Morning Conversations 

Sometimes, Monday mornings are rough. You know, rolling out of bed groggy while attempting to re-establish weekday routines. Playing out the idea of hooky on a Monday inside your head.  Wishing to sink back into your pillow. Little things can feel rushed Monday morning. Like, conversations with your three-year-old. (Almost four-year-old).   

Over peanut-buttered-jelly toast and applesauce McKinley discussed her dream to me.  And we didn’t rush.  

“Were you by the pink and blue hydrangeas last night?” McKinley asked. 

I played along, “Oh yes! I was.” 

“And did you see Papa? He was playing with me in my dreams last night!”  (She is referring to my late father who passed away). 

“Oh really?! What were you guys doing?” 

“Papa was pushing us on the swings, but I was younger,” says McKinley very grown up. 

  
Sometimes it stirs these bottomless emotions inside me, but other times it brings comfort knowing he visits her. Still keeping us all safe. Still staying close.  

~g

Publishing. 

So, I’m finally gearing up to publish the children’s story I wrote & illustrated two years ago. 

 Going Through a Maze.  

 

When I was writing this story my father was diagnosed with cancer. And actually, it wasn’t a story it was a poem.   My father even had the opportunity to read that poem.  I turned it into a story after he passed away.  And every Wednesday when my mother in-law would watch McKinley I tirelessly sketched and colored my heart out. 

Unfortunately, I’ve sent it out and It’s not a story publishing company’s want to publish.  Mostly, because it’s a children’s story about Cancer and subsequently death.  Shocker.  But, it also happens to be a story about preserverence, love, friendship, and family. You know, like important shit?

Anyways, I wanted to read my daughter something to help explain what our family was going through at the time, and there just wasn’t anything on the market.  It’s important that there are story’s for children about cancer and death because many families experience this and death is simply inevitable– no matter how invincible you want to be. 

So,  I continue my journey and will be now be self-publishing!  I’ll be sure to let my readers know when it’s ready to purchase. I also plan to donate a portion of the proceeds to help fund lung cancer research.

-G 

You’re right–we all have wishes.

I know that usually on Friday’s I post a
curriculum piece, but something else is on my mind. Today marks 3 months since my father’s passing.

Dear Dad,

My mind is flooding with memories of you, like when you were bent on the ground smelling different soaps and lotions from under the sink with McKinley. You were smiling ear-to-ear looking into her young and (at the time) blue eyes. I loved watching that moment.

And I loved watching so many other wonderful moments between the two of you. Here’s the thing, I can’t help but wish you were here to see her becoming an artist. I wish you could see her brush her own teeth…oh gosh dad, there are many wishes I have.

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You’re right–there are many wishes we all have. Haha, I remember you would come home with a dollar lottery ticket and we would go around discussing our various decisions with the winnings. You loved doing that!

Spit it out.

I just…I struggle with your absence. Sometimes it feels like a moral void. Sometimes empty. So I try to wrap my head around, and remember clearly, our conversations about the afterlife. Do you remember? One time we were sitting outside on the back patio late into the evening. Stars above us.

What do you think is going to happen to me?

I told you– I didn’t know, but that it couldn’t be bad, because logistically speaking it wouldn’t make sense. And there started another amazing- thought provoking-conversation.

Dad, I’m sorry I took time for granted. I thought we would have more time together. I’m sorry for the days I was a grouch and the times I was to tired for another wheelchair ride.

Most of all dad, what I want you to know? Even if I have said it before (I want to tell you again). I’m incredibly honored to be your daughter. Proud to call you my father. I’ll miss our in-depth meaningful conversations. I have deep admiration for you, for your compassion, and kindness towards others. I look up to you in ways you won’t understand. And I’ll never stop my quest to becoming a better me. Geez I could write a lot here so—I love you and I miss you.

Thank you for supporting McKinley Milestones and my blogging world. 🙂
This blog today is dedicated to you.
R.I.P. dad. And, I’ll see you again. XO

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The Circle of Life: Infancy & Death

I’ve neglected my readers for far to long now.  I apologize for that and am ready to get back into the swing of things.  Since my last post– dad passed away.  And McKinley is now 18-months-old stringing words along– “bye-bye dada” and “uh-oh meme.”

Life is full circle.  I’ve heard it a million times and I thought I knew what it meant.  That basically–we start where we end.  It seems simple to understand, but it’s different to have experience.  And, I know that now.  Now, that I’ve watched my father die.

I do not mean to confuse experience in the sense of “doing” or “seeing” something,  but rather experience as a feeling.   An experiential feeling that is created in part by the doing and seeing. For example:

Let’s say a specialist comes into a classroom to speak about Nazi Germany.  Imagine that this young man knows everything about Nazi Germany. Everything. The following day, another speaker comes to the class.  The new speaker says the EXACT same words as the young man the day before.  Except he was an 80-year-old man from Auschwitz.  And the difference between them is not the “experience” itself.  It’s the feeling the experience created for the older man that makes their knowledge different.

My father would always use that example in his philosophy classes when explaining the existence of God.  To know – is different than – to feel. 

So, here I am with an experiential feeling about my father’s passing.  Life, a circle.  I’ve lived through it, I saw it, and I felt it.  I was there every minute and everyday. Watching new life begin and my hero’s life end. And not just end, but transcend.

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In the end of life–we revert back to infancy.  We revert back to toddlerhood–a self-centered world–back to diapers–back to being dependent–back to napping–losing our ability to walk, and then back to sleeping all the time. And in the end of our life, like toddlers, we get frustrated because we can’t communicate the way we want to.  There are surprisingly many similarities.  It was humbling to watch.

Death is just as magical as birth. It’s a privilege and an honor to witness. But, we mourn death and don’t talk about it.  Why?  Why is it such a taboo topic and painted as morbid and horrible?  What– just because death is depressing?  Death is natural. And it’s normal to be sad when you lose someone you love. It’s going to happen.  So–shouldn’t we talk about it?  Why is being sad something negative when sadness is the only way to understand happiness?  Life is all about the journey, and the journey is never flat.

We mourn because our fear of the unknown and our fear of life without the familiar.  Death is truly the greatest testament of our being, our will power, and our core strength. And we will all question— Is the “truth” I’ve always believed, really true?  It is the greatest hill we all must climb.  But never in my life have I worked hard to climb a hill, without ever coming down.  And isn’t down hill so much better?  And isn’t the climb always worth it?

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Life, for me, will never go back.  I’ll always have to push forward.  Like a circle.  Where does a circle really start and end anyways?  It doesn’t. It just continues to go around and around.  Yes, I am suggesting that life after death goes on.  However, I am not suggesting how it goes on.  That I do not know.  But, my father in-law once told me something I’ll never forget.

“You know, death is like being born.  When you’re inside the womb it’s a dark, comfortable place, and it’s all you know.  And then, one day, you are pushed out into this bright light.  This new world you know nothing about.  You are scared and alone.  But, then you realize it’s this beautiful place.  Why wouldn’t death be the same?” 

 

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Backseat

I waited impatiently for the phone to ring. And when it finally did my mother’s somber voice didn’t prepare me.  Even when something is anticipatory it still comes as a f-cking shock.

My dad had gone in for an MRI of his brain. Everyone told us it was probably nothing. We expected his cognitive issues were because of adjustments in his medications.  I was driving to the grocery store during the time of his appointment.  And started thinking:   I need a sign. I don’t feel right. It’s gonna be okay.  It’s the medications. I dunno though, what if it’s not.  I just need a sign. Please God give me a sign.  The car in front of me brought me back to reality because they were driving 10 MPH under the speed limit.  I caught the license plate: DUEPRAY.  Oh my god, due pray, like do pray. I should be praying right now! I grabbed my rosary that hangs over my rear-view mirror and began reciting the Lords Prayer.  Then, a bird flew past my windshield.  A little bird in slow motion.  I’m  actually surprised I didn’t kill the bird… that’s how close it flew.

When I got home my phone finally rang.

“Well? What did they say?” I asked.  A PET scan a couple of months earlier showed no signs of anything.  We’re talking about cancer, there were no signs of cancer.

“It’s not good Georgia.” My mom was matter of fact.  She even said my name.

“Okay, what is it?”

“It’s in his brain,” she stated.

“No it’s not… wait are you kidding me?”

“No.”

“Are you JOKING me!?” I belted. I seriously couldn’t believe it.

“No, I’m not kidding you.  They found approximately 20 lesions or tumors in his brain,” her voice got soft and broke. I heard sniffles through the phone and could only imagine the amount of tears trickling down her face.

“Ohhhh f-ck.”  Then silence.  “Mom, are you driving?”

“No, not yet, we are walking out to the car.”

“Okay, well just drive home. I’ll call the siblings… I love you mom.”  Then, I hung up.

I was holding McKinley screaming out loud Oh God, Oh God! while sobbing and trying to call my sister and brother. I’m crying now. It’s everywhere in his brain. And time is running out. Precious time with my daddy. Precious time for McKinley with her Papa.

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This might sound strange, but in my mind I’ve always known my dad was going to die.   Duh, the life cycle.  It’s something we know to be fact, yet believe we are invincible.  When he first was diagnosed, the thought changed to- my dad is dying.  And now that his death is upon us, the thought has reverted back to: my dad is going to die.  Really Soon.  It’s not that I didn’t foresee the cancer spreading, I did.  Just not this quickly. I wasn’t ready.

How am I doing? Terrible.  I know it may be social protocol, but it’s really a strange question to ask.  In my opinion.  Different people have told me to be strong, but what does that really mean?  What is it to be weak during your father’s death? And, why is it a bad thing?  I understand they are words of encouragement and sympathy and it helps.  The truth is, I’m not sure I can be strong.  I only hope that someway somehow my father’s voice will ring loud inside me and the words and strength will flow effortlessly.

So, we are preparing for the end.  With hospice. An anticipatory grief (counseling term). A milestone. A really f-cking hard milestone.  Living with and caring for: a parent, a hero, a friend, teacher, and advocate, someone you look up to, depend on, and someone you love deeply. Your father.

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Early in the year, I did a post to raise money for LUNGevity Breathe Deep Newark for our team: The TERMINATORS.  We helped raise, with many others, $23,000 for research.  Thank you again for your help and kindness.  Here is a short movie I prepared of that day (May 11th) and the speech my father gave to everyone (they asked him to give a speech because he was the #1 individual fund-raiser and the only survivor in attendance) 

I wanted to let my readers know that things have been harder lately. Obviously. My father is really struggling. We are all struggling.  Skipping the details of what that means or entails, I’m spending more time caring for him. And so, this blog is something I currently cannot commit to doing as frequently as I was before.

I will continue to try to participate in “Monday Monologues” and “Wordless Wednesdays” capturing pictures of McKinley’s Milestones and family life.  Although, I’m not sure how frequent that will be.  My hours spent editing craft, recipe, and informational posts will most likely take a temporary backseat for now.  I apologize for that and I hope that you’ll remain an avid follower.

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