Daily Archives: 01/01/2018

Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’til It’s Gone

To say I’ve been negligent of this blog would be an understatement. I just checked the date of my last post: 03 March 2015. The reason for my absence? There has been so much loss in my life in the past two-plus years I sometimes wonder that I can still stand upright let alone walk.

I thought it was bad when my dad died in 2012. He was 98, so nothing to be shocked about, but this daughter was grief-stricken for quite a spell. He was my mentor, my champion, my friend, and my go-to guy for everything political. But his last years were taking their toll; his memory was failing, and I know he would have hated seeing himself in an Alzheimer’s unit.

About two years after that came my mother’s need for relocation. The house they both called home in McMinnville OR was too big and too hard for her to manage. My brother, sister, and various nieces and nephews helped move her to a lovely extended care facility near Portland. In fact, many years ago EMTs told me, when they rolled a patient through the doors of our ER, “If you have to go to one of these, make it this one.” Excellent care, beautiful apartments, gorgeous grounds. And they allowed Mum her dog. Can’t go wrong there.

But soon came broken bones (two fractured hips) before her death at the end of November 2015. I have to hand it to my mother, she went out like a trooper—walking from her kitchen to the living room one afternoon, she just keeled over. Gone. My sister, brother, and I cleaned out the apartment, settled most of her affairs, and I was home in Costa Rica before Christmas.

It is a strange feeling to be orphaned at age 66. It stung much more than I would have thought given my parents’ ages and what significant and satisfying lives they both led. Nevertheless,  I found myself withdrawn and reflective. Was I depressed? Looking back, I think I was. It was a time for journaling, not blogging, I thought. Or…maybe blogging would have been a good thing if I were the sort of person who readily shares her feelings before sorting through the remainders first.

Four months after my mother’s death, my sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Jesus H. Christ, as my father used to say! My brother and I stayed with her through the try at chemo, through the hospice consults, and finally…through the choice of Death with Dignity that Washington state law allows. Thank GOD for that. She was dead within a month, four months after my mother’s death.Three-fifths of my family gone in four years. My brother and I are the last ones standing.

After that, I lost four friends to cancer in rapid succession and two special little Basenjis who still make me cry whenever I think about them too much. They are buried overlooking our big meadow; prayer flags fly overhead to purify the area.

I miss them. I miss them all.

Why am I writing all this now instead of weekly or monthly as things unfolded? Recently, a poet I follow, Molly Fisk, suggested that rather than New Year’s resolutions, which are seldom kept and often silly, we should instead select a word to reflect on over the course of the year. I thought about many words last month. Most of them I realized were words that typify my life, words I feel comfortable around: resilience, strength, indomitable, tenacity. But the word I finally settled on slipped in on the side one day and whispered to me. It’s simple but essential to any writer: open.

So…I hope to be back on the blog in 2018 with writings about Costa Rica, me, my life, and life in general with openness and candor. (Ooh, that’s another good word.)

No coming, no going. No after, no before. Open to all.