Go Fast Or Go Home

Every week I go to Tennessee to help take care of my mom and her roommate Mary.  My Mountain bike goes with me so I can ride the trails in Athens or Cleveland with my big sister Sherrie.  This particular visit, my niece and her fiancé said they would replace my brake pads for me since it would have cost me an arm and a leg to get them replaced at a shop.  So after our 8.4 mile ride on a beautiful trail (no crashes this time) I got back to my sister’s house to find my car all set and they wouldn’t take a penny for the work.  Family can be a Godsend if you have a good one!

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You would have to know my niece Shawna to fully comprehend and appreciate the vigor she brings to my life and just how powerful her actions and words are to my emotional state of mind.  She is vibrant and daring.  Scares the living beJesus out of me sometimes but that in turn, makes my adrenaline and endorphins flood my system and I suddenly remember I am alive and well and not terrified of living on the edge (well, kind of).  This woman has no fear, or doesn’t show it if she does, and will look you right in the eye and say what needs to be said.  She can be gentle with a layer of directness or her words can meet your ears with a fierceness that lets you know she is no ones doormat. Yes, I want to be her when I grow up!

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After the work was all done it was time to catch up on life.  We stood around and chit chatted for a bit, ended up sitting on the tailgate of Todd’s truck drinking a fine “Peach Drink!”   Oh Tennessee, how I have missed you and your “Southernness”!  I wish I had snapped pictures of this but I was too engaged in the moment.  My sister even brought out two bottles of her homemade Blueberry Wine for me to take home and some big fat homegrown tomatoes!

I should have realized there was an underlying reason for the “peach drink” because before I knew it, I was in a Razor 900 going very, very fast through a field, over logs and tree branches, even up an embankment.  I kept my eyes closed for that one.

 

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That day ended with me picking hay seeds out of my hair and smiling all the way back to my moms house.  The takeaway here is,  when you are going through a hard time and depression wants to creep in or your mind is distracted by negative thoughts or fear, go do something daring!  Jump outside of that box you find so comforting and have an adventure.  Go screaming 45 miles an hour through a field in a Razor, go zip lining or anything that shakes up your adrenaline and makes you feel alive!  Retrain your mind to think great things, positive things and happy things as often as you can.  Your reality will be there for as long as it is your reality but try not to let it control  and consume you while you are trying to change it for the better.  Life is too short so go live it while you have it.

My Brother’s Son

Folks, this is how I think of my Son, living large and loving life.
I long for that bright and shining morning when we will be able to talk once again.
Until then my Son, enjoy the view !!

IMG_3002This past week has been a nightmare.  Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse.  They did.  My plan for last week was to go to my mom’s on Saturday, July 1st to help get her to the Dr. for more tests to find out why she is so sick and rapidly losing weight.  Thoughts of cancer, tumors and death starting to creep in to my heart and mind.  Trying to keep her calm and encouraged and taking some of the responsibility off of my siblings that live closer.  Instead, I look at my phone on Friday, June 30, and see several missed calls from my sister Sherrie and several from my brother Chuck.  I called my sister, thinking it had to be something bad even though her text message said to call her asap and that it wasn’t mom.

In an instant, our lives changed once again.  I had to hear the words that my oldest brother Chuck has just been told his 33 year old son was found dead in his apartment.  My mind reeled back in time when I got that phone call about my own son being found dead in his apartment and the whirlwind of emotion I was thrown into.  Now my brother was in that same storm.  I’m trying to put my finger on exactly what I felt at that moment and it was dread.  Dread for the road I knew my brother now how to walk down.  It’s a dark and painful road that seems to take forever to get down.  He is in for a rollercoaster of emotions that I never wanted anyone I love to ever experience.  But here he is.

I left immediately to go be with my mom to help her cope with the news as we knew it would add to her stress and someone needed to be there for her as well as my brother.  Chuck has an amazing wife and she is his rock.  She has a heart of gold and is smart as they come so I am grateful he has a love in his life to help him on this journey.  When I saw my brother that first day, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was prepared to hold him up if he broke down and I have never seen my brother waver emotionally.  He had his composure about him and seemed to want to focus on the good memories.  He took me to the graveyard where he wants himself and his wife laid to rest and I watched him measure in his head, laying plans for these events and I thought to myself, “He is being too strong for day one of this nightmare”.  That evening he posted some video’s on Facebook of his son Victor as a child and I knew right then that he was about to hit that wall of grief.  And he did.  The next day wasn’t so kind to his heart but he rode that rollercoaster like a boss.  That entire week was emotionally draining for my brother and his wife as they had to call people and retell the story, take calls and retell the story, make arrangements, and worse of all, they had to go clean out his son’s apartment.  No parent should have to do this.  I did it and it was torture.  You will see the spot your child took his last breath, you might even see the clothes they had on when they passed or the iv bags the EMT’s leave behind showing that an attempt to save your child’s life was made.  You will see their life as they saw fit to live it.  How they decorated, what photo’s they chose to have displayed of family and friends, the magnets on their fridge, the books on their shelves and most importantly, the mementos of their childhood they chose to hang onto into adulthood. So there was some good things my brother got out of this horrible task and it does help to balance the nightmare you feel you are in at the moment.  I have to admit, I never thought that this would touch anyone in my family again but it has and now I need to be there for my brother and counsel him anyway I can.

I guess the lesson here is; if you can help someone get through a tough time because you have been through it too, then do it.  Use what you have experienced to help someone else cope.  Help them find the strength to keep their eyes open for that pin light of hope that is at the end of the tunnel because they might not be able to see it yet, just like you couldn’t.  You know it’s there so just give them your strength to keep walking towards it.

When you lose a loved one, life will never be the same, it will just be different.  In order to heal , you have to embrace that new life in your own time and at your own pace.  Just remember:  Be Strong.  Be Brave.  Be Fearless.  You are never alone.