Category Archives: cancer

Corona

We’re in this together,
Some in the beginning did say.
We took each day with news,
It got worse along the way.
The mask, sanitizer, stocked in hand,
shoo’d the sick away from somebody’s land
Days, months in,
And here we are,
Some us yelling
Lives matter, are you listening?
Where brother, sister, neighbor, friend,
defending the color of their skin.
Days, months in,
People Covid, comes with questioning
Will this nightmare ever end?
Looks taken within ourselves
Are we gonna make it count?
For there’s no time for sorrow,
Because only with Him +.
Is there even a tomorrow.

Primal Loss Book Review

There was a book circulating on Instagram from those I follow that caught my attention, “Primal Loss, The Now Adult Children of Divorce Speak” by Leila Miller.

It didn’t take me long to realize this would be a tough one to read.

Leila Miller, a Catholic author/writer, compiled questions and answers from participants from all walks of life.  The book, “gives voice to the adult children of divorce. Their stories are not pretty. ..breaks through layers and layers of pro-divorce propaganda.” Answers are given numbers to keep the participant anonymous.  Much of the responses I could relate to, to the point of highlighting, noting a page, and writing in my answers.

Chapter one, “The Effect of the Divorce”, the first question, ‘What effect has your parents’ divorce had on you?’  The answers are  raw and some sound as if they are still struggling.  Response noted: “Stunted my ability to properly form my own emotions” and “parental presence, instruction, and stability were often missing in my childhood.”

The second chapter, “Feelings as Child vs. Feelings as Adult, what is the difference between how you felt about divorce as a child and how you feel about it as an adult?” There was a response I highlighted from a woman who spoke about her brokenness and how she carried it into her marriage. That early on, she wrestled with the behaviors, but thanks to God, her husband, “never gave up…even when I gave him reason to walk away…through their marriage, I have come to learn what love means, what truth means.”

Third chapter, “View of Marriage, has our parents’ divorce affected your own marriage or your view of marriage?” A reply noted: “I struggle with trusting my husband. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, which I am sure must be related to the feeling of abandonment by my family of origin.”

Fourth chapter, “Are children resilient? What do you want to say to people who say that ‘children are resilient’ and ‘kids are happy when their parents are happy’ and ‘kids of divorce will be just fine and will go on to live successful lives?”  Responses marked: “What divorce does is shatter that universe in a drastic and traumatic way, and there’s no coming back from that. It even changes the way you perceive reality, you become anxious, nothing ever feels safe or predictable, and you’re always waiting for the piano to fall” and “I was never happy with the way things were. I simply accepted that I had no control over any of it.”

Chapter five, “Speak to your parents, then and now, what would you say directly to your parents…how it affected you, would you advise them to do it differently?”  Response noted:  “I would have told them that God must be at the center of their marriage, that they were losing focus on the family, and that they were pursuing too much of their own self interest” and “I didn’t even know my pain was buried, but every now and then something would trigger this little girl inside of me.”

Chapter six, “What society should know, what do you most want adults in our society to know about how divorce affects the children?” Response noted:  “I’d want them to know that divorce is likely affecting their kids in way that they, the adults, can’t see or understand” and kids “often don’t gain the vocabulary and perspective to even begin to articulate all they are experiencing and questioning until well into adulthood.”

Chapter seven, “The role of faith in healing, what role has your faith played in your healing?” Response noted: “My faith taught me that marriage is a vocation that leads me to unification to God. It isn’t “romantic” love or superficial happiness; true love is an act of will.”

Chapter eight, “To those facing divorce, what would you want to say to children facing their parents’ divorce today?” Response noted: “You will confuse them and make them feel abandoned in the process” and “all the positive things you modeled for your children will be eclipsed by the disordered things you modeled when divorce is the punchline” and “even though they are children, they have a voice and should say, loud and clear, what they are feeling.”

Now my response.

I begin by admitting, the book took me a while to finish.  For whatever reason, I would become anxious before and while reading.  There were emotions, thoughts, that I felt I was clear of, but then memories surfaced that I had forgotten.  I would stop and think, text my sister, ask for her recount. Sometimes, I would ask my Mom questions throughout the day, to see if she could recall situations. And for those who don’t know me or my blog, my Dad is no longer alive.  He passed away in 2006 from sarcoma cancer.  However, before my Dad died, we did talk and reconcile (thanks be to God).

Before I go any further, I wanted to share when I found out my parents were divorcing. It was a weekday morning.  I was leaving to go to school in 7th grade.  That’s when I was given the news.  I clearly remember it was in the winter, clear morning, and my world began to close in.  My sister, who is eight years older than me, was already married with her new little family.  My Dad was quickly out of the house which left just Mom and me.  Mom worked a full time job and soon began to search in her ways of attention and self seeking joy.  In 7th grade, I tried marijuana and alcohol and continued using through my Sophmore year of high school.  Time at home on the weekends was on my own or, thanks to my sister, spent with her on the weekends.  My Mom and Dad led selfish lives fulfilling their own needs and not looking towards mine.   I was fed and clothed, but the impact of my parents non-emotional non-spiritual care was heavily felt.

Even after reconciling with my mom a couple of years ago, this book pushed out things I still had trapped in my heart I didn’t know I had. Thankfully, when we spoke she listened to me when I vented the pain it caused me.  Mom is 77 years now.  So even though, there are more things I would like to clear up, she can’t recall nor does she have capacity to help me resolve.  In a way, once I realized that, it saddened me because I know I will need to deal with it with God and on my own.

This book was a challenge, but I know I had to read it not just for me, but also for my nephews and niece who are also victims of divorce.  I can see much of their own behaviors in the book that match.  They are adults now. This book gives me knowledge that I could help them in ways I didn’t notice before.

But I think the biggest thing I took away from this book, is my progress made by faith as a now adult child of divorce.

There was a moment in the book when I jumped up, put the book down, and ran over to my husband and cried to him.  I literally saw God’s hand paint over my life from the time of the family destruction to where I am now.  Holding my husband’s hand, I cried and said, “Thank you! Thank you for staying with me in the beginning when our first years of marriage were rough. For not retaliating and leaving me. For understanding I had a rough past and still with some issues to this day.” His answer, “we broke the cycle.”  How much Our Lord Jesus knows our pains and struggles.  How much He heard my cries as a teenager, saying randomly, how I never want to be like my parents or have a marriage like them. The times when I was left alone to grieve the loss of family from junior high through high school, keeping it inside, moving like a zombie pretending to be normal and happy. Through the time after high school, living a double life of seeking attention and finding myself in the pew with my sister’s family on Sunday’s because I felt I was holding onto something good.

In many ways, I know that’s why this blog started.  It was healing and still is healing. I know the way God needed to reach me and stop the pain and focus I was starting to show in my marriage, despite putting in front of me a husband, stability, love, was to diagnose me with Lupus. I know for sure, that put me to change, have recourse in my life that I’m forever grateful.  It allowed me to see truth.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  1621

In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ. In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up. It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but “one body” in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Talks with God

Little Talks with God by St Catherine of Siena edited by Henry Carrigan Jr.

Any book about St Catherine of Siena will catch my attention.  I hope someday Mel Gibson will make a film about her.  Because I believe that many women will see her as a fireball of strength.  Talk about feminism in the truest sense of the form.  Her femininity was one of her many strengths our Lord used to make her one of our greatest Saints of the Church.

Littletalks

In Carrigan’s best description of St Catherine’s life is “mystical experiences with fervent activism”.

During her later years, she had a several priests write down her thoughts that were later put into books and shared with communities.  At a young age,  St. Catherine had a burning desire to know more about God and truth. This desire would change into fortitude that became spiritual lessons others to this day still learn from, like myself.

I learned much from this book.  I pretty much have each page ear dogged.  Self contemplation to the greatest degree.  Where to start and where to go in prayer, examination of conscience, courage, and faith in action to name a few.

img_6695.jpgSt. Catherine’s passion for Christ grew even more so when God showed her the needs of the world and the offenses being made against God.

St. Catherine had a selflessness that at times frightened me. She understood the punishment God could give and at the same time his limitless mercy.  She would rather suffer for those who had no clue of their sin because she knew it would be redemptive in the suffering so she spoke in prayer always to take that cup for their sake.

 

“How very pleasing to God is the willing desire to suffer for him.”

Through St Catherine’s writing, my life has learned the beauty in suffering. How I had no clue that there is purpose in suffering.   Used to think any physical or mental suffering was a kind of punishment by God. Learning more about suffering through St. Catherine, has taught me the meaning of it by explaining how it is redemptive, unifies us with Christ, offering it to Christ, and understanding His love for us.

Her writing takes you to a realm that no other writer has taken me.  I feel like I’m in another place even though I’m most likely sitting on the couch in my home.  The power in her words gives me a sense of heaven that truly gives me a connection I’m most grateful I am aware of now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drunks and Monks

I learned about this book by mention on the Jennifer Fulweiler’s show.   It caught my attention because it had to do with addiction and recovery.

Once I started reading it, I was hooked.  It’s a raw memoir from John Carmichael. He recounts his life from childhood through finding his way out of addiction by becoming a Catholic.  It struck a chord with me because I too came from an upbringing of alcoholism.

DrunksMonksIn his book, he speaks about his rise to a successful career, finding his wife, until he becomes an addict and destroys all around him. His Mom was a hard core alcoholic.  Morning, day, night. Even though he saw the reckoning, he could not find himself out of it.  Much of the effects of what would cause him to drink, did come from his relationship with his Mom and love not received by either of his parents.

He describes his environment in sunny So Cal – Orange county. The pull of the riches and struggle with letting go. I pictured well where his life took place because I’m so familiar with this area since I have visited these neck of the woods since I was a child.

One spot in particular is San Juan Capistrano Mission where he first begins his attempt in finding God. First taking back by the beauty of the Chapel where Mass is recited in Latin. Then his courage to reaching out to a monastic priest who then becomes his confessor.  And even though he made these strides he shares his very real battle working out his faith through temptation and relapse. What I appreciated is how the San Juan Capistrano community, supported him and invited him to the faith. An example for all parishes to follow.  He felt so welcomed, he even became a part of the choir.

Even though most understand, that even when one follows the Catholic Church punch card, it doesn’t mean that all will be easy going. In Carmichael’s case, the timing of his initial prep in the faith became his strength when his Mom’s struggle with alcoholism became its worst and then her diagnosis of terminal cancer.

His style of writing was as if you were experiencing it yourself.  Truly can understand his battles and his journey through faith.

If you like reads like I do like this, pick this book up!

 

 

Heaven’s Eyes

It’s taken me a bit of time to muster up and write about this.  I had wanted to do this for my Dad’s anniversary in February but it didn’t happen due to my own issues and events taking place at home.

This blog is about my Dad’s final suffering.

My memories of my Father are mixed.  From a child until about 5th/6th grade, I have sweet memories.  I can recall many things like road trips, hanging out on the weekend, family gatherings, etc.

My Dad had a bad drug and alcohol addiction. By 5th grade it had gotten worse.  Mom and Dad separated and by 7th grade, they divorced.  I stayed in Mom’s custody and began a relationship with my Dad that was not consistent.

Visits with him consisted of buying stuff at the mall,  his  attempt to  bond.  I don’t recall him being in touch with me years after. Then when he bought me a car, senior year, I would meet him for lunch or whatever but it’s not like I had a connection with him.  It felt odd and distant. There were many times where I would go to his place where he lived and find him stone cold. Passed out.  I would often be afraid to find him dead. Thanks to God that never happened but there was a time where I would wish God would take him. Strange mentality, but I was thinking it would end his addiction.

In July 1994, by the grace of God, Dad surrendered his life to Jesus. His life as we know transformed because of it. His life from that point on was to just love and share what he found in Jesus. He learned many humility lessons early on, actually throughout his life until his death.  Reconciling with family, getting a job that paid less than half what he used to make, great remorse, but he was happy.

From this time until 2005, he led a humble life. He remarried and gave much of his time to his Free Methodist church. He even completed a program in theology.

At the end of 2005, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Sarcoma.  He had a 14 pound tumor removed on Thanksgiving day. After surgery, he never got back to being “normal” again as much as he tried.

My Sister and I attended to him with doctor appointments, hospital stays. He was battling mentally and spiritually more than physically. He so much wanted to live because of what he found in Jesus. Freedom. Love. Peace.

This brings me to his last five days in hospice.

He had such peace.  He knew fully well that when he was brought to hospice that this was it.  He asked me, “the only thing I want is to be able to see the Tucson mountains from my room.”  The place was God given.

He went through episodes of joy, fear, calm, laughter, and sorrow. Because I was self-employed I was able to be at his side all day and stayed with him the first night.  We shared “shifts” between his wife and my sister.  Both of them worked full-time, so because I didn’t work, I had time to be with him all day.

I remember feeling fatigued. Mentally drained. Always wondering if what we were doing was right with him. Medical treatment wise. Angry with past doctors.  He was in much pain.  I didn’t think of it then but I know now God graced me.

On the last day, February 20, 2006, his pain med had been increased. He was antsy!  I remember getting up to go outside and sit but he grabbed my arm because he felt me move. I said “Dad it’s ok, I’m just   going outside.”  But then something told me to stay.  So I stood next to him and just caressing his arm, telling him it’s okay. That I loved him. His restlessness stopped. And at that point, I remember staring at him into his eyes. He relaxed himself into his bed. I felt like my heart was being pulled to his and my being felt like I was taken away. When I looked into my Dad’s eyes it felt like I was going somewhere with him.  I literally felt a pull. His pupils changed.  I’ll never forget it.

After that, he fell into a heavy sleep.  He slept the whole day and evening. When I left it was around 8 pm.  My sister and step-mother were there.  My Dad passed away around 9:30 pm.

Heaven became real to me that day. Not that I didn’t believe in heaven before. But this blessed experience helped me see my Dad’s life was headed to the eternal. I knew this.  My mind had gotten so busy with what I was responsible for that I was forgetting what was happening here with my Dad. This moment definitely had me feeling I was a soul away, my Dad, from being to touch heaven.  I saw the depth in my Dad’s eyes.  Nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

I also know that my appreciation for those who are in their final hours is different for me now. My awareness is great!

I thank my Lord for this and for giving me my Dad Joel.  I miss him greatly and still feel such a void in my life without him here.  With that void, I turn to my Lord and with greater faith, press on so that I too join my Dad in heaven. +++