Sunday, November 30, 2008

Time to Relax and Enjoy

I am taking nearly one week off from work and it is glorious. My friend V is here and we have been having a very nice time together. Thursday, I cooked a wonderful small dinner for just the two of us. Friday, my dear friend Lisa came for dinner and we laughed, talked, ate and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Exercise is important to both of us and nearly everyday we have done a good joint workout - cardio and pilates.
It snowed overnight and we awoke to a beautiful world of a quiet, white landscape. Deb is here doing a massage for V right now and I am going to roast a lovely boneless prime rib and open a terrific bottle of Cabernet for dinner. Just some quiet time of talk, laughter, watching movies, reading and relaxing.

I have decided to go to Seattle in December. We are closing the office between Christmas and New Years Day - it is the perfect opportunity to visit. I am flying on December 25 and returning around the New Year. A friend will stay with Miss Kitty and enjoy the house while I am gone.

My mother is mending but slowly. She has a life line button now - the thing you wear around your neck and can push if you need help. That is good. The doctor really wants her to go to in-patient rehab for a couple of weeks but she refuses. We do have a social worker now and that is a comfort. He and I talk frequently and he now visits a couple of times a week.

Mother is certainly not incompetent but she is not displaying good judgment in many of her recent decisions. While I was in California, she began to talk about selling the house - we even met with the realtor. She began to tell her friends and others that it was time to move somewhere that was more accessible given her eyesight and the isolation of Yountville. Now she tells the social worker - she only said all that to make me not talk about the future. These are her adult decisions - she has fallen many times, the next time could be even more devastating. I have stepped back again - I call everyday - I give my perspectives, when asked. I have stepped away from the drama.

I hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend. More later.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Fills my heart and soul. In this time of uncertainty and fear, I am blessed to be surrounded by abundance in so many ways. If you are reading this page right now - I am thankful for you and I send my love and care to you.

Talk to you soon................

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I awoke yesterday to our first measurable snow - it was a nice surprise. It has warmed up again into the high 30's and so the snow has disappeared - however, it will return - that is one thing you can be sure of here in Minnesota.

I do want to blog about my visit home - there is much to say. I am still reflecting and processing a lot of information and emotion. My friend V arrives from Seattle Tuesday night for Thanksgiving and a week-long visit. I am so happy to take s few days off. Days that are indeed a time of relaxation and fun, I need the respite.

I will blog about my visit to California soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I am back in Minnesota. I had an uneventful flight and am happy to be home to sleep in my own bed tonight. The time at home was very stressful but I think we made some progress. I have photos and more to write but not tonight. Tonight my little kitty is happy to have me home. I have a good book and an early to bed evening planned.

Talk to you soon...........

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Forever in Our Hearts

What a lovely smile. Tom was as nice as that lovely smile. A true gentleman. We all have so many terrific memories to hold and comfort us. This photo was taken one evening after work as Tom and I were preparing to have a little cocktail and talk about our day. The little rituals that made life so worthwhile. It is a pleasure to share this photo.

Thank you my sweet blog friends for your love and support. When I look back to mid-2005 when I began this blog, I was one big open wound. The pain leaps off the page and sears the skin off my face.

You have stood witness to my growth and transformation. You have held me in your thoughts and cyber-arms. I am so fortunate and I am filled with gratitude that I have found this community.

Thank you and I send my love to each of you. The adventure continues.........

Friday, November 14, 2008


I looked at the MRI again - with Lisa and with Joan, after her arrival, at least half a dozen times. There was a decision to be made. The neurologist was quite clear, they would do whatever I decided, including a feeding tube and long-term care.

She and our family doc believed that Tom was incapable of regaining consciousness. He had a small amount of brain damage on the left side from the first stroke and devastating damage from this last incident. The bi-lateral nature of the damage was one of the reasons the neurologist doubted he could wake up. She also felt that if Tom regained consciousness, he would be profoundly deaf, blind and physically and mentally incapacitated.

Tom and I had discussed our feelings and preferences if either one of us were ever incapacitated. We promised that we would not let the other live in a vegetative state. It is one thing to have a hypothetical conversation while you are doing your will - it is quite another to be faced with that decision. Remembering our conversations, pacing the hospital corridors, holding Tom, asking for spirit guidance. The decision was made.

I do not remember which day we removed the apparatus that was breathing for Tom. They asked if I wanted to step out - NO! - I stood and held his toe while they took the tube out of his throat. Once that was done, the room became very quiet - only the occasional beep of the heart monitor.

Friends and family started to arrive and spend their final time with Tom. I would leave the room and give each person their private time. Each night I "slept" with Tom - they let me be in the bed with him, with his arms arranged around me. We "talked" long into the night. There was no sleeping - just dozing - being together. The last night, Cheryl, our night nurse, came in to check on us and as she left the room, she said, "enjoy his warmth." It was much later that the full meaning of that statement hit me.

Early on Sunday, November 14th, Cheryl and I bathed Tom and changed the bed. It was still dark. I asked for a razor, Cheryl went to get one for me. While she was gone, I put the bed railing down and held Tom's head in my arms and said, "I love you - you are the love of my life." I kissed Tom - his eyes slowly opened (the first time since I found him) and a golden light shown out from them. Tom took one deep breath and I felt his spirit leave his body. My lover, my friend, my flyboy, my husband - the love of my life.

I have walked this path with the love and support of so many. I wept; I denied; I fell down; I got up; I honored my grief - I walked through it.

I honored my husband and our love. I have come to a place of acceptance. I always will love Tom - death does not end love. I am whole and forever transformed and yet, I will forever have a crack in my heart. I always will have moments that sneak up on me and I will cry out his name. I am grateful that I gave and received unconditional love. It is all that matters in this life.

I am alive.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I had no idea that I would recount the last days with my darling Tom. Here I am in California with my mother. I have not shared this until now. I am moved to do so. It is simply the title.........remembering.


After I consented to the DNR - Dr. D and I went to the nurse's station and began to call the children. I called Paul first - he was not home. I called Mark next. Mark is a doctor - we talked and then Dr. D. and Mark talked. We all agreed to the DNR.

Our ICU Room was dark and calm - broken only by the sounds of mechnical breathing and heart monitor beeps. At one point, I had my head down on the mattress, holding Tom's hand, chanting I love you, I love you, I love you. A hand touched my hair and a soft voice murmured, "and he loves you too." It was Cindy B - our friend and the Director of Nursing at the hospital. I must have mentioned to the staff that we knew Cindy (and John) (John gave the eulogy at Tom's funeral) because she got dressed and came down to the hospital to sit with me.

Through the long night I sat and dozed, I sat and held his hand, I prayed, I sang, I pledged, I slept fitfully in the reclining chair by his bed. I walked in the hall. Is this real? Wake me now Spirit. Oh Tom - my love, my friend, my husband. Only the inexorable beep of the heart monitor answered my pleas.

At dawn, I waited to call my friend Lisa - when she answered, I blurted it out. I told the story, finally I said, "will you come?" Lisa replied - "I dressed while we talked, I will be there soon." She must have come on a low flying jet.

Lisa scooped me up in her arms and touched Tom in her loving and inimitable way. The neurologist arrived - it was early - she showed us the MRI. It was devastating. Even the top slice of the MRI had an infarct - from the bottom of his right ear to the top of his head. I remember small, intense jolts of that first encounter in the small consultation room. Lisa asked the questions - I probably did too. Oh Tom - what does this mean?

I called Joan in Florida - Steve answered, she had gone to work. I will never forget, Steve broke down and wept as we talked. He called Joan. Ten minutes later she called - "I am arriving tonight!"

Lisa made me go home - the nurses said, "it's OK - we will call you if anything happens." Lisa drove - when we went inside, there was messy on the floor where I found Tom. I went downstairs - Lisa must have cleaned things up. Oh Spirit, is this real?

I got some clothes - I selected music and family photographs to take back in the room. I don't remember much of anything else - other than my life was not there right then. We returned to the last home Tom and I would have together.



Dr. D looked very solemn as he entered the room. I had seen him a mere 7 hours before at my own medical appointment. At that time, we stood in the hallway and joked lightheartedly. Then we talked about how well Tom's cataract surgeries had gone - I told him Tom had received a clean bill of health from the Ophthalmologist the day before and now needed only reading glasses.

Oh the conversations we have every day - unaware that our lives are headed for sudden destruction.

He told me the Cat Scan results showed Tom had suffered quite a large stroke. He indicated that Tom was stable and that "only time would tell" if he could awaken and if so, what would be the prognosis for recovery. He also asked me to list Tom "DNR" that night. I remember feeling like I had been socked in the gut. Dr. D did not think anything was likely to happen but if it did - the damage Tom had sustained was such that it was probably better not to resuscitate him.

I was numb, looking back it was like I had been thrust into an alien landscape and everyone was speaking a strange language. It was as if the room was filled with clear gelatin, all movements were slow and exaggerated - all speech grated on my ears. Tom was there, yet just beyond my reach.

Up until that moment, I was busy holding Tom's hand, telling him I loved him, praying and planning the rehab and recovery.

Oh, weeping shadows on the wall.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


when I opened the door, with the exception of the water running in the kitchen sink, the house was dark and quiet. Not a good sign.

I called, "Tom? Tom?" No answer. I turned off the kitchen faucet and began to go through the house calling his name. When I got to the doorway of my home office, there he was, laying on the floor, still in his pajamas. I ran to him - his eyes were open, he was still breathing. I turned his head to the side to prevent aspiration and ran for the phone.

Our home is one quarter of a mile from the firehouse. They were there very quickly. Tom was taken to Woodwinds - a beautiful holistic hospital near our house. I did not go in the ambulance - I had done this before. I knew I would need my car. I started to think of rehab and the path back to wholeness. I was so upset at finding him, a couple of weeks later I would discover I had chipped a tooth, probably by snapping my teeth together.

When I arrived at the emergency room and they took me into the treatment room the first thing I saw were the glen plaid pajamas, cut off his body and thrown on the floor along with all sorts of medical detritus.

Tom had been intubated and they were preparing him to have a cat scan. The emergency room nurse let me stand at the foot of the gurney and hold onto Tom's toe. I asked, "this doesn't look good does it?" She told me no. However, hope abounded - we had done two strokes before this incident. I knew we could do another recovery.

We were transferred to ICU and at 10:30 pm I looked up to see our family doctor walk into the room. That was not a good sign.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


my cold had hung on for two weeks - enough - i scheduled a 3 pm doctor appointment. I was busy at work that day and did not call home. on the way to the doctor i called, no answer. doctor cathey prescribed an inhaler. i left his office and headed towards target. on the way to pick up the meds - i called home. again no answer.

while they filled the prescription, i shopped and called home, no answer - i felt uneasy.

checked out at target, headed for home - called again from the car, no answer - felt nervous now. when i pulled into our drive it was dark outside and not a light shown inside.

it was no longer a normal day. remembering...............


when I left Tom this morning, 4 years ago - he was wearing glen plaid flannel pajamas and Minnetonka moccasin slippers. Those words, "you look beautiful, I love you honey," were the last words I ever heard Tom speak. remembering...............


I awoke early on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - Tom had moved upstairs sometime in the middle of the night because he was coughing. Upstairs, I sat on the edge of the guest bed; we commiserated over our colds, hugged and made plans for our respective days. I made coffee and brought it to him in bed. We talked about Thanksgiving. It was just a normal day.

I had a meeting with my business partner so I hopped in the shower and got ready for work. It was a chilly morning, I wore my nice black sweater and black pants. I was thinking about my meeting with JSB and listening to Public Radio. Tom had moved to his big chair in the den and I refilled his coffee. It was just a normal day.

I was to meet JSB for breakfast. Tom was still saying his nose was "running like a faucet." As I was gathering my things to leave, I asked, "do you want a hot breakfast?" His answer was,"that would be good." Tom usually had a roll and juice with his coffee and prepared his own breakfast after my departure. However, this morning he wanted a breakfast meal cooked by me.

On the spot I decided that fixing Tom breakfast was more important than being on time. I cooked: steel cut oatmeal with blueberries, juice, whole grain toast with butter and homemade jam - all on a nice wooden tray with a cloth napkin. He ate on his TV Tray in the den. He gave me a delighted smile. I sat and we chatted for a bit. It was just a normal day.

When I left, Tom reached up his arms with a smile and gave me a big hug and kiss. His last words as I left were, "you look beautiful; I love you, honey." It was just a normal day. The last normal morning we would ever have together.


Monday, November 10, 2008


Four years ago tonight, this was the very last night that Tom and I would eat dinner together, hang out, talk, laugh and do the mundane things of life = together. November 10, 2004, everything was just our life. We both had colds - Tom kept saying, "my nose is like a faucet." We went to bed early - remembering.................

Autumn All Over Again

Here I am in the beautiful Napa Valley where it is Autumn - the second time around for me this year. (Lucky me!) I will take photos of the vineyards soon; the harvest is over and the vines are every brilliant color you can imagine.

The balloons flew over the house this morning and I ran to snap this picture in the driveway on my way to bring in the newspaper.

This time with my Mom is going to be difficult and yet, it is good to be home. The family friend who was helping out has returned to the City and I am her caregiver this week. She is happy and so am I.

I am off to Napa now to meet with the Social Worker - that is the best thing to come out of this terrible accident - she has a social worker!!! Hooray, someone to help as we move forward.

Talk to you soon.............

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I cannot help but begin to mark the days now - 7 days until the fourth anniversary of the day that launched this journey. Each year it is different but inexorably present. No longer a gaping wound - ragged edges barely held together. The pain of loss now is a new type of cell that flows in my veins.

I have integrated my loss - I have walked the path - I have not denied my grief. I have not walked around it. I have walked through it. I am forever changed.

Each year, bring different reflections. Each year, the pain is lessened. What does integrated mean? Tonight, it means that I know death and life are inextricably linked.

Oh, how I miss my tall, tall husband. How I miss the long stride in the hall. The hearty laugh from the den. The kisses from behind. The dancing in the kitchen. The unconditional love. Oh how I Tonight. Forever.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope and Grace

It is humbling to be a witness to history. I am so happy for my generation to pass the torch of leadership to the next. Many blessings to President-Elect Obama and VP-Elect Biden and their families. Let the healing begin.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Belated Pumpkin Day

Here is my Jack O'Lantern that my friend V and I carved. I know Halloween is over but I couldn't resist posting this photo of "Fred" since I was off line on the actual day. Happy Belated Halloween.

Talk to you soon.......

After Nearly Five Years........

.......and 100,000 miles of love and devotion, I traded in my G4 for this yummy, new Mac Book. It is so speedy that things happen on the screen faster than I can see with my eyes.

My laptop is a constant, it is with me most of the time - our business runs on technology. Shared calendars, intranet, online time and billing, private client collaboration site, our own online store -- the computer makes our little team function so well.

This is the reason I was offline for two days - I had to leave my little G4 at the Apple Store for the transition. Very strange how connected and computer-dependent I have become - it was very difficult to walk out of the Apple Store without my notebook.

It took me 2+ hours to make my decision between this 13 inch and the 15 inch Mac Book Pro. The 15 inch is a gorgeous piece of screen real estate - but in the end, the smaller computer won me over - I have been carrying a 12 inch G4 for too long. I did upgrade my Mac Book and took the RAM to the top. Hooray - I feel so blessed to have this new tool.

Talk with You Soon.......

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Rest in Peace

My dear brother, friend and mentor Michael died on Thursday afternoon at 3:30 - he has been battling brain cancer for the past year. He is now released - free from pain and all limitations. He was a brilliant man - a charismatic person that attracted people to him everywhere he traveled - a truly unique individual. I will miss him so. Death and Life inextricably linked. Michael, you will be forever - in my heart - I am filled with sorrow and with gratitude for your friendship.

Not only was Michael my friend - he was my teacher and guide or many years and in so many ways - he was a strong support and ongoing encouraging presence when I stepped out to leave my "paycheck" job and become a consultant. He was one of the best organizational development consultants on the planet, working nationally and internationally.

There are other reasons I have not posted for a few days, besides being crazy-busy and talking to my mother every two hours and I will update the blog again tomorrow.

This post is at the center of my heart tonight. Michael loved the Southwest and spent lots of time camping, hiking, and communing with nature in those amazing spirit-filled hills. He was a musician and loved music - so, here is a song, for Michael, with love - Shalom.