Friday, October 19, 2012

An overdue visit

Dr. Gollard and the wonderful people at Cancer & Blood Specialists of Nevada were a major part of our lives from May 2006 to September 2010. During the last 2 years, we were there every week for Vern's chemo treatments. I wanted to stop by after Vern died ... to thank them for their care, their compassion, for what they do every single day for those of us who walk the cancer journey as either a patient or a caregiver. But I just could not do it.  I drove by several times. I even drove into the parking lot. But fear kept me from getting out of the car. Could I enter those doors without Vern and not fall apart? What if no one there even remembered me? I just was not strong enough to take that chance.

A couple of weeks ago a dear friend asked me if I could take her to her chemo appointment today. She sees Dr. Gollard and goes to the same office we did. I never hesitated ... of course I would do this. I can do this. But I'll admit that I've been doing a lot of talking to myself about it. It's ok if they don't remember me ... how could they with the hundreds and hundreds of patients they see?  And it's been two years since I was there. So I'll be ok. And then when I learned they had moved to a new location, I thanked God for that blessing. I won't be walking through that same door. I won't be sitting in that same waiting room. I won't have to see that same chemo room. 

So I'm heading out now to pick up my friend.  It's time to put this fear to rest.
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I did it!  ... and it was good. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces - and I enjoyed spending a few hours with my friend. I am so very grateful they moved into their new offices this week. There were no memories for me in this new office. No flashbacks. No visions of Vern in there. And the nurses did remember me. Vern's favorites, Radka & Janet, are still the Friday chemo nurses. Their hugs felt so good. And I do believe some much-needed closure took place in there today.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Be Brave

Life has been busy. And mostly good. I signed up for an online newsletter this morning and it asked if I had a blog ... which reminded me that I haven't written anything in here in quite awhile.  I decided to take today off work to get some things done around the house. And yet here I sit at my laptop - a habit I have not been very successful in breaking. But since it's an unusually rainy day in Vegas I have an excuse for not doing any of the much-needed yard cleanup work (I'll come up with another excuse for delaying the also much-needed inside the house cleanup for awhile). Guess this is a good time to write an update.  Ah, where to begin?

Well ... the absolutely most important change in my life has been finding Brave Girls Club. I do believe it was a 'God-moment' when I just happened to see the BGC badge on another widow's blog.The site spoke to me immediately. I signed up for their Daily Truths and then noticed they have a Camp. Since Camp Widow has been a wonderful part of my life for the past year-and-a-half I had to click on that link ... and I physically felt the pull that this was something I was supposed to do. But it was very much out of my comfort zone: 4 days in Idaho with complete strangers; a roommate; life lessons; creating art; a significant amount of money. So I closed the page. But I just could not get it out of my mind. I went back in to see when the Camps were held and saw they had 2 openings for their August 21-24 Camp. Another God-moment. The 22nd has been a rather tough day for me as that is the day of the month Vern died ... and August 23 would have been our 43rd wedding anniversary. I have spent those important days alone during these past 2 years. Perhaps I needed to be with others ... in Idaho. So I asked my boss if I could have the time off work and when he said yes I signed up before I could change my mind. This was July 5, so I didn't have a lot of time to second-guess my decision ... but second-guess I sure did. I was nervous, wondering if I'd be way older than everyone there, concerned I wouldn't fit in, worried I had no ability to create art, scared to confront the life lessons I knew I had been ignoring. But I did it ... and it was amazing and wonderful and life-changing. And I now have a group of women who are my sisters, who love me, who think I am wonderful and beautiful and creative ... and enough. What an incredible blessing.

I also attended Camp Widow in San Diego in early August and it was wonderful. I drove Vern's Mustang there for the first time alone and made a stop at our special Crystal Pier - and I was honored during Camp to be one of the recipients of the Soaring Spirits Service Award for my volunteer work in Widowed Village. I'm headed to Big Bear in early November for a weekend widow's retreat that my Widowed Village friend Lisa has developed, and I have another trip planned for later this year that I am very excited about. I'm also taking a couple of Brave Girl online courses - and one of my Camp-mates actually lives in Vegas and we get together on Fridays to create art and talk.

While there are times I think about retiring, my job helps me to be able to afford to do the things that are helping me find my way ... forcing myself to step outside the box, to try things I never would have in the past, to stop waiting for others to fill the void, to get comfortable doing things by myself. People have come into and out of my life this year. Change isn't easy - and it's hard to be "just" Dianne, but I'm getting there.  I miss Vern every day, but I am making the choice to honor his memory by being all I can be with the time I have left.