I had a very busy day today as I am preparing for a couple back-to-back trips. I had not planned to share a blog at this point, but I heard that Voice in my head saying, “No time like the present…Write what you have to say now.”
How often do we put off words, actions, events because we are waiting for the right moment when we’re “ready” or “prepared” enough to take a plunge into the waters of a river that is changing every single moment? And we risk the loss of a glorious opportunity paralyzed in perfectionism thinking if we don’t do it A+ perfect, we should skip trying at all.
Infinity gives us so many chances. But on this globe we call Earth, there are limitations. Those who hesitate are not only lost, they may well be defeated. The grace period only extends so far here…then TIME’S UP.
I have become acutely aware of this in the previous week as a family member and a dear friend both passed away, hopefully accomplishing what their soul goal was. ( I like to think they did because both of them were extremely motivated movers and shakers. One was a state senator and the other was the first female police chief of Portland, Oregon.)
That got me thinking about time and infinity, life and death, which lead to “ Am I fulfilling or at least working on my soul purpose?” Hey, do I even remember what that is?
Like a bolt of lightening striking me straight in the heart, I passionately realize/recall what that purpose, raison d’être, is for me. ( That’s something that I am not sharing until a later date.) I will say this, however, I picked one of the hardest choices for a human being to accomplish.
Back to time and its more profound extension…Infinity. The eternal best expresses in us as what we choose to do in a lifetime. We don’t know how many breaths we get to sing out, how many words we get to speak, how many promises we get to keep, how many lives we get to touch, how many times we get to love. That’s classified information.
I, for one, choose to shoot the works, taking time to make moments that will astound even myself to make the most of a rich life before I step on that path to Infinity. May we all be so motivated with the gifts we have regardless of what they may be.
P.S. I have noticed that this blog is being dated as September 22, 2021. I had not accounted for the time zone of the publication site. Rest assured, I posted it at another time and place…………..
Six years can seem like an eternity…or the blink of an eye. It depends on the viewpoint and the depth of feelings regarding the time period.
It has been six years since my last blog and though that time period seemed interminable, now that it’s gone…it’s gone… and I keep the fragments I choose to keep in my life’s mosaic. The rest of the colors are painting in the past.
And what a past it was. I said goodbye to my best friend, my soul partner, my harmonic counterpoint, my husband of 42 years. It was a long goodbye. Dementia and Parkinsons have a way of elongating the process of loss. It takes away a little bit at a time, until the person has basically moved on with the personality and memory gone as well. The only way to make it through is to keep friends and family close, if not physically, at least in heart, because the caregiving is an extensive toll on the self. God bless those friends, neighbors, and caregivers who swooped in like angels to help, especially in the last days.
I learned a lot about myself, about love, and the extreme power of divine direction when I went through the process of preparing for a death. Fortunately, I had a close friend by my side when making all the funeral arrangements a year in advance. We actually enjoyed the experience together. I think we were one of the more memorable meetings for the funeral director. I kept the cremation as simple as possible. I choose a handsome cherry wood box for the cremains with our favorite quote from Le Petit Prince, when the fox says goodbye and shares his secret. I picked out my own funereal things as well. I know someday I shall need them. Death is unavoidable, but the transition process can be beautiful and strangely joyful if done right.
I had made a promise to Bob that I would keep him at home until the very end. It was a promise I kept although not easily as I went through major surgery for a dialysis port, which got severely infected and failed. The second procedure failed as well. I just had to get better and stronger, so I did.
Meanwhile as the time for saying goodbye grew nearer I made sure that Bob could see all the people he loved under the best and happiest conditions. I decorated the house for Christmas in July that year, 2019. It’s always been our special time filled with parties and family, the tons of artistic and handmade decorations, the spreads of food fit for a Dickens Christmas Carol feast. We got to enjoy wonderful, loving connections with family and friends.
I knew that Bob would also be gone for his September birthday (sometimes I just see things in advance) so I made sure he opened happy birthday presents as well as traditionally wrapped Christmas gifts in August.
Our parish priest came to give final absolution and blessings while Bob was still able to speak. And we lit up the room with candles, a string of Christmas lights, and there was a soft pink glow to the room while we prayed that didn’t come from any physical source. I think it came from love.
It’s too painful still to write about the final moments of the last three days when we went from palliative care to in- home hospice. I basically became a nurse, a doula, a priestess, besides being a wife and longtime companion. It was a blessing to have a caregiver sit with me the last night and her nursing student daughter to assist me the final morning. I’d envisioned Bob and I would be singing when he passed, or at least me singing to him, but he slipped out when I looked away, telling my helper the story of my near death experience. I think it gave him the green light to let go.
And I had to let go, too…………….
That took longer. The small, informal rosary was in the rose garden of our backyard in Los Osos. The funeral and celebration of life party followed a month later, a major event in the town of Idyllwild. Although the weather and road closures kept many from making it up the hill, our Queen of Angels church was packed. I’d sent the memo for no black clothing, no sad eulogies, and we sang no sad songs. I performed with band friends including the only song Bob and I ever cowrote, God Is With Me Right Now. That presence was definitely felt. Part of the congregation who knew it by heart, sang along with the band, as well as some “non corporeal visitors.”
Since the family home in Idyllwild hadn’t sold yet, I was able to have the party there, even though all the contents were gone. Church friends and the town provided everything necessary. No tears were shed that day, just smiles and hugs for remembrance of a life well lived.
The following day, the offer came in for the house. It sold the day after on what would have been Bob’s 70th birthday. If that isn’t proof of divine timing, then I don’t know what is. So I said said goodbye to our house and let go of our home as well.
While this closed a chapter (or rather a volume) of my life, I had to find a way to keep on writing my story. It had been so long since I had been a solo main character, I wasn’t really sure how to begin. I’m still figuring that out. And the gestation period of my new life maneuvered quietly through the lonely confines of Covid until I was ripe for a catalyst to produce an emergence.
My life story has definitely turned into an extremely dynamic one lately, with adventurous plot lines I never foresaw, colorful characters I never dreamed I would include, and more like a renaissance than a rebirth of things that I love: music, dance, poetry, art, and an amazing connection with new faces, new places, and traveling again both physically and spiritually to realms that I thought were gone from my access.
They’re all back with the promise of so much to offer and share with you all. And I AM BACK although not the same. I have crossed the Rubicon and my life will never be the same again.
Sagres, Portugal, is the setting for this beautiful rainbow. Bob and I went to Portugal for my 60th birthday. I had broken my foot earlier, but refused to cancel the trip. After pushing my wheelchair over cobblestones in the rain, my husband was glad to relax and snap a series of gorgeous sky shots.
AFTER THE RAIN: THE BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, PART ONE
So much of my early life had turmoil. It was a blessing to find the “rainbow of my life,” Bob Haine. Or maybe he found me. Either way, after the first week of school, we met at a T.G.I.F. party sponsored by the local teachers’ union.
It was probably not a meeting to go into the history books, but the details carved a place in my heart. First he impressed me by knowing my correct shoe size. During an economically lean time he had supplemented his substitute teaching income by selling shoes at Bullocks. It was not his favorite job. He probably never dreamed it would lead to a fateful pickup line.
Bob had been fired from his first teaching job, as fifth grade teacher in a catholic school. His crime was passing gas after eating lentil soup, and then explaining to the students that “farting” was a natural body function. The head nun did not appreciate him using an “F” word. This firing led to being hired by the Chaffey High School District. I was hired that same year. This is another example of how a setback can lead to a positive outcome.
Our first date was not without difficulties, but they were fun ones. Bob was having the passenger seat in his Toyota reupholstered, so I sat on a pillow on the floor. After dinner we went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Will Rogers State Beach, near Santa Monica. We were having a great conversation when he pulled into a gas station on the Pacific Coast Highway.
I got out to use the restroom. When I came back outside I saw his car driving away, my purse inside, and me not sure if this was going to be a very long night. He did come back and picked me up. It was his first, but not his last, attempt to get me to see the lighter side of life.
In a few months, Bob asked me to marry him while at our special spot, lifeguard station 14. That was over thirty seven years ago. He always jokes about the musical reason he married me: I was the first woman he’d met who could harmonize with him, in more ways than one.
We have been harmonizing together ever since that first date, singing Beatle songs at two in the morning. Now we perform as the married duet of bobandkathi. Seven music videos and three CDs later, he is still the melody singer and lead guitarist. I am the harmony and the background mandolinist, as well as the songwriter.
The music of my married life has not been without dissonance. I was diagnosed as bipolar in 1985, some months after the loss of my first pregnancy. It was a difficult time for both of us. Losing the next two pregnancies was not much easier.
It was fortunate I married a “rock,” because the breakdowns led to very rocky times. I am reminded of a line I wrote in a song for a wedding: “You will be the rock and I will be the flower that blooms through the stone.” And I did bloom, although I think of myself as a late bloomer. It took awhile to ground myself. It took awhile to pull out the two hundred songs I had written, the almost forty years of journals and poetry I’d saved, and realize I might have something worthwhile to say.
My breakdowns were breakthroughs as well. But I didn’t see that until much later when I had a grander vista of life. I reread and reviewed my life from a different perspective. I could see that the good weather had come from the storms. No rain: no rainbow.
My photographer-singer husband (a former French teacher) has always liked the optimistic phrase, “Après la pluie, le beau temps.” The translation: “After the rain, the beautiful weather.” Our weather has gotten progressively better, but we have passed through more rainy seasons as well. Some have even been life threatening.