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Quebec City, Canada – Day Two Vacation 2017

Merci!  I would like to think I learned how to say “thank you” but I believe that is what my feet are saying after walking six miles around town (just the ‘upper’ part) today.  When I say “town” I mean the “Old City” of Quebec.   It was an interesting, beautiful, day with a lot of wind, hills, steps, and scenery to soak in.

First, I want to say something I forgot to mention yesterday.  I renewed my passport in 2011, after having my first one filled up after taking trips to about seven different countries.  I had yet to get a stamp in my passport (due to being in nursing school and not traveling, then when I did start traveling again the trips were within the boarders of the US).  I was excited about “FINALLY” getting a stamp in my otherwise very empty passport when I crossed the boarder into Canada.  DID NOT HAPPEN!  I was so disappointed. First off, I did the boarder patrols job by feeding my claims paper into a computer and answering all the questions by pushing buttons; then I walked to a guard, handed him my passport and he said “hello” and checked my picture and let me go.  I wanted a stamp!  Oh well, just means I will have to go somewhere more foreign to get a stamp.

Also, I was welcomed to my week’s abode with some fluffy northern comfort Canadian socks.  They are supper fluffy and comfy.  Will definitely be a hit this winter relaxing around the house. (Thanks Mel!)

I started my morning off at Paillard, a coffee shop/bakery.  Grabbed a cappuccino and a sticky bun before hitting the sidewalks to see what I could uncover.  Then I walked around, found the Notre-Dam de Quebec Basilica Cathedral and stepped inside for a look around.  Very ornate, and commercialized…they had a souvenir shop in the back of the church.  It was very neat to look around in though.  After that we checked out the Chateau Frontenac, after walking up several flights of stairs and along the river walk promenade.  It was beautiful.  I stopped and assisted other tourist couples to get a picture together in front of either the Chateau Frontenac or with a view of the river and their cruise ship in the background. <hehe>  After leaving the water front I walked further inland to the Parliament building.  It was under construction, but the gardens were still assailable and very beautiful.

Then I was able to meet up with Mel and we grabbed some lunch at Spag&tini (Italian) before heading out of town to the water falls.  The Montmorency Falls were beautiful.  I chickened out and did not ride the cable car from the top to the bottom, so my pictures are all from top views of the falls…but great non-the-less.  <afraid of heights and things that move when suspended>.

The day was rounded off by some ice cream before heading back into the city for church service that is being held at Mel’s house.  I may or may not get much out of it since it will be in French.  <smile>

It is a beautiful city!  Have enjoyed my day immensely and look forward to day two exploring tomorrow…much better than ‘traveling’ all day.

Until later…



Quebec City, Canada – Day One Vacation 2017

Day one is here…finally vacation, time away to just be and explore.  I love traveling…but not so much the actual traveling part. Bleh!  Today was a day of travel that included delays, turbulence, two planes, and two different buses.  But I finally arrived to my destination, after a day that started at 0400.  Needless to say my bum was sore and I was tired.  BUT…I’m in CANADA!

I had delays out of St Louis, due to weather.  I was glad that my pilot is instrument trained because we flew out in a blanket of nice white dense fog this morning.  Then from Philly the captain tells us that they have “rerouted us due to weather, and I had to type the coordinates in before take off”.  It was reassuring that my pilot was depending on google maps to get us where we were going. LOL.  All in all, other than my mad dash out of terminal F to terminal A in Philly, and almost missing my flight due to an update on the American Airline App I downloaded, it was all good.  I did get 20 minutes of exercise in due to my sprint through the terminal though. :)

The language barrier is interesting to say the least.  There are some with ‘very’ heavy accents that make it difficult to understand, and I’m sure they wonder what spaceship beamed me into their world with my southern Missouri vernacular.  Needless to say the lady at the coffee shop did not know what powdered sugar was, though it was plainly sprinkled on the croissant that I wanted to purchase — apparently here it is confection sugar.

When in contact with my friend about my whereabouts, I told her I was in the middle of nowhere because I couldn’t read the signs.  I stated that I assumed I was on the correct bus, but “I could be on a bus of a traveling gypsy circus group” for all I knew.  They scanned my ticket said “merci” and let me board.  We realized I was on the correct bus, because I eventually arrived at my location.

All in all the majority of the people I have come into contact with are bilingual, which is helpful.  I am excited about getting to explore the city and spend some time here soaking up the culture.

Until later…


Peyton Kylie…Fly High!

It’s here.  The day that you have been planning for and talking about for at least four years.  Eight years since the desire was placed in your heart, when you came home from Ireland with the hope to return to the area and go to school in Scotland.  How do I deal?  I write.  I have feelings swirling and colliding and what better way to deal…than to put it to paper and blog a post to tell you what I cannot get past my lips or form into words.

First off, I am so very PROUD of you.  You made me an aunt for the first time.  You were so tiny, and though you threw up on me — actually you threw up on everyone basically, you let me know that it was ok for some to get away with saying my name completely wrong.  To you I was “Eeya” (or something similar to that, always the same word), and for once it was acceptable to not be “E”-leisha.  Coming from the big brown eyed little girl that soaked in the world with awe, I would be anything.  I eventually graduated to Aunt Leisha, and I would not trade it for the world.  I am excited, sad, and maybe a tad bit jealous about this opportunity you are embarking on. You have made me proud to be your aunt, you have grown into a young lady of God that I myself can learn from.

Your parents swore they were raising my child.  We have some of the same tendencies of stubbornness, independence, no filter, love of photography, and organizational/leadership skills…to name a few.  Of course you did take after your father in the computer nerd/geek aspect of your personality, I’m sure those qualities will assist you at some point <eye roll>.  LOL!!  Watching you grow and come into the rolls that you have held throughout the years has made me look back at my self and realize that though it was awkward, sometimes difficult to fit into the mix, and I wasn’t always “in”…those qualities that separate you will take you into a life full of possibilities and avenues uncharted.  It will provide you opportunities to take others with you to heights not reached to this point.  You will learn how to channel all of it into traits that will work for the best of you and those around you.  Keep soaring and reaching.

I will miss seeing you here, there, and everywhere.  My weekend McD’s Coke run girl is leaving me.  I’ll stress out at work and not be able to deal without my “fix” being delivered by the yellow delivery taxi.  I’ll miss getting ran up to at church to be shown the “SLEEVES IN MY PONCHO” or the dresses that have pockets.  To be shown all the new gadgets and newest “thing” that I could be doing with my phone if I just knew that it existed in the first place.  Never lose the awe of the world and all the little things that make it up.

As I sit and think of what Saturday (8/26) holds my heart is happy, sad, and a little jealous.  I know jealousy is wrong…but who wouldn’t want an opportunity of living in a foreign country, surrounded by people that will nurture the values and foundation that was instilled in you from birth, all the while getting to experience a new culture and life.  Yes, it’s old school to you, you were in a similar situation in 2009 when  you moved with your family to Ireland (that day I stood and watched the five of you walk away down the terminal, prepared me slightly for this, but not really).  Remember that every experience is different, every opportunity will impact you in a different way.  Embrace it.  Soak in every thing around you.  Let it all build into the gust of wind that takes you further than you have ever been before in God and in life.  Fly High!


ERM  (a.k.a – Aunt Leisha)

Fighting Fat…Through the Mentality and Reality of Life

I’m overweight, I know this.  Magazines, billboards, tv commercials, and my own psych reminds me on a daily basis.  Walking up a flight of stairs, bending over to tie my shoes, or performing certain task at work reminds me that I am not in the best shape possible.  Following is bare truth…and coming to terms with being the best me possible.

This is something that I have dealt with since being a child.  I weighed 145 pounds in fifth grade, I was wearing a women’s size 12.  The miniskirt was purchased, it was large enough to fit around the middle, yet still long enough to be considered “modest”.  In other words I was as round as I was tall.  Fortunately for me, I ended up growing taller through Junior High and into my freshman year of high school, I stretched the 145 lbs out onto a frame of 5’10”.  I was still wearing size 12, just taller.  Being the fat kid at school, and among your friends — never being able to “barrow” your friends clothes — messes up the image you have of yourself.  Being called “buffalo butt” and “thunder thighs” skews the image that one holds of themselves, regardless of how much they stretch out the weight their body is carrying.

As I got older I knew that this is something that I would deal with.  My family genetics are not the most promising.  A bonus on my part is that I got the height that all the men in the family share, then the downfall is that as a female I also inherited the “hips” that the women share.  We inherit certain traits, body builds, and mentality of food from our families.  My family loves food.  My family can cook!!  Therefore, I grew up loving food, good food, and enjoying it until my heart was content.  I found comfort in food.  Good food took me back to family, comfort, and life.  So during stressful situations, times in my life that things were not 100%, food was my crutch.

With food being a crutch, I used it faithfully during life.  I did well at keeping my weight within check through my first round of college, I stayed in the mid 100’s.  Not to say that I was always happy with where I was, a person always wants to be thinner.  The magazine pictures tell us that that is the “in” thing.  Must fit in a size 0, the clothes are not as cute when you pass the size 10 mark.

Not only magazines, but reality is that relationships also play a big part in how we view ourselves.  When we are rejected by someone that we are interested in, or if we are seeing someone and they leave us for someone else or you find out that they cheated on you with someone else…there is always the “what if I was different” factor, or “is there something wrong with me”.  Then you go into a frenzy of changing “self”.  By a beauty makeover or fad diet.

I stayed comfortable until nursing school, then night shift.  My body turned to food for comfort, to stay awake, and ding-dongs became my friend.  My schedule was so skewed that I became a hermit.  No one was awake when I was, no one was asleep when I was.  My ‘human’ friends all got married and had kids by the time I walked out of the tomb of nursing school, and no one wanted to party at 2:00 am on my nights off, which is when I was awake as a night shift worker.  I exercised some, but not like I should.

All of this is that in reality it’s all mentality.  We have to decide in our minds that this is something that you want to do for yourself, for your family, for God.  God?  Yes, God.  Throughout the Bible there is scripture stating that we are the Temple of God.  He fashioned us in our mother’s wombs.

I Corinthians 6:19-20, “we are His Temple and we are to glorify God in our bodies”.  This means we cannot just sit around and gorge ourselves on junk food, we are to glorify God in our body.

I Corinthians 10:31, states that “we are to do all to the glory, weather that be eating, drinking, or whatever”.

Psalms 139:13-18, states that “He knitted us together, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made”.  He created me, fashioned me together and I am fearfully and wonderfully made; but I also have to take care of this package that He created for me to live in.

I Timothy 4:8 states that “physical training is of some value”.   Do I like to exercise, sometimes because it makes me feel better.  Lately, no, because I think I’m going to go into cardiac arrest and fall out in the floor.  Then my friends at the EMS shed and workmates would be seeing more of me than I would care for them to see.  But if I continue taking baby steps, I will eventually obtain the status of enjoyment again.

This journey over the past year has opened my eyes to the reality of changing my mentality where weight comes into play in my life.  We are wonderfully made, some of us are just made a little different. Some will have bones showing without trying and some will have a little more cushion around the middle.  But we must remember that we are a temple, and to keep the temple to the best of our ability, we have to be healthy.  To be healthy, that may mean that I have to skip the ice cream more often.  I need to focus on eating to fuel my body and not to be eating for stress and turning to food as a way out.  Is it hard to re-work my mentality?  Yes. Do I still eat food.  YES!  As I said I grew up in a family that enjoys food, and I will eat food until I am content.  But I will also be mindful that in reality of life, I need to be the best me that I can be.  To be that, I will give up some of the junk food that I consumed more often than not.

Fighting Fat is a daily decision for me.  It takes a mentality that I will be the best I can be, I will support and keep the temple that I was given.  In reality it is a struggle, but one I am willing to conquer so I can be the me that I was meant to be when He fearfully and wonderfully fashioned me.  Do I succeed every day?  No.  Do I still have body image issues that steam from childhood and life experiences when I wasn’t enough?  Yes.  I have restarted this journey on numerous occasions, but now I’m working on it being my life instead of a fad.  It’s one day at a time.

To beating fat, through mental clarity and reality of life that it is one day at a time, one step at a time, one decision at a time. <clink><clink>.


All In a Day’s Work

The online Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘all in a day’s work” as:  “If something difficult, unpleasant, or strange is all in a day’s work for someone, it is a usual part of their job:  When you’re a nurse, cleaning up vomit is all in a day’s work.”

As a nurse, as Cambridge states, cleaning up vomit is part of your job.  That’s just one of the minor details that we deal with.  There is the poop, the pee, vomit, abscess juices, and blood that you are continuously collecting samples of and taking to lab or setting aside for them to pick up.  They do not teach you in nursing school the level of “samples” that you will deal with as a nurse…”all in a days work”.  I personally do not do poop well.  When I say “not well”, I mean running from the room tears streaming from my eyes, dry heaving (sometimes throwing up).  I have learned to keep smell good stuff, otherwise known as methanol ointment, that I either stick up my nose or rub inside a surgical mask.  I may look like I have snot hanging from my nostrils…but it allows me to do my job, “all in a days work”.

On the other end of the spectrum we have other aspects that we deal with: life, death, raw emotion, feelings, hatred, obnoxiousness, drunkenness, drug overdoses, and family members that are in the medical field.  The family members in the “medical field” sometimes end up being in different aspects of the medical field; but since everyone wears scrubs now — from clinical staff and housekeeping to nursing and doctors — they say they “work in the medical field” and they all know what’s going on.  There is no aspect of nursing school that teaches you how to deal with the attitude and emotions from your patients and their families.  To walk into it and not respond as a human being.  Human response is to get an attitude too, to cry, to let your sarcasm leek out, or to be rude back.  But it’s “all in a day’s work”.  Unfortunately, sometimes I fail at not being human.

With learning to not deal like a human, we become Nursebots.  Kinda like a robot, but a nurse who has to go about their daily life separating their self from their self.  Yet be pleasant, cheerful, and keep going regardless of what is thrown at us.  We go from performing a code to walking in to deal with our pediatric patient making them smile and calming them down because many of them have the “white coat syndrome” and they freak out and cry the whole time you’re performing the exam.  To listen to the lungs of a screaming child, and detect if they sound abnormal, is like riding in the car with your windows down trying to talk on the phone while losing cell service.  Pert near impossible!   But “all in a day’s work”.

I was not adequately prepared for this life as a nurse when I was pinned that night four years ago.  They do not give emotions class, they play with your emotions and make you feel like you’re not good enough to be doing the task ahead of you.  They tell you to get it together or get out.  Nursing school was two of the hardest and stressful years of my life.  When I walked across the stage, as a student with MS, my face and arm were numb and had been for two months — the stress of the last semester of school was a training ground.  Did not realize how it would shape me as a nurse and train me on how to deal and move on.  It’s “all in a days work”.

I know that other jobs have their ups and downs, and everyone that deals with the public deal with the same situations as medical personnel…and to all of you I raise a glass.  Keep it up.  Do your best.  Keep on, keeping on…and just remember it’s “all in a days work”.




Life Continues…

On April 30-May 2 the area that I live in was devestated by a historic flood.  Businesses and homes were lost, recreational areas have been shut down, and the river has been rearranged.  Those who were personally affected by the flood (lost their business or home) had to deal with it, continually on a daily basis.  Those of us that were affected for the few days the water was up, we had to rerout ourselves around different highways and it was inconvience, but our lives continued.

Are we affected on a daily basis?  Of course I am.  I no longer have Casey’s General Store to stop at and grab a piece of breakfast pizza — which by the way is a great way to kick your day off — or a donut.  Sonic is no longer a “go to” for dinner on my way home from work or for a mid-day “pick-me-up” half price fountain drink.  It’s a way to save money and also stick more closely to eating healthy, but life continues.

My bank now resides in a trailer in Town and Country parking lot.  I have no access to an ATM that does not charge me fees, and my important papers now sit on my table at home rather than in a safety deposit box.  Having online banking and a checking account (Kasasa) that refunds my ATM fees has become more important over the past month.  Life continues.

For nine days following the flood my church assisted at the Flood Relief Center at the Fairgrounds (along with several other organizations and individuals), we helped supply families with hot meals and perdsonal items needed to live after they were flooded.  There were individuals who had lost everything themselves, still had water in their homes, who came to assist with the relief efforts.  They would comment “what else is there to do, there are many that need help”.  The unity that was in our community astonished the groups that came from out of town (Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, ect) as to the amount of progress we had made and what we were doing as a community to help.  Normally they have to start at ground zero and establish the systems that we already had going since day three of the flood.

This whole thing is a reflection on life in general.  We have milestones in our lives that we achieve, sometimes life is altered but it continues.  We may lose a loved one, our lives are altered but it continues.  We may change jobs or lose our job, life is altered but it continues.  Our lives here in Doniphan have been altered; some businessness may not reopen, the livelhood of our community (the river) has devestated us and the revenue that is usually generated during this season may be lost (due the the river being unsafe – the Ecoli) and not having the services available.  Life continues.

As in life this flood has affected us individually and as a community.  We have all been altered in some form or fashion by it.  We have bound together and have worked to restore our city, and we continue to work as each of us can in our own individual ways.  Supporting the different endeavors to make us strong again…to ensure that the life that continues is as great or better than what was before.  There will be things that have changed, there will be stuff that is gone, but we will continue.  Because though life and circumstances can be devestating…in the end it continues.

We become stronger, we become survivors…we continue.


Doniphan Flood — April 30, 2017

I sit here on Thursday, day five of “The Flood” and listen to it rain yet again.  The Current River is slowly receding from the record 33.13 ft it crested at on Monday, May 1.  Needless to say it has been a crazy week.

Saturday we were told that the river would reach around 23 feet, we woke up Sunday morning with the levels jumping to 29, then 36, then 40 feet.  The record for the Current River in Doniphan was back in 1904 when it crested at 26.8.  I of course was not a live then, but I vaguely remember the flood of 1982 when it crested at 25.49 (which was the second highest to date).  Of course living on the river you know that it floods, that water rises when there is a lot of rain, and that there is always the possibility of the need of evacuation.  In 2007 I went to work for E&S Pharmacy and worked for them until 2013.  The initial location where I was hired to work was in the flood plan (if it was a moderate to major flood); the building flooded twice during my time with them.  The river flooded three times and we evacuated twice, the third time in 2011 was the charm that had the company moving to higher ground and we relocated the facility to a hill in the middle of town.

Sunday, what was to be my only day off this week (was supposed to work Mon-Sat this week, but due to flooding in Arkansas I did not work today in Paragould); I woke to the phone tree message that morning service would be cancelled due to flooding, but to stay tuned for further information concerning the 6:00 pm service.  As the day continued, the rain continued, and the river continued to rise.  All services ended up being cancelled due to flooding.  My dad and I spent the day driving around town watching the river rise (with all of Ripley county I think).  The ‘go to spot’ was Town & Country parking lot where you could watch the river rise at the bridge that was forecasted to be closed (which it was around 7:00 pm).

Doniphan lost phone and cell service, there were a lot of areas that lost power, West Doniphan lost access to town because the bridge was closed, and emergency personnel (who’s job is to help and save people) lost access to individuals that needed help due to no access to them becuse the bridge was closed or high water.  Needless to say the stress and frustration of trying to do a job you have dedicated yourself to with the limited resources and inability to do it to the fullest, was making life difficult.

Working Monday, May 1, at the hospital trying to perform transfers of patients and continue with daily tasks that require internet, fax, and phone services was interesting…when you had non of them.  We had one phone (the doctor’s phone, that happened to have Verizon wireless — which still worked), and later we bought burner phones that worked off the Verizon network and had those available around 5:00 pm.  It made for an interesting day trying to make people understand that I was unable to fax them information, but I needed them to please take my patient. :)

One bonus of the flood is that it accomplished something that has been tried several times throughout the years and never really made progress…getting people out and moving (exercising).  There has been the Get Moving campaign, the GO Walk campaign, and several other programs started to try and get residents to exercise.  The flood had the whole county out walking, taking pictures, enjoying nature and the outdoors.  It apparently takes a catastrophe to get people out and about.

On Monday evening the water started receding from the town, where approximately 35 businesses have been affected and lost everything, leaving behind a sludge of dirt, mud, and “stuff”.   We have pulled together as a community and several groups and individuals have started activities to help clean the area and assist the individuals that have lost everything.  The bonus of living in a small community is that we don’t have to wait for the Federal Government to step in and give assistance, we assist each other.  We have had the Convoy of Hope that brought relief items in, and individuals from our community has donated items to the relief project.  I love living in a place where people come first.

We’ve lost some of our main eating places and I will miss being able to stop at Casey’s for breakfast or at Sonic for dinner on my way in/out of town.  But I know that as a community we will rebuild and come back stronger and better than before.  It will be a process and may take awhile…but we will succeed.  As the logo that is being placed on shirts designed by Pam Davis states, we’re “Current River Strong”.  The river has a powerful current, and as it continues to flow and go so will the residents of Ripley County.


April 19, 2017

This day has a lot of history.  A lot of bad stuff seems to happen on this day…and there are some good things.  But as with any other day, it’s just a day to most.

History of April 19:

1775 – American Revolution begins with the shot that was heard around the world.

1934 – Shirley Temple in her first movie

1943 – Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against German rule

1971 – Soviet Union launches first manned space station

1977 – I was born

1987 – First Simpson’s TV show

1993 – Waco, Texas Camp Davidian Compound siege

1995 – Truck bomb in Oklahoma City

2011 – Fidel Castro resigns in Cuba

The good, the bad, and the ugly. Bleh.  As with anything in life, there is always bad…it’s life.  It’s not because we do things that we need to be punished for, that we are not loved, or that the world is out to get us.  Bad things happen because they just do.  Sometimes the bad brings good, we just have to remember that it will be better…eventually.  With the bad, there is is good.  We graduate from school, we get married, we have a family, we make a carrier, and we live life to the best of our ability.

Some make their life good by living it as it is, and others make their life not so good by being pessimistic and only seeing the bad (or negative) in life.  It’s easy to be negative, especially working in the public and watching people abuse the system.  But we must embrace the good.  See the positive, be a cup half full type of person.  Do I have my moments of failure and get in the doldrums?  Yes, who doesn’t.

Today for instance…I have been not looking forward to it.  I’ve had my bouts of doldrums.  Forty years ago today I was born.  My dad and my aunt Diana went out for pizza and left my mom to welcome me into the world alone.  They left at the insistence of the doctor that it would be “hours” before I was born, but I decided to show them that I would do things my own way and come when I wanted.  Unfortunately, yet fortunately, I’ve continued to do that.

When being potty trained I thought I knew best then too.  I went so far as to pee in the floor while stubbornly staring at my mom.  Needless to say, she and I had a “come to Jesus” meeting and I was from there on out trained to use the restroom when and were it is required.

I have been stubborn, independent, and walked to my own drum throughout my life. This caused me to have several “come to Jesus” meetings with my mom throughout the years, and only one with my dad.  The situation with my dad he said “either apologize to your brother, or get a whipping”…I of course looked him in the eye and said “whip me”.  Whatever my brother did (or didn’t do) I did not feel that he was worth the apology. LOL.

To some I may be considered to have nothing.  I am forty years old, not married, I do not have children.  In the area that I live, where most are married by 17 and have three or more kids by 25…I’ve not succeeded.  Instead I have two cats.  We live peacefully in my house.

Though I have dreaded this day, and the big “FORTY” since ringing in the New Year.  I woke up this morning after having a crazy work weekend, feeling blessed.  I have a job that I love, I have had the opportunity to travel to seven countries and extensively through the United States, I have my health (for the most part) and am still able to be mobile, and I have a family that loves and supports me.  They have supported me through my stubborn phase….who am I kidding, I still have moments of stubbornness; and through every decision and life change I have made.  From changing from a full paid ride at St. Louis Christian College to attending Gateway, to being fired from my job, and then deciding at the age of 32 to go back to school and becoming a nurse.

So though to some this is just a day, to me it is a day to be celebrated.  Celebrated for all the good, the bad, and the ugly that has transpired throughout history.  Not only that that has happened on this day, but what has happened due to what occurred on April 19 throughout history, from the dawning of time.  Will I still have moments of “bleh” because I am old, fat, and more often than naught tired.  You bet!!  I’m human.  But I will also celebrate life and where my stubborn self has traveled throughout it.

Life is good.  I will remember that as I face the bad, or remember the negative that life had dealt me…in the end it’s good.



Grief…it’s a process.

People grieve, over many aspects of life.  It doesn’t always have to deal with the actual loss (death) of a person.  It can be to the loss of  friendship, divorce, loss of trust, or the loss of life as we know it through a medical diagnosis or accident.  Anything that alters our life can cause us to grieve.
On that note, grieving is not the same for everyone.  Yes, we all learn that there are steps to the process and it’s ok to go from one step to the other, then back again, but eventually you’re to get to the acceptance stage and then “BOOM” everything is good.  Hate to tell the people who created the process that it isn’t always so, and grief doesn’t ever get tied up with a pretty bow and stuck on a shelf.  It is always a part of the person, and it can unexpectedly come crashing in on that person without warning.
Does it get easier, yes.  There comes a point that the situation can be talked about without the sharp fresh stab of pain through your heart, or the choking fear doesn’t grip your throat and take your breath away.  But there is always the memory, and the pain that can come unexpectedly when you see a person that makes you take a second look because the build reminds you.  Or when something happens that you want to share with your best friend that isn’t your best friend anymore because you’ve been torn apart by situations in life that made you lose trust in the person and therefore you’re no longer sharing life experiences.  Or you happen to run into the one who left you and their new “person”.  When you go home to an empty house.  When your body doesn’t function like it used to, you have difficulty walking or you can’t go about life as you knew it even a month ago because you’re body isn’t functioning right.
It may get easier…but it is never easy.  The steps to the point where it can be talked about without crying, to the point where the pain isn’t so fresh, are painful in themselves.  The questions of “why”.  The anger toward God or the people involved in the situation is real.  The thoughts of just wanting it all to be over.  We must work through it, and sometimes it is a smooth process, but more often than not it’s an ugly process.  It hurts.  Not only are we having to accept this new life that we have been dealt, we have to also accept the fact that it will never be the same.  We have to forgive people that don’t ask for forgiveness.  We have to forgive ourselves for things that we had no control over, but that we may blame ourselves for.
I’ve had my share of loss.  In the fourth grade I lost an aunt unexpectedly to a car crash.  My parents took in her three kids who had lost their mom for awhile until their new life was stable enough.  When I was a senior in college (1999) I lost an uncle unexpectedly when he was on his way to a fishing trip in a car crash.  I graduated and moved in with his wife and daughter for a summer, until life was stable.   In September 2012 I lost both my grandfathers a day apart, one death was expected the other was not.  When I graduated in 2013 with my RN my mom bought a “grow animal” that caused tears to flow because my Grandpa Mac wasn’t there to celebrate, though he had supported me through all four years.  In January, 2017, I lost an aunt unexpectedly to cancer/infection that we thought was going to be “fine”.  I’m still waiting for life to stabilize.
I’ve had other loses of loved ones, but they were expected, it’s the unexpected ones that shake a person to their core.  That make going back to nursing school and clinicals and walking by the room that the loved one was in; or going on a Wal-Mart run and seeing items that you had just purchased that cause the burning sensation in your throat and eyes…and tears to seep quietly down your cheeks.  There are the other loses of friendships and significant others that make you not trust anyone fully and warp you just enough to make future friendships and relationships suffer.  But you work through it and learn how to self preserve.  It’s all part of life…part of grieving…part of a process.
The grieving takes time, yet it will always be there.  In the corner of your heart that remembers the person or life as it “was before”.  Eventually the memories bring joy instead of sharp pain.  You’re able to go outside  (physically/metaphorically) and your feet keep going one step in front of the other.  Life continues.  We accept it.  We learn to compensate.  We process it.
Through it all, without God as a rock to stand on/lean on…the process would be that much harder.
Learning to process…ERM

Claudetta I. (March) Littrell 8/30/1950 – 1/21/2017

What a crazy, crazy, crazy life we journey through.  The small “dash” from birth to death holds memories of a life time spent, and regardless of how much time or how many memories were made…it is never enough.

I sit here at 5:30 in the morning with two cats piled on my lap, who are trying to figure out why I moved from bed to the couch at this hour on my day off.  But I feel they can sense that the universe has altered and they sit peacefully providing pet therapy by purring more loudly than normal (and not fighting) while their fur catches my tears and I contemplate the “dash” while finding comfort in putting my feelings/thoughts into words.  My form of therapy.

This contemplation is going to be full of memories and recounts of situations that has built my life and experience with my Aunt Claudetta.  She was the first of six children, five of which were born to Christine and Samuel March, and the sixth came with the union of Christine and Kenny Foster.

My Aunt C. loved photography, or I should say pictures, and she had photo albums stacked everywhere with pictures and newspaper clippings.  Many times you would not even realize an article or picture had been taken until you picked up one of her albums and found history/the memory that had been captured and forever kept and marked.  I recently found out she has a section in her album of my journey through nursing school.  I was at her house a few months ago and she was like “did you ever see my picture” and pulls out the photo album and I had a whole section dedicated to me.  She loved her family and this is how she kept us close and created bonds of memories.

At Christmas time one of the doctors at the hospital brought in rock candy.  The mason jar full of cinnamon candy flashed me back to years gone by and brought memories flooding in of my Aunt C. and her shelves of rock candy.  It was tradition at her house to have divinity (she was the only one that could get it to turn out right) and rock candy.  The rock candy was in every flavor imaginable, placed in mason jars, and displayed on the shelves that make up the window between her kitchen and frontroom.  It was a colorful display and readily available to the little urchins that were running around the house.  We would often climb up on the cream colored couch that had the rust floral design and pilfer our treasures.

Aunt C.’s was where we would gather for games.  We played outside games of horseshoes, badminton, washers, and later hillbilly golf and bean bag toss.  Inside we held boxing matches between all the cousins in the “add on” while our dads looked on giving pointers from the side lines, and piled into the laundry room around the Saga game console, the pre Nintendo game that Elmer Gene had.  We didn’t question the fact that we were sent to the furthest room from everyone trying to talk, sat on linoleum flooring, and played for hours…always in sight from the kitchen or livingroom area and easily within “hearing” distance to be yelled at if we squabbled.  The adults would play spoons, dominions, or just sit around and talk for hours.  The house was full of love and laughter.

On January 5, 2017, our lives were altered.  We finally received answers that had been being searched for since September 2016.  In September we had been given a green light by Dr Peter’s office saying everything was good, yet things were not good.  So in October surgery was done to remove her gallbladder, and things still did not improve.  After many doctors and a visit to the ER, and weeks of waiting, we were finally told that she was diagnosed with Large B cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  She met with a new cancer doctor on a Monday, January 9, and had her first chemo treatment was given on Wednesday, January 11.  We tried to prepare ourselves, we knew that day ten would be the “worst” and we were preparing for weakness and vomiting and overall malaise.  We were not prepared for what day ten held.

Throughout the past two weeks as I would visit and assist my aunt she stayed positive and would always have the attitude of the Shunammite woman of “it is well”.  This past Wednesday I stopped on my way home from my shift in Arkansas to visit and check in, and she shared with me the scripture in Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper”.  She stated “this is good stuff”.  Then of course we talked, or I should say I talked, about how this situation “doesn’t happen to us”, it’s something that you hear about and deal with for friends, not something that we should have.  She calmly looked at me and said “sickness is no respecter of persons”.  I left Wednesday night with the “I love you’s” spoken and reassurances of calling me if she needed anything given.  I had two more days of work (of my five day stretch) and I headed out the door to get some sleep.  I was not prepared for the next call of assistance I would get.

Saturday morning, January 21, started for me at 0637 when I received a call from Diane to come to Aunt Claudetta’s.  It was DAY 10.  She was weak and sick.  Blood was drawn and we found out her white count was zero; her doctor said to get her to the hospital.  The ambulance was called and the process was started.  She wasn’t herself, but it was DAY 10, so we thought this was her day 10 self…though each time I would go to her to give ice chips or give assistance I could tell she was declining.  But who knew what to expect?  They don’t give out instruction manuals or books for “what to expect when you’re chemo-ing” as they have available for expectant mothers; and when you asked people that had been in the situation with family or themselves you’re told of the weakness, hair loss, and vomiting.

Working in the medical field as a nurse, and in my own community where I was born and raised, I have always had the “what if” scenarios that play through my head of how it will be when I get into a situation of caring for someone I know personally in an emergency situation.  I have had a few scares of some close acquaintances that have visited the ER on my watch for chest pain.  We either ruled out heart attack, or got them out the door to the proper care with no harm.  I have never had to have a close friend or family member in trauma one….until Day 10.  It didn’t play out as my scenarios in my head, it happened on the side of the road in my church parking lot in the back of an ambulance as I had to put my nursing cap on and abide by my state license and oath as a nurse of giving assistance where needed….regardless of the situation.  When the door closed everything left except that I am a nurse, I help people in emergency situations, and I am trained for this.  I did my job.  I assisted where needed, and we succeeded.  I stepped back out of the ambulance and got into my car and drove the two minutes to my house so I could at least brush my teeth and change out of my night shirt…and the enormity of what had just transpired hit me full force in the middle of my chest.  This part was as I had envisioned it, though I was not pressed against the fence behind the hospital, I was standing on my car port bent at the waist hyperventilating crying…trying to make it into my house so I could complete my plan of brushing my teeth and changing clothes so I could go to the hospital and see what else Day 10 held.  I walk away knowing that training takes precedence, a person does what one has to do in that moment of time, and then when the moment is over self comes back.

We made it to the hospital, actually I think half of Ripley County made it to the hospital, and the wait started.  Decisions had to to be made.  We prayed, had faith and hope, and was holding onto the promises that are given throughout the Bible.  We knew and believed that God can and would heal…it’s just not always how we envision or want the healing to take place.  God chose to give complete healing, body and soul.  He gave it on Day 10.

I had came home to put some feed away for my dad, take care of my cats, and take my medicine that had been forgotten earlier in the day.  I was on my way back to the hospital when the call came at 11:24 that she had passed away.  We were not prepared for this on Day 10.

I walk away from Day 10 knowing that you are never prepared, that I have the ability to compartmentalize and can function as a nurse when it is required regardless of the situation, that we have a massive family and network of friends that will bind together at a moments notice and help anyway they can, and most importantly that God is God regardless and that He loves us.  We may not understand His plan, or comprehend the ‘why’ of the situation…we must continue to trust and believe.  Is this the answer we wanted, definitely not.  Is this what we envisioned for Day 10, definitely not.  Will we continue to move forward, live life, make memories, and succeed at it?  Most definitely.

Our lives were altered on this day 10.  We will have bouts of grief, anger, and confusion throughout the next few months or even years…because life sometimes just does not make sense.  But we will walk through it all knowing and trusting as the Shunammite woman that “It is well”…and it will be well not because of who we are, or the strength we possess but because of who God is and His strength.

Aunt Claudetta…It is well, the weapons formed against us shall not prosper.  We mourn your passing but rejoice in your freedom from pain.  We miss you and love you more than we ever let you know…but we celebrate this journey of a lifetime.