Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I miss him

I thought I was ready ... well, yes, I am ready. This first part of the journey back to my 'before' life really should have been the easy part. I'm only here in Honolulu because Jer has never been to Hawaii and he wants to see Pearl Harbor and meet up with an old high school friend. The real emotions will come to play when I get to Hana because that was a very special place for Vern & I. Sigh.

So let me just say from the start that Hawaiian Airlines is fabulous! I'm a big Southwest fan, but Hawaiian really knows how to treat their guests. It was a lovely, smooth flight. We even arrived about 30 minutes early!

Grabbed a shuttle to the hotel. Surprising amount of traffic at 6am, so it took awhile. The last time I was here was in 1990 - after we dealt with the pancreatic cancer scare - and it has definitely grown. We arrived at Stay Hotel Waikiki which I booked through Booking.com - first time.  Definitely the last time.  This is the room they showed on my reservation email:


And this is the room we got:


I was standing right at the back wall when I took this photo. Teeny tiny space. We were so tired, we just both laid down and fell asleep. When we woke up a few hours later, Jer made arrangements to meet up with his friend and headed off to the beach. If I were 40 years younger and planned to spend all day at the beach and only land at the hotel to sleep, then perhaps I could have just made the best of it. But I'm 65. And while I don't stay in 5 Star hotels, I do like a little space and comfort and this room had none of that. Not even any room to open the suitcases except on the beds. 

Let me add that the Booking.com reservation was non-refundable. And a gal from the front desk had called to see if we needed anything and when I shared my disappointment that this room was not at all what I had expected, she offered nothing. So I felt trapped. I thought I had gotten a good deal (which is why I did the non-refundable reservation) - but as I sat in the tiny hot space and started feeling depressed, I decided to check the hotel web site to see what they would charge for the room I thought I was going to get. It was cheaper than what I had paid. Argh!!!

And I missed Vern. He would have handled this mess. He should be here, ya know.

And then I got angry.  And I wrote my very first ever bad review. 

I posted it on the FB pages of both Booking.com and the hotel. And decided to suck it up and learn from this mistake ... and headed over to the beach for a mai tai to give me the strength to do just that.

I ordered my drink and sat there looking out at that lovely beach with the ocean at my feet and I missed Vern. And the tears started. Thank the dear Lord for sunglasses and paper napkins.

And then my phone rang with an unknown local number. I don't usually answer unknown callers, but thought maybe Jer had lost his phone so I answered.  It was the hotel's general manager. And she had seen my post and was very kind.  And here's the room we're in now:


Just a little bit of a difference, eh?  Still not like the photo, but quite nice. And there's a desk and a bathroom you can actually walk in and shut the door.

So all's well that end's well, huh?  A good lesson learned.  I'm now starving and going to meet Jer and his friends at a sushi restaurant. I've never had sushi ... may be time to give it a try.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My unexpected ride at Toronto Pearson

Yesterday was a long travel day, but I arrived in beautiful Toronto safe and sound and just slightly bruised ... my ego, that is.

My neighbor gave me a ride to the airport at 9:30 and my TSA Pre status helped me avoid a very long security check line. My full flight of 250+ passengers apparently arrived in Toronto at the same time as several other large flights because the queue to get through customs was out the door. But when I finally got to the front of the line, I sailed right through ... so thankful I didn't have a repeat experience of the past two years where I was taken to a 'room down the hall' for further questioning and a thorough going through of my luggage.

I headed off to find my way to the Union Pearson Express train and found I'd need to go up a level or two. First one, I took the elevator because it was right there. Second one ... the escalator was right in front of me and I was sure I could maneuver my 45 pound big suitcase and small carry-on without an issue. Not!

I positioned my carry-on on a step, me on the next one, and my big suitcase on the one behind me. I got this! What I didn't realize, however, is that one wheel of my big case was on my step ... and then all of us were tumbling. Yeah, that was me.  Thank God for the kind man and woman a few steps below me. They stopped my ride down the escalator or else I would have landed face first at the bottom. Instead, I landed face down on top of my big suitcase, still holding onto my carry-on. Oh and with some of the kind man's coffee on me, too. So very embarrassing.

I am grateful that I didn't break a hip or anything else. Just a little sore today. So I declined joining Michele on her run.  Hah! I would have easily come up with another excuse to decline that invitation.

So a lesson learned. I'm no longer 35 ... and it's ok. I can still do a lot of things, I just need to recognize when it's better for me to choose a safe or an 'old lady' way of doing something and remain upright.

OMG ... they have photos of people falling on escalators?!? I surely hope my ride doesn't end up out in cyberspace!  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Missing you on the day you left

I doubt these 30 days in August/September will ever become 'easy'. I miss him. However, as our August 23rd wedding anniversary started that final countdown this year, I can say my heart hasn't hurt as deeply as it did early on. It's no longer a constant physical pain, but rather one that visits from time to time. And I honor it when it visits. I give myself grace.  Today ... the anniversary of the day Vern died is one of those days.

Six years.

It just does not seem possible that six years have passed. I can easily forget where I've placed my keys or hidden the titles to our cars, but I can transport back to 'that day' in a heartbeat and recall every single precious second. The words, the sounds, the peace, the love. And the silence.

My soul knows ... even after six years have passed, I still wake up around 3:30am each day - regardless of what time I crawled into bed. That was the time I had to get up each morning to give Vern his meds before heading out the door at 4:30 for dialysis. That didn't happen this morning. Instead, I awoke at 5am ... the time he died. Six years ago. My heart knows.

My previous blog post mentioned the conversation I had with Mary-Anne Wagner. What a precious gift that has been during these 30 days. I have felt wrapped up in the comfort of the words and visuals she shared with me. I'm not alone, Vern is right by my side. Forever and always. And I must say that the little 'heart' surprises have been plentiful lately.

This has been a busy week. Prepping for our Toronto Camp Widow, working on a class for Brave Girl University, trying to finish up my new web site, working on all of the fabulous details to include in my first soul restoration retreat, staying on top of the activity in Widowed Village, posting my regional group events. I say 'yes' too often, I know, but these are all things that are very important to me. Oh - and I'm also taking an online course through UCBerkeley on 'The Science of Happiness" and doing the "Uninvited" online Bible study with Proverbs31.

I'm 65 ... I have a limited time to do all of the things I need to do to 'become all that I am". So I will pack as much into my days as I possibly can doing good things, being of service, learning, teaching, sharing, giving, listening, caring, loving ... because I know Vern is watching ... and enjoying ... it all.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Soul Knows ....

This time of year always seems to bring memories and triggers. Our wedding anniversary is in August and September holds the end days. I've learned what I need to do is just ride the wave and give myself some grace whenever it's needed.

So far this year these months have brought the death of a friend (with the funeral at the same mortuary Vern was at), followed later that same day by a widow friend entering the hospital (and being in the exact same room Vern was in the last time he was there), coming face to face with a couple of my moon people (this is a Brave Girl reference), sitting on a jury looking at spinal MRIs and listening to doctors (words not heard since caring for Vern) and yet another widow friend is in the hospital. Instead of these things bringing me to my knees I found the memories they triggered to be almost comforting ... reminders of the amazing love and soul connection Vern & I shared for 41 years.

Perhaps these were tests to see just how well I'm doing as the 6 year death anniversary date approaches. And I can honestly say that I'm doing ok. Really. That doesn't mean that I don't still have days that I must sit with my grief. I miss him. I will always miss him. This life I'm living now is not at all what I expected it to be. Not at all what I wish it could be. But wishing will not bring my beloved back. So I will live my life for both of us. And I will be quiet and sit with my grief when I must. There is room for both.

My life is filled with many good things. Unexpected things. Friends - in-person and online - that I would never have met without my loss. Creativity and art and retreats and learning and writing that I am quite sure I would not have experienced if we were still 'Vern & Dianne'. I'd give it all up in an instance if it would bring him back, but I know that cannot happen. So instead I choose to be very grateful for the blessings of these unexpected gifts.


Mary-Anne Wagner was one of the speakers at the Brave Girl Symposium. Her soul counseling presentation really spoke to me so I contacted her to schedule a session and it landed just two days after my anniversary. It was an amazing conversation that validated several things in my life and will stay with me forever. One was the beautiful connection that Vern and I have ... even now ... which reinforces why I have no desire or need to seek a new partner. Hearing that he is enjoying watching me have this time in my life was a truly wonderful gift.

And then there's my unexpected gift at WalMart. Her name is Donna. I was in the paint aisle when a woman commented that she liked my haircut and color. I shared my stylist's contact info and we started chatting and didn't stop for over two hours! We just couldn't believe all of the things we have in common. Kindred souls.

I guess the take-away from this post is that I hope you will be open to all of the possibilities that life presents to you. Try new things. Listen to your gut. Hear those whispers. Act on them. You just never know what lovely things they may bring to you.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Our 47th Wedding Anniversary Remembrance

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do this year to honor our wedding anniversary. I loved that first year so much (45 Random Acts of Kindness) but found last year to be difficult. The 5 year mark hit me really hard, so instead of doing something that required me to physically interact with others I just slipped my love notes in public places for unknown people to find (It's all about the LOVE).  So here I was facing my 6th wedding anniversary without Vern and wanting to continue to do something special to honor the love we shared.

And then I recalled Lisa Palmer's presentation about the homeless at the Brave Girl Symposium and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I created these little packages with a love note, encouraging words, a little heart token and $5 tucked inside and distributed them to the homeless people I encountered.



It took me a few days and I still had some envelopes to give out - but as luck would have it, I was selected for jury duty and spent a full week downtown. Sadly, I saw many homeless on my walk from the parking garage to the courthouse. Some were curled up sleeping in a shaded spot by a building, so I just slipped my little package along side them as they slept. Others were sitting on benches or on the curb under the shade of a tree. Handing them these little love notes and having them look right at me and say 'thank you' confirmed that I had made the right choice in how to share my anniversary love this year. In fact, it's been such a good thing that I've made extras that I carry with me so I can continue to give them out.

Sharing love is a gift to yourself. Try it. I guarantee it will fill your heart. And, for me, each time I have handed out one of my little notes I actually feel Vern whispering his love for me.