It’s not like you’re a widow…

Those words hit me like a freight train. I’m not his widow.

I’m not allowed to feel that kind of sadness that swallows one whole and depletes one of the ability to exist and perform. But I feel it.

I was standing there, beside him when he took his last breath. His eyes focused, lingered, and closed one last time. I stepped back, because his wife was in the next room. She would want to be close to him. I stepped back out of the way. His heart kept beating, she leaned over and hugged him close. I’d only held his hand.

The kind of love one friend feels for another isn’t always romantic.

He was sitting behind a desk when I walked into the Spring Green office in Denver Tech Center. CMP was a mortgage company that held the loan on my house. He was the broker. There were two men there that day, Bill Clarke and Rob Robinson, and my husband of seven years (yes, I said *two men* and my husband wasn’t one of them, by his own choices). We laughed, worked through the paper work and Rob invited us to join him for lunch at a diner across the drive. We had sourdough, pastrami and mustard pannini and iced tea. I remember the texture of the table.

My husband held my hand, rubbed my shoulder and talked about farming.

Rob, Bill and I joined forces that day and opened a brokerage firm that would ultimately be the basis of our friendship, and my financial salvation when my marriage crashed two years later. My daughter said it best the morning after my husband left, “He’s been walking out for eleven years, he finally took his clothes…”

Those next few years were a struggle. But we survived. We thrived under the watchful eye of my business partners, who reached out to my four children and offered encouragement. Bill and his wife became constant friends, always supporting, encouraging, sharing. Rob became my confidant. He share those moments when the rest of the world was fast asleep. He listened. He laughed. He cried. He reminded me frequently that I gave the best hugs in the whole wide world, and told me every single time I saw him what a gorgeous woman I was.

One night, during the late summer, it was so hot I couldn’t sleep and I went outside with my phone to sit on the deck. Rob called, “I can’t sleep. Are you awake?” We talked for hours. He shared his dreams, I shared mine. We shared our thoughts about the future, about what my kids were doing, how life was treating each of us, and then we shared how we felt about our friendship.

He was my best friend. I loved him as much as I had ever loved, and I trusted him. He gave my children more than any other man had ever given them, including their father… Not things, but support, instruction, love, his blessing. Things that mattered to children. He cared.

As the night cooled, the hours passed and it was near the wee hours of the morning, Rob yawned on the phone and I said, “I should let you get some rest.” He held on a moment longer, whispering sweet words, reminding me how much he loved and cared about me and that he would always be there for me.

Sitting in the middle of the picnic table on my deck, I looked up and watched as a mountain lion strolled down the street, taking each step purposefully without hesitation, I whispered, “There’s a mountain lion walking down the street.” And Rob said, “Jan, you need to get inside.”

I waited and watched. The mountain lion kept walking. He stopped at the corner, looked both ways and then moved toward the west and out of sight.

I stepped off the table and went inside, as I closed the door, I heard the mountain lion scream. The chilling sound of life ending and the realization that the circle continues.

A few weeks later, Rob called to tell me he was getting married to a wonderful woman he had known from church. I’d met her once, when I attended church with him, while visiting my daughter in college. She was extraordinary. A delightful woman who suited him well, who loved him with her whole heart, a woman he loved completely.

Our friendship grew to include her. She brightened his world and inspired him, a benefit to me. I gained so much from her insight and wisdom. I grew to love her as a friend.

Rob never stopped being there for my children. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he shared the news with us, came to visit and see my new grandbabies. He came to visit when my mom had cancer, while I cared for her. He was there for us whenever we needed him, and he called if he needed us. We were there for him too.

As he slipped away from this world, I was there. But I wasn’t his widow.

No, that privilege was saved for the woman he gave his name. I was ‘just a friend’.

That’s what happened.

The day he left this world, as I drove home from his place, I called a girlfriend to share the sadness that threatened to overwhelm my heart. She’s a good friend, and I know she didn’t mean to hurt me. But… her words…

Through my tears, I relayed the message and she said, “Yeah, you’ll miss him. But he was just a friend… It’s not like you’re his widow, or something…”

No. I’m not his widow. That honor is saved for a dear woman I consider my friend.

Burned one too many times…

When the hurt becomes too much to bear, what then?

after the fire
After the Fire – by Shawn Mitchell

There are times in life when you’ve just been hurt too much. You need to love, but the pain of loving is just too much to bear. What then?

Standing on the precipice looking out over the valley, the need to know how it feels to fly is bigger than the need to stay grounded. Flight is love. The greater existence of self in a world of many may suffice on some level, but the time to know yourself and one other has passed. You must fly.

Solo.

The glory of one more sunrise alone may not be your dream, but it is your reality. When you’ve been burned one time too many…

The amazing brilliance of sunsets too big to absorb alone may overwhelm you, yet there’s no one to share. Absolutely none can see the magnificence with you, because you’re standing alone.

Those who have impacted your life can’t feel you now.

The reality of that solo flight isn’t loneliness. The reality is the gift you’re given, the appeal of living outside the ring of secure numbers, your ability to strike out alone and survive. Sustenance isn’t always a result of many, but on those rare occasions when you’re able to ‘go it alone’ it is the value of one.

The take off may be rough, the muck and the waters of life will pull you down. But once you’re airborne, you’ll soar to new heights, never before seen from land and never seen by anyone but you. The thrill of the flight will not be the sharing of the heights at which you soar, but rather the knowledge that you’re the only one who has experienced this view.

When you’ve been burned one too many times…

Take time to know yourself.

Take time to fly solo, enjoy the view and love the life you’ve been given.

Take time to heal. Time to awaken the life within you. Time to be alone.

The realization that you can BE alone and not be lonely comes only after you’ve experienced the joy of flying solo long enough to find the view best suited to you.

Once you’ve found it… you’ll have more to share.

boulderponds

First Kiss

I absolutely LOVE the Family Reunions in Nashville. Friends of Country Music get together, play music and sing… the best of the best.

It’s one of my favorite music videos to watch, one after another. Usually a Sunday afternoon, when I settle in for a nice nap, either before or after, I catch myself pulling youtube.com up on my phone and searching for my favorites. Always — Gene Watson — comes up. I fell in love as a teenager, listening to his music in Nashville around the swimming pool. He sang new songs, old songs. Any song…

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Shaking it off…

Some mornings just don’t flow as smoothly as others… Those days, I want to step back in time and adjust my words. Even though there was nothing wrong with what I said, it wasn’t accepted in the most pleasant manner, which meant words were exchanged that should never have been said.

Continue reading Shaking it off…

Overwhelming Sadness

When I posted the original thought, I didn’t realize what inner strength would come from the realization that inside my heart I feel the pain of injustice. The depth of the feeling keeps me awake at night, wishing I could fix it, but there’s no fixing carnal sin. Even Jesus on the cross couldn’t fix the depth of the problem, He could only forgive it.

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Emotional Abuse is a Social Disgrace

I write this through tears of sorrow. There are people in this world who have no grasp of the pain they cause others through their own anxiety and personal disgrace.

Several years ago, I experienced quite possibly the cruelest treatment of my life by a woman and her son during what should have been the finest hour for all those involved. I followed my heart during that time and held on for dear life to my faith and God’s unending love and patience. I remained close by, but away from what happened.

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When Friendship Goes Wrong

Doing the life dance, I’ve learned there’s a cost. Over the years, I’ve heard many people talk about boundaries and how well boundaries manage friendships and relationships… Maybe true, maybe not.

I’m not a fan of the way most people attempt to set boundaries. Not only is the method self serving and ineffective, but more often than not,  blatantly RUDE.

Example: Discussions of religion or politics.

These topics are not readily acceptable in public, but if you have a problem with them being discussed, YOU are the one with the problem, not everyone in the room. Most adults are capable of having a conversation without attacking others, and those who understand that others have a difference of opinion may disagree, but they don’t attack.

Those who don’t understand this may need a little help, a boundary if you like, to adjust their message a bit.

A good boundary would be, “I disagree with what you’re saying and we’re not going to be able to agree, but I appreciate you sharing. Now, might be a good time to change the topic. My grandmother has taken up ballet dancing in France, would you like to see her photos?”

A bad boundary is, “What you say offends me and I expect an apology from you before I can continue to talk to you.”

The first example, the speaker takes responsibility for his/her own feelings, states the fact that the two won’t agree and acknowledge the other person’s right to have an opinion, then moves on to a different topic.

The second example, the speaker gives ALL responsibility for the offense to the other person, demands an apology, and figuratively “takes his toys and goes home.”

Either example can be used by the person who feels offended, but the second one takes no responsibility for his personal choices. This social boundary is one that prevails more often than not, leaving the person who feels offended with no personal control over his/her feelings. OOOPS. Do they want NO CONTROL over their feelings?

When friendship goes wrong because boundaries are wrongly used, the person who gave up all responsibility for their personal feelings becomes a “self-made” VICTIM waiting indefinitely for their “proclaimed abuser” to validate their existence and victim status by apologizing for having an opinion. The second person if they fall for the demand, then becomes an enabler, actuating the victim status with the proposed apology, and feeling frustrated themselves for having apologized for something they feel no REAL guilt over.

Psycho-babble? Yes, of the worst kind.

Often, so called psychiatrists, dig deep into a person’s psychic and offer perceived explanations for self-created victim status, applauding the “victim” for seeking help. Psychiatrists and Counselors make BIG Money applauding victims in their pursuit of “help” as they spend hours listening to the “victim” explain how others have wronged them, wrongly.

In all the counseling sessions I’ve attended (and there have been a few), there were VERY few trained counselors who indicated that I should take responsibility for my own actions/reactions and either move on from a relationship or simply let go of the relationship to allow the other person to take responsibility for their own actions. More often, the counselor/psychiatrist indicated I should seek to repair the broken relationship by explaining to the other person their fault in the break.

No. No… No! That’s not the solution!

With any situation, if you can OWN it, you can FIX it.

Take responsibility for the broken relationship. Understand your own part in the situation and acknowledge that you might have been at fault, then fix it if you can. If you can’t fix it, take responsibility for your own choices and walk away – NOT A VICTIM. Don’t jump into the fire accepting all responsibility if it isn’t yours, that enables a victim mentality in the other person. But do own  your part in the situation and FIX that part. If there’s more and you can’t fix it, see if you can discuss it with the other person, but if there’s no option for fixing the problem other than enabling the person to continue being a victim, stop there.

Say this, “I love you and I am at fault for my part of this issue. I’ll fix that, but I can’t take responsibility for your part of the problem. It’s been a lovely friendship and I’ll miss you, but I won’t carry your part of our friendship as well as my own. God bless you my friend, I’ll be praying for you.”

And let them go their way, with your blessings.

Tell me how you handle broken friendships and how you might fix one, if possible. I’d like other thoughts on this issue.

Once Upon a Sisterhood

Sisters. The joy, the delight, the trials, and the trouble of growing up with a sister.  Sibling rivalry is a tough road to travel, but most sisters go there,  no matter how much they love each other. The fighting isn’t part of the plan, but it’s almost always part of the experience.

My sister is a talented woman. Our talents are the least of our problems, and I don’t think either of us lacks any confidence in that area of our lives. She’s got a particular style that carries through in anything she attempts, and I’ve got a very different style that carries through in my artistic ventures. Seldom do our skills overlap in any given area, although we both use some of the same mediums.

Tea with cream, please.The problems arise when others dare to meddle in our tea. Mind you, we both like our tea, quite differently prepared. I like my tea hot or cold, with lemon and honey or a little cream, and she prefers hers as coffee, black. We bicker and fight over inane subjects, topics that matter none at all, or worse… over misunderstandings, but no matter what, no matter when, no matter how, when push comes to shove… she’s still my sister.

Which reminds me of an old saying (probably from some 1950’s movie I’ve watched)…

Don’t you dare… pick on my sister, mister!

Accomplish the Dream – One Step at a Time

Today, feeling a little under the gun and overwhelmed by life, I had already posted my woe-is-me comments, thinking life was just too much to get through, today. Then… I read this short blurb and realized that even though, this very moment may be overwhelming, I can do this day. I can do this hour. I can start this minute by being motivated to CHANGE what is wrong today and move above it, to accomplish my dream.

Continue reading Accomplish the Dream – One Step at a Time