Four Decades

Back on our wedding day, exactly 40 years ago today, this milestone was nothing more than a vision in the far distant haze of life.

I asked him tonight what his most memorable memories were (aside from the birth of our three kids of course) over the past 40 years. After a few moments of pondering he said “This will come as a surprise to you…” It was a day we’d spent, years ago when the kids were young, at the beach on South Padre Island. Kids were having a blast, and the weather was perfect. I remember it pretty well. Turns out, he clearly recalls that he’d wished we could just stay there forever.

The second thing he mentioned was an even bigger surprise to me. It was the day I had to say a very emotional farewell to my horse, who was going to a new home. We were living in southern California then, and while making the long drive home from the barn for that final time, I’d called him at work from my car. I was crying so hard on the phone, I had difficulty getting the words out. Geoff had never had any interest in the whole horse thing, but had always tried to be a good sport about it for me, because I was heavily IN it. Which is why I was so surprised to hear him say tonight that the memory of that phone call stands out prominently in his mind. 

Over the decades, he’s cheered me on in my accomplishments, both professional and personal, and been supportive of every decision I’ve ever made, including the tough decisions that cancer has thrown my way. Four decades ago, I couldn’t have wished for anything more. He’s everything to me, and then some.

Do You Take Your Surroundings For Granted?

image_2As I review the iPhone photos that I took last weekend while hiking a local area with my dear friend, I wonder how many of us really take the time to notice our surroundings.  I mean, really notice.  Having lived all over the country, I feel blessed to have lived in so many spectacular locations over the years:  Colorado, New Mexico, and California are by far the top contenders for scenic awe. Other places I’ve lived are also gorgeous areas of the country: Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio and Illinois.  Well, wait.  Illinois and Gorgeous in the same context?  Hmmm….maybe not. BUT, Illinois is pretty darned memorable with that famous mid-west hospitality they’ve nurtured over the generations. Same with Ohio…although the area in Ohio where I lived truly IS gorgeous.  Those states get a bad rap for climate alone.  But is that really fair?  image_8

No matter where we live at any given time, our surroundings are what makes a place feel like home.  If the skies are gray, the dingy snow everlasting, the weather volatile, home is where the heart is.  The physical surroundings become less important than the emotional ones.

When the geography catches your eye each and every time you’re out there in nature,  then just count yourself as being completely blessed.

These photos are where I live.  It’s so accessible it’s inexcusable for me to NOT be out there every single day.  Yet, I’m only out there once or twice a month on average.  Life gets so busy that I sometimes forget what’s right in my own backyard.

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This particular day, I enjoyed this challenging hike immensely as my dear friend and I took our time to catch our breath take in the views and appreciate our good health which was instrumental to completing this adventure.  Her health journey has been very challenging these past two years with a hip replacement, followed by marital separation, which was trumped when a heart attack truly put her life into fine focus.

So we took our time.  We took deep breaths.  We took some photos. We took some video footage. We chatted, we gazed, we laughed, and we pondered those steep ascents and steeper descents. We pushed forward as we navigated loose gravel on slopes steeper than our comfort levels.

When we completed our five mile hike, we were elated and relieved.  We did it.  My friend commented afterwards that she’d didn’t know what to think.  It was incredulous to her that she was able to complete that hike.  Life is like that.  We can’t always see the unexpected bends in the road, but we learn to navigate.  One step at a time.

How lucky we are to live where we do.  How lucky I feel to have dear friends who encourage and challenge each other.  We’re blessed, all of us.

Do you take your surroundings for granted?

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Don’t Look Back

 

pathIt was startling to find, and difficult to confirm. Even though my doctor told me the imagery was clear, I knew that there was something amiss. To appease me, she sent me on for an ultrasound. I had to wait four more weeks to get the appointment, scheduled for late November. And it was there that the radiologist decided to err on the side of caution, taking six core samples to be sent off for biopsy.

Prepping my dinner table the eve before Thanksgiving, I took a call from the hospital. Pathology results were in.

It was a Thanksgiving of blessings.  Gazing at the faces of my many loved ones, I formulated a plan: take whatever steps necessary to steal my good health back.

I had surgery two weeks later, expecting eight full weeks of radiation to follow.  But pathology from surgery showed more problems…the margins weren’t clean. Malignant cells had been left behind.

Back to surgery one more time, this one scheduled for Christmas Eve.  My surgeon felt it was important to move quickly, so the holiday took a back seat.

Christmas Day was a day of blessings. Looking at the faces of my children gathered around me, I saw the road ahead with acute clarity. I expedited the healing process.

New Years Eve I took at call in the last hours of daylight.  My surgeon identified herself by her first name.  It took me a moment to understand, but then in an instant, I got it.

My husband wasn’t yet home from work, so I reached him on his cell phone to suggest we meet up at a local spot for a festive drink together.  Let’s ring in the New Year a few hours early, I suggested.

The pub was packed with revelers, all in good cheer as they sat at tiny tables sharing appetizers and raucous laughter together.  Spotting a quiet corner, I grabbed a newly vacated table for two and waited for his arrival.

His eyes lit up when he spotted me.  We spent two hours talking about a thousand things, as we’d always done throughout our twenty-five years of partnership together. I waited until he was finishing his third glass of wine before I broke the news.

With an incredulous stare, he struggled to retain emotional control. I reached across the small table and held his hands firmly in my own. Listen to me, I said.  I’ll get through this.  It’s doable…it’s just body parts. I can live without body parts.

Sometimes the most unexpected journeys teach you the most profound lessons.  For example, if you simply keep your eye on the horizon, you can travel just one day at a time. By doing so, statistics on travel time become irrelevant because the only timeline you’re on is the one you choose to manage.

The horizon is always there…just waiting for you to arrive, no matter how long the journey. Don’t look back and most certainly don’t look down.

 

 

First rain of the season..

With little drama, the first real rain has arrived. Ushering in the start of a new week, and for my dear friend, the start of a new life.  Whether she wanted one or not, she awoke yesterday morning to find her husband not only packed but walking out that door. To be sure,  there was anger, rage and pain.  And surely a tremendous flood of tears. I don’t know about lost love…that’s a hard one to figure.  But I imagine the hurt cuts deep no matter if the thread for love was still thinly strung or severed many years ago.

As I lie in bed listening to the steady fall of drops against the window, I wonder about the lives we all lead.  About the decisions we all make when we’re young and hopeful.  The roads that lead us to the HERE and NOW.  Sometimes curve balls come in so fast, we don’t stand a chance.  Other times, we know it’s coming, and we still don’t swing the bat.  We just let it roll.  We stand in that batters box through thick and thin.  We accumulate the years of dormancy, then frustration, then anger and then overwhelming sadness.  For what we hoped would be a home run was nothing more than a strike out.  And we never even took a swing at the pitch.

But we’re resilient, aren’t we?  My dear friend is stronger than she knows, yet refuses to reach out to those who only want to help in any way we can.  To be a shoulder or an ear, or a sounding board.  I think about my own life, my own marriage, my own blessings.  I’m so lucky in everything that counts. Loved ones that extend across the country, with routine calls that only close-knit families would understand.  Happily married for almost 35 years, 3 wonderful children who have blossomed into 3 wonderful adults.  Each making their own choices in this world of theirs.  I’m so proud, so humbled and so very damn lucky.  And, if for some reason, an unexpected curve ball comes my way and manages to knock me off my feet, I have no doubt that I’ll be stronger in the end.  One way or the other, I won’t be looking back because tomorrow has only one path forward, just as yesterday’s path has already been washed away with the rain.