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"I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to 'cut back.' From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible."
(Erma Bombeck)

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Thursday
Oct112012

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday. Fifty-six years ago, I was born in what is now the city library in Anacortes, Washington. I always joked that I was born in the fiction section. And that my family moved a lot when I was a kid . . . but, somehow, I always managed to find 'em. Ba-da-bing.

I don't care who knows how old I am. That's one of the perks of getting to be this age. In my head and heart, I don't feel this old. It's only my body telling me that I'm past my prime. But, that's another story.

Anyhoo, I may as well warn you: this is going to be a stream-of-consciousness blog entry. In case you haven't noticed, I haven't written on my blog for over three months—the longest I've gone without writing since its inception.

In no particular order, here are some of the reasons:

My daughter graduated college with her bachelor's degree in English last August. And she got married exactly one week later. I could hardly wrap my head around it. She lived at home the entire time she attended college, right up to the day she got married. Yes, we know that's unusual in this day and age. I think someone referred to her as a “throwback.” And you know what? She really is.

But, that's okay. We're good with that. We don't own a TV, although we love watching movies on our big-screen projector on the basement wall. With a computer and an internet connection, I'm not sure TV is even necessary anymore.

Our daughter took summer college courses so that she could graduate earlier—and she did. She ended up graduating college one full year ahead of her high school friends. Debt-free. She sacrificed a lot to do these things. To save money on gas, she rode a bus to a neighboring city to attend university classes. Sometimes, the bus was so full that she stood the entire time.

There were times she wanted to be out on her own (we didn't stop her, by the way; it was her choice). The last couple of years, she was chomping at the bit to get out of the house. I understand all that.

I didn't have time to contemplate the usual things surrounding a college graduation. A week later, our daughter married the young man she's dated for nearly three years (a wonderful young man, by the way). So, most of my time over the last three months was spent putting the wedding together. There's too much to say about it, so I won't.

I'll just say this <deep breath>: it was an exhausting, rewarding, beautiful time. I don't remember what all my mom did when I got married. I know she did a lot. And I think I remember her paying people to do a bunch of work.

Well, since I'm a photographer and graphic designer, I got to be a little more involved in my own daughter's wedding. Here are the things I produced for her wedding: engagement photos, save-the-date cards, reception book, reception slideshow, wedding invitations, sandwich-board signs, wedding program, signs for the church, tags for the favors, shower invitations, maps . . . my mind is a blur. And that's not to mention all of the researching vendors and vendor contacts. And, you know, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. What an honor and a privilege to do these things for my daughter.

God blessed me by allowing me to swing a deal with my employer to take two months off for the wedding preparations. How in the world that happened, I don't know. But I will be forever grateful.

There were times when I thought my daughter and I were at the end of our ropes, hanging over a cliff, together. Prior to the wedding, she worked full-time and finished her college courses. Naturally, I wanted to help take some of the pressure off of her. As moms often do, I overstepped my bounds on more than one occasion.

Nevertheless, we made it through to the wedding day, which was August 25th. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was ready to give up any control over the proceedings and just go with it. I wanted to relax and enjoy the day—and maybe knock back a glass of champagne as a reward for all of our efforts.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful. Many, many people remarked how beautiful it was. You can't beat the Orthodox wedding ceremony for beauty. It's really what a wedding ceremony should be.

I don't know if you've been to any weddings lately, but they are becoming less and less traditional and more and more secular. Reminds me of a joke: I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out. Only in this case: I went to a debauched party the other night and a wedding broke out. Something along those lines.

The reception far exceeded my expectations as well. Friends and family members attended from across the country—actually, the world. My nephew and his family came all the way from Milan, Italy. It was wonderful. Really, really wonderful. Several of our church friends showed up the day before the wedding to help decorate the reception hall (at another church). So many people gave unselfishly of their time and talents, it was unbelievable. I don't know if they'll ever know how much they blessed our family by their efforts.

I was really worried that after everything was over, I would fall apart. My husband took the week after the wedding off so that we could go away for a few days. That never happened. We just didn't have the funds. I thought I would be depressed and feel sorry for myself, but I really didn't. I was a little sad because I felt like my husband and I really needed to get away from everything. Maybe one day, we will. Or not.

After our daughter returned from her honeymoon, she sent me an email and innocently asked, “So, what's it like around the house now that I'm gone?”

I started to reply to her message several times and each time, my reply got longer and longer. I thought of more things I wanted to say. After a couple of days of writing, I finally decided to send my reply.

Afterward, I realized that my response to her question served as a sort of period at the end of a chapter I needed to write.

I told her that I wasn't as emotional as I thought I'd be. Then I qualified it with admitting to waves of emotion rolling over me when I least expected it. I mentioned many of the memories I had of her growing up, and of the mother-daughter bonding times I would miss: watching “Monk” and “Carol Burnett” episodes together, giving her a hug and a kiss before bedtime, and hearing about her day.

I reminisced about the many memories I would always cherish: lying on the bed together, reading about Lance the Lion and Peter Rabbit, singing “Splish Splash” at bath time, Saturday morning soccer games, and listening with pride while she played at her piano recitals and band concerts.

I told her that it has been a wonderful ride and that I feel so very, very blessed to be a mom and a wife. I remembered the week I was diagnosed with breast cancer, how I was lying in bed, filled with fear, and wondering if I would ever experience happiness again. “But I did and I do,” I said. “I thank God that He raised me up out of the hospital bed—after not just one, but two cancer surgeries—and allowed me to witness you and James falling in love and becoming husband and wife. I know that, if it hadn't been for God's mercy, it could have gone an entirely different way.”

I hope I get to witness many more firsts, by the grace of God.

I asked her to forgive me for the times I had failed her, ending with this:

“If your dad and I hadn't stuck together through the hard times, we would have missed so much beauty and love and what came next. Who knows, what is next may be the very best part. Your dad and I started this journey together as two young people in love, like you and James. By the grace of God, we are still here. We may be bruised and beaten up a bit, but we are clasping hands and facing forward, with love still in our hearts.”

Of course, my husband had to trump everything when he bluntly answered her same question with: “We run around the house naked now.”

Life is getting back to the new normal. The other day, I opened the mailbox and caught a glimpse of an envelope that said, “Breast Care Center” in the return address, a reminder to schedule my next mammogram appointment. I immediately started to feel depressed.

The last few months, I've been engaged with life and it's helped me forget the “Big C.” I always feel that it's just behind me, tapping me on the shoulder, lest I forget it. I can't, nor should I. It has helped fashion me. Because of cancer, I am less afraid, more myself, and have a better understanding of how one moment can change everything.

Sometimes I miss the days when I could go blindly through life without thinking of my mortality. But, thanks to cancer, I know that I have been granted a reprieve from death once, but it's only a reprieve. Each moment, day, week, or year that I live, I am grateful—and never grateful enough.

As summer turns to fall, the trees become golden and red, and the leaves begin to fall. After 56 autumns, it's still my favorite season. No matter that winter is just around the corner. This is the season that promises new beginnings.

Saturday
Jul072012

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" - John Lennon

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't been writing on my blog. But it's not for lack of creativity. No, I have been creative out the kazoo lately.

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Tuesday
May152012

Life in perspective

Yesterday, during a visit to yet another eye doctor (third one in the last 10 days), the doctor placed his hand on my knee and said seriously, “You are in a very difficult situation, dear.” I was not surprised to hear this. Ever since I was diagnosed with glaucoma back in January, things have not been the same with my eyesight.

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Monday
Apr162012

My other life

Awhile back, I added a new page to this blog called, "My Other Life," referencing my business, Bella Vita Creative. I've mentioned it a time or two on this blog and, being the shameless promoter that I am, I'm going to mention it again.

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Thursday
Apr052012

Just call me 'Ebenezer'

Lately, writing on my blog has taken a back seat to life. When I first started this blog, the entries would be half-written in my head before I ever sat down at the computer. Now, I don't even WANT to share what's in my head!

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Monday
Feb062012

I am a sentimentalist

sen·ti·men·tal·ist noun one given to sentiment or sentimentality expressive of or appealing to sentiment, especially the tender emotions and feelings, as love, pity, or nostalgia (e.g., We kept the old photograph for purely sentimental reasons).

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Sunday
Jan222012

Hope springs eternal

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. – M. Scott Peck

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