a rainbow at Mercy House

On Wednesday evening, I drove to Mercy House, the hospice residence where my mother lives, during a sun-shower after a heavy downpour. Given the time of day and the moisture in the air, I started to look for a rainbow. When I turned east, a full rainbow appeared before me, one end of it resting on Mercy House.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Phatar, a twelve-year-old who was also in residence at Mercy House, had become unresponsive and would pass away the following day, surrounded by the love of family, friends, and caregivers.

On Friday morning, the door to Phatar’s room was open, his bed made with the quilt pulled up. Near his pillow was a little memorial with a flower, the United States flag that had been on his door, a little poem that had been posted in his room, and his handprint in green paint on white canvas.

This morning at church, Father Clarence told Phatar’s story during the homily, about his cancer diagnosis, about his final months at Mercy House, about his desire to receive Jesus in the Eucharist and his baptism, and the comfort that brought him in his final weeks. There were smiles and tears as we listened.

Our mix of emotions in reacting to death is always complex, but I think most people have a particularly strong sense of sadness at the death of a child. It has also been sad watching Phatar’s mom these last months, suffering through every parent’s nightmare of the illness and death of their child. Still, I am grateful to have met Phatar and to know that he is now at peace.

The next time I see a rainbow, I will think of him.

SoCS: the end of no-shave November

Every November here in the United States, there is an awareness campaign for prostate cancer. It is called No Shave November and people participate by not shaving for the month. There are also fundraisers organized around the event.

My husband B has participated in this initiative in honor of a co-worker who is a prostate cancer survivor.

It is now December fourth, but B still has his new beard! He has been getting lots of positive feedback on the look and has decided to keep it, at least for another month.

For him, it may be no-shave November and December – and maybe longer!
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Linda’s prompt for this Stream of Consciousness Saturdays was a word beginning with “sh”. Linda did everything in a timely manner; I am the one not posting until Sunday! ¬†ūüėČ Find out more here: ¬†https://lindaghill.com/2016/12/02/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-316/

 

March 25th

March 25th, 2016 was Good Friday.

So was March 25th, 2005.

The only reason I remember that fact was that that was the day my friend Angie died.

When she died after fighting cancer for over four years, both of B’s parents were still alive. His dad died in July, 2005, also from cancer; his mom, on Tuesday of Holy Week, just a few days before the 11th anniversary of Angie’s death.

In the early morning hours of March 25th, when I couldn’t sleep, I visited the website of the the charity that Angie’s family established in her memory. I always make a donation on March 25th and on October 25th, which was Angie’s birthday.

This year, the paypal link was broken, so I emailed to ask about it.

Her eldest son sent me a reply and set about getting the link fixed. He also sent me a wonderful photo of his daughter, whose middle name is Angeline, after the grandmother she will never meet on this earth. In the photo, she has a marker in her tiny hand. She may be an artist, like Angie.

Life goes on.

 

Remembrances on Sunday

Today would have been my friend Angie‘s 65th birthday and I just sent a contribution to her memorial fund. In the brief note that I sent to her family, I noted that I can’t imagine that Angie would have “retired” because she was all about love and service and would not have stopped doing that. I am honoring her memory today and remembering her family and friends who have been without her physical presence for over ten years.

As it happens, two of my college friends lost their mothers this month, one unexpectedly and one after a long period of illness, so I am sending thoughts and prayers out to Sally and Tricia, their moms, and their families.

Two friends are dealing with a sudden medical emergency with their loved ones. One’s husband’s life was saved by emergency open heart surgery. The other’s asymptomatic brother was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at his first screening colonoscopy at age 50. Both men are facing a long road to recovery and I am holding them and their whole families in thought and prayer as well.

Yesterday, I attended vigil mass at St. Joseph’s, which was the long-time church home of my friend Marcia, whom we lost to ovarian cancer several years ago. ¬†Last month was ovarian cancer awareness month, with several big fundraising events. There has been some progress in detection and treatment since Marcia died and I hope that the advances will help her descendants to lead long, healthy lives.

It’s a quiet Sunday morning. Soon, B and I will head up to Good Shepherd Village to visit Grandma, Nana, and Paco with an extra measure of thankfulness.

Candles of Hope

People who often visit Top of JC’s Mind know that I tend to write excited, squealing posts any time a poem gets accepted and again when it is actually published.

This past spring, however, I did not post when the Candles of Hope anthology, to which I am a contributor, became available in print.

It’s complicated.

The subtitle of the anthology is “A Collection of Cancer Poetry” and it was edited by Wendy Lawrence of GWL Publishing to raise funds for Topic of Cancer, a UK charity.

The poem I submitted can be found here.  I had written it late one night and posted it without giving any thought that it might one day be published in print. Wendy had put out a call for poems about cancer for the anthology several months later and my poem was accepted. Last October, when I was writing the note that accompanies the poem in the anthology, I was happy to report that K was in remission.

This spring, as the book was released, we found out that K was having a recurrence.

I couldn’t bring myself to publicly celebrate a publication, knowing that K was facing difficult treatment decisions, especially as the chemo that achieved the remission last year very nearly killed her.

I decided to share the news and the link today because K, while still under treatment, seems to be doing quite well. She is able to be out and about and able to attend some events at church.

I would like to ask everyone who reads this to send prayers, healing thoughts, good energy, or whatever fits with your own belief system for K.

With thanks,
JC

Ten years later

2005 was a difficult year. I lost a great and good friend, my long-time church community, and my father-in-law all within a few months.

Today is the first of the major tenth anniversary dates. Ten years ago today, which was Good Friday that year, my friend Angie died from cancer, leaving behind a husband, two sons, a daughter, her mother and siblings, extended family, and many, many, many friends.

I’ve written about Angie before, including here, so I won’t go on too long about her awesomeness. Her legacy includes not only her wonderful family and friends but also a charity fund that gives scholarships, supports cancer patients and their families, and supports The Discovery Center, our local children’s museum, which Angie blessed with her artwork. There is an art gallery, memorial tree, and butterfly house dedicated to her there, as well as an art gallery near the African Road/Vestal Middle School auditorium, which I will always think of as Angie’s Auditorium because it was a long-time dream of hers that she helped fulfill when she served on the Board of Education.

What I am thinking about today, though, is the ten years we have been without her physical presence.¬† The high school graduation of our daughters, the college commencements, her son’s law school graduation, passing the bar, getting married. All the little moments – hanging out in the kitchen, going out for lunch, taking the dog for a walk, attending seemingly endless committee meetings.

Because I do believe in the eternal life of the soul, I believe that Angie is still able to be present in our lives spiritually.¬† For those who don’t believe, Angie is still present through her role in shaping the people whom she loved and who loved her, as well as through the art she left for us to enjoy and the legacy projects I’ve already mentioned.

In some ways, we have been without her for ten years. In other ways, she has been with us all along.

SoCS: My friend Angie

I have written before about my friend Angie. I’m thinking of her today because next month will be the tenth anniversary of her death. I’m thinking about things we missed over these years, such as supporting each other as our eldest children married. If she were still alive, she would probably be on the school board still, and I’d have a clue about what is happening in the school system, something that is hard to do when you no longer have children young enough to be in K-12. She would have supported me through the health travails of our elders and I would have supported her in the same way. Even though she has been gone for a long time, I still miss her.

Friends are forever.
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This week’s prompt is: ¬†acquaint and/or friend.

This is a February and Linda and Bee are joining forces. First, Bee’s badge and link: https://justfoolingaroundwithbee.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/love-is-in-da-blog-february-ping-back-post-rulessuggestions-week-4/

Love Is In Da Blog

And this post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. Please join us! You can find the rules here: ¬†http://lindaghill.com/2015/02/27/special-edition-friday-prompt-for-socs-february-2815/

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SoCS: Special Cents

In the US, money is denominated in dollars and cents. We still have a one-cent coin, called a penny.

People tend to ignore pennies, but they have a special meaning for me.

My elder daughter was an early reader and we were always on the lookout for stories that matched her reading ability without being too grown up in content. Her elementary principal suggested “The Hundred Penny Box.” The story is about a child and an elderly relative who has a box with a penny from every year of her life. We decided not to let our daughter read it because no other adults in the book really listened to either the child or the elder, but I loved the idea of having a penny for each year as a memento.

I have given penny boxes to family and friends for milestone birthdays or anniversaries. My parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. My friend and now spiritual mentor as a memento of her 40th birthday sweat lodge ceremony. My college roommate’s 50th birthday. I give a new penny for the current year each year on the anniversary or birthday date.

The only penny box I started that is no longer being added to was the one I gave my friend Angie for her 49th birthday. With a doctor-husband and many friends in the medical community, she was worried about turning 50, knowing that the fifties is a dangerous decade, health-wise, with many serious health conditions cropping up. Because the penny box commemorates the beginning of a year rather than its completion, the penny box for 49 contains 50 pennies. I thought it would be a good way to ease into her 50s the next year.

Within weeks of her fiftieth birthday, Angie was diagnosed with lung cancer, a shock as she had never been a smoker.

She fought hard and we added pennies for her 51st, 52nd, 53rd, and 54th birthdays.

We knew the 54th was going to be the last birthday she would celebrate.

As 2005 began, I wanted to find a new penny to add to the box while she was still alive, knowing her October birthday would not see her alive. I even went to a coin shop, hoping to find a newly minted penny, but it seemed that the mint had not yet started making them yet.

Angie died on March 25.

Later that spring, when I found a 2005 penny, I sent it to her husband to complete Angie’s penny box.

However briefly, 2005, her 55th year, was Angie’s year, too.

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This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. Join us! Details here: ¬†http://lindaghill.com/2014/11/28/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-november-2914/. ¬†This week’s prompt is sense/scents/cents/sent.socs-badge
Badge by Doobster @Mindful Digressions