During Don’s last few weeks, I made a request: “Don, please ask God and Jesus to give me answers while I am here on earth. I do not want to have to wait until death to receive them.” He responded, “That is not the way it works.” I came back with “I disagree. I am just asking you to do this if you have a chance.” He finally agreed. He must have asked, because answers slowly came. Answers initially came through dreams. I will be share this with you later plus stories.
LESSON: Death brings more empathy, compassion, and understanding for others that experience death. These blessings received help me turn around and help another in some way.
His funeral was great. I was not expecting so many from everywhere! Many papers as far away as Arizona had picked up the news of his death and he was on the front page of many. He would have loved it.
LESSON: Communication in the family with the patient is vitally important through the entire ordeal. There was no hospice at that time. I did it. And I treasure the discussions we had and that he was able to have with our family. Because he wanted to die at home, I learned how to do the shots and we discovered that he did not need to be as sedated as he most likely would have been if he had been hospitalized.
Through this entire six months of Don’s cancer, family living in Portales, family from Oklahoma City and Pauls Valley, and many others would show up or call and help in some way. People I did not know and do not even know now helped complete the house we thought we would complete with us doing the work. There were many I did not know.
On our last trip to M. D. Anderson, we discovered Don was going to die within six weeks. As the doctor left, the phone rang and my aunt said “Dawn and Johnny are fine, but there was a fire and your house burned.” I turned to Don and shared this news. Then I asked, “Do you care? His reply was “No, do you?” I answered, “No, I don’t care”. We told my Aunt that called “We do not care that the house burned, but we are coming home tomorrow.
GIFT: What happened was huge. In one second, I internalized “Relationship in life is what is important, not anything we own.”
I have learned that every prayer turns into a gift. Sometimes the answer is “no.” I focus on God’s unexpected gifts to help me through whatever difficulty is facing me. It may be as simple as a smile meant for me from someone on an elevator. I take note. That might be my gift for the day.
GIFTS: The fire in our home brought a friend that was head of ENMU’s ROTC program. Merle and some of his ROTC members arrived right after I pulled down a bedspread with soot all over it and got Don in bed. No soot under the covers. They wanted to share an idea with us. “We would like to move your family into the partly constructed home Don began before his cancer.” We listened and agreed that would be good since fire had damaged part of our home and soot was everywhere else. They planned to move us first into our bedroom that relatives and others surprisingly worked on while we were gone. Next they would clean the soot off all that could be saved. It was amazing to us that they thought they could do all of this today. Don lived in his house a few weeks before he died. That was a huge gift for him and an easy move.
ANOTHER GIFT: A few days following our move into the unfinished 4,000 square foot home, I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door and the woman standing there introduced herself. Smiling, she said, “Susie, do not cook anything for you and your children for supper. From now on, every meal will be brought to you no matter how long this takes. I was so very grateful and surprised.
We all know one constant in life is “change.” We are going through forced change right now with the coronavirus moving among us. Since I have been through some past difficult losses in my lifetime, I want to share what helped me through each change, one was a forced loss and the other one, I chose. I discovered lessons and answers with each one. God was amazing and sent me unexpected help through both situations.
We have followed the path of the three stages of change with the coronavirus. We gained awareness of a strange virus in January and suspected something was wrong. Our attitudes were affectedas we learned more. Fear, anger, depression, blame, and self-pity still affect many that are either staying at home or being a front-line worker.“ Then when we moved to acceptance, we each made a new plan took action. These past life changes may also show the three stages.
My first husband and I married in 1963 and had two wonderful children in the first three years. We were both achieving in our professions when he began having health problems. I suspected something was wrong. He kept trying to ignore it until a trip to Mayo Clinic brought the result: Cancer. Six months later, he died in 1979 at 39.
I had been doing talks on change for a long time as part of my role at the mental health center I helped build in New Mexico. However, when we learned he had cancer and he would not live more than six months, I began crying could not stop. Several days later, I called my office and asked my assistant to go through all of my files and see if I had anything on change that would show how long I would be in each of the three stages of change. She found nothing.
Lesson 1: It takes as long as it takes to go from one stage to the next. It is different for everyone. Many get stuck in the second stage. It is important to not get stuck there. If you notice you are staying in this stage for a length of time, find a support group or a counselor. I, of course, did not do that. I was running a mental health center and thought I was fine. I was not.
Lesson two: Grieve completely. Perhaps that is why they say “do not move from the home you are in after a death for at least a year.” For me, I had just kept going. I had work, presentations, and two children that were now rebellious teenagers. I did not take time to grieve or heal.
Lesson 3: Teaching positive thinking seminars right along and trying to always be positive in front of Dawn and Johnny was not good for me or them. If going through this again, I now know not to hold tears back. If I needed to cry, I cry. That would have given my children more permission to grieve and share. We all three were struggling.
Next, I severely messed up for our family. In 1981, I met a man that made me laugh. He was a relief from the pain I ignored. living far from me, we saw each other only once in awhile. This man I shall not name was always on his best behavior at those times. If I saw a negative trait, I brushed it off and thought I could fix it and all would be okay if we married. He asked. I accepted! My second marriage began. We landed back in my home state of Oklahoma.
Each year of the next five years of this marriage worsened. I wondered if his self-esteem improved, would he improve? Ha! I kept trying. What happened to all of that relationship stuff I taught in New Mexico? Nothing worked. My fear he was dating others was true. His emotional abuse techniques increased. I had insomnia, was afraid to leave the house due to what I might find when I returned, and was losing my self worth. Our beliefs and values did not match. I filed for divorce.
Lesson 4: Find a counselor or someone you can trust if you need help. I found a marriage counselor for us. He went twice. I continued and then visited some 12-step groups. The surprise came with all I learned in the twelve steps. My eyes opened. Life improved.
Lesson 5: I cannot fix someone else. They have to do it themselves. I can only fix me. If a relationship is good 80% of the time, stay, if it is good 50%, stay and get help. If 80% is bad, find a counselor or support group. That helped me gain the courage change a believe and leave. Do not file until you see your part in the situation. After all, I said “yes” to marriage. Close the door. Open a door to new possibilities and a personal transformation!
Years ago while going through a very difficult time in my life, I made an appointment with a counselor. This was four years after moving back to Oklahoma and I was in my second marriage. I had never seen a counselor. It felt funny to do so after building and running a comprehensive mental health center in New Mexico. The counselor I chose in Oklahoma City kept giving me hints that I might like trying a Codependency meeting or Al-Anon. That made me mad each time, but I followed his advice. After trying both, I chose Al-Anon. The same thing happened with a possibility of blogging that happened years ago when I decided to attend Al-Anon. Everything got in the way of my blogging.
I made it to two meetings of Al-Anon and felt much better. And then every time I was ready to leave for a meeting, something happened to keep me from getting there. After missing three meetings, I committed to myself “I am definitely going to the next meeting!” Sure enough, a gentleman knocked on my door as I was picking up my purse to leave for Al-Anon. He wanted products that I needed to sell! I said, “I have a meeting and encouraged him to come back later.” He responded, “I plan to buy over $1,000 worth of products.” I had been making lots of prayers and felt like Spirit was watching to see if I was serious about my commitment to find answers to draw a better life to me. I am so sorry. You see, I must attend this meeting, but I will be back in about one hour. Please come back.” Luckily, he did.
Years later, a man sitting next to me suddenly began visiting with me. He said, “ I want to show you something about commitment. Then he motioned to the door. “See the door? Go open the front door partway. I did. “What do you see?” I described what I saw and what I heard. Then he said, “Now close the door and come in again, but open the door all the way.” I did so. “Now what?” “I see the entire room plus others in the room.” He then responded, “It is the same with commitment. Most people only partially commit. One must commit to Self before committing to another and until you fully commit, you do not see the whole picture. A promise can be easily broken. Always commit to Self first before committing to another. So I am committing to this blog today and to you. Then together we will see the result.
Beginning this blog reminded me of the way energy works. When something is going to be really good for us, we sometimes have to go through the negative to get to the positive. If we are aware of that, we know to watch for signs of the positive that eventually will be presented in our lives. The result and the gains we made during a negative time does come.
For years I have thought about “writing a blog.” Others asked me to do so. They liked the book I wrote and then the second one I wrote… but they wanted more. I generally said, “I’ll think about it.” This went on for nine years. I would sit down, try to begin, and stop. I even took a blogging class. I finally was given a big shove during this spring when the Coronavirus-19 came to the world and we were told to isolate in our homes, wear masks, etc. I had negativity about blogging because of time and technical limitations. My excuse to others was “I cannot blog until I have more techy information.”
That techy information I needed came right into our living room to help me take a step towards this internal goal of sharing through a blog. It was a son named Boston who arrived on March 19th. He has his own blog. He even brought the subject up, suggesting that if I still wanted to do a blog, he could help me while he here isolating from Covid-19 and we could even make videos. I thought, “Alright, God, I get it. I have no excuse now. I guess it is time. You even brought the answer to me.”
So I will attempt to do what I wrote down as a goal years ago. I will share past changes, loss, and then gains that came later with each loss. I will also share some amazing answers and experiences that came from my divine source, God, Jesus, and Spirit, as I moved through life. Hopefully this blog will be enjoyed by children and grandchildren and perhaps help another reader also. Now let’s see if I can do a “blog.”