A new year, a new beginning

January 2, 2021

Happy New Year, everyone!  I stayed up until 10 P.M., which might be a record for me. 🙃  I often wonder how Patrick feels about being married to me as I am quite boring and have been that way since I had children.  He is a night owl, and I am a morning person. We are complete opposites!

We visited Granny yesterday and were pleased to see that she was "completely with it."  She was ornery, quick-witted, and fun.  We face-timed the girls and hooked the phone to the TV so she could see a larger picture of them.  She enjoyed that so much. Patrick deep-fried a turkey, so we took her and Aunt Connie some for dinner.  Aunt Connie is wonderful to spend so many of her days with Granny.  She will always treasure those memories.  My parents sent me this hilarious and completely made-up story about my mom being too drunk to go downstairs to sleep. They were full of it yesterday, and it was wonderful that they were more relaxed than usual.  Unfortunately, they have been under a lot of stress lately.  They have a two-week reprieve from it, and I hope it is long enough to rejuvenate them.  I know they are looking forward to Meghan and the girls arriving in a couple of weeks.  Mark and Sharmin will follow just a few days after.  I sure wish I could be there.

I hope each of you has a wonderful new year.  A year filled with good health and good times, along with a closer walk with God.

Thank you that we are here to see another year, God. You have given us breath. Help us to choose wisely, love fiercely, and bless others with our kindness. Show us how to put others before ourselves as you have commanded us to do. Help us love the unlovable, remind us to visit the sick and the elderly, to offer kindness to strangers and our friends and family, and to be thankful for all you have provided. Replace our selfishness with selflessness, our depression with joy, our addictions with recovery, and our sickness with healing. May we remember that you are in control of this world, and we must do our part to be good citizens. Please help us to be kind, respectful, and decent human beings to all people, even if they don’t believe the way we do, or even when they mistreat us. Please help us learn to turn the other cheek and show love to them rather than anger. Please help us remember it is not our job to judge others. Please remind us to pray for people who make poor choices rather than condemning them.
For those living with chronic illnesses or are facing imminent death, I pray that you send a band of angels to comfort them so they may know you care and are present. I pray for an end to this pandemic and protection for all people. I pray for a greater understanding of how we can change ourselves to be more unified with others. I pray this past year gave us a desire for supporting others, and we continue that willingness to remain connected to people in healthy ways. Above all, we thank you for your goodness, grace, and forgiveness.
My dog Ringo, the joy of my life, passed away this morning.  Ringo adored me so much, and it was evident to everyone who was around him. He followed me everywhere, gazing at me with love and devotion.  When he got to go to Idaho when I was going through chemo, he would wait for me at the window and cry like a baby when he saw me.  Last night we cuddled as always. He put his head on my shoulder while we were lying on the bed. I, as always, told him how much I love him. This morning I assured him "daddy" was coming for a visit so he could get out during the day.  I joked with him (I know that sounds silly) as he laid in front of the bathroom door as I was getting ready. He just wanted to be close to me at all times. I gave him an extra pat today and told him I was sorry, Logan, and he never met. I told him how much he is loved, but I forgot to give him his treat. I had no idea that he was going to die.  He hasn't been sick.
Patrick got there and let him out. It wasn't long before he found him lying in the driveway unresponsive.  He performed CPR but could not save him. Ringo was almost 15.  My heart is broken, and I don't know how to go on without him.  I could only do the separation from Patrick because I had Ringo to keep me company.  I'm not sure I can do this without either of them.
The death of my best buddy continues to bring me so much sorrow.  Last night was my first night alone in a house without an animal or a person. I am 53 years old and have never spent the night without the presence of someone else.  I normally go to bed before 9, but last night I wouldn't even walk into the bedroom until 11 and then laid there and cried.  My precious buddy who slept with me and walked with me is gone.  
Patrick was supposed to fly to Fairbanks tomorrow for a work party.  I wasn't keen on him going because we wouldn't be able to see each other for two weeks due to COVID precautions.  I wasn't going to be "one of those wives" who was clingy and demanding, so I accepted his decision.  Last night, he told me he would come down to Kasilof instead.  My heart soared, and I felt so much gratitude. I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off me.  I didn't ask him to stay with me, he volunteered it, and I gratefully accepted.  I need the support right now.
Several people at work signed a card for me, which touched me so much.  It is nice to know others truly care about the feelings associated with losing a beloved pet.  I don't know too many people down here, so having the support of a few extra people is so helpful.
I face-timed with the girls last night. I sat in my car for a bit as I was afraid of the emotions I would experience going through the door to an empty house for the first time.  Meghan suggested I go through the door while on the video call with them.  That helped.  Ailynn (age 5) had a tough time with Ringo's death.  Meghan said it took her a half-hour to calm her down.  She said, "So, Grammie, whatcha been up to?  Crying over your dead dog?"  Meghan panicked and was quick to tell her that was inappropriate.  I followed with, "It's totally okay that she said that.  She is 5.  Yes, Ailynn, I have been crying over Ringo a lot."  When I relayed it to Patrick later, we both got a good laugh.  Patrick and I reminisced about Ringo's antics over the years, which brought laughter into the equation.
A close friend was in a severe car accident the other day. I am so glad she survived.  She also shared she has a breast biopsy soon so, please pray for her.  Another friend is having another back surgery. Her uncle is also on life support due to COVID.  Yet another friend has a mother in assisted living, and they are on total lockdown due to COVID.  She has Alzheimer's and is not doing well emotionally. Please pray for all of these requests.
God has good timing and a way of making things a bit better.  Logan took his last breath after I stepped away to go to the restroom.  He knew his daddy was beside him.  Ringo took his last breath after I went to work, and Patrick was with him.  I was with Patrick when his precious kitty, Oreo, died last summer.  I appreciate God's timing.  He knows what I can handle and what I cannot.  Tomorrow Patrick goes back to work in Anchorage, and I will again be alone.  Thankfully, a few people at work have reached out, and I now feel I have some support in the area.  A social worker started last week, and she is from Bedford, Indiana, which is not far from Seymour, where I was born.  I can't wait to talk about Indiana things with her!
The girls continue calling to check on me.  Ailynn starts with, "Hi Grammie, watcha been up to today? Any tears yet?"
It has been 8 days now since Ringo left me.  I have adjusted the best I can to living alone. I look over to where his dog bed was and feel sad.  It's hard to sit in my recliner because he usually sat with me.  It's hard to get into bed because he's not there at my feet.  I started sleeping with a stuffed gorilla of all things.  Having something to hold onto helps me fall and stay asleep.  Patrick will be here tomorrow, and I am very excited about seeing him.  Work is going well, and I am thrilled I have the stamina to keep up with the demands.  I sit way too much and look forward to warmer weather when I can at least take a walk during lunch.
It was such a pleasure to walk into the cabin after work and find my husband busily stirring the gravy on the stove.  My heart soared and I felt incredibly blessed to have him back here with me.  I put a roast and some potatoes in the crockpot before I left for work.  It's been quite a while since he has come home to a homecooked meal.  Living apart is not for the faint of heart.  I don't cook for myself, I rely on a lot of frozen foods such as the yummy frozen French Soup I got from Costco.  I eat a lot of quesadillas! 
I visited with Harold and Christine a couple of evenings this week. Yes, I was avoiding going home.  It was her birthday on Monday and I took her over a couple of new shirts and socks along with some birthday cake.  I was pleased to see they had a couple over and had just finished a lovely dinner Jane had brought them.  They are truly cared about in this community.  They will be leaving soon for Georgia which saddens me.  Harold is unable to keep up with the day to day demands of caring for a wife with dementia.  He is almost blind and has a difficult time managing things.  Unfortunately, he has not had contact with his children in, I believe, over 50 years!  I have no idea what happened, but they have no children to help.  We, and many others, have helped when we could, but they need more consistent assistance.  They leave in the next couple of weeks and I will miss them so much.  I do hope they will come back in the spring.
America is a mess and I am thankful to live in Alaska where we Alaskans are mostly isolated from the chaos of the world.  I will remember that the next time the wind fiercely blows or it dumps a foot of snow. I am thankful to be in Alaska. I am thankful to be in Alaska.  God bless America.
It's been hard to find the motivation to write when I am struggling with extreme fatigue, chronic pain, and sadness.  It's been over 2 weeks now since Ringo died.  I flew to Anchorage yesterday after work.  It's my first time in the house since he's been gone.  Typically, he would be sitting at my feet right now- curled up under my desk just so he can be close to me.  Patrick was kind enough to store his dog beds so I wouldn't see them as soon as I walked in the door.
Patrick was supposed to leave the cabin last Monday as usual.  However, we had a huge snowstorm and the winds were blowing fiercely.  In fact, when I went to work it was a full-on blizzard.  I could hardly tell which side of the road I was on.  When I got closer to Kenai, it turned to rain.  I was crossing the Kenai River Bridge Access when my windshield wiper suddenly snapped and blew right off!  Now, what was I to do?  I was already driving about 30 mph because of the weather and road conditions.  I couldn't see out my windshield.  I decided that if gangsters can lean to the right as they were driving, then so could I!  By leaning towards the middle I had a small glimpse of the road.  Thankfully, it was only another few miles before I arrived at work.  Since Patrick had not left yet, I called him and he was able to come to my work and replace the windshield wiper.  He also chose to stay one more day and let the roads get cleared off before he attempted the long, arduous drive. 
Work is still going well. My energy level isn't the best and I crash shortly after arriving home.  I'm doing better with energy than I thought I would so that is good.  My pain in my hips/shoulders/basically my whole body is moderately severe 24/7.  I had one brief moment of hopefulness after I had the Graston technique done on Tuesday. That night I could move better than I have been able to in quite a while.  Unfortunately, it was a short relief.
What my chronic pain, my grief over losing Logan, my grief over losing Ringo, my grief over Casey's substance abuse issues, and my sadness over my parents, daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren being out of state has taught me, is that life is precious, I can accomplish things despite my inadequacies, my negative experiences, my challenges, and my disappointments. I can use what I know, what I feel, and what I have experienced to offer empathy to others. The woman I talked with last night knew that I understood what she is going through with her daughter because of the girl's drug use. I am a safe person who can offer compassion, empathy, and encouragement because I live that experience every day of my life.  I can tell a mother who has lost a child to death that I truly understand the pain of losing a child.  What I say are not just empty words, but words of a mother who has had that experience.  I can say to the person who lives with chronic pain, "I understand your feelings.  I also suffer from the loss of identity.   I want to return to the person I was before my body was damaged. I also grieve the loss of ability to do "normal" things.  I also understand what it feels like to consider myself a burden because I cannot contribute as much as I used to or want to do.  I know what it's like to work harder than most because I don't want to ever be seen as a person using my physical limitations as a way to have special accommodations.  I want to perform better than people half my age who don't have physical disabilities.  
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  That sums it up.