Bye for now Momma…

It’s been a very long time since I wrote anything. The last year really was horrible and I didn’t have much to share that was positive or good. The best was of course my eldest daughter’s graduation from high school. The rest of 2016 however was a write off. It’s the year that shall not be named in our household. It got progressively worse as the months went by. So much so that by the time Christmas rolled around we didn’t know how much time we had left with my Mother. Her health was rapidly declining and we didn’t know at that point if she would make it to the end of the month. By the last week of December she couldn’t eat much if anything, and drinking water was getting difficult for her.

She made it to January 1st and we were all so very happy. Things were still not improving though and the time I spent with her doubled. I was there day and night for hours on end. I held her hand, listened to prayers with her, sang to her, and did whatever else I could to make her comfortable. By now we all knew it wouldn’t be long. The doctor gave her a cocktail of meds to make her comfortable since she stopped eating all together and the only thing we could do was wet her mouth with a sponge so she didn’t get dry mouth.

On January 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am I received that phone call that forever changed my life. My Mom was gone. She had taken her last breath and passed away peacefully. Where was I? Downstairs in the parking lot across the street from the care facility she was in. My eldest daughter and I were just waiting on street parking, but it was getting late and I was anxious to get upstairs to be with her. We decided to just stay there and pay the insane amount for parking for 2 hours, we planned on adding more later, and just head upstairs. As we were starting to get out of the car the phone call came. I lost my breath and wasn’t willing to believe it. My daughter ran to pay for parking as I frantically made my way upstairs. The head nurse on duty that day stopped me momentarily in the hall before I got to her room. When I did get there I couldn’t believe it. I lost it and broke down. I ran to her side and just held her hand…and cried. I could have been up there when she passed by I didn’t make it. Looking back, I think it’s how she wanted it. It was already hard for me to know that her time was near, I honestly believe she didn’t want to make it harder on me.

When I was able to calm down enough, I made the phone calls that I knew I had to make right away. My husband being first. He needed to get a hold of our youngest daughter and get down to us right away. I knew they would want to say goodbye. I called my Dad and then my uncle, mom’s brother. After that was done I took some time and called the rest of my aunts and uncles. A few cousins as well. By noon my family pretty much took over that entire area. I only left her side long enough to give the elders some alone time with her. Otherwise, I held her hand until someone came to get her. It was so hard for me to believe that she was gone.

No matter how much you prepare yourself, it still hits you like a ton of bricks. My heart broke and a piece of me died that day too. Her funeral was the next day followed by a small gathering of family at one of my aunt and uncle’s house. The days to come I spent with my husband and children. I didn’t want to be around people. I didn’t want to talk to many people either. I just needed time and space. Everything happened so quickly, I didn’t even have much time to mourn.

It’s been three months now since she’s been gone and some days are easier than others. I’m not a complete basket case that has fallen into a deep depression. I miss her so much, but talking to her often helps. I have a beautiful picture of her sitting on the mantel of our fireplace that I can see and smile at. She’s with me everywhere I go and I see her in my children. It definitely hasn’t been easy for any of us and we all feel that emptiness on a daily basis. My mom was truly inspiring and unique though and I know she wouldn’t want us to wallow away in grief. She loved life and tried to enjoy it as much as she could. I promised her we would do the same. We would live life as best as we could and make every day count for something. No matter how little or how big. She is smiling down at us. I can feel it. She is happy and she is no longer suffering. As much as we all miss her and wish she was still here physically, we also know she’s at peace. Being trapped in your body for two and half years isn’t a life. She couldn’t move or talk. She couldn’t do all the things she once loved. We did all that we could to make her life happy and memorable, but I knew. Deep down inside she wasn’t herself anymore. How could she be? ALS took away everything she enjoyed. That’s no life. Living in constant pain, not being able to communicate or move. She’s happy now and that’s all that matters.

There will be some rough times ahead. Our first Mother’s Day without her. My next birthday, the renewal of our wedding vows. Christmas and New Year’s. These are just some of the more emotional days, I know there will be others. As promised though, we are going to do whatever we can to make sure we have a good year and a good life.

I delayed writing this for months. I didn’t know if I could. I still cried while typing this. I needed to do it though. For myself and for her. Please, if you’re reading this, make sure you take the time out to tell the people in your life that you love them. Be there for them as much as you can. Enjoy the time you have with your parents. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Care for them as best as you can. Make amends if you need to. Laugh, smile, and enjoy this journey. There are many diseases out there that are life altering. Diabetes is a slow killer, cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, and many others. All I can ask of you is that you make a donation to these associations. The money you donate goes a long way towards finding a cure. Thankfully there are cures for many things, but there is no cure for ALS and one needs to be found. It was too late for my Mother, and for many others that have lost their battle to this horrible disease. Let’s give others hope though and let us all work together find a cure.

Even though you’re gone Momma, it will still always be “You and me against the world!”

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Congratulations Miss S

As I sit here on the Eve of my eldest daughter’s graduation, I look back and think about all that has happened to our little family that has led us to this milestone. Not every chapter in our book of life has been happy, but there have been more good than bad.

It all started in 1998 when she was born and the promise I made to her as I held her tiny little body. First off let me say, I am not her biological Mother, but I am her Mom in every sense. I raised her and taught her right from wrong. I did everything a loving Mother could and would do for their child. The promise I made was to watch over her and protect her. That if ever she needed anything all she would have to do is ask. I planned on being in her life. At that point I didn’t know it would be as a Mom, I thought it would be as her Aunt. I’d like to believe I have kept that promise. I think she would agree. *smiles*

In 2000 she was once again removed from the care of her biological parents. Reasons I will not share. Let’s just say, it needed to happen. My husband at the time and I applied for custody and we won. This beautiful little 18 month old girl came into my life in April of that year and has been with me since save for a short time when we hit one of those “not so good points in our life” moments.

In 2001 my youngest daughter was born and my eldest became a big sister! She was an amazing big sister too. Always wanting to help, always kissing her little sister. She was great. Of course like most siblings there were moments in time when they would be arguing but when it comes down to it, they have each other’s backs no matter what. They have a special bond. They technically may only be cousins, but they don’t see it that way. In their minds and hearts, they are sisters and no one can ever take that away from them.

So many more milestones achieved along the way. First day of school. She didn’t cry, I did. She had a love for learning even at a young age. Which I am so happy to say, still has! Last year of Elementary was emotional for her as well, but she made it through. Start of high school was smooth sailing. I was so worried that she would be bullied or made fun of because she was different. Kids can be cruel and sure there were a couple that tried to make her grade 8 experience rough, but she got through it with flying colours.

All these little moments have led us to here. Tomorrow, that sweet little girl that I took into my life will be graduating high school. Another milestone accomplished! I should also mention that at a young age she was diagnosed with having a “mild intellectual disability”. Physically she matured like a normal teenager, but because she was born with F.A.S. she didn’t mature as quickly mentally. This made school difficult. Most of her classes were modified so she could do them at her level and pace, but even with those difficulties, she managed to make the Honour Roll many times throughout high school. This year included! I am so very proud of my daughter. There were rough moments but she succeeded in all that she did. She worked hard and she stayed focused on her education.

I know I’m going to be a mess tomorrow. One of those events in her life that I know I will cry at. I want to take a moment now to say congratulations…

My darling daughter Sarah, you have achieved something today that a lot of other kids in your position haven’t been able to. When you go up tomorrow to receive your certificate, be proud. Think back and remember all that you did and went through to get to that moment. You have made me so very proud. I know without a doubt that you will succeed in anything you put your mind to. It might not always be easy but you can do it. I have faith in you and you should have faith in yourself. If you can get through elementary and high school, you can get through the next phase of your education. I know you have dreams and you have plans. If you continue to work hard and stay focused, you’ll be able to achieve those goals as well. Enjoy the break though. You deserve to take a little time off to breathe and to relax. Have fun and experience life. It will help when you do go back to school. I love you very much. Always and forever.

To you, and to the rest of the KP graduating class of 2016, CONGRATULATIONS!

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Who’s really there?

It is said that during great tragedies families come together and you learn who your true friends are. This is so very accurate.

I’ve shared my Mother’s diagnoses and knowing there is no cure for ALS most of us have already started the grieving process. Which I firmly believe doesn’t necessarily start when a person passes. I think it can, and at times, does start well before that. Especially when it comes to family, friends, caregivers of people with ALS. We know what’s going to happen, we just don’t know when it’s going to happen. Our minds however tend to think too much and see, or at least try to see, a life without that person in it. Which can result in a lot of heartache, crying, anxiety, and the list goes on. I’m not saying it ONLY pertains to those that are losing someone to ALS. It can be cancer too, or any disease really. Especially if a cure is too late and they are in late stages.

Unfortunately not everyone understands this concept. For whatever reason, some think you only grieve after a person is gone. So to tell a person “I’m there for you” comes easy enough. Where are you though when that time comes and they need you? Not there. I remember when I had such a huge support base and people where always there when I just need to talk, vent, yell, or cry. They were there to help with things I may have needed at the time. Some of those people are thankfully STILL there. I don’t know how many times I was told they were going to be there for me. I should call if I need anything. They will help as much as possible. I’m not alone. Well, again I ask, where are you? Right, not there.

I feel I am truly blessed. I do have some amazing people in my life. I’ve made some new friends that are pretty darn fantastic. I’m thankful for each and every one of them. May they be here in town, or out of town. Heck, there are some I haven’t even met in person and they have shown more love to me in the last year than some of my local friends have. That might be hard for some to read, but it is the truth and it is how I feel. I will not apologize for my feelings.

This brings me to the next “old saying”, Blood isn’t always thicker than water.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have met some people that I felt an instant connection to and we have formed such a bond that I have considered them family. I’ve made many “brothers”, “sisters”, and even a “Mum and Dad”! Since we found out about the ALS, some of those extended family members have been right there with me. In one way or another. Some are still there, but others not so much. I’ve been told by various professionals that it is important to have a stable support base. Someone to talk to or depend on when you feel at your lowest. Sometimes, that is all I need. Is just someone to hang out with and either talk to, or for someone to just take my mind off of things. My mind is always on my mom and what she is going through. It’s not easy to sit back and feel helpless. I do what I can for her and with her, but sometimes I feel it isn’t enough. In all honesty, I wish I could take this all away and make her feel better, but I know there is nothing other than being there for her that I can do. That takes a huge emotional toll on me. I try to be strong, but sometimes I just can’t. Those few people that were the first to say they’ll be there for me, aren’t there anymore. I understand life gets busy but does that mean that you forget the other people in your life? It’s not very often I hear from them, they don’t ask how I am. I’ve gotten to the point that I just say “I’m fine” when in fact, I am not. I’m hurting. I’m grieving. I’m in constant emotional turmoil. My life is busy too, but I don’t forget my friends. I don’t understand how hard it is to keep to your word. If you’re going to tell someone you’re going to be there for them, then damnit, be there! Be present and show your love and support. There is no restrictions to friendship. At least, there shouldn’t be. You don’t do a few things or be there a few times and consider your duty as a friend done. That’s not how friendship works and if that is how you think it does, then you need to re-evaluate your definition of friendship and do a drastic overhaul on how you think.

Blood may not always be thicker than water, but water can let you down in more ways than one. I’m starting to see this. I’m also starting to see who my true friends are and who’s just there for the sake of saying they’re there. Those so called family members are about to lose me as a “sister”. I can’t have this in my life. It’s obvious enough to me that I really don’t matter all that much in your life. Even though I was always there for you. I was the one that sat up listening to you when you needed that friend to just be present. I’ve helped as much as I could and I’ve done all that I can. I can’t put my feelings on a back burner anymore and wait till you feel I’m worthy of your time. I love you, but it’s to let you go. For the sake of my sanity and my family, I need to be healthy so I can be there for my children, my husband, and for my Mother. You’ve made it clear that I don’t matter and that you have no time for me. You will always matter to me, but I can’t hurt myself with these thoughts and feelings anymore. I deserve better. I have better.

Friendship is like an ever flowing river. At times calm and gentle, other times raging and unpredictable. Eventually that river will hit a fork and the water will separate.

We’ve hit that fork.

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Reflections and Heartaches

The end of one year and the beginning of another usually brings much rejoicing and peace to people. They feel they can leave all the bad stuff behind and start fresh with the New Year. I would normally agree with this and in past years have felt much the same way. It’s always good to be positive and hopeful. Last year wasn’t the greatest and this year so far isn’t shaping up to be much better. There is no calmness, no peace of mind, no joy. All I feel right now is stress and worry. Fearing the unknown. I know I really shouldn’t, but those underlying fears are always present and on occasion, it rears its ugly head.

As most know, last year my Mother was diagnosed with ALS. We spent most of the year making memories and dealing with the fact that she is dying. We lived and tried to make her days as happy as possible. Not always easy to do when you’re a realist and you know what’s going to happen. We were blessed when she made it past the time she was given. In June we were all told that she may only make it 2 months, 3 at most. Well, here we are a new year and she definitely has made it further than what was expected. We are all so happy and blessed to still have her with us. The hard part though is watching her health decline as rapidly as it is. She may still be here with us, but she is trapped in a body that is paralyzed. She can’t talk either and is in constant pain. I hate seeing her like this and I hate knowing she is in so much pain and there isn’t anything I can do to help. Medications only help so much.

However, she has been moved out of Hospice care and into a long term care facility and after a rough transition, is doing much better. She’s more settled and isn’t doing as bad as she was when she first moved in. This is where she will be now until her time with us comes to an end. We’re still hoping that’s a long time from now, but we also have to remain realistic. That could happen at any given time. Now that we’re into 2016, that gives us another 12 months of worrying. I hope and pray it’s not this year, but sadly it is a possibility.

The holidays weren’t the same for us this year. The feelings that it usually brings just wasn’t there. We tried. Even decorated the house and put up a tree. I just didn’t feel it though. I don’t think anyone did. Of course, it doesn’t help when your landlord tells you close to the end of November that he’s selling his house and wants us out by December 22nd, December 15th preferably, so he and his family can move in. Less than a month to find a place and have the money to move. That’s first month’s rent, damage deposit, and pet deposit. Not even close to being possible. We made the phone calls that we had to and told him that he was in the wrong and for what he wants, has to give a 2 month notice to move. At the end of November, that is what we got. So now we have until the end of January to find a place and move. It is never easy to move during the holidays, even more so just after the holidays. If this was spring, it would be much easier! December 14th he has his realtor email my husband and tells him the landlord has bought a new house and that we don’t have to move. We’re happy about this but request a one year lease instead of a month to month. We also request to have the windows fixed in the basement. As a landlord it is his responsibility to have these repairs made. A week later we get another email from his realtor letting us know that he’s decided to sell the house and that we now have until February 5th to move. He just bought this house in September and now doesn’t want to put the money into it to fix. Then why buy it to begin with? The deal between old and new landlords was that we didn’t have to move. That agreement was broken and now here we are.

My husband is a landscaper but by the end of November he usually goes on winter layoff. He’s also a security guard but there isn’t much full time work available. Its shift work and that really doesn’t help much when you’re having to save for a move, plus pay bills, gas, groceries, and parking at the care home. He’s been so stressed that he ended up in the hospital with chest pains two days in a row. We were so worried and scared that it was his heart. Thankfully that was not the case. Anxiety has plagued both our lives last year and this whole moving business has not helped either of us. For the most part I have been able to keep my own anxiety at bay but it’s not easy. As the days go by and we don’t find a place, the more my anxiety grows. I have fears of us living in our van by February 5th with all our animals. It terrifies me to be honest. Last month my family and I, along with some very cool people put together a holiday meal and some warm clothes/shoes for the homeless. As I was handing those out, it occurred to me that if we don’t find something soon, we could be the ones on the receiving end.

Needless to say, it’s been a rough 2015 and so far 2016 isn’t any better. I’ve had to create a GoFundMe campaign just to get some help with saving for a home for me and my family. Hopefully combined with whatever my husband makes this month, and whatever I get, we’ll be able to find a place to call home. I will post a link here and if you can find it in your hearts to help us, we would truly appreciate it!

I will try to find my happy place and see our dream come true. I will push my fears down and not listen to them. Right now, that is all I can manage. One day at a time right? Mom isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so my focus will be on finding a home and moving. We WILL find a place. I have to keep repeating that or I will end up at the hospital, alongside my husband.

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It’s Not Goodbye

It’s not goodbye.

You held my hand,
you taught me how to walk.
You read to me,
you taught me how to talk.

When I was sick,
you were always there.
When I was scared,
you were the only one that ever cared.

When I couldn’t sleep,
you would sing our song to me.
When I was ready to see the world,
you blessed me with your love and gave me the key.

The roles are now reversed,
and now it is my turn to care for you.
I will be there when you need me,
to this promise I will be true.

I will hold your hand,
I will read to you,
I will be there,
I will forever care.

You can no longer sing to me,
but I will sing instead.
I will help you enjoy the life you have left,
until you lay down your head.

I will never say goodbye,
please don’t ask me to.
I love you so much Momma,
that’s just something I cannot do.

It will only ever be,
Till next we meet again.

© Shay Pharand

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about regrets and forgiveness. I think with everything going on in my world right now it has made me more aware of my life and well, with life in general. Things are happening quickly for my Mom and sadly the ALS is progressing quicker than any of us anticipated. I was not prepared to hear that news last week. I don’t think I’m prepared even now. I see her every day and she looks good. You can’t tell that she is suffering unless you ask her or she tells you. It’s hard though. Hard to see my once strong and independent Mother have to rely and depend on her loved ones for help. She has always been a proud woman. Maybe stubborn would be a better choice…lol.

A long time ago she parted ways with her best friend. They had a falling out but neither of them spoke to each other for many years after that. It was a sad time for her. For all of us really. We used to be very very close. Then one day, we weren’t. Just the other day my Mom asked if I could somehow find them so she can talk to them and ask for forgiveness. It broke my heart to hear that but only because I couldn’t understand what it was she was asking forgiveness for. I told her I would do whatever I could to make that happen and I did.

Today she talked to her old best friend and cried. She asked for forgiveness as best as she could. With how badly her speech has become though, I had to translate what she was trying to say. Of course she was told there was nothing to forgive that whatever happened was basically water under the bridge. That warmed my heart. It was so nice to hear that and we all had a lovely conversation. It was nice to reconnect and I hope to see them one day very soon. This had me thinking though of my old friendships and how things ended. One never does know what tomorrow will bring and really, is there a point in holding on to grudges from years past? Shouldn’t we just let things go and move forward? There is never anything wrong with saying you’re sorry, or admitting you were wrong.

I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my time and I can never take them back. All I can ever do is apologize and hope that one day I will be forgiven. I have let go of all the hurt that has ever been done to me and for many I have forgiven them. In time, I think I’ll be able to forgive them all…or at least, try to. If there is one thing I have learned from this whole experience is that life is way too short for hurt and anger. Too short for regrets and holding on to grudges. Live life, enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to ask for forgiveness and don’t be afraid to forgive.

Even now, with everything she is going through, my Momma is teaching me life lessons. Thank you Momma! I will follow your example and hope that I am able to teach my lovelies the same thing. You have always been a true inspiration, and I know you always will be.

To all those that I have hurt in the past, or the present, I am truly sorry. I have no excuses but just know, it was never intentional. I hope you can one day forgive me. To all those that have hurt me, I forgive you. We may never talk again, or it will be many months or years before we do, but I will be open to that and will not turn you away. I hope that we can one day get to that point.

Take a page from my Mom’s book folks. Forgive and ask to be forgiven if you know you have done something you shouldn’t have. Live your life in peace.

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The Road so far…

I haven’t talked about my journey with many people. Only a few select friends know and of course my family. This journey began in October but at the time, we did not know what it was. This journey, is not just my own, it is my Mother’s as well. This, like many others, is our story.

I have talked about my mom in previous blogs before and by now most people know how much she means to me. She raised me alone for 14 years and it wasn’t always easy. We did struggle a lot, but the good times outweighed the bad. No matter what though, we were always together and we always made it. I wasn’t an easy teenager but that’s beside the point. Whatever problems we had, we always worked out and no matter what life through our way, we fixed it. Time moves on. I matured and now I have a beautiful family of my own. There were many times when I felt like a failure as a daughter though. I always thought I could do better, do more. Not sure how, but I guess that’s just how I felt. I do the best that I can and I do whatever I can. I’m not perfect and we don’t see eye to eye on many subjects, but hey, what Mother/Daughter does? There is always bound to be something right?

Skipping ahead many years. Mom developed many medical problems over the course of those years, her health was starting to fail.  Not seriously, but it was getting harder and harder to do certain things as she grew older. October 2014 rolls around and one day she’s doing great. Talking normally, walking, she was even babysitting my nephew. Then out of the blue, the next day I’m talking to her and she can barely talk. Barely breathe. She’s gasping for air just so she can get one sentence out. Take her to her doctor almost weekly because this is concerning. Things aren’t right and we’re not getting answers. She ends up in the hospital in December and she’s treated for pain, but still, no one does anything about the speech or the lack of mobility, or anything else I mentioned. They keep her over night for observations but release her the next day. Frustrated we go back to the doctor and demand this be looked at. A referral is sent to an Internal Medicine specialist and we’re hoping he can help. Meds are adjusted and others are cut. Other tests are ordered but the wait list is over 6 months. January of 2015 we’re back at the hospital. Since December she had fallen a few times at home, but when we again repeat everything she’s only treated for fatigue and sent home that night. Forget frustration, by now anger is setting in.

March comes and we’re once more back at the hospital. This time we refuse to let them discharge her until we have answers. More extensive testing is done this time and a week, nearly two weeks later we’re called in by the Neurologist for a family sit down to hear the results of all the tests she went through. My mother, I, and my aunt and uncle attend this meeting, but none of us expected to hear the words the doctor spoke. My mother was diagnosed with ALS or otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. That night my world came tumbling down. I was shattered. We all were. We know there is no cure for ALS. We know what will happen. Now we have to learn to cope with the emotions and feelings that come with this news.

Since then, my Mother’s health has gotten progressively worse. The ALS is fast. Given her age and all her other medical problems, I expected this. I hoped it wouldn’t be so quick…but things are getting worse day by day. Things are getting harder and harder for my Mother. It is hard for me to watch her go through this. This beautiful strong woman that has been my rock my entire life is weak. So many changes have happened and I can see the fear in her eyes whenever something new has to happen to make life a little bit easier for her. It crushes me. It crushes all of us. We are doing everything imaginable to help her have a few more good years with us. I can only hope we succeed.

The emotions though are the hardest. I have had one peaceful night of sleep since March where there were no dreams, no nightmares. No thoughts at all. Most nights I can’t sleep. I see my mom, I see a future without her, I see so many other things and then the nightmares begin. I don’t eat very much either. I know I have to be the strong one. She needs me. I do whatever I can to be there for her. I try to stay strong for her. I try not to show her my own fear and worries. There are times when I have my weak moments around her, but I do whatever I can to not show it. I come home and I cry in silence. I deal with it on my own and as best as I can. I have been told by many that they are there for me and that they are thinking of me and if I need anything, just let them know. I can’t though. I feel like a burden. I turn to my husband and I find comfort in the arms of my children…but other than that…I keep it to myself. I guess this blog is my way of releasing some of those emotions and I can only hope those reading it can finally understand what it is I am truly going through right. Then there is the children. Do you know how hard it is to explain to your kids what is happening with their Grandmother? What is going to happen to her? Not very easy to do. They know now what to expect and what will eventually happen. It’s heart breaking though to see their beautiful faces full of fear and tears. Makes me cry even more. We are all going to be very lost without her. If I could just stop thinking about the future, then I think I wouldn’t be such an emotional wreck. The reality of it is though, she is going to be gone and we are going to have to find a way to live without her. I won’t be able to pick up the phone to talk to her. I won’t be able to go see her. I won’t be able to hear all the stories of her childhood. I won’t be able to see her and my kids together…so many things I won’t be able to do. How do I live my life without her? How do I learn to move forward?

Writing is supposed to be one of the best forms of therapy. I’m glad I got this out and I hope anyone else that is in the same boat as me can find comfort in knowing you’re not alone. I understand your feelings and your fear. I share them with you.

My hero will one day be an angel, but for now I have HOPE that a cure for ALS will be found.

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Beautiful Inspiration

It has been a very long time since I have written anything. Life for the most part has been good. Not everything by any means and there are some bad things going on. Right now though I would like to share some words of encouragement and wisdom to young women everywhere that struggle on a daily basis with their bodies and have self-esteem issues.

I’ll start off by saying, I was once where you are now. I dealt with this very thing for a good chunk of my life. It didn’t get any easier as I grew older. It became worse. No matter what I did, somehow and some way I would end up back at square one with hating myself. I didn’t want to look in a mirror, I didn’t want to listen to anyone telling me I was pretty or beautiful. I could never see what others saw in me. How can you when all you ever hear growing up is, “If you lost a little weight, you’d be beautiful.” Or “You should lose some weight because no one is going to want to be with a fat girl.” I heard it all. I’m sure a lot of you do too right? It happens more often than naught. Sadly, a lot of the time, this abusive behavior begins with those that are supposed to love us and encourage us before it starts at school. Other times, it’s the other way around and we find ourselves being bullied at school by our judgemental peers. Either way you look at it, it sucks!

I was never bullied at school. In fact I was usually the one standing up to bullies when my friends were picked on. Those hurtful words came from family. They still do at times. The difference now is…I’m stronger now than I was when I was 18 years old. It took me a very very long time though. Decades actually. It wasn’t until closer to the end of 2013 that I realized that I needed to change things. I have daughters that are growing up and become young women. What kind of an example would I be to them, if I couldn’t teach them to believe in themselves and to accept a compliment when given? I read an article by a Mother that year. I think I had shared that in a blog. Consider this an update since that blog!

My girls would tell me I’m pretty. My husband would too. Friends all over would say the same. Did I believe them? No, at one point I did not. Again, that boils down to not seeing what they see. By this point though I actually loathed myself. Looking in a mirror was hard. I would cry and I withdraw within myself, or I would become highly sarcastic towards people. My thank yous were empty words. No feeling behind, no sincerity. I thanked people, but didn’t believe them. What was that teaching my girls? I realized how much of a negative impact that was. Self-hate now is far worse than what we went through in our day and age. Now, kids turn to drugs, alcohol, and worse, self-harming.

Listen up girls. There was a time in my life that I wanted to die. I just wanted all the hate to end and I thought by dying it would end. The problem with that theory, it wouldn’t end. For me sure, I’d be gone, I didn’t have to feel that kind of pain any more. That pain though? It would last a lifetime for those that truly did love us. Our family and friends would feel that pain every day. They shouldn’t have to, and nor should you! Cutting yourself inflicts the same pain. It may take away your pain, but it still leaves a massive scar in our hearts. We don’t want to see you go through what you’re going through. We don’t want to see you be bullied and hated on because of the way you look. Each time you do this, it kills us too.

I wanted to change for myself and for my children. I was determined to do something. Last year, starting in January I went through a huge change. I started the year as a caterpillar and ended it as a butterfly. It’s a lot of hard work, but it is possible. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done. It starts with you needing to realize your own potential and self-worth. There will always be someone telling you that you’re not beautiful or that you’re fat. Those people’s opinion does not matter. I’m here to tell you, that you are beautiful no matter what size you are, no matter how you dress, and no matter what race you are. If you want things to be different, the hard work will start with you. YOU have to believe in yourself before you can accept anyone’s compliment. Drugs, alcohol, or even cutting, those aren’t going to help you. It will take it away for a short time, but the problem will always be there until you can find a way to deal with it in a positive and effective manner. The best part of this, you are NEVER alone. There are so many people that are always going to be around to help you. You have friends and family that love you and they will be there for you. All you have to do is open up and talk to someone. If you’re not comfortable talking to them, then find someone that can help. Call a help line, talk to a friend’s mom. Anyone you are comfortable with. I strongly encourage you to turn to your parents first if you feel they can help you and are not a part of the problem. If that is not an option…there are others. I will repeat, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

My journey began with changing the way I thought, the things I believed to be true. The look in my darling children’s eyes whenever they told me I was pretty…which is often! I made the effort to change the way I saw myself and to accept what others saw in me. The demons are there and they try to come up and tell me otherwise. I am much stronger now and I can push them away and ignore every little thing they attempt to tell me. I AM beautiful. I AM pretty. I AM sensual. I AM sexy. I am all of these things and so much more. If some people can’t see that, then I don’t need that negativity in my life and I’m done. They can’t hurt me anymore and they can take it elsewhere. Once you can get to this stage, the rest of it will be easy. A year and a half after I started my self-discovery, I can honestly say I am very happy with who I am and I am truly blessed with the people in my life that have been there for me through it all. People’s idea of beauty can go to hell. Tess Holliday is a great inspiration and her words are always with me…and they should be with you too.

#effyourbeautystandards is an amazing movement. Look into it and the next time someone tries to tell you differently, share those words with them. You are a rock star! Own it, live it, love it!

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Sleep Eternal

Silently they sleep,
in the mossy ground below.
Ancestors from our families,
and others I do not know.

Between time and space,
they reach us through the veil.
Calling us to listen,
as stories they do tell.

Forever they will be with us,
watching and guiding from afar.
Keeping us safe from evil’s embrace,
shining on us like a brilliant star.

Their love will give us strength,
it will give us courage and hope too.
forever we will be protected,
it is what they’re meant to do.

Our Guardian Angels,
our guiding light.
We thank you deeply,
as you vanish from our sight.

Marina A. Raven
Copyright 2014

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Sinful Desire

Your love ignites,
a passion within.
A longing and desire,
that should be a sin.

When I close my eyes,
I can feel your touch.
your kisses and caresses,
that  I love so much.

I lose myself,
with thoughts of you.
Imaging what could be,
and what we would do.

But then I open my eyes,
and you’re not really here.
It was nothing but a dream,
one that will never come true I fear.

These dreams I’ll hold,
keeping them under lock and key.
savoring each and every one,
if you will let me.

Marina A. Raven
Copyright 2014

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