Category Archives: soft-hearted

It’s been a while …

since my last blog post. 

Since last time, satan has reared his ugly head and life has given me a bonified black eye, busted lip, bruised rib, and all around beating.

My mom, who I depend on way more than a nearly 50-year old (ok, 47 in two weeks, but still) woman should, has been ill.

In the hospital, taken by an ambulance, ill.

My dad, who leans heavily on my mom, has been beside himself.

My dearest friend has been given (by mere mortals) six months to live.

It has been a trying month.

First off, my mom is home, well and feeling quite herself. 

My dad, an Air Force Veteran (whom we should all be applauding today for his service to the USAF) is better because my mom is feeling better.

It brings a surprising revelation to light.

While this would distress and hurt me beyond comprehension, I have this hope they would die, in their sleep, at the same time.

As awful as this may sound to some, I’d rather mourn them both at the same time than try to handle one without the other.

I can’t frankly speak for my sister, but wonder if she wouldn’t agree.

If that isn’t possible, I hope my dad, my hero and advocate goes first, because I cannot fathom him without my mom.

Mom would miss dad terribly, but she’s strong, and would survive.

Maybe I’m more crazy than I imagined, but I can handle Mom’s tears more easily than Dad’s.

I honestly don’t know how I would deal with him if he had to live without her.

As for my dearest friend, who is battling cancer, I advised her, as I do everyone, to live every day as if it’s the very last one.

Nobody, but nobody has the promise to live further than the moment they are in.

I know where I’m going when I’m gone from this world, so dying doesn’t scare me.

Living, however, without the people who love and understand me, gives me pause.

If that sounds selfish, it’s because it is. 

I thought I’d grow old and watch, with my husband I dearly loved, grandchildren playing in the yard.

Then, I came home one day, and out of the clear, blue sky, found him as dead as Moses.

No warning. No goodbye.  Just gone.

There’s no promise of life, to any of us, past the single moment we find ourselves living in.

If one doesn’t intend to live life as it happens, they forfeit their right to complain when it’s over, or nearly over.

You can quote me on that.

Right now, in this moment, is all I am certain of.

It is all any of us can be certain of.

This moment.

This breath.

This heartbeat.

Each day, if it doesn’t mean something, is wasted.

I say this to family, friends, former friends that I miss with an intensity that embarassess me, and though I can’t think of any specifically, my enemies.

I don’t think I have any absolute enemies.  If I do, they’ve been mighty quiet about it, and I forgive them anyway, knocking out the one leg they, were they real, had to stand on.

That’s good, though, in my way of thinking.  Who, when they have life to contend with, need enemies to muddy up the mess further.

And yet, as I often do, digress.

Now is the only thing that matters.

Grab on or be left behind.

Those are, in actuality, the only two choices.

As Shakespeare said (though he may have meant it differently as words in his day were perplexing, they pretty much say the same thing). To be or not to be … that is the question.

I choose to be, even when it hurts, is painful, annoying, hurtful, betraying or joyous.

I choose to give it everything I have, be whatever I can be and love, even those who don’t love me, unconditionally. 

Be it joyous, angry, confused, happy, sad, contemplative or any number of emotionally relevant states, with bright lights, awesome auroras, sleepless nights and flying debris; I’m there, every day, all the way.

I know who I am and if I die before morning, I know where I’ll find myself.

I love you all, even when you’re unloveable, just as you do me.

We, though we are all in the image of God, are, intrinsically human.

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One of the longest weeks on record …

is happening now.

In real time.

I was so disappointed this morning when I woke up to realize it was only Thursday.

I fell asleep on the couch last night and woke up just in time to get in bed before nine-thirty.

My body was convinced I was dead since I haven’t been in bed before midnight in months.

But I wasn’t dead … just exhausted.

And it isn’t even a full moon.

The Harvest Moon comes in September.

God help us all.

I have sleptwalked (is that even a word?  I don’t think so, but I’m past worrying about vernacular correctness), twice this week and once, spent some time (how much time is still undetermined) sleeping in my back yard … not camping, as in sleeping bag, campfire, guitar player, roasting marshmallows, but …

On.

The.

Ground.

With the spiders and other things that creep in the night.

Never, I heartily assure you, is it a good feeling to wake up outside when you started out inside and then wonder how you actually made it to the yard without falling off the porch and breaking half the bones in your body.

I am, it seems, fairly agile in my sleep and maneuver as well or better as when I am awake.

I now have nightmares about my nightmares.

Scary.

And then …

I  hit a deer on the way to work yesterday and in doing so, messed up my car enough to put it, for the moment, out of commission.

The deer, other than a probable bald spot (this deduction coming from the amount of deer hair on my car), seemed no worse for the wear.

It is the first time, ever, that I have hit a deer.  It made me cry right before it made me puke.

Never mind that the deer jumped up, looked directly at me as though cursing me to hell and back then bounded over a fence, I was physically ill.

Twice.

The September raptor migration along the spine of Clinch Mountain is coming up and I need my convertible to completely enjoy the experience of driving up the mountain.

Top down.

Wind in my face.

Sun on my skin.

These are things that are of utmost importance to me.

My weekend warriorness (again, not a real work, but whatever) kicks into gear once Autumn gets here.  Five  A.M. never seems quite so early on Autumn Saturdays as it does when I get up during the week to go to work.

Go figure.

Two of my sweet little patients have passed away.  It takes me about two minutes to fall in love with them.

I have said before I am too softhearted to be a nurse and yet … well, here I am.

I haven’t taken a photograph in over a week.  Not because there hasn’t been anything to photograph, for each day offers something magnificent, but because …

I don’t even know.  I don’t have a good excuse.

I am too tired to even try to come up with an excuse.  Judging from the posts and messages from facebook friends and tweeps, I’m not the only one feeling the weariness.

It’s been a busy, busy, busy … well, you get the picture, week.

Ok, let’s be real here, a busy month.

My teacher family and friends are wishing they were, even now, at retirement age.

Talk about wishing your life away.

But even though I am exhausted, I am thankful.

I am more thankful than I am tired and that makes up for all the other stuff.

Most of the time, anyway.

Autumn is Southwest Virginia

Autumn is Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

This day started out …

on the wrong foot entirely.

I suppose it is partly because I am a bit of a dreamer and mostly because I am especially susceptible and vulnerable to harsh words.

I found, before I’d really had a chance to begin my day, my feelings hurt, my spirit bruised and my pride wounded.

It wasn’t the first time.

It won’t be the last.

But it always hurts.

Always chips away a bit at the self confidence I work so hard to achieve and hold on to.

Always makes me feel less than I thought I was before.

And so it went.

I cried my tears and kept the ones threatening at bay more to prevent curious questions than anything else.

What am I  supposed to say after all?  I had my feelings hurt?

That answer is met with shaking heads and comments like ‘girl, you need to toughen up”.

Yes.  I know.

I wasn’t going to let it rule my day, though, that I had already decided.  Maybe I was on the verge of tears.  Maybe I did slip away and cry a couple of times during the morning.  Maybe I did berate myself for being the way I am and wishing fervently that I could change it.  But …

I decided right off that this would be a day of encouraging others and lifting them up as I wished to be lifted.

The day progressed fairly normally, with fluffed pillows, niceties exchanged between patients and family members, little touches to encourage those who were ailing; the usual day to day stuff I always do.

None of that, however, prepared me for what I would encounter in the late morning hours.

He was my last patient,  and I knew from research that his wife had been gone for many years and his youngest daughter, the last of three children to die,  had passed away two years before.

For all counts and purposes, he was completely and totally alone in the world.

I went into his room and introduced myself to him.  He looked at me for a long time and I wondered if he understood what I was saying.

Then he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper and said “I thought for a moment that I had died and gone to Heaven.  You remind me so much of my sweet Lacy.”

As it turned out, Lacy was his daughter, his favored child and one who worshiped her father.  He asked me to sit, which I did, in the chair beside his bed, and he proceeded to tell me about her.

She cooked him dinner every night and made sure he had snacks in his kitchen. She took him to the park and on long drives into the mountain when the leaves changed in Autumn.  She had, he related, a way with stories and often sat with him, while he ate his dinner, and told him one story or another.

He focused those tired and aged blue eyes on mine and asked me if I would tell him a story.

I didn’t have the heart to say no.  I told him a story about a rogue squirrel which found it’s way into my sister’s swimming pool and the adventure and hilarity that followed.

He laughed out loud until he nearly wheezed and said it was the funniest thing he had heard in a long time.  He smiled a wide smile, crinkling his wrinkled face until his eyes nearly disappeared altogether.

It was a wonderful moment for me … this laughter on an old man’s face.

I rose to bid him goodbye and he once again caught and held my eyes in his gaze.  He, with sincerity and a love that nearly shattered me, said “I love you, Lacy, you know that don’t you?”

I took his frail hand in mine and after pressing a kiss to his papery cheek, said ‘Yes.  I Know.”

In the few moments I spent with him, the beauty of his spirit helped to heal my bruised one and the harsh words of the morning were forgotten, useless and harmless against the joy he brought to me.

I had intended to swing back by to check on him and to tell him how much my visit with him had meant to me, but before the end of my shift, he left this world.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell him how he touched my life.  It was my intention to encourage him and yet, he brought me a kind of joy that comes about only once in a while.

Harsh words will always hurt me.  It is my nature.  I cannot change who I am at the core, but the encounter with the man who knew me as Lacy gave me something wonderful to bring up when the tears threaten.

I cried for him, but not out of sadness.  No, that would have been wrong.  I cried because I, not as Lacy, but as myself, never got to say goodbye.

Life unfolds as it should and while some of it is painful, for the most part, it is an incredibly wonderful journey.

I was blessed to know Lacy’s dad.

My Dad ... the man I admire most on this earth.

My Dad … the man I admire most on this earth.

I’ve said it before …

and I’ll say it again.  I am much too soft-hearted to be a  nurse.  So many things that I come into contact with on a daily basis makes me want to weep and scream at the injustice of life.

I am supposed to simply speak to people and let them know that they are not just a patient, but it isn’t  that simple.  They are people to me.

They are my mother.

They are my father.

They are my daughter, nieces and sister.

They become part of my heart and being and I take them home with me.

I have cried many, many tears for those that I visit with.  I have held their hands, held their family’s hands and prayed with them.  I try to leave them where they are, but they won’t stay there.

They come home with me.  I think about them and hope that they will live until morning; hope that if they don’t, their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers will be able to cope with loss of their existence.

I want to be strong.  I will myself to be stoic and unattached, but that lasts as long as the mist under a strong morning sunrise.  I love these people.  I fall in love with their families and I feel the pain, sorrow and devastation of their loss on every front.

The older I get, the more squeamish, melancholic and dramatic I become.  I surely thought that I would be stronger and more able to control my emotions at this point, but the truth is that I am more susceptible to emotion and empathy than I ever thought possible.

Sometimes, things happen that are funny and yet, the humor battles sorrow for there is nothing beautiful or funny about someone who doesn’t know who they are or where they are or what they have accomplished in their lives.  The emptiness is devastating.  I find myself bringing people home with me in my thoughts and crying over their infirmities.

I never wanted to be a nurse.  I wanted to be a photographer.  I wonder sometimes if I don’t make a better nurse than a photographer.  And then I realize that I can be both.

One makes me a better of the other.

I photograph for the sheer pleasure of it and  yet, when photographs are forbidden, I see past what is present.  I am thankful, on many levels, for the blessings bestowed upon me.

I am a nurse.

I am a photographer.

I am myself.

I am content.

What more can anyone ask than to be content in the life they are living.

I am, above all things, thankful, for the joys, the trials, the triumphs and the the lessons.  Thankful for the things that hurt me and those that bring me joy.

One without the other is insubstantial; combined, they are powerful beyond the description of words.

I. Am. Blessed.

And I am thankful.  The images, whether in real time or captured on film are what life is about.  Life is images and images make up life.

Again I say, I. Am. Blessed.

Bodie Island Lighthouse (my OBX favorite)bodieislandlighthouse

Matt … a truly beautiful human … hatteras_lightning-59

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A doe at Bodie Island hatteras_lightning-71

Beach Beauties … outerbanks_day1-327

fear and uncertainty …

filled his blue eyes, open wide and full of worry.  At first glance, from the hallway, the only visible things were a single foot protruding from beneath a blanket and a partially filled urinal on the tray table.

I wondered, before walking into the room to speak with him, what I would find.  I was already feeling badly for him simply knowing that a container holding his urine sat on a table where soon, his lunch would be placed.

I felt that surely, had there been family present, that would not have been the case and, not to my surprise, I found him alone.

He was worried.  It was evident in his sad, sad eyes.  They were wide open, showing the incredible blueness, wrinkled at the edges from a lifetime of emotion; laughter, tears, anger.

He was a widower.  He had children, but his voice betrayed his attempt at courage as he spoke of wishing to go home.  His blue eyes became even more sad as he spoke of a home that he knew, in his heart, he would not return to.

I felt a wave of righteous fury toward his children, none of whom had been to visit him during his week-long stay in the hospital, as he spoke of having nobody to care for him.

I thought of my own father.  Thought of his sadness were he to lose my mother and be left to live out his days without the woman that he loved more than life.

Many times, and to my mother I have said such, I have prayed that if my parents cannot die at the same time, I hope my dad goes first.  I cannot bear to even entertain the thought of him trying to cope without my mother.  He is strong in body and spirit, but would be lost without her.

She, on the other hand, is tough as nails.  A survivor full of beauty and strength and would, though with sadness and tears, move on and make the best of a seriously bad situation.

While her tears would cut me deeply, tears shed by my dad shatter me.  I would be of little use to him, not that he would last for long without her as he would soon die of sadness.  I know this as surely as I know the sun rises in the East.

But I digress.  I wasn’t speaking of my parents, but of poor, sad-eyed mister who lay in the hospital bed, dwarfed by the room, confused by the lingo, hurt by the antipathy of his children.

He wanted to go home and held, other than that wish, no other ambition or hope.

It would not come to pass.  He would not go home.  Not to the home where he lived for over fifty years with his wife before she died.  Not to the home where his children, who had now abandoned him, had been raised.

He would not go back to where the garden once thrived with vegetables and a myriad of flowers in the summertime, the trees bursting full and golden in Autumn.

He would not walk the familiar halls that had brought him comfort in his time of need.

He would not sleep in the bed that conformed to his body due to years of use.

He would be a stranger among strangers.

It took all of my strength and everything I could dig from the depths of myself to not burst into tears while speaking to him; seeing him old and broken and alone.

His wide eyes, full of worry, filled me with compassion and empathy.  I, in my mind and heart, brought him home with me.  Though there is an unwritten rule among nurses to not become too attached, he has been here, dancing on the edges of my thoughts, since the day I met him.

I have cried for him, prayed for him and inwardly cursed his children for their inattentiveness.   I want, in these last years of his life, happiness for him.

I try no to get too attached, but I am human and I fall in love with those the world has so blithely displaced.  He will remain in my prayers and though I will likely never see him again, his eyes will haunt me.

They haunt me now as do so many others; young, old, suffering, addicted, betrayed, sickened, world-weary souls who need, more than anything else, to be loved.

I have said it before and I reiterate it now … I am too softhearted to be a  nurse.  I always have been.

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Leviticus 19:32  ~ Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.