrong decision. But Charlie fought, pulled through, and one night, even ran up to me and gave me a kiss. It was one of the best moments.

The radiation took a toll though, and the skin burned away and then his vision deteriorated.

I cried myself to sleep many nights, but even blind, Charlie would find his way to our bedroom and sleep next to me.

It’s been around 5 months since all of his treatments. 5 months I’ve been able to give him extra belly rubs. 5 months to whisper into his bushy ears how much Michael and I love him.

5 months to have something I wasn’t able to have with Michael….the ability to say goodbye.

I returned home two nights ago and Charlie’s health had deteriorated within hours. Although he had been eating and drinking while at my parent’s house, it became very obvious that he was just waiting to be back with me.

You see, I’ve wondered often if my actions to keep him here, to do everything in my power to keep him with me, were selfish. I asked Michael during the rough times to just let Charlie go in his sleep. But on Tuesday night, I asked Charlie to let me know when he was ready, and at one moment, he looked up at me…blind, but as though he could see, and I knew.

I knew that it was time to do for him something unselfish, and take him out of his pain. I think he breathes for me, suffers for me, feels indebted to his loving father to stay with me….I want him to know it is okay.

I’ve had him for 15 years. He’s been through every life-changing event of my life, but tonight, at 6pm, on his favorite spot in the house (the cold tile of the fireplace), Michael will have his 2nd love join him.

My dearest friends and family by my side, we will wrap him in Michael’s uniform (the one he slept underneath in the closet after Michael died.) Fill the pockets with letters to him and our loved ones he’ll be joining and spread his ashes with his father’s.

I’m in pain…but Charlie is in more. And tonight we will celebrate his furry life. Remember random memories, like how when I took him running he always ran faster than me, making me look even slower, so I had to buy a really short leash. Or the moments when a spurt of energy would hit him and he’d run around like a banshee. Or the time he sat up on Michael’s knees and kissed him farewell. Or how much you simply adore window surfing.

I love you so much, papas. I know you’re outside sleeping with the wind on your face, and maybe by the time you wake up, it will seem as if we were not parted for long.

You have fulfilled you daddy’s wish and taken care of me better than anyone or anything. I know I am strong enough now…and so much of that is because of the loyalty and love you have forever shown me. You are the epitome of unconditional love and I hope to embody your strength.

I love you. We love you.

There’s a stone I had made for Luke at the top of the hill road, where the pasture opens wide and the setting sun highlights the words carved into its face. “That’ll do, Luke, that’ll do.” The words are said to working dogs all over the world when the chores are done and the flock is settled: “That’ll do dog, come home now, your work is done.” Luke’s work is done too. He took my heart and ran with it, and he’s running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with his, forever.

-Patricia McConnell