Monday, August 14, 2017

Feet

Sometimes you are so busy doing the things you want to blog about, you have no time to blog about them.

Combine that with the fact that I am a horribly undisciplined writer.

And I have a slight Facebook addiction.

This equates to four months since my last blog post. Which is okay. But I really do like to write. My head needs to be purged at times and when I don't write I become a bit of an emotional hoarder with thoughts gathering dust in my head like old newspapers.

So here I am.

Four months later.

It's hard to summarize four months in one post so I won't. This is my welcome back to my blog post....you have many of my 'what I did this summer' posts to come.

When I think of the last four months and all that has happened; the Courage Classic, the Mitochondrial conference, swimming from Alcatraz, our house remodel, work, family, friends, it is good....solid. This is a good spot.

But I had to take the time to recognize that my life is solid. What is my connection to this world? Where are my feet? What is the earth they stand on?

I sometimes forget.
 
I meant to post yesterday but this weekend felt like emotional dodge ball......so much sad news with little time to process. It's hard to know how solid your feet are when you're on your toes.

Last night I told my husband, "I need to write more."

"So write," he said.

Hmmmm. Yes.

But first I had to find my feet, feel the earth and remember my connection.

And perhaps a pedicure.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Vision with action can change the world.

My Dear Friend Heather (not me......really although I do find myself a good friend to myself)

I digress.

Anyway, my dear friend Heather is taking a course on leadership. She told me my leadership strength is vision.

I love her for saying this because so often I cannot see my path.

And then somedays the path is in front of me, so incredibly clear it was painted with neon pink glitter glue.

A month ago I was working from home during a nondescript Friday afternoon when I got an email from our brilliant Mitochondrial Doc.

The subject line was Progress.

This took me aback and begged to be read because sometimes issues of the mitochondria and progress do not go hand in hand.

His email told me that because of the money raised through Summits for Samantha, we have been able to achieve the following:

1. Securing our Fabulous Mitochondrial Fellow at Children's Hospital- he is now an Attending Doc with us.

2. Securing a Clinical Trial for Adult Mitochondrial Myopathy at Children's

3. A mitochondrial treatment protocol at Children's Hospital, including a protocol for genetic testing and muscle biopsies. Along with this comes a guarantee from our grassroots bike team that we will fund the protocol. YIKES.

Our Center here in Colorado is making a mark internationally.

I read his email at the dining room table.

This picture also lives in the dining room

My eyes darted from the computer her picture and I proceeded to sob.

Ugly sob...ugly heaving sob.

Because we are doing.

We are doing.

The path that day was aglow with love and trust and a vision.

So what do when you are ugly sobbing?

You call your Hubs.

Who doesn't answer.

And so you leave a message that goes like this....

"Hey, I know I sound upset but I'm really not. I'm so happy (gasp, hiccup), really.....because this is what we have done."

And he calls back and says, "what's wrong?"

And I reply, "I am overwhelmed with gratitude."

This is all because of a team with a big heart who decided this vision was okay. And raised a crazy amount of money for this vision.

Sometimes this crazy world falls into a perfect harmony.

Friday evening Hubs was (again) greeted by a gratefully hysterical wife at the door......

Because I got a letter stating that you people, you crazy gracious people have given sooooooo much in Samantha's name to Children's, that she will have her name on the Wall of Remembrance.

I never had a headstone or plot for my kiddos. Kinda because I never in a bazillion years thought that this would be my life. And kinda because my kiddos are with me every day- in every butterfly or pink sunrise, they are here.

But now she lives on in a place that helped us when no one else would. That makes me (yet again) ugly cry happy.

And you! You crazy people. Thank you for believing in our mission and vision. I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have such amazing people in my life.

Now what's next?????


Thursday, March 23, 2017

I didn't post

Two years ago a dear friend died from breast cancer.

I didn't post anything when she passed.

I was so sad and nothing seemed to be in a good place.

I didn't post that after my friends' second night in the ICU, her four daughters and I spent the night at the Marriott Courtyard by the hospital. We sang to 'All About the Base', swam in our boxer shorts, ate a bag of chocolate covered pretzels and ordered the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity with extra bacon from IHOP.

We were a Motley Crew crammed into my Malibu Max. A Mama who had lost her Littles and four Littles who could loose their Mama.

We drove back to the hospital and 'All about the Base' came on again.

We danced in that Malibu Maxx like we didn't have to go back to the hospital.

I looked back at these four girls with a very sick mama and wanted nothing more than for them to be okay, to know that they were loved, to trust that no matter what lies ahead when they walked through the doors of the hospital, that a whole community stood behind them and that they could always, ALWAYS order an extra side of bacon.

I don't know if I ever fully expressed that to them.

We lost one of these precious girls this week. It was shocking and tragic and I honestly do think my heart has a slow bleed right now.

I will miss her.

The world will miss all of the potential that was in this lovely, amazing young woman.

Sometimes the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity just isn't enough.











Monday, March 20, 2017

Fluent

This week has continued the poop-tastic theme of 2017.

I really do wish I were posting anything other than attending another funeral but I am not. And while there are really great things going on, this is taking all of my brain space and it must be expelled.

Please remind me after this post that I did promise to write about the great things. The great things must be written about.

Enough of this grief crap.

I wrote on Facebook this week that the worst thing about fighting for this disease is knowing what everyone is going through; loss, fear, anger, grief over a disease that tends to take everything. It is isolating and heartbreaking.

Robert Devine was born one week before Samantha with a mitochondrial disease. He and Samantha were in the same Anchor Center class. He fought so hard for his ten years and his parents were relentless in his fight.

I sat in a pew today between Maria and Jacob's nurse, Gemma as we said goodbye to Robert. We held hands and cried as the bagpiper played Amazing Grace.

I do not feel Amazing.

I did not feel Graceful.

I did feel a bit like a Wretch.

But I also did not feel alone.

We all stood together as we have so many times when confronted with these awful circumstances.

We all speak the same language- the language of grief.

It is not anything you ever want to be fluent in; or even well-versed for that matter. It is a heartbreaking language to learn and it will change the way you view the world forever. Those fluent become extraordinarily honest and find they are no longer versed in the opposite language- the language of bullshit. Small talk can also be difficult once fluent in Grief.

It can be hard to find others who speak Grief. But once found, there is an instant connection; a sad but relieved connection. "Thank God I am not alone."

I left today sad, exhausted but full of love and amazing respect for these families. I also found that after a morning of speaking Grief, I had no more room for any other language; other conversations were hard and my brain was distracted. Everything else in the world seemed trite.

It breaks my heart that this group of those who speak Grief has grown....this pisses my off. As Anger and Grief sometimes share the same vocabulary, I guess this is expected.

Ironically, I have also found that tolerance and acceptance can also be synonymous with this language. I guess it depends on what thesaurus you use.....or the time of day.

I find the time of day to be more predictable.

Most important, finding others is imperative to navigating this painful, foreign tongue. Unlike my high school Spanish, the language of Grief doesn't go away if you don't use it.

Stupid Grief.

Grateful for those who speak my language .....which is poop-tastic that you speak it too but know I am grateful you will hold my snotty Kleenex hand and refuse to talk small.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Current Underneath

I have always liked to swim.

I was one of those kids you couldn't get out of the water. The one who dove too deep only to emerge gasping and coughing, to dive again.

I have never been fast or talented or graceful. But I love the water.

When I am on my 'A' game, I get up at 5:00 in the morning three times a week and go swim with Loveland Masters. It's dark and cold on the way to the pool. It's early and I'm sleepy; missing my down comforter and puppy dog pajamas.

But pool is bright and smells of chorine.

My toes touch the edge and I look into the water.

Once I jump, I'm committed.....I'm wet, fully in the water. There is no halfway to getting into the pool.

Sometimes I procrastinate. Sometimes I jump right in- submerged. Fluid fills my ears, tickles my toes, forces me to calculate my breath.

I am no longer earth.

I am water

I was told once that truth lies at the bottom of the pool.

I exhale, inhale, watch my arm glide through the water. That arm doesn't seem to belong to me.

For the next hour, I focus on my breath and moving through the water.

I am no longer earth.

I am water.

I think about our Mito kids when I swim; being weightless, no longer supporting a body. Samantha loved the water; she would sigh, kick and stretch, no longer committed to muscles and a body that didn't quite work.

On Jacob's birthday, I jumped in the water and told him I would swim for him that day. That was a good practice.

I have not been on my A game lately and missed a couple weeks practice but tomorrow I will swim for Robert who we lost to Mito on Friday.

 I will also think of his parents, Kevin and Lorene as I hold my breath and jump. 

Grief moves around us like water. It is complex and porous.....it can seep into the tiniest of places; crack rocks, move houses and create islands.

And in time, it can carve a new path.....in time.

Tomorrow is not the time. Tomorrow is just a day to hold my breath, jump in the pool, think of Robert and breathe.









Monday, February 13, 2017

Heartbreak Beat

"I was called the Death Doula once by a friend," my friend Robin told me on a hike this weekend.

I laughed out loud.

Maria, Robin and I hiked Fern Canyon. Our first meeting of SOOTHE. A group born of Mamas who have lost Littles.  

Sisters Out of Tragic Heartbreaking Experiences.....SOOTHE...it's catchy, right?

I like to think of it as a grief group born out of people who hate grief groups. It was a lovely, honest hiking day.

This week has been a week. I have tried to put emotion into a box that I can file.

But it doesn't seem to fit. My files are legal size and my box is letter and I struggle to put it all into something I can fit underneath my desk.

Maybe it shouldn't fit.

It all started last week with a friends brother-in-law who suddenly died. He was my age and loved the Smiths and Kate Bush. The last time I saw him was at my friends' amazing wedding which was ages ago. I love my friends. They loved their brother ardently. I joined them to celebrate his life.

You know what happens after you go to a memorial service?

You are so stinkin' nice.

I found myself that night at Home Depot after the service looking for a gallon of DefBlue for my diesel. The poor Home Depot Lady had to get on the ladder that you strap into and has a lift to go up to the third tier on the Home Depot shelf.....like 30 feet in the air.

And I said a little prayer.

"Please God, do not let the Home Depot Lady fall while getting my gallon of DefBlue. I just listened to Meat is Murder with a hint of Psychedelic Furs and I am in my good, sad place. Just let me be."

You are depressed but you're remarkably dressed

Alas. I thanked my Home Depot Lady. Got my diesel exhaust cleaning fluid and remarked on how busy a Home Depot is on a Saturday Night.

Everyone needs lumber tonight.

A night when my friend's family is saying a final goodbye.

"I am human and I need to be loved. Just like everybody else does."

Life is ironically trivial at times.

The night before we found out Hubs cousin died after coming up from a scuba diving expedition in Florida.

I really liked my cuz-in-law. He had a handlebar mustache, wore three piece suits and was incredibly engaging. 

I am sad he is no longer here.

To make it a trifecta, a high school friend died on Friday. I liked my friend. She was kind, tenacious, and she loved her daughter with a mama bear heart. I knew her least out of many who loved her fiercely but I know the world was better with her in it. I know what her Loves face the next couple months and I hate it.

When I write, I usually listen to classical music so words do not distract me. Tonight I call upon my post punk, gothic, new wave, teen angst.

That seems to make more sense than anything 'adulty'.

Shoplifters of the World Tonight and Take Over.....Don't You Forget About Me and I'm feeling Pretty in Pink

......God Damn it...... I don't want to be a Death Doula.

Where the F*CK is my Joy Division?

I'm too young for this shit.




Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dragons

Social Media seems madder than a dragon trying to blow out his birthday candles.
 
You get it? Because he breathes fire? So the candles never go out? The only thing that would make that dragon more mad was if that cake was an ice cream cake.

I love ice cream cake.

I should take a break from social media because I'm that friend that takes everything one...little....step further and ends up poking that dragon.

I find it endearing. I also find it miraculous that I still have my friend on social media. You're good people.

I marched yesterday. I don't need to. We don't have living children. We both have good jobs. We have insurance. The market is on the up and up. I can just put my head down and plow through the next four years.

But sometimes in this life, I feel amazingly vulnerable and I can't imagine how those who live their lives constantly in this state must feel right now.

I had to find an new OB-GYN this month. I hate going to the lady doctor so I have not gone to the lady doctor for five years. I hit 46 this month and decided it was time. Filling out the paperwork made me hyperventilate a little.

How many times have you been pregnant?

List the dates of those pregnancies

How many living children?

Ugh. I drove to the office, paperwork in hand and thought about how vulnerable I felt; on the fringe of society with two babies who are not with us. I dreaded sad looks, telling my history while wearing a gown that ties in the front.

I walked into a quiet office with a poster of the seven dwarfs of menopause.

In case you are wondering, they are Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Bloated, Sleepy, Forgetful and Psycho. I met with an empathetic doctor who listened to my history, ordered a new IUD, blood work and gave me a hug.

You now have to wait five weeks for an IUD. Insurance processes the request, calls you to make sure you're legit and sends you your very own. Apparently, my IUD is a coveted apparatus.

"Does it come monogrammed with my name?" I asked the doc.

"You should ask Cigna. I'm sure they would monogram it" She said.

I handed over my insurance card. I wanted to kiss it. For many, this visit is not as smooth, nor does their IUD come monogrammed.

This week I also had a mammogram because you know, 46. I drove to Rocky Mtn Medical. Samantha was their very first air lift ten years ago. I blew the helipad a kiss.

"All of our mammograms are now 3d. Your insurance doesn't always cover this. Call us if you get a bill and we will take care of it." The woman who checked me in said.

And once again, as the tech contorted the girls, I felt grateful.....

Okay, felt is not the operative word. I FELT really uncomfortable. I WAS, however grateful.

Four weeks ago I went down to the Denver Rescue Mission to deliver coats, socks and money that my company raised during our Turkey Trot.

I had a bucketful of socks and $456. The weekend before had been bitter cold and the man receiving donations had tears in his eyes.

"$456 wow, we weren't planning on this. Ma'am, thank you so much. This will help so much. It's been cold, and it's the holidays and people are just so sad. Thank you."

He took my hand and held it tightly.

"God Bless." He said.

And I cried.

And so I walked yesterday. Because why should I be so lucky? To have my healthcare, to have a roof, and access to good food? To be loved and supported by my family, friends and community? The very least I can do is to insure that others can have socks and an uncomfortable 3D mammogram as well.



Monday, December 5, 2016

Colorado Gives Day- Give Where You Live

When Samantha died we raised $8,000 from her Memorial Fund.

$8,000 is a lot of money.

And it could have gone a lot of places; Children's Colorado, the UMDF, MitoAction.....but nothing resonated.

I wanted to make this $8,000 count. Really count. Like Superman stopping the earthquake count.

I wanted to make this Memorial Fund money as impactful as Samantha.

And whatever materialized from this fund, I wanted to keep this money in Colorado.

Because when you are sick, when you are searching for your tribe, it's good to know you have something in your backyard.

Many times I was told how great the Mito clinic in Cleveland is.

And you know what? It is great. It is an awesome clinic. But if you are sick or your kiddo is sick, sometimes Cleveland might as well be on the moon.

Colorado Gives is not just about us: it's about all of the other services our state provides from the Mental Health Center of Denver, to Animal House, to Rocky Mountain Food Bank.....the care and compassion generated here is pretty stinkin' awesome.

So tomorrow if you have an extra 10 spot in your chinos, pass it onto your favorite local nonprofit.

Give local.

Because if you are ever looking for help.....it never helps to hear "well you know, they have a great center for this in Albany."

Thank you awesome tribe. You can donate to your favorite Mito Cause here:

https://www.coloradogives.org/miraclesformito