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Daddy

As many of the people in my life know my Dad has terminal liver cancer. He’s going to die, and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. I am often asked how he is. I find this hard to answer because I don’t want to give false information or false hope. He’s doing pretty well. His doctors are good and are managing his palliative care well. He is handling it with Grace. Being a retired priest and Christian he has no doubt as to what happens next and in many ways seems to see it as the next great adventure. All outward signs say that my Mom is handling it well as well. There’s this great acceptance that comes from both of them when we talk about it. I am as always amazed by my parents and their faith and trust that “All Shall be Well”, whatever happens.

On the rare occasion that I am asked how I am doing I don’t know how to answer. I’m doing lousy, and I often don’t know how to put that in words as well as feeling like it’s not fair for me to say that. I am angry at God for putting my father through this. My dad is not perfect but he is a good man. He is a man of faith and a man who’s always worked to share his faith and God’s unending grace with others…and yet once again his health fails him. I am terrified that I am going to break down and not be able to stop. I am sad. I am frustrated with myself that I can’t be faithful and trusting in this process. I am tired, no matter how much or how little sleep I get I am just tired. My brain doesn’t want to work half the time. I keep waiting for the next shoe to drop, the next stage in this process.

People tell me how lucky I am to have this time, to know it is coming and where that may be true there are moments when it feels like a curse. I’ve always known that someday I was going to lose my Daddy, I’ve always know that I was going to lose my Papa sooner rather than later I’m just not ready for it to be this soon. I don’t know how to process this, I don’t know what to do, how to help make it ok for him, for my mom, for my sister, for all the people who love him. I don’t know how to deal with the knowledge that there are things that aren’t going to happen. My father’s never going to walk me down the aisle (when and if I get married), he will never see my kid’s (when and if I have them), and they will never know the amazing man who can make a mud flow funny, who taught me to play chess, or the fine art of haggling at Monopoly. The man who taught me the joy of a well-timed bad joke. The man who encouraged me in all (ok most) that I did, the man who thought me to ask questions, to understand my faith, and to fight for what I believed in.

I will miss being goofy and strange with, making my mom worry about our sanity. I will miss debating with him, learning from him, and just talking theology, politics, and so much more with him. I am who I am in many ways because of him, I will never regret being a Daddy’s girl!

Can’t we all just get along?!

Why do people have to be so hateful?  If you spend any time on social media these days is mostly someone b$%#@ing about what someone else does or doesn’t believe.  If you’re a Christian than you are a mean nasty person who believes that everyone who doesn’t live the way you do is going to hell.  Then there’s the whole right wing /left wing christen thing where they all seem to think the other side is going to hell.

Supposedly to all Christians non-Christians are evil, wrong, and damned.  Of course to all non-Christians Christians are hypocritical sh@#s who don’t care about anything but convincing them that they must change and be like them.

I watch all this crap.  I watch as friends (Christian, Pagan, agnostic alike) all have moments when the bash on someone else’s beliefs and just want to shout “Can’t we be friends”.  I hate it when I read something a friend writes in attack of a stereotypical Christian belief, a belief that isn’t actually all that accurate, a belief that I don’t actually know a single Christian who actually believes that way.  I feel the same frustration when I see other beliefs attacked, when I see post about how Wicca is devil worship or other Evils that are perceived of Pagan faiths.  Evil believed of any religion or faith that is not founded in fact frustrates me.  So often if you do a modicum of research (I don’t mean searching Meme’s or Wikipedia but actual research) you find that much of what the world is fighting over is bunk, it’s misunderstood, misinterpreted beliefs.  It’s the junk that the minority of people spews as fact but is actually made up garbage to insight fighting for God knows what reason.

I wish we as a people could just find a way to go out into the world in love and caring, instead of judgment and hate.  I am a Christian and there are times when I want to run from that word because of what it has come to represent for so many.  Instead of representing a loving caring God and people it seems to represent so much hate and anger.

I try so hard to live my life by two simple rules, “loving God” and “loving people”.  I’m not perfect (so so far from it) and I fail sometimes (ok a lot)  but the reality is in my mind the latter is what the world needs most.  It needs people who will just show love and kindness to one another regardless of our differences or similarities.

Fat Shaming and Nicole Arbour

Yesterday a friend in a group on Facebook posted about a video that was posted by a Comedian named Nicole Arbour entitled Dear Fat People. I was saddened by the fact that this persons attempt to be funny had hurt someone I cared about but thought nothing more of it. Throughout the day I saw the same reply post shared by many of my friends. A reply that was well thought out, honest, and mostly kind to those of us who fight with our bodies and body image as larger people. At this time I also came across Ms. Arbour’s video and my only thought was “Wow, what a Bitch” and “She really doesn’t get it!”

Fast forward to today when another friend shared yet another video in rebuttal to the original, shaming Nicole as well as Fat people. Where the original video had little effect on me, this one did. It left me in a huddle mess sobbing and feeling like a useless bundle of fat. As anyone who knows me knows I have battled with my weight my entire life, I have always hatted my weight but rarely hated myself because of it. I hate that a stranger talking to an anonymous audience had this effect on me.

All this emotion has led to this posting, one I need to express how I feel so that it doesn’t fester and grow into something else, and two I want to say that appearance has nothing to do with who you are inside. I hate that we live in a society that puts so much emphasis on how we like. Telling girls, and guys, that if you aren’t a specific size, if you don’t have a six pack…if if if … then you aren’t worth anything. This is BULL SHIT!!! A person’s worth has nothing to do with outward appearance and everything to do with the kind of person they are. So please remember that whether you are a size 0 or a size 20. You are important in this world and what you do, who you are, and how you treat people is more important than anything else!

Now to work on getting myself to remember and believe these words. Do as I say not as I do…for now.

Always Keep Fighting

The following started as an e-mail explaining ‘Always Keep Fighting’ to someone I love and in reviewing it I realized that it’s a good explanation to all who’ve asked the question of me as well.  So as a step in helping to remove some of my own fear of the stigma surrounding my own mental health issues and to educate those in my life here goes.  Some of me open to the world…be kind!

I’m writing this in hopes of helping you understand the ‘Always Keep Fighting’ stuff and why it’s so important to me. First, I know that many of my friends and family don’t understand my enjoyment and fascination with the show Supernatural and that’s ok but my interest in “Always Keep Fighting” has nothing to do with my interest in Supernatural. AKF just happens to have been started by one of the stars of the show and was therefore put in my purview. I do find it interesting that my resurgence of interest in the show and entrance into Fandom happened just as the campaign started, I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. But again, the two have nothing to do with each other, other than SPN bringing AKF to light for me.

So what is ‘Always Keep Fighting’ really about? It’s about bringing awareness, and acceptance to the reality of mental health issues, removing the stigma that makes people hide in the corner and not seek help. It’s also become about creating a support network for people who live each day with these battles. Where the campaign started to raise awareness and funding for charity it has turned into a support group and a family of sorts.

As for why it’s important to me… all my life I’ve been told that I was depressed, or manic, or whatever and all my life I’ve fought the people who’ve told me that for so many reasons that I can’t really explain anymore. Long about the time that this campaign began I began to realize that Yes, I do have some issues. At this time I also started to do some true soul searching as to who I am. I am, at my worst, an anxiety ridden mess who can see the worst in any situation. An introvert, who’s shy and extremely unsure of herself, and who has severe social anxiety just to round out the ‘I don’t like people” (not literally) trifecta. Meeting others in this crazy fandom and through the Always Keep Fighting campaign, the AKF Family as it’s lovingly referred, has helped me to accept my own issues and realize that I need to fight through them. It’s also helped me to realize that I am far from alone in these struggles.  And for me that’s not only fighting with the anxiety and mild depression that comes with the Meniere’s, but the Meniere’s itself, and all my other quirks. I’m worth fighting for! When I was little my Dad would strive to comfort my self-hatred by telling me that ‘God don’t make Junk’ and this ‘thing’, this support network, this family had helped me to start believing those words for myself.  They’re there when I’m scared, sad, or panicing necessarily  and unnecessarily.  They help me to remember that I am not alone, I am enough, and to always keep fighting.

If you’re part of my family or my friends and you really don’t understand it that’s fine but please don’t poke fun and please try to accept the AKF idea, because for me as it’s something that is helping me to accept myself, faults and all.  I would also encourage you to ask me more about it, this ‘campaign’ has quickly become and important and formative part of who I am and my work to become a better and more confident version of me.

My Uncle Steve has been on my mind a lot lately. I often think about him around Easter since he died on Good Friday and before that the last time I had seen him was the Easter before. Usually it’s a passing thought, a moment of sadness, and I move on. Ever since his death I have taken a moment on Easter Sunday to stand in my churches chapel and remember our last conversation. As he marveled at the beauty of the music that morning (our choir is rather good) and we talked about how beautiful the stained glass window at the back of the chapel is. Maybe I’m having trouble letting go because I didn’t have that moment.

I’ve written about him before, sharing wonderful memories, sharing them keeps them at the surface. Maybe writing down the bad will make those ones finally be at rest.

I am usually rather good at focusing on the good memories of him. The trips out on his boat as a girl. My silly stuffed koala that created a love of koalas, a toy that I still have and cherish 32 years later. Walking down through the quad at the U with all the cherry trees blossoming overhead. Talking about my plans. Him trying so hard to distract both of us from my Grandfathers heart surgery. Hearing stories convincing the band director to let him first wife Sally into the band even though she didn’t play an instrument, or some such silliness. Working out the details for a short story with him about a Chameleon named Cami. These are the memories and more that I try to focus on but the bad ones keep seeping in lately.
The missed holidays cause he was drunk. The arrests, the time in jail for more DUI’s then I can count. All the trappings of an Alcoholic who’s fifth of vodka a day was more important than his family. I was in my 20’s when he crashed off the pillar I had placed him on. See until that time he was tied as my second favorite guy in the world with my Grandpa Hap, my Dad being top of that list. When I found out that he was a drunk, and all that went with that, that changed in a moment. A moment that was never repaired.

I remember picking him up for my Dad’s ordination and he was lightly drunk maybe just hungover, but he came. I have the same memory to go with my Nephew’s baptism. I look back on the day of Eion’s baptism and want to beg my sister for forgiveness. I made her come with me to pick him up because I couldn’t face him, his possible (probable) drunkenness on my own not after the last time.

See a year earlier I was supposed to stay with him for a week. I was so excited to get to spend some time with my Uncle, to get to know him as an adult, I hadn’t spent much time with him since I was a teenager. I arrived and he was wasted. He was unintelligible, nonsensical, drunk of his ass. I felt like he had done it because he didn’t really want me there. I left, I ran from his boat sobbing. I forgave him for that moment but he never forgave himself. Unfortunately because he couldn’t move on our relationship was never fixed. He avoided me, which added to my fear of him not wanting me there. At family functions there were many times he would greet or say goodbye to everyone but me.

There is so much I regret in our relationship, I wish that I had tried harder but I was at a loss to make it better. He’s been gone for five years. He knew it was going to happen, the doctors warned him and yet his booze was more important that his life. I know that’s not fair but in this moment, in a moment where I’m having trouble seeing the light for the darkness it’s how I feel.

Why Supernatural

As of late I have found myself explaining, defending, not sure what word I want to use here, a growing interest in the show Supernatural and its fandom. I’ve been a ‘closet’ fan of the show since it first aired ten year ago. I instantly fell in love with Sam and Dean, not just because they are insanely hot, but because of their desire to do the right thing even when it truly sucked to do so. After Angels and God came into the show in a disagreeable manner to many Christians I continued to watch the show but spent much time explaining to my Father, a priest, why it was a good show and why I liked it. After a few seasons of this I watched in seclusion enjoying my fictional fix of insanity, hunkyness :-), and most of all the continued struggle to do what is right in the face of harrowing odds.

About a month ago I came across a convention video for the show that intrigued me, then an interview with Misha Collins about his not for profit Random Acts (http://randomacts.org) and GISHWHES – Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen (https://gishwhes.com) and was amazed by the heart this man has and how he strives to do something so good and kind in the messy screwy world we live in. Not long after this I started joining fanpages and the two main actors on the show Jensen Ackles and Jarred Padalecki joined facebook, as any blithery ‘fangirl’ might, I quickly followed them. Curious not only about the characters I had come to love but the men who portrayed them. Throughout the fandom they are represented as kind, down to earth, and genuinely grateful and caring of their fanbase. (From all that I’ve seen thus far, this is true)

As I found myself more and more entrenched in the fandom and more and more intrigued by the men behind the characters, Jared launched a campaign (https://represent.com/jared) to raise awareness for depression and mental issues. Striving to not only raise monies for a worthy charity but also to remove some of the stigma that surrounds those who are depressed or any of the myriad of other mental issues that are stigmatized. As someone who has dealt with anxiety issues most of my life, unadmitted to all but my nearest and dearest until this moment, I felt drawn to the campaign. I have known many who fought depression, cutting, and suicidal thoughts in my life. People who like me hid what was happening to them, afraid of what others would think, do, or say in response to them not being ‘bug free’ as my Dad often put it in his fight to have me acknowledge my own issues. Recently Jensen joined Jarred in this endeavor (https://represent.com/jaredjensen) and I am again awed and inspired by what these men are doing with their fame and the fandom that rocks and rules over all others.

Throughout all this I’ve become even more entrenched in the Supernatural fandom, a group of practical strangers with one definitive thing in common, the love of Lucifer and the King of Hell and the understanding that some Angels are Dicks. (It’s a show people not reality, no I don’t literally love Lucifer, nor do I believe that God is actually a bad writer named Chuck, my faith hasn’t changed, my beliefs haven’t change due to the enjoyment of a wonderful and entertaining work of fiction). As I watched Con footage I was intrigued by the constant referral to the Supernatural fanbase as a family. One of the tenants of the show is that “family doesn’t end with blood”. I’ve been floored, touched, and astonished by the support of these people, these strangers, as they strive to support one another, lift each other up when they are down, and now like the actors that they love to watch, encourage each other to Always Keep Fighting!

Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, & Misha Collins

This show, this fandom, and these men, Misha included even though he’s talked about the least here, have reminded me of the importance of fighting for life. Fighting to see the good and the kindness in our world. They’ve reminded me that even though life may not be perfect and blissful at all times it is always worth fighting for. There are truly amazing, kind, and loving people throughout this world and your life can be enriched by them if you just take off the blinders and look around. In many ways I am at one of the best places in my life, mentally and emotionally, because of the realizations that came from a TV show, it’s inspiring stars, and wonderful fandom.

My Grandmother is dying

My Grandmother is dying.  In all reality we are all dying, but Grandma has been in the process of dying for many years.  There have many instances over the last seven years or so in which we thought we were going to lose her.  This time it’s not a matter of if but when.

My Grandma Evelyn is the last of my Grandparents, she is about four weeks from her 98th birthday.  I was blest to have all four of my grandparents in my life for 23 years.  Over the last seven years I’ve lost many of my family member and have handled some better than others.  But I digress.  

My Grandma is dying.  I have such a terrible mix of feelings regarding this.  There is a part of me that just wants her to get on with is.  Which is an awful thing for a Granddaughter to think, for anyone to think.  The problem is for the last few years she has been telling us, at least my mom and I, that she’s lonely, that she’s tired, that she missed Don (her husband) and Steve (her son).  But when we tell her that it’s ok, she can let go and be with them.  She tells us that no no she’s fine.  She doesn’t want to die, she’s happy, blah blah blah.  

She is a good Christian Woman who believes in Heaven, talks often about how she knows those we’ve lost are in heaven and yet she’s afraid.  I know from conversations with my father, who’s an Episcopal Priest, that this unsureness is normal.  I also know as he’s in many ways her cleric, who she’s goes to with religion and faith based issues, that she’s afraid that she not good enough.

Over the past few months she taken a turn for the worse.  It’s less and less frequent that she recognizes her family, most days she has no idea who my Mom is and yet she spends hours every day with her.  

About a week and a half ago I went to visit my grandma, due to being sick I hadn’t seen her in about a month and a half.   When I first got there she knew who I was, but as time progressed I went to being her daughter, my mom and my mom who was there was an unknown entity, to being my Cousin Shannon (if you know my cousin the idea of confusing us is pretty stinkin’ funny).  When we left I think I was myself again but I’m not sure.  Mom says she remembered that I was there, so that’s a plus I guess.  But she was in good spirits, sitting up in her chair is drifting in and out of consciousness.

Not long after this this visit it was decided that for her safety, she tried to leave the floor saying she was going home with her Daddy, she needed a nurse with her 24/7.

Jump forward to two days ago.  After having dinner with my folks we went to grandma’s room.  She knew who I was when we arrived, telling the nurse in a garbled and grainy voice that I was her granddaughter.  But she was agitated, wanted desperately to get out of bed but couldn’t, was flailing her legs and gripping to mom’s and my hands like we were a life line.  She looked frail, and unkempt (a situation in which I would never have thought to find her), she was not the woman I knew.  Mom and I sung to her trying to sooth her frustration, her agitation, her confusion.  She began, singing/talking incomprehensively and got more and more agitated.  At one point I had knelt down by her bed as to not be looking down on her as I soothed, hushed, and expressed my love in a way I would settle on of my upset children.  

It was not long after this that she stopped singing/talking and became even more agitated.  Looking at me with such hatred and anger in her eyes that I backed away in fear and then sorrow.  I know in my head that in that moment she had know idea who I was but am having trouble expressing it to my heart.

During our time with her she expressed her need, desire (?), to go, to leave and by no stretch of the imagination did I think that she meant the room, she meant this world.  Now that she is ready to let go it’s as if she can’t.  I find myself battling between frustration with her need to be ok because she told Don she would be, her words, and God for not having taken her before this pain.  She is now 100% dying and she is dying in a painful and awful way.  There is nothing anyone can do but try and make it better but even then she’s so lost that it’s nearly impossible. 

I find myself begging God to take her home, to make it better, to end her suffering, and my Mom’s.  My mom is not her only family left but she is the constant Rock going back daily, multiple times a day, to try and help ease her pain.  Doing something that makes me realize just how strong my Mom is.  

Throughout the day yesterday she had periods of time in which she stopped breathing.  The end we know is near.  There is a part of me that will be so relived when she is gone, no longer suffering, and there is a part of my that will and is grieving the loss of my grandmother.  An amazing woman who was so strong for so many years. 

 

My Grandma and I in better days this past summer.