11.29.2007 - An Empty Chair For A Full Day of Love

Di had planned my wedding for years in her head, I'm sure. 

"When did you tell me your getting married?" "Do you have a date set?"  "What can I do to help?"

Di was on the marriage track probably from the very beginning of that first meeting of me introducing Ken to her and Jerome.  She was my marriage cheerleader over the years. I also knew Ken was the one for me; my soul mate.

In the months leading up to the wedding, Di was adamant about wanting to be there for me and I was so happy that she wanted to be there.  She looked at the many pictures of dresses with me in magazines, we talked about colors and possibilities and shoes and hairstyles that I should have for the big day.
Then back in the late summer of 2007, we went shopping for my dress.  She was so excited.

I'm so sad knowing that she never will get to see her girls try on their own wedding dresses someday when they approach that time in their lives.

It was the first time ever in my life that I had tried on a wedding dress.  We walked the long aisles of the white and cream colored dresses, Di had her cane with her but she was not totally reliant on it, in fact she used her cane as a tool that day to sort through all the hundreds of dresses.  Each one of them had their own special personality, their own style.  Upon the first sweep of pulling hangars, taking first glances and standing on my tippy toes in my perusal I just could not find the "one".  I kept saying no, no, no, no.  I remember glancing at one particular dress but Di had her eyes on the poofy dresses and the princess dresses even though I remember specifically saying that I did not want to even look at those.  She told me several times that I will never get the opportunity to try on dresses again and she just wanted to "see" what the dresses looked like on me.  So, I obliged her of course.  I could never turn Di down.  She had that convincing way about her.  I can't remember how many dresses I tried on that afternoon, it was a lot.  I stopped counting after the third sweep of the store when I finally grabbed that ONE dress that in the initial sweep I had seen but never picked up.  I pulled it from the rack, it was heavy and long but no train, just a long trailing chiffon scarf and it was beaded from top to bottom, sleeveless but it had a collar that went around the neck.  When I pulled it out, Di said "I Love That One, Cath".
Well, that was the ONE after all.  But, I know that we had to do all that work to get to "that point" on that day.  This is a day that I will forever cherish.   A day that Di and I were free from the ugly green cancer monster, we smiled, we laughed, we were looking forward to the future and I was looking forward to having Di with me on my wedding day. Afterward, we went to the Cheesecake Factory, had dinner and Di bought lots of desserts to take home.  It was a wonderful day.

Unfortunately, Di could not come to our wedding and it broke my heart; but I knew that it was breaking Di's heart more than mine.  Her health was not treating her well in the fall of 2007.  Di gave so much to so many so often and I think that her body needed to take a break and her not taking the trip was indication that she needed a rest break.  I had always wished that she would be there for me, to keep me focused, to keep me on track, to help to guide me, to hold my hand as I walked through the sand in my heels and to be the one that I would peer over to as she stood there as witness to our beautiful bonding on our wedding day.  I know that Di felt bad for not being able to come but I told her that I understood; because I really did deep down inside understand.

She was a part of my wedding, even though  she could not be there; it was a small wedding and there were only four chairs set up on the beach, one for Ken's mom, and three other chairs that I designated in my mind as one specifically designated for Di, one for Ken's uncle Jimmy who had his own health issues that morning and was devastated that he could not be there and one for my sister, Nancy who is always in my heart.

Three years later, today I celebrate that day that I made the commitment to my husband and I am sure that Di is smiling down on us today and wishing us happiness forever.



A Shrine

I have been reading about the architecture of Shrines and the work that goes into building them.  Shrines are art pieces that are compiled for worship and rememberance.
Di loved art. 
Over the years, Di had several art projects going on both literally and also figuratively.  Her mind would be thinking about the next great project that she wanted to start before she was even done with her current project.
I had the pleasure of taking many art "type" classes with her and one of the first ones was a pottery class where we got to actually "throw clay" and work with a manual pottery wheel.  I can remember the giggles and laughs and jaunts that Di made to me during those short class sessions.  I could not keep my wheel turning long enough to even pull the clay into any type of looks-like-a-pot-or-a-vase for the life of me.  Di had the knack almost instantly; she pulled several vases and pots and also a couple of cups (without handles) during our first-ever pottery class.  The class lasted only 4 weeks but it was fabulous to be there with Di and see her "creating".
She went on to take more pottery classes and even made a set of dishes for her final project in one of the advanced classes.  I am the proud recipient of one of her accomplishments, a cup (with a handle, albeit), and I treasure this piece with tender loving care.  It sits on my shelf in my kitchen, far and high above and away from any animal that may knock it down.
One of my other Di "treasures" was not so lucky and met with a shattered demise.  Fortunately, it was not a treasure that Di made with her own two hands, instead it was a gift that she had gotten me on one of her trips to Mexico.  It was a wonderfully colorful sunflower plate that I had perched high above my kitchen cabinets and on one special day while I was picking up my wedding dress after alterations, I myself was looking at a plate in the wedding shop; a remembrance of your "wedding day" plate and as I put the plate back on the shelf  on 11-10-2007 (I still have the receipt from my wedding dress alterations), I missed the shelf completely and the plate went crashing to the floor shattering in too many pieces to count.  I was abhorred at what I had done and the salesclerk told me it was okay and she told me not to worry.  Thank goodness.
Unknown to me, on that same morning, our eldest cat decided to take a walk on the wild side and venture way up high above my kitchen cabinets and she managed to lodge herself between the plate and the wall knocking the plate to the floor shattering it in too many pieces to count.  My then soon-to-be-husband collected all the pieces and put them in a bag awaiting my return home.  I was devastated at first, called Di and told her and she told me that the next time she got to Mexico, she would try to remember to buy me a new plate; I told her that it was not necessary since apparently I did not show due diligence in securing this plate, how would I know that the next one would not also be shattered to oblivion?  I never got another plate, but I still have the precious cup that Di made for me with her two hands and her heart that means more to me than any 'purchased' item from Mexico.

On the idea of shrines; this is an important aspect of "remembering" those that touched your life. According to many religious customs, shrines play a large part of everyone's daily lives from the churches that we attend to the specific customs that we practice.
At Holy Name, it itself is a shrine to Christianity and there are several shrines honoring those that we hold dear to our hearts and there are many ways that this is shown from the alter to the statues to the candles that we light in honor of loved ones.  On the evening of Di's visitation and the day of Di's funeral I sat close to the front of the church right in front of the candles and many people were lighting candles both for Di and others and as I watched each and every one of them light a candle I could feel the presence of Di smiling warmly.

My visual focus on the evening of the visitation was on the devotional alter and I kept my focus steady while trying to remain composed.  I kept praying and I kept thinking all along that Di would be so happy to know that so many people that she touched over the years were there all together in one place; she would have loved so much to be there that day and talk and chat and hug and touch those people but that was not possible; she was there in spirit and in our hearts though.  I remember the day of the funeral so vividly and during the service the light from the windows took itself and placed it upon Di's casket.  During the entire ceremony, the light stayed there and kept it's focus on the important reason why all of us gathered there; for Di.  During the processional when Di's casket was moved from the front of the church to the back, I watched through my tears as the light appeared to "follow" her casket. 
During the many years from childhood to adulthood, Di held strong in her faith and her worship at Holy Name.  It was only fitting that God that day showered her casket with the light of his love throughout the ceremony.


Thanksgiving Wishes

Thanksgiving Wishes 

Peace and freedom in every possible way
To love and be loved
Hope in the face of even the bleakest of situations
Joy for the sake of joy – and for the bliss that one person’s happiness can bring to another life
The gift of good health, or if that is not possible, as little suffering as can be
A roof over your head and food on your table
Creativity and inspiration – may the muse never wander out of sight
Dreams to reach and new goals to aspire to
A song in your heart
Time spent with those nearest to you and the fond memories such moments foster
The ability to fall asleep with a reason to wake up smiling
Light to guide your way no matter how dark the hour
Security in whatever ways matter most to you
Friends to confide in, laugh with, hold dear
Endless blessings and reasons to give thanks

Poem Courtesy of http://www.chronicallyvintage.com/
via Norman Rockwell


Story People

This is a magical beast that holds the secret of light & shadow in a safe place in her heart....


Birthday Wishes - Ben

November 19 is a very special day and last year Di's "Benno" had to celebrate amidst the sorrow of losing Di.  Di had a way of making up little names for her kids and two that I remember she frequently used for Ben was Benno and B; it was almost her signature style...you could just hear the happiness exude from her voice when she said Benno or B.  You couldn't help but smile even when smiling was not of the utmost importance for the particular time and place.

Today is Ben's birthday and I certainly know that with a heavy heart he will be thinking of his mom and I'm sure that there is an extra special kiss that she has sent down from heaven and planted right smack on his cheek today. 

Happy Birthday, Benno!  Please always remember that your mom loved you so very much and she would only wish the very best for you today and always.  Hold all of those memories of her inside your heart and know that she is so very proud of you.

Good wishes to you...


One Year Later ...

The church was immaculate, flowers were lined up on each side of the alter, candles were burning, people were milling and crying and sobbing.  A very tough day.

It's been a long year, my friend.
One Year later...

·        31,536,000 seconds
·        525,600 minutes
·        8760 hours
·        52 weeks (rounded down)

It's been a long road, my friend.
Miss you so very much.
Godspeed Always.

Di's Funeral


The Day Between The Good and The Bad

Today is the day between the last day that I talked with Di and the last day of Di's life...
I honestly did not ever think in my wildest of dreams that I would be looking back on the last days of Di's life one year later.  It's all because I'm still hurting.  Still raw.  Still lonely without 'my girl'.
I remember one year ago; the day before on Friday, November 13, 2009, I sat with Di in the hospital and we chatted and held hands and talked about so many things as we watched The Ellen Show together.  Forget about the bland hospital room, the beeping of machines and the insistence of people who only wanted the best for Di.  She wanted to watch Ellen and hang out.  We did just that. 
I had the privelage of hearing Di sing to me too, that day. 
Apparently, she had been doing this daily and I got to hear her last performance; so sweet and so beautiful.  I wished I would have recorded it; if I would have thought about it, I have video on my phone and I just did not take the time to THINK to do this.  It makes me sad to know that since I did not think to record this moment, it is lost; but really it's not - it's in my memory.  A special gift from Di.
As I listened to her words she sang and held tight to her hand, I outlined her face, her features, her nose, her lips, her eyes and her prominent jaw line tracing her features and her face and her baldness as she sang to me.  To this day, I cannot remember even one of the words to the song and can't even remember the name of the song. 

When I got ready to leave that afternoon, Di had made the choice to take a stronger medication to help her sleep and before I left I told her that I would "ring her up on Saturday" and she told me that I better make sure to as she waved her cell phone at me.  I gave her hugs, cried all over her bed sheet and she held my hand tightly and told me that she loved me much....and that we would have more "days".  Then I left with a heavy heart.  Friday the 13th's are typically bad days all around or at least we have come to recognize them as so, but on this Friday the 13th I got to enjoy "my girl" for awhile and sit and chill with her.  I was privileged to be there, be there with Di.

I tried to ring her up on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and then in the evening.  No answer; it only went to voice mail...then I called Jerome's cell and I could feel the sadness through the phone, through the words he was saying.  Things were not looking good.  Family was there and it had been a long a difficult Friday night and Saturday morning and afternoon.

Time was catching up and the ugly green cancer monster was beckoning again....and he was not going to wait much longer.  We knew that.  Di knew that.  We were losing the battle, losing our girl, our husband, our daughter, our mom, our aunt, our sister, our niece, our best friend in the world all to something as stupid as cancer and the complications that it causes.


Caring ... Through Music NOVEMBER 13TH 2010

To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) began as a local effort to raise money for a Florida girl to get treatment and turned into a global nonprofit. The charity realized its message resonated with music lovers after a friend in the band Switchfoot wore one of its T-shirts at a concert in 2006. The band's fans searched the Web and began purchasing shirts of their own, and reaching out to founder Jamie Tworkowski to see how they could get involved with the movement.

The Switchfoot concert opened doors for TWLOHA, which has since worked with a few dozen artists and celebrities. This year, for the fourth consecutive summer, the group traveled on the nationwide Vans Warped Tour, hosting a tent and selling T-shirts.  The organization does not sign contracts with artists, and many of its famous supporters have reached out to TWLOHA through MySpace, where the grassroots movement began.

"We really believe music has a unique ability to make us feel alive, and realize it is okay to feel things and ask questions, and the conversation that we represent is oftentimes something that doesn't get talked about." - Tworkowski

Music is engrained in the charity's work, Tworkowski said, because so many of its supporters have a deep love of artistic expression. TWLOHA takes part in more than 200 music-related events each year.

The organization does not solicit donations, but instead lists information on its Web site that tells how and where to donate without making formal donation appeals.


Anniversary Approaching - My Angel Watching Out For Me I Believe.....

As we approach the anniversary of Di’s death I…contemplate, reflect and find myself retreating again because another milestone is coming up; another tick on the clock and another date to look at on the calendar with sadness.
And this time a year ago tough decisions were being made about care and comfort and  the time was so raw and so present having to make decisions and see Di struggling so much. 

Di always knew that this time of the year was very hard for me; it has always been.  Marking my own "tick on the clock" and the date that defines my persona and my life and who I am brings sadness and contemplation and loss and wants all back in a rush for me.  It makes me want to turn back time and now after this day it makes me want to be able to turn back time even more so and pick up the phone because it's ringing and I know who is calling; it's Di to wish me happiness.  But it didn't happen yesterday and it will never happen again.
Since my little angel could not call and speak to me yesterday I think she must have provided the means to inform someone that they needed to make a very important and long overdue call.  I've always believed in coincidences and that everything does happen for a reason and I think that a very special angel gave someone a very hard tap on the shoulder and may have even dialed the phone for him. 

I was suprised and shocked to receive a phone call yesterday.  It has been many years since I've heard those words "Happy Birthday" and "I Love You" from him.
It was good and maybe this will lead to more of these phone calls to happen in the future....
It would be good to reconnect again and  bring a balance to the uneasiness and instability.

One thing that Di told me on the last day that we spent time together when she was in the hospital on Friday, November 13, 2009, was that I needed to make the "contacts" with him, make the first move, make the distinction and come to the realization that he does NEED to be in my life as much as I need to be in his life. Di was in her final days and we were talking about my problems and she was giving me advice and telling me what to do. She was even asking about others that were not well and wanting to know about them and giving her hopefulness to their struggles.  She was always more worried about others than herself.  That was Di.  It always was.
I think she was trying in her heart of hearts to prepare me for the next phase of what my life could and would offer me in the coming years.  She knew.  She always did, I believe.

The people we meet form the foundation of our lives that when built upon allow us to bloom and blossom in ways that we never would have anticipated.