There is nothing like a sea breeze and a beautiful ocean wave.  They wrap themselves around your soul and squeeze.

The embrace results in a liberating deep breath of peacefulness.  Who can't benefit from that?

The beautiful Pacific, with her deep blue hues, is such a welcoming invitation to sit back and think good thoughts about the years gone by.  It's almost like the memories float on her shimmering surface. 

When the breeze off the swells catches my breath, it's the perfect combination of ocean and sea breeze. 

Let me linger here a while longer and take it all in and realize what calm and peaceful really means.

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When hurricanes hover over Baja or in this case leave a winding path north past San Diego, the result is an ocean that is anything but "Pacific."

That is what today at Windnsea beach in La Jolla, CA.,  is like and it is awesome. 

I can sit on the beach until night falls and watch these sets build into the most perfect waves.  The water glistens in the sunshine and if a surfer times it just right, he can take the ride of his life. 

The sound of the ocean is a symphony of water crashing into the sand.  It splashes like shattered glass and comes to rest as sea foam chasing the sea gulls up the beach.

We talk about finding peace and how important it is in loss and healing.

The bigger the waves, the better.  Peace comes in waves.

 

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Picture Perfect

I've been dusting today....it's not an easy task around this house because there are so many frames filled with so many wonderful pictures.

I can trace my life from new born to newly gray!

I can look into every room and find every dog, past and present, framed and accounted for; wonderful pals who have  shared in so many ups and downs of my family's history.  We are big dog lovers and have been lucky enough to have had some very special dogs in the family...actually still do.

There are graduation pictures and wedding photos and pictures from all over the world taken in war zones and happy zones.

I'm able to chart the Leroy and Laurie years from the very beginning and it's quite a trip.  Leroy's Mom left us with some pictures of his very early years, so we are well documented on both sides of the relationship.

I've come to realize among all these photos, I really only have two pictures where I can see the cancer in Leroy's face.  Every other picture of him says "tall, strong, sturdy, and healthy."

From Disneyland to Iraq and everywhere in-between, I see a man who looked at life as a challenge and lived it well.

These images are picture perfect.

 

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Two strong, attentive care givers comparing notes....this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it's not; it's real life.

A devoted daughter is talking about her Mom and how she was rushed to the hospital after complaining about not feeling well.  She's battling cancer and is up in her years so her nurse wasted no time and called the ambulance and away she went to the ER.  They checked her out, her vitals were strong, but they ran a few extra tests just to make sure they'd covered all the obvious cancer problems.  She was released after a few hours of observation.

The other care giver smiled and nodded.  "Yes, that's exactly what happened to my Mom just the other day."  "Same scenario, same outcome.  But you have to be sure."

Both laughed at the next coincidence....Their Mom's had both stopped on the way home from the hospital to get a little treat.  One Mom wanted ice cream the other wanted her favorite sandwich.

They chuckled at the thought of what was an emergency just a few hours earlier had turned into an "outing" a little while later.

How crazy is this cancer care giving time we've all endured?  The highs and lows of watching our loved ones go through so many medical challenges.

And we think we're going through them alone, but clearly that's not the case.  These two care givers had so much in common they shared a good laugh over it.

This is a good reminder, maybe even a lesson, for each care giver out there to measure each sudden "crisis" as it occurs.

A calm care giver is so much more effective than one who jumps to a quick conclusion.

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We remember "them" on the big holidays and it's important to do that.  We miss them at the big family dinners, milestones in lives and they aren't there to celebrate. It's just wrong isn't it?

So a few weeks ago I got an email from a friend that it was "Hot fudge sundae day."  Who knew?  The email wasn't to remind me of the special day, it was to tell me that they were having a hot fudge sundae and smiling as they remembered Leroy and how much he loved a good hot fudge sundae.

Then came another email a couple of days ago.  Another long time good pal, messaged that she and her husband were remembering Leroy because it was "National Hamburger Day."  They'd driven to their favorite burger place to raise a patty to the Big Guy and celebrate and remember the many times we'd all gone out together over the years doing the very same thing.

Memories and smiles and sundaes and burgers on days most people miss on their calendars, all because of a man who laughed and enjoyed his friends and believed  in having a good time.

Even the little holidays count in Leroy-land.

Have a good weekend!!!

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Busy Living….

Across the street and a few houses away, she's a wife and a mom who juggles her kids lives with precision not to mention the dog and a couple of cats and did I mention she stared down breast cancer with a laser gaze?  I don't even ask her how she's feeling anymore because she's been out of treatment long enough that asking would just bring back unwanted memories that I'm sure she's pushed to the back of her mind by now.

She busy living.

Another friend wrote a book about her breast cancer journey hoping to help others who are just now hearing the words "YOU have cancer."  She struggled mightily during treatment to stay in control and she prevailed.  Her two grown daughters and husband who stayed by her side every step of the way, gave her a team to lean on and she's N-E-D and not looking back either.

She busy living.

A lady I lean on to help me with my finances is fairly new to her "clean" status after breast cancer surgery and many other surgeries because of complications on her cancer path.  She's really been through hell but she never felt it was time to lose hope.  Hope is what got her past the inflamed stitches, nausea and medicine issues.  She is a warrior to be sure.

After all of that, she's busy living too.

I love it when "living" wins.

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You walk into cancer world so unaware of what is about to happen to your world.

Care giving is a word you hear thrown into the mix along with chemotherapy, radiation, scan, blood work, etc.

There is no way you can even guess what that word will mean to you in the months or years ahead.

A care giver is developed, not born.  We learn how to properly change a bandage.  Some of us learned how to measure fluids from wound drains, and how to replace bags of meds into IV's.  We learned how to recalculate medicine pumps, take accurate blood pressure and how to transfer our loved ones from place to place.

It's a hard job and we wouldn't trade it for the world because it was our way of helping.

We feel so helpless dealing with cancer.  Most of our decisions aren't really decisions but conversations about decisions we're asked to make.  So anything we can do to be a part of the care, we're more than willing to do.

And once our care giving days are over, we don't pack up our newly learned skills and stick them under the bed....NO WAY....we find ourselves passing on what we learned to the next care giver.  Little secrets or shortcuts we picked up along the way.

The care giver in training is appreciative of any little tidbit we can offer because now, they're at square one, just like we once were.

Once a care giver....

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It's another passage of time.  That's one way to look at six years gone following Leroy's death.

Early on, in the first couple of years without him, I didn't think about where I'd been or where I was going, but now, I look back down that long road of grief and loss and I can see where the peaks and valleys have marked the passage of time.

I can think about the Leroy stories I've told over the years and how I've smiled and laughed at some of his remarkable adventures.  There were some funny times mixed into the scary wars and close calls with young vigilantes carrying weapons older than they were and pointing them at a 6foot-5inch American journalist who was the biggest target in the crowd.

I think about the things I miss telling him.  I miss the "life" moments he should have been here to share with me.  I think about the days sitting alone on the beaches he loved  and how many beautiful sunsets we've missed, sharing a glass of wine and his favorite Silton blue cheese.  It was a favorite sunset picnic.

I still get emails this time every year, from young, talented journalists, their lives changed because of Leroy's guidance. He saw the potential in them and he helped to fine-tune their skills.  They remember him with such admiration and appreciation.  So many of them tell me when they get stuck making a decision, they sit back and wonder "What would Leroy do?" before they make a move.

That's what I call "impact."

This community has the gift of "impact" too.  Your amazing messages over this past weekend lifted me up and away from the threat of dropping into one of those valleys.  "Leroy sad" was not a place I wanted to hang out on Friday.  I admit, I stopped by there for a while, visited my usual places, but I also managed to remember him with love and understanding as well as a few tears too.

August 15th will never be just another day.

My heartbeat changed at 11:15 pm that night.

But I'm healing and I have hope and a little bit more peace as each year passes.

I think that's progress!

 

 

 

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img002HE WAS SUCH A LIFE FORCE.

SOME TIME TODAY, STOP...SMILE...AND THINK OF HIM.

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I don't need a calendar to tell me what week this is.

I don't need a calendar to tell me that three days ago, six years ago, Leroy was moved to a hospital bed in our family room.  It had a special, inflatable mattress that had a pump attached to it so it stayed inflated.  It kept him more comfortable than a regular flat mattress.

I don't need a calendar to tell me that tomorrow, six years ago, the hospice nurse, who had just arrived today, six years ago, suggested that Leroy use a morphine pump to ease his pain.  He reluctantly agreed and I watched carefully as she put the needle in his arm.  I remember looking up at him.  He was already watching me.

I don't need a calendar for any of these details because there is something about this week that triggers so many unsettling emotions inside of me.  It only happens during this week.

I don't think anyone can tell that I'm different this week.  No one at the gas station or the grocery store notices the change, but I know.

It's a week that leads up to a day and I promise you, I don't need a calendar for that day.

 

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