Maribeth Doerr

Shades of Healing ~ Creating a Wholehearted Life

Sometimes It’s Overwhelming and then Magic Happens . . .

It’ll be three weeks tomorrow since Mom died, and it’s starting to hit me how much I miss her. I want her to tell me we’re okay . . .

My husband is self-employed and hasn’t had a contract or commission since September 1, 2010. He has been working hard on a large project, and we thought it would be closed with a nice commission in early August. Nope. Then we were hoping mid-August. Nope. Now it’s MAYBE mid-September. Meanwhile, he hasn’t earned a penny in a year, we’re living off my self-employment income which is getting less and less, and we’re down to the nubs. Through it all, I’ve been confident that all was, and would be, okay. My faith and that flicker of hope keeps me going.

We took out the last bit in our line of credit from our second mortgage to pay our health insurance, mortgage and few other bills. Three days later, we’re told the money from the line of credit was removed from our account because we were three days late with the payment last month. We’ve paid on time every month for the last umpteen years but it’s not good to be late with a payment in this economy so . . . and, stupid us, the bills using that money had already been sent out. GULP!

There are definitely lessons to learn from this – painful lessons. My mother just died, my dad with early dementia has just moved in with me changing my life in so many ways that I can’t see straight, I’m cleaning out my parents’ belongings and getting their house ready to sell while filling up my house so that it looks like an episode from Hoarders, I’m trying to maintain my business through this so I can afford to feed my family and oh yeah, we’re broke. I just wanted to curl up in my mom’s lap with her arms around me telling me all would be okay, because honestly, my friends are getting a little scared to be around me these days. It’s not that I’m just not fun these days but that I’m overwhelming them. I’m sure when they see me they’re thinking what’s next with this woman.

This morning, it really did feel overwhelming and then something magical happened. I talked with a beautiful friend from my Pen-Parents days whose husband is in the late stages of ALS. Talk about an overwhelming situation! She’s full of love and light – and so much empathy for me that I didn’t feel I even deserved. This woman is truly an earth angel. My overwhelm melted into such love and joy because I connected with another human being who “knows” and gets it.

Instead of going to my Dad’s house to pack up more stuff, I stayed home and tuned into the Halos711 show on Blog Talk Radio. One of the hosts shared her story about her daughter who is about to lose her home but her faith is keeping her strong because she never gives up. Another listener gave her testimonial about never giving up and yet another talked about the miracle that cured a life threatening virus in his heart.

Folks, it’s all about that flicker of hope I talked about before. That’s all you need in the darkest of times. Reach out to people and ask for support. Yes, some people (and often a lot of people) will turn away because they can’t handle your pain or struggle, but there will be those that will walk through it with you and you won’t find them if you sit still and stuck in your pity party.

Remember this – you are loved. All you have to do is open your heart to receive it – not take it, but receive it – and then you can conquer most anything. My mom loved me, and I miss her fiercely. But my family is going to get through this because we’re going to continue moving forward with the love in our hearts that Mom planted in each of us. We can’t do any less if we just take those painful first baby steps and let go of the struggle . . . so who’s going with me?

When you need an extra dose of love (or have extra to share), check out:
The Healing Room on Blog Talk Radio with Halos711
Inner Child Radio


Oh You Guys!

My husband and I are big fans of M*A*S*H, especially when we’re sick or stressed out. One of our favorite episodes is when Frank gets mad at his tent mates yet again and yells “OH YOU GUYS!” at them. It sounds so silly. Anyone else would blast them with a few swear words at least, but Frank just yells a silly retort, twists his lips and stomps off.

I’ve never really thought my anger manifested like Frank’s but today, it did. I had a list of phone calls to make (something I really detest) including canceling my parents’ phone and cable tv service. The phone company was wonderful so one task ticked off the list. Feeling optimistic that the cable tv company would be a similar experience, I dialed in and waited. It seems that because the account is in my dad’s name only, he’s the only one who can disconnect the service (the phone was in Dad’s name only but it was no problem to disconnect at all – thank you AT&T!). I explained that he has dementia and wouldn’t really understand what they were asking. Too bad – I have to take him to their office. Do they think he’ll understand better in person? No – I have to take him in so they can see that he has dementia. Isn’t that nice? I will have to drive him to their office and put him on display. He’ll be confused and frustrated at not understanding their questions which means that entire day will be a disaster for us as these feelings just don’t go away in a few minutes.

The lady taking my call was, to be clear, very nice, and she was only doing her job. But seriously, this was just one more bit of frustration that I didn’t need. I admit I got angry and as it bubbled over and out of me, I said much louder than I normally speak (okay, it was probably yelling) . . .

The phone company was great about this and you guys . . . well you guys are just THE WORST!

I slammed down the phone and boy did that feel great. That’s the thing with cellphones—you really can’t slam them down when you’re mad. I was on my parents’ landline (the one I’d just ordered a disconnection for from AT&T without a bit of hassle) and I slammed that baby down with everything I had. I’m surprised it didn’t come off the wall. I was instantly filled with guilt. I’m just not a screamer and that poor lady who was trying to be nice was just doing her job, yada yada. Man, I’m just evil.

And then the Frank Burns scenario popped into my head and I giggled . . . and then I laughed. Oh, it’s a terrible thing to yell ‘you guys are just the worst’ into a phone before slamming it in someone’s ear. Why couldn’t this lady have just ticked off on her computer that my dad said “yes” to her lousy question? Would anyone have really known or cared?

When I told my youngest son (Chad who is 22), he said, “Oh Mom, that’s just awful” and then rolled his eyes at me. My husband immediately called me Frank Burns! LOL! Great minds think alike! He’s been teasing me all day by saying, “Oh you GUYS” in his best Frank Burns voice. We decided that if my mom had been talking to that woman, she would have unloaded both barrels on her besides slamming down the phone. Ms. Charter Cable’s ears would have been smokin’ compared to what I said. I really chuckle thinking about that. I’m willing to bet Mom was watching from Heaven and getting a kick out of me, probably saying GOOD FOR YOU MARI!

And that’s the thing – find the giggles wherever and whenever you can. Laugh at yourself as you walk this road. It really does lighten things up. I think we’ll watch some more M*A*S*H tonight. Here’s to you Frank!


Mind-blowing Contrast

According to Wikipedia, “The Holmes and Rahe stress scale is a list of 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness.” In the last year, my husband and I have racked up quite a score. It’s almost frightening to think about – ALMOST. It’s true that the last year has been a wild ride, but it’s also been a most precious year in some ways. Through this turbulence, my husband and I have become much closer and our little family of four is closer as a result. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. In fact, I would have said on July 29 that I was as happy as I’d ever been despite the serious financial stress we’re under. I was absolutely confident that that situation would be resolved and resolved soon; I was content in a way I hadn’t ever been before.

On July 30 I was sitting on the couch working through a lesson in Andrea Schroeder’s Creative Journal Magic course (BTW, I HIGHLY recommend this course!). I had broken through a big block and was really rocking the class. I was getting to know myself and loving the possibilities before me. All that was shattered with the news that my mom had died. Within minutes, I had to call people, make snap decisions, plan a funeral, make decisions for my dad who has early dementia and unable to do any of the things people do when there’s a death . . . including moving him into my home while emptying out his and disposing of my mother’s things. I now have the responsibility for an 87 year old man with early dementia; it’s like having a spoiled preschooler with ADHD and my life has changed so drastically, I almost don’t recognize it. I’m trying to figure out a work schedule and coming up short. I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” girl and my dad has had the same rigid schedule for years that my mom catered to. At 87, changing that schedule causes tantrums. It’s a lot harder to cope with your elderly parent’s tantrums than it is your toddler’s! This role reversal has thrown me for a loop and yet I often feel like that little girl with knots in her stomach because Daddy isn’t happy.

Is this the worst thing that’s ever happened to me? No . . . but it’s certainly thrown a monkey wrench into that delicious peace and contentment I was feeling on the morning of July 30. The contrast is seriously mind blowing.

My emotions have been all over the place today and that really is typical of the grief experience (as well as a woman in perimenopause!). I’m experienced enough with this process to know that the best thing to do is roll with it, acknowledge the feelings at the time and let them go. I’m so much better at “letting go and letting God” now than I was as a younger adult, and this is such a blessing. There can be joy in these challenges if we open up to the possibilities. This is when my gratitude journal keeps me grounded and reminds me that this new tsunami is temporary and doesn’t define me or my life (even though it feels like it quite often!).

Today’s gratitude journal entry will be about Eric (my 24 year old son) trying to recreate a fabulous grilled cheese sandwich that he purchased from some kind of food truck over the weekend. As the smoke was billowing through my kitchen, we laughed ourselves silly and I thanked God for the gift of this child in my life. There is ALWAYS a blessing if you just look for it. ♥


Don’t Go . . .

I’m back at the Starbucks by Dad’s. He’s golfing with some friends and since our dryer is on the fritz, I brought my laundry over. How nice it would have been to sit there all day washing and chatting with Mom. I think about the last time I saw her and how happy she was as she was waving goodbye to us. If I’d known that was the last time, I would have grabbed her and whispered, “Don’t go.” As I sit here in Starbucks, the tears come and mostly for Mom rather than the chaos my life has been thrown into by moving Dad into my house. No, this morning, I miss my mom, my BFF, my confidante. I want her to tell me it’s all going to be okay, and that I’m doing a good job. I want her to throw her arms around me one more time and tell me I’m the love of her life. She did that just once, about six weeks ago, when we brought Dad home from the hospital after an overnight stay. Did she know then that our time together was short?

Monday afternoon was hard. I was alone with Dad and the move was so new that he was very confused. He got upset with our cable TV that requires its own remote. When did I change it? How could I do that without telling him? When I explained again that I had a different cable company than he had at his house, he yelled, “MY HOUSE!?” I finally realized that he was thinking I was Mom and we were at “his” house, that he didn’t remember the move. After a wee tantrum, he went upstairs to make his gin toddy and then within five minutes seemed just fine.

Yesterday we had a list of errands which we tackled in the morning. He had slept better Monday night so felt good in the morning. He got a shower and made his breakfast. He gave me directions to his doctor’s office without a problem (good thing because I get lost in a tea cup!). We turned in his medication fax forms to the doctor so we can get everything refilled. We even dropped off Mom’s urn to the cremation office. He was great through all of that. But by late afternoon, he gets a bit unsettled like a child with ADHD and that can be a challenge for me. I’m so used to doing my own thing and choosing when I want to work but I feel like I have to sit in the same room with Dad and follow him everywhere. I’m sure this will change a bit as we settle in – at least I hope.

Still, Tuesday was MUCH better than Monday, and I’m sure we’re going to continue to have ups and downs. All we can do is our best and ask for help. My guys are a lot of help, and I thank God for them always. But, the brunt of this burden is on me. I’m the family breadwinner; when am I supposed to find the time to earn it when I have to care for my father? When will I be able to grieve for my mother?

I do pray a lot and feel God and the angels with me. I feel all the prayers from family and friends. I admit that in my darkest moments I wonder if it’s enough. So much loss – 5 babies, 2 brothers and now my mom (and life as I knew it). Then I think about Pastor’s sermon from last Sunday, and all I need to remember is that flicker of hope – that little flicker of light keeps me from total darkness and is enough to keep me safe until the bad moments pass – and they always do. I’m too experienced with grief to think otherwise.

Mom – don’t go – please . . .