Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Kenny 1960 - 2011

Today is Kenny's birthday....he would have been 52. Such a young life, but as he would say, such a full life. He told me before he died that he felt he had lived a very wonderful life and had accomplished everything he had hoped to. The only thing he was still wanting was more time with me. Of course, that was not to be, but for the time we did have, we were both so grateful. Happy Birthday Kenny!





Monday, December 10, 2012

Dating..... I have been on a few dates lately. I have even met some really nice guys. But what happens to me, after I come back from a date, is I miss Kenny all the more. It almost seems like the nicer the guy, the harder the hurt. I can only think that must be so, because here I am, out with a truly great guy can't even come close to the person I had before.

I really do wonder if there could ever be another. I have always thought so, but at times I have my doubts. I remember talking with Kenny about this when we knew he was going to be leaving me. "I don't know if anyone could love me like you do," I told him through my tears. And he responded something to me that I will always remember and have always held close...."you can teach someone else to love you, just like you taught me to love you". He went on to explain that, yes, he loved me, but he was motivated to find out how to love me in the way I needed him to love me. Apparently I taught him well, for I was loved beyond anything I could have ever even hoped for.

Kenny was an amazing man and he left some pretty big shoes to fill, but I have often thought it will not be the person himself I will be comparing. Kenny is Kenny, and to compare anyone to him would be completely unfair and totally unproductive. If I choose to do that I may as well accept the fact that I will  live the rest of my life alone. No, what I will be comparing is how this person makes me feel. Kenny made me feel completely happy. That is what I know I need, and if it is not there in the same measure, then I will have to conclude that person is not for me. I cannot, will not, must not settle for less. It would not be fair to me nor to him. And another thought I have had lately, taking this a bit further, is not only do I need to feel loved, but do I feel I can give love in the same measure that I gave to Kenny. I felt completely and totally abandoned to him. No reservations, no holding back. I want and need that too....and the truth is that one may be the more difficult one to come by.

And so....I have another man on the line....waiting for my answer on a date number two. No....I don't want to go.....and I have to do what I hate to do and explain that I am not interested in taking this any farther. I suppose for now I need to conclude that I am just not ready.  I really do believe I will find love  again someday, but for now I think the choice has been made. As much as I may have thought I was ready to move on, I believe I will just have to linger here awhile longer.....

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Year and a Half

When Kenny was in the earlier stages of ALS we went to our local hospital for him to get fitted for a hand brace in the occupational therapy department. While he was getting fitted and chatting with the OT, another OT came over and introduced herself. She overheard us talking and told us that her husband, who also lives in Carmel Valley, also had ALS. He was in the latter stages she told us, and gave us her card....."if there is anything I can do to help". On other visits to the OT we would talk with Amy and got to know her situation more. And then one day we heard he died.

Kenny and I were driving around CV one sunny, Sunday afternoon, and noticed a large gathering of people barbecuing at the local park. We knew it was a gathering, a celebration really, honoring the life of this man we had never met, yet somehow felt a connection to. We stopped and immediately Amy came over to us. We almost felt like celebrities as she dragged us around and introduced us to all her friends, informing them that Kenny also had ALS. I felt a little awkward when we first got out of the car to join this group of people that we really didn't know, but when we left I knew that the time spent was important for Amy, and for us too.

I have spoken with Amy a few times since that day. I believe it was our last conversation, one that occurred not too long after Kenny died, that she said " took me about a year and a half, and then I was OK".  I remember at the time thinking that a year and a half seemed like a long time, but now that I am here I see that is not the case. It is strange really....because it seems like almost yesterday that he was here.... and yet it seems like a lifetime ago....and both at the same time.

I am not sure if I am "OK" but I would like to think I am. I still cry...yes. I have my moments. But they are moments now....not days. And I find that I am looking ahead more than I am looking behind. I probably shouldn't think this way, but I sometimes wonder if my best days are behind me. Perhaps that is so....but they were the greatest of days.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Life Saver

I have a life saver and his name is Red. I don't know how I would have gone through this past year without my Kenny had it not been for him. From the moment I got him I loved him. We bonded. We became a pair. He needed me and I most certainly needed him.  He knows the sound of my car and even before I park he is at the fence waiting for me, ears perked, ready to go.

I have had Red (aka: Red Hot Command) for just over a year. I board him at a trainers facility where I am in partial training. Although I rode as a kid and knew the basics, I was clueless in the kind of riding that I wanted to do, which is Ranch Versatility. Ranch Versatility is basically an event which shows off what a good ranch horse can do. This would include things like a trail course, reining patterns, boxing and cutting cows, roping....etc. Red is a finished reined cow horse, so he is really, really good with cows. I on the other hand am having to learn. I am getting braver. It can be intimidating running your horse along side a cow and keeping it from getting past you. "I'm afraid I am going to crash Red into the fence" (!!!) I would tell my trainer and she has assured me that he knows better....he can stop before that happens. So I am learning to let kick up the trust.

I've been in several competitions over the spring and summer and all in all feel we did really well as first timers. It has given me something to work at.... to focus do. These coming months will be spent getting ready for the next years events. There are a lot of things to work on in the days ahead and I will enjoy every minute of it. And most certainly I will love my horse and he will love me back. And that, in a nutshell, is all that really matters.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lehigh University

Last weekend I went to a dedication in Kenny's honor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he graduated from college. The college is old and grand and very much "East Coast".  Kenny was not only tremendously smart, but he was also highly athletic and played two varsity sports throughout and track and field. He broke the decathlon record back in 1983 and it has never been broken since. His Chi Psi brothers had decided to raise money for a new "Ken Jones Records Board" to be placed in the newly refurbished indoor track and field house....a board which would display all the records which Lehigh held in track and field.  The dedication and ribbon cutting of the new field house and the display of the new records board was last weekend, and I, along with another two hundred people attended. His family was there, fraternity brothers, friends, coaches, etc.

It was a crisp fall morning, and before the ribbon cutting a brunch was held in the outdoor pavilion. As I was walking up I felt the emotion rising, I felt the tears wanting to come full force. This was for "him". This gathering of people, this festive yet somewhat somber event. I found his mother in whom I had not seen since Kenny's memorial service although I talk with her often on the phone. His sister, niece, and friends that I had met before. It was good to be there in the company of people who knew my Kenny and loved him dearly. From there we went to the door of the new field house where I, along with his old coach and a fraternity brother cut the ribbon. We filed into the large building and gathered under the huge records board. There we had a short presentation and words were spoken about Kenny. Next to the board off to the side, was a smaller board with a picture of Kenny, date of birth and death, and a bio of his life. What an accomplished man he was.

From there we went to the early afternoon Lehigh football game and then on to Kenny's old frat house for a reception party. It was here that I mingled among his old fraternity brothers and their wives, most of whom I had met before. His sister had thrown a party with all of them just days before Kenny had to move into his wheelchair, so my first meeting with all of them was then. I loved hearing story after story about him that I had not heard before....still getting to know my Kenny. "It's not because he is gone from us that we say all these wonderful things about him....he was truly wonderful and humble even back then and we really, really loved him", was the gist of many conversations.

It was great being there. And the tearful emotion that overtook me in the beginning had moved on to a joyful, happy, and heartwarming emotion. I felt proud that I had known this man. And not only did I know him, but I was loved by him. This man with all his amazing accomplishments and great successes in life had chosen me to be his life partner. Someone said to me, and I can't remember who, that of all the great things Kenny had in this life, I was what mattered most to him. I actually really do believe that....because he told me so himself.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Today would have been Kenny and my third anniversary. We only celebrated our first, he was gone before the second, and now, another year. I can hardly believe it. It has now been just over 15 months since Kenny left.

 I remember April 2011, about a month before Kenny died and he said, "I think I am going to be here for our second anniversary". I wish I could say I was thrilled for his optimism and truly hoped he would be here in September, but the awful truth is I shuddered at the thought. I was worried that I would not be able to take care of Kenny in the end. Afraid I would not have the strength to get him out of bed, move him to his wheelchair, help him in all the ways he needed my help. Afraid the stress and my nerves would fail me and I would somehow lash out at Kenny and make him feel like a burden. I felt like I was walking on thin ice that was about to crash through at any time....and he was talking of hanging in there for another four months? It sounded overwhelming to me.....could I do it? I didn't think so and apparently God didn't think so either because He took Kenny home the following month. My second anniversary was to be spent alone. And now, my third, alone again by choice.

One thing I have learned about dealing with a loved one who is dying and the grief that follows once they are gone is that there is no script to adhere to. Nothing that says, "this is how it will all go down". I think it must be different for everyone....different and yet the same. Pain is pain and we all must go through it at some point in our lives.  But I have learned to be easy on myself. To be ok with where I am at knowing it is a process and something I have to go through.

So I will stay home alone all day on a third anniversary....canceling previous plans because I just don't feel like being with people. I can do that....I get to do that.... I must do that.

So...."Happy Anniversary to the best, sweetest, most amazing husband that ever lived! You were the most wonderful person I have ever known and you changed my life forever. I so look forward to the day when I will see you again." (sigh)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sleepless in Seattle

Saturday night I stayed home and flicked through the TV stations trying to find something interesting to watch. I landed on Sleepless in Seattle, a favorite movie I have watched at least a half a dozen times before. It had been a few years since I last saw it, so I settled down with my popcorn and a glass of white wine to watch. I've always enjoyed the movie, concentrating solely on the love story developing between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. But this time I saw it with different eyes. I saw the part where 'Sam' was grief stricken over the loss of his wife and he could not see how life could go on without her.

This conversation struck me....

Doctor Marcia Fieldstone: People who truly loved once are far more likely to love again. Sam, do you think there's someone out there you could love as much as your wife? 
Sam Baldwin: Well, Dr. Marcia Fieldstone, that's hard to imagine. 
Doctor Marcia Fieldstone: What are you going to do? 
Sam Baldwin: Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while. 
Doctor Marcia Fieldstone: Tell me what was so special about your wife? 
Sam Baldwin: Well, how long is your program? Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together... and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home... only to no home I'd ever known... I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like... magic. 

Yes, I cried watching the movie. But I also was a little hopeful too. I realize Dr. Marcia Fieldstone is just an imaginary "doctor" in a movie, but what she said gave me something to think about....."People who truly loved once are far more likely to love again". I kinda agree.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Danced

I danced last night. It was the first time I have danced in over two years. Kenny and I would dance whenever there was an opportunity. Neither one of us were great at it, but we both knew how to move to the beat, and even more importantly, we both just had fun. On a cruise we would go to the dance classes that were made available and practice what we learned. Here in Monterey we took dance lessons, whether country line dancing or ballroom. We were in the process of ballroom dance lessons when ALS took over and he no longer could keep up. That was the end of dancing for us, and the end of dancing for me.

There is a hot spot here in the valley called Baja Cantina. It is a Mexican food restaurant with a large patio where a band plays on weekends. Margaritas and beer are flowing, a huge glowing fire is keeping everyone warm, colored lights are criss crossed overhead, and people dance. Last night we were a table of eight and I had invited my friend Rob to join as I am just plain tired of flying solo to every event I go to. We had a table inside, enjoyed our meal, and could hear the band starting up outside. When the bill had been paid, we all headed outside. Before I could think of an excuse not to dance, or muster the courage up to actually do it, Rob grabbed my hand and had me out on the floor. And it was great. It was fun. It made me smile and laugh and feel all aglow. I didn't want to stop and indeed we stayed until the last song played.

I wondered if and when I would every feel like dancing again. I've sat and watched others dance but never felt up to getting out there myself. I have been coaxed to "come on and dance with us" but I had absolutely no desire so I would sit on the sidelines watching. But last night was different. Last night, I did it. I was ready. And it felt right....and it felt good.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Another birthday....

I made it through the year and hit every "special" day once, so now that I am in the second year, I thought things might be easier. Perhaps certain days will be, but yesterday was my birthday and it was not easy at all. I am not sure why my birthday happens to be a day that is so hard....I know last year it was harder than even Kenny's birthday...or even our anniversary. It just hits me hard.  I realized yesterday that it is not only Kenny I miss, but my mom too. Both made my birthday special at different times in my life. Thank you, Kenny! Thank you, Mom!

I woke up at 6:30 and said out loud to my cat..."today's my birthday"....and tears came. I fell back asleep and an hour later woke up crying. I was dreaming I was in the shower, soap in my hair and a song was playing. I was listening to the words and they reminded me of Kenny. I took the towel and held it as though I was holding Kenny and I started slow dancing in the shower, crying my eyes out. I woke up with that....tears, bawling really, and a heavy, heavy heart. Yes, this was going to be a tough day.

That darn dream set me up for a very tearful morning. I had not made any plans, and most of my friends are not aware of my birthday, so it was a quiet morning save a few calls and texts from close friends and family. I chose not to go to church, simply because I didn't want to. I puttered around, watered the garden, fixed a quesadilla for breakfast, and headed over to visit with Red. By the time I came home I had that old familiar exhaustion that comes when my emotions are raw. I crawled in bed at 11:30 knowing I had plenty of time before my lunch with the kids at 1:30. I woke at 1, startled I had been in bed so long, showered and got myself out the door to spend the afternoon with the kids. I would love to say I rallied completely and that I was happy, but I felt the tears so close to the surface it was hard  to be completely engaged. I told the kids about my day....and they understood. It was a nice afternoon though and I was thankful for the time spent.

Fortunately I had told my friend Rob to keep the night open. When I left the kids house close to six, I really could have gone home and crawled back in bed. But a plan had been made, so I went home, freshened up and met Rob in Carmel. If there is one person on earth that can make me laugh it is Rob. He is fun, really fun, and he always cracks me up even without trying to. It took awhile...but after a glass of wine and good conversation, I felt my old me, my happier me, come back. I was too full to eat because of my late lunch, but I picked sweet potato fries from his plate, and the bartender, who overheard it was my birthday, brought out a huge brownie sundae. So we ate most of second dessert of the day.

My day ended on a good note. My last tears were in the early evening when I told Rob about my dream, and then the night just got better. Tears are part of life, I know this.....there will always be sad times. But there are happy times too. I had both yesterday, and was glad to have ended the day well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Made It Through

Well, I have now officially made it through my first year without Kenny. The month of May was a hard one, mostly because I knew that the 24th was approaching. It came and went, and for the most part I felt much like I did last year after Kenny was gone except in lighter measure. I was tired, emotionally drained and wanting to stick close to home. My bed and my couch were my friends. I could feel it coming on weeks before, but the week of the 24th was when I wanted nothing more than spend most of my time alone. I slept much more than usual, crawling into bed late morning and again in the afternoon. At one point I wondered if I was fighting something as I felt so awfully tired, but no, this was something familiar and it had nothing to do with being sick.

The 24th fell on a Thursday. The following Tuesday I woke up and thought to myself, I am tired of this. I am going to make some choices today that may be hard to do, but I am going to do them. I want/need to feel happy again. So I put on my walking shoes and walked the trails at Garland Park. This place is my usual stomping ground as it is literally around the block from my house and offers 4500 acres of hiking trails. It would be a shame not to take advantage. So I walked that day as I do most days, and I cried as usual at some point on the trail, but it was what I needed. It was the beginning of climbing out of that dark hole. The hole that Kenny would not want me to stay in.

Friday night I ended up going to Carmel Valley Ranch for a glass of wine and bite to eat. I ended up sitting with a few friends and one of them told me she had someone she wanted to set me up with. He was a client of hers who had lost his wife last June. He is 62, from Michigan, lives in Pebble Beach, retired from some position with GM. "Handsome", "tall", "looks good in his jeans" she said. Sounds ideal. I found myself interested and responded with an enthusiastic "set me up"! But I know this.....there will probably be a lot of these little hopeful twists. Someone that sparks my interest but in the end, just not right for me. I know Kenny wants me to find someone. "You're a lover and a wonderful are made to be with someone" he would tell me and I believe that is true. I do want/hope to fall in love again. But there are some pretty big shoes to fill here and I know it will take nothing less than an act of God to bring me someone who loves me like that. But one thing I know for sure....God is good, and God is able.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

One Year.....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

One is a Lonely Number

The other day I was looking at recipes online. I don't cook much these days but I miss having someone to think of during the day and figure out the best meal for 'us' for that evenings meal. Should we sit in the living room by the fire? At the big dining table? Kitchen? Al Fresco? I love puttering in the kitchen and throwing together a simple meal. Red wine or white? I love the whole event of sharing a meal. I thought to myself, perhaps I should do it anyway....just for me. Other single friends I know seem to be able to pull this off. So I was looking at a salmon recipe that looked great and thought that might be a good one to try. On this particular website, you can adjust the ingredient amounts depending on the number of people you want to cook for. I changed the original number from 'six' down to 'one', and as soon as I saw that number I lost it. 'One' truly is the "loneliest number".

I was with an old friend several weeks ago and we were talking about how things were going with me in this current place I am in. "There are a whole lot of worse things than loneliness" he said. Yes....I had to agree. Loneliness is not fun, but when I feel it starting to wrap its ugly arms around me I can often escape it's clutches. It is not the worse thing I have experienced, that's for sure. I have to say that comment he made has stayed with me all these weeks. It has actually propelled me from going down that lonely road to another place that I'm finding is becoming more and more familiar. Thankfulness. Gratitude. Contentment.

I have a good life. A very good life. Of course it was a great life with Kenny here to share it with, but even still it is good. And even though loneliness creeps in now and then, I think of all I have and I cannot stay lonely long. Each day is a new beginning. A new hope. A new adventure. Aside from the best years of my life that I spent with Kenny, I have to say I am happier now than I have ever been. Other than having my Kenny back, I would not change a thing.....

Monday, May 7, 2012

Almost a Year....

Last night I was with a group of friends from church and someone asked me about the upcoming 'date'. The date of May 24th. The one year mark. How was I feeling about it? What was I planning on doing that day? Did I want/need to be around people? Would I like to be alone? A memorial of some type?

I don't know. I just don't know. What I do know is that I can hardly believe it has been almost a year. A year. I talk to Kenny's mom every time the 24th comes up. We talk at other times throughout the month but always on the 24th. Either she calls me, or I call her. "I know we have made him out to be a saint, but he was pretty darn good to me" she often says. Yes, he was pretty darn good to me too, and pretty much a saint in my eyes as well.

Fairly soon after Kenny died, I cleaned out the closets and gave his clothes away. Some things I kept for myself, mostly button down oxford shirts that were a staple of his.....a couple of old sweatshirts....PJ bottoms. I have to say, I wear one of these items pretty much every day. It just feels right. And then there is the Listerine. A huge bottle under the bathroom sink that I finally finished off yesterday. Funny, but it was harder to let go of than the clothes. It was the same Listerine bottle that Kenny used, sipped from to his dying day. I have been rationing it, leaving that last inch at the bottom and taking teeny tiny sips to make it last. It was his Listerine.....his lips touched this daily. I had a hard time letting that one go.

It has been almost a year and at times I think I had an easier go of it 5 months ago, or 8 months ago, or 2 months....I think it is just that there is a marker in the road. I big, glaring marker looming ahead that reminds me.... I had it great once, I had the best. And now he is gone.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Grief is a strange thing. Just when you think it is on the 'outs', it creeps back in. At the beginning of the year, I felt great. Happy. Whole. "This is going to be a great year".... and even though I still believe that to certain degrees, I also know that along with this "great year" there is still going to be a lot of sadness too. It comes with the territory of losing a wonderful person. Someone who knew me better than anyone else on earth.

I knew Kenny for a total of 4 years, 4 months. Even though others have known me for years, no one knew me like Kenny. He wanted to know everything about me and he never ceased to inquire. Not just things about me, but how I felt, what I thought, what made me tick. He never tired in his quest. He wanted to know me. And he was a safe place for me to be myself with. I miss that. Everyone wants to be known.

And so the days meld into one another and I realize that it is now 10 months since Kenny left. What a huge hole he left behind. Every morning my day begins with a cup of coffee, a glass of water, pillows propped on my bed, my Bible, my computer....and box of kleenex. And so it goes....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Kink in the Road

This morning I was picturing myself walking along a fairly wide path meandering through a forest setting. A smaller path was going off to the side of it and I had the thought...." was so easy when I didn't have to decide". That wide path has been my life lately.... since Kenny....walking along, nothing much to worry about....just 'go'. As much as it is not a path of my choosing, I will say that it has become comfortable. And maybe a bit boring. But safe.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Betsy introduced me to her friend Rob. She had told me beforehand that she thought we might get along and that he was a super nice guy. I thought, "what the heck".... I enjoy meeting people and could use some new friends. (I am finding it true, that as a 'single' you are not invited out as much as when you were a 'couple' yet the reality is you need to be invited even more so) He was a pro golfer turned businessman as a horrible car accident changed his life around for him. That was really all I knew about him as I walked into the quaint, classy bar/restaurant in Carmel where we were to meet. He and Betsy were already seated, a chair between them waiting for me. I figured this would be fun, no expectations....just friends meeting friends although I was well aware that this was an informal 'set up'.

I was pleasantly surprised by my initial impression. Seems nice. Pleasant face. Full head of dark hair with just the beginning streaks of gray. Greek. Glasses which actually added to the overall look. Nice dresser. Friendly, outgoing, comfortable. Chemistry! We all chatted it up for quite some time and then at some point Betsy slipped on out and we remained. We walked down to another restaurant in town, a popular Greek restaurant that he was familiar with and it was evident when we walked in that he was loved by all. I could not believe the time....we had met at 6 p.m. and it was now 11:30. The place was almost empty at this late hour but he ordered a bottle of wine and we sipped slowly, eating our hummus and pita and continuing our conversation. I don't know when the last time was that I came home at 1 in the morning. It was a very nice night.

Of course I have picked him apart since then. He is a little on the short side...... because of his accident he lives in constant pain...(although he is extremely positive and does not complain..."I'm alive!")....he has two titanium knees and his whole body cracks when he gets up from a chair....he has glass still embedded in his face... he is a workaholic....(although to his credit his busiest week of the year is the AT&T which is going on now)....I think there are other health issues too....he is 49 but his doctor told him he had the body of an 80 year old. Great.

So we have kept in touch, enjoyed other conversations and social happenings. We have kept things on a friendly note and our times together are often mixed with others. He is nice, really nice. Easy going. Busy. Sort of a whirlwind kind of guy. A people person in the purest form and people love him. But...

Meeting him has caused me problems. This meandering path was just getting palatable. I was just getting used to it. I was sort of liking it really. And as long as there are no other choices, I would say this path was getting easy. Not that I would have chosen this path over my path with Kenny, but I would choose this path over a whole lot of other things that are out there. And now there is this new kink in the road. I like it.... but I don't. I like having someone paying attention to me. Someone that likes me. Someone that wants to get together for a cup of coffee, glass of wine, bite to eat.....someone that pursues....

Yet I feel that invisible arm stretched out. "Keep things at arms length" I subconsciously tell myself. Yes...I believe it is true. I am just not ready for this. Not ready for a relationship. I don't want a boyfriend. At a different place and time in my life I would be all over this guy. He is great....and a really great catch. But I am at this place and this time in my life and I am just not there yet. I lost a pretty wonderful love and I am still working through the pain of that loss. I had it perfect once and that is going to be a tough act to follow.

I do believe I can have that again though. I know I will never have another Kenny and I hope someday I will be able to see someone without comparing. Each person is unique and wonderful in their own right and deserve to be accepted and loved for who they are. I know if and when someone new comes into my life, he will have to be handpicked by God just as I felt Kenny was for me. There is such comfort in that. The path ahead suddenly seems wide and easy again and the choices not nearly so difficult. This will all get figured out. I don't have to fret and worry and know all the answers. There are no hard fast decisions that need to be made today. I just need to take a deep breath....look ahead.... and keep on walking.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

20 Seconds of Insane Courage

I went to a movie last week with my friend Betsy. I was still on the mend, but getting out and going to a movie sounded nice. She had already been to most of the movies I had hoped to see but the movie "We Bought a Zoo" was one she had not yet seen, so we went. There was a quote in the movie that struck me and I find I am carrying it with me even today. I have a feeling this one is going to stick and I like the idea of it.

"You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, great things will come of it".

I went to my daughter's house Sunday night as they were throwing a simple birthday party for Seth who was turning one. Big birthday. I knew my ex and his mother would be there so I went with a slight bit of trepidation. I had not spoken much with her since our split nearly 6 years ago. She had let me know way back then how she felt about me and it was not good. From time to time I have seen her showers, birthdays, etc, but mostly just a "hello" and usually what followed in my head was..."did she say 'hi' back"? These times are never comfortable as I like to be in good graces with everyone. So I went to the party and the first people I saw when I walked through the door were my ex and his mother sitting in the reading room off to the side. I said hello to both of them, purposefully mentioning their names, and continued on into the kitchen where the girls seemed to be hanging out. Safe. Soon after, we were scooping up bowls of soup accompanied with salad and crusty bread and I saw my ex carefully help his 85 year old mother sit back into her chair with her plate and bowl. The girls all seemed to congregate into the dining room and the boys headed back into the living room where a ballgame was on. And then there was Ann....sitting in the reading room alone. And here it was that the quote from the movie came back to me..."20 seconds". So, I gathered a little courage (20 seconds worth!) and sat on the floor next to her chair. "How are you Ann....." and so began a long lengthy conversation. A conversation that said "let bygones be bygones" even though no such words were spoken. It was like old times and I found myself so very thankful for the conversation and the sense that she and I were now "ok". As she was buttoning up her coat to leave I told her that I made her fabulous apple cake recipe for Christmas dinner. Family standing close by who ate the Christmas cake chimed in on how good it was and I could see her beaming. I was glad for the 20 seconds of courage....something very good did come of it.

And then last night, I met up with the same friend I had gone to the movie with at the Rio Grill for a bite. The Rio is a friendly place where you will always see someone you know and I personally feel very comfortable there because at one time it was my workplace. I arrived first, sat at the bar since that was the only available seating, ordered a glass of wine and chatted a bit with someone I knew until Betsy arrived. We had a fun, lively conversation and I told her how that quote from the movie has stayed with me. And now, looking at the year ahead I want to put that one into practice more. At one point Betsy mentioned that the man on the other side of me who I could not see because I was facing her, was quite cute. I turned and eventually brought him into our conversation. He was a visitor from Canada, staying in Carmel and asking of places to see and what to do. When he and Betsy got on a subject that brought the two together, I saw it as my out and said I needed to get going. I got my coat, gave Betsy a hug and whispered in her ear....."20 seconds". She later texted me saying she took the leap and gave him her number. Whether anything comes of it, it doesn't matter....what matters is the leap, the courage, the risk.

I don't know what 2012 has in store for me but standing at the beginning of it I will say that I am feeling brave. I feel like I have crawled out of a dark hole to a beautiful new world and I am feeling whole and alive again. I might not always feel so brave, but I think that a lot of "20 seconds of insane courage" might just be the way to go ..... and who knows? Great things really might just come of it. Yes, I believe it will be so.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I have been sick for six full days now. I finally got myself on a powerful antibiotic so I am hopeful I will be feeling better very soon. I rarely get sick and it has been years since I have felt this bad.

I can't help but feel the emptiness that comes with being alone in a time where you don't really want to be alone. I fill my days up with friends and family, riding my horse, running around, lunches here, happy hour there, and then when I have been out there and done that, home and being alone sounds nice. Or at least nice enough. But now, I am not out and about. I am home, on the couch, watching way too much TV. I rattle around from room to room, a hanky here, a cup of tea there. There is no one here to keep me company. The days are long and I try and stay up late enough so that I am not waking up at 2 a.m. I am bored, and I am never bored. And I am lonely too.

I can't help but think back to Kenny, and how he felt when his body was giving out. Was he bored, and could I have done more? His days must have been long too, and I know he watched TV much more than he ever normally would. I remember setting him up, so that he could watch TV while I slipped out to run to the store, the bank, or wherever. I had my escape. I could get out, shake up my day a little. I wish I could go back and redo some things. But I can't. And I wonder if he got lonely too.

Kenny knew how to stay busy though. He was not afraid of the bus that would take him to town and from there he would wheel himself to the Pacheco Club where he would have lunch with the boys. Sometimes, while he was in town, he would go get his haircut, or better yet, have his feet massaged. Or he would leave our house in his wheelchair and tootle on over to Bernardus, a lovely resort about a half mile from our house and have lunch with friends every Friday. Yes...just thinking about it, I think Kenny was not bored. Not much anyway. He was always ready to do something and his condition did not hinder. The night before he died we went to a party and he ate lasagna and drank a margarita. He was a trooper....and no, I really don't think he was bored. Or lonely. I think he was truly what he always said he was.....happy. And that makes me happy too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I remember last year at this time. Everyone was belting out "Happy New Year" greetings, whether in cards, or in the stores, or friends and acquaintances. There was no getting away from it. But I knew, every time I heard it, that this was not going to be a happy new year. I knew that the year 2011 would most likely be the worst year of my life. And it was.

I knew my wonderful husband was going to pass away, and I knew, standing at the beginning of 2011 that his health was going to deteriorate to the point of....well....I didn't know. I didn't know if I would be able to take care of him until the end and that frightened me. But I knew things were going to get bad, very bad. And then.....when that "bad" was over, when his deteriorating health was no longer the issue, another "bad" would take it's place. He would be gone, and I would have to grope through a darkness I had never been in before and desperately didn't want.

Standing at that first day of 2011 was not a happy day for me. I tried not to let the overwhelming dread come over me, but I think it did. This was going to be a hard year, and yes it proved to be so. Kenny died five months into the year and I was able to care for him to the end. Thank God. There are always bright spots in our darkest times and for me there were many of them. And then, once he was gone, I began, or rather continued, on that road of grieving over a loved one that has gone on without you. A walk no one wants to be on.

So, 2011 was a hard year on so many levels. I am glad it is behind me, yet it will most likely be a year that stays forever embedding in my mind. Like so many other years that meld into one another, this one will stand out as clearly different. I will never forget it, and I really don't want to.

And now I am at 2012 and when I hear the words "Happy New Year", I think "yes!"....this is going to be a good year. I really believe that. I believe there are some wonderful days ahead and I look forward to each one. 2011 taught me, changed me, and hopefully made me better. I didn't look forward to it and I dreaded the day it came, but I will be forever grateful for the journey and the lessons it brought.