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Please Forgive Me

December 15, 2014

Please forgive me, but my grieving brain cannot remember or recall anything from one day to the next. Make sure I write it down or send me a calendar invite. Otherwise I just may forget. I really do want to see you and spend time with you. Maybe I need to admit it is too soon.  Maybe it is not. I just don’t know right now.beside a friend

Please forgive me, but I am still in that fog called grief. Sure you think I am doing “better” because I am out and about. I just could not stand being home, alone one more night. I needed to get out. Even if it was for just one hour. One hour made a difference.

Please forgive me, but I do not want that huge meal you are offering. I can barely sleep let alone eat a big meal. When I do eat, I am lucky if I can be polite enough to eat a portion you find acceptable. That portion is still just too big for me. Just so you know, I am trying.

Please forgive me, but when I wake up at 3:00 a.m. I get on social media to find out what I thought was my world was, what that world is now doing these days. I need to connect in some fashion. I know it seems unreal, but right now my life is surreal. The man I loved and the life we had was gone in an instant. Saying that I miss him does not even begin to describe my current state.

Please forgive me if I don’t listen well these days. It is truly difficult. I do try to be mindful but my brain goes off in that tangent of why, why…. It is a demon that keeps creeping around and that demon may be around for awhile. I just cannot shake it away.

I treasure your friendship. I am feeling so lost right now. So, please do pick up the phone and call me. Please do go on a hike with me. Please do touch base. I need you right now.

I am very grateful that you are my friend and that you are not giving up on me.

#loss #grieving #friendship #forgiveness

Helpful Tips When a Sister Friend Has Breast Cancer

December 11, 2014

Some of you know that after a 11 year hiatus, I am involved again with Expedition Inspiration Fund, a charitable organization that raises money for breast cancer research and research efforts. We may be Pink but we are not Fluffy.  I wrote this for their blog, and wanted to share with you, too!

For the record, I can’t tell you every single thing you can do, but I sure can give you advice on the basics. Here goes:

  1. It is all about your Sister Friend. Listen and listen mindfully. Do not and I repeat, do not talk about your version unless they ask.

    Selfie after long day of Christmas shopping! Me and my sis, Marianne

    Selfie after long day of Christmas shopping! Me and my sister & friend, Marianne 

  2. Mean what you say and say what you mean. If you ask, “What can I do?” follow through. Mean it when you ask that question. If you offer to give your Sister Friend a ride to the doctor, to a treatment, or to the store, DO IT. Follow through.
  3. Think and talk like a Buddhistbe in the present moment. Do not be tempted to blab about what is coming next, how your Sister Friend will feel or what you think will happen. It is their experience, not yours.
  4. Do not take their pain lightly. Any cancer diagnosis or life threatening disease is painful and frightening. Keep in mind that losing a part of a breast or one breast or both breasts is a reason to grieve. Grief takes on many forms.
  5. Be willing to keep Kleenex in your pocket. For that matter, invest in shoulder pads. A good shoulder to cry on is the best medicine EVER for your Sister Friend.
  6. Be available. Don’t ask if your Sister Friend needs help, schedule it. Put your task on your calendar and set a reminder for the day before. Your Sister Friend needs the reassurance that you will follow through.
  7. Show the Love. If you are a true Sister Friend to your Sister Friend, you do not need further instructions.

And, please do keep this in mind, all of the above applies to any Brother Friend diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast Cancer does not discriminate.

#breastcancer #cancer #SisterFriend #BrotherFriend #breastcancerEI #DOIT

How to Decorate for the Holidays When Your Home is For Sale

December 10, 2014

It occurred to me that being a Realtor® it was time for a real estate related post. Houzz always comes through with valuable posts and allows for re-blogging. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

Guess What? I Am Still Happy

December 8, 2014

Grieving is such an odd ball of wax, a difficult process to pinpoint and even hard, oh so hard to stuff in a box. You have to face it head on otherwise you just will not heal. Remember the ride I mentioned in my last post? It’s a roller coaster and your stomach rolls with every punch. Dang it! I have to tell you, it really is worth every teardrop.

From Thich Nhat Hanh

From Thich Nhat Hanh

So many people and friends have said to me, “Oh you were so happy with Paul”. Or, “Paul was so happy when he met you, he was so happy with you”. Guess what? I am still happy and I know he crossed over at a time in his life that he was the happiest he ever had been.

My happiness did not end with his untimely death. Rather, my happiness took a different route.  His happiness did not end. It is just in another place. Memories? Yes. In heaven? Yes.

Let me explain. I want those of you reading this that are experiencing grief,  to be open to happiness even when you feel in your heart all is lost. Believe me, I am reading all sorts of blogs, publications and books about grieving right now. No matter what, I learn something from each piece I read. It’s just like school, you don’t have to remember every single thing but you can remember what meant the most to you.

My happiness now is the comfort in knowing we had an amazing relationship; we were so much more than lovers. We were absolutely the best of friends, we did everything together.  We were not just committed, we made decisions together.  Even though I did not have the opportunity to be a mother, he showed me the ecstasy of being a devoted parent, a very loving father. We shared passions together, whether it was Buddhism, baseball, reading, hiking, camping, biking, and so forth.

My happiness now is knowing that we shared a profound love as well as a great relationship. My happiness is recalling his wry smile, his loud laugh, his sarcastic sense of humor, his love of baseball – well, really the Los Angeles Dodgers and the National League, his passion for his livelihood. He loved being a family practice physician and caring for his patients.  I experienced great joy in listening to him telling me about his day. (HIPPA police – forget it, he was discreet).

I am still happy, I always was, and I will continue to be happy because I want to heal and be a better person from this experience.  I know Paul wants that for me as well.

And yes, I am heartbroken. But when I recall fond memories of Paul, I smile with joy of gratitude for his eternal gift of love. {heavy sigh}

#grief #grieving #happiness #loss #happy

There is No Grief 101

November 30, 2014

Grief is not exclusive when a loved one passes, not the same for the next person and certainly not the same pain for anyone’s loss. I have recently experienced the loss of my Paul: my lover, my best friend, my future, my everything in an instant due to cardiac arrest.

Cape Lookout,  Oregon 2013

Cape Lookout,
Oregon 2013

This event has prompted to give grief more thought than I ever have before. I have lost my parents, lost many girlfriends to breast cancer, lost other friends to other cancers. I lost my breasts when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995.

I lost my parents, in fact, I lost them twenty days apart in 2006. Even then I knew it was just the way it was supposed to be; after all, they held hands until the end. My Mom had ovarian cancer and my Dad had a bowel obstruction we were not aware of until the pain caused another stroke. My Mom and Dad were not perfect but they did love each other and they loved us deeply. They taught us unconditional love. I still cried even though I knew they were free from disease.

I lost strong women friends to breast cancer or a cancer diagnosis later in life that took them early. I was by their side, reading to them their favorite passages or short stories or just a simple poem to help them ease the mental and physical pain. I listened to their labored breathing or just watched them in the peaceful state in the end of life. I still cried even though I knew they were free of cancer.

I have been by the sides of many of friend that lost their siblings or spouses from diseases, and we all felt we lost them far too early. Come to find out and admit, Death has no time frame. It is going to happen no matter what. I still cried; loss of a good friend is a deep loss.

I lost my breasts to my cancer diagnosis in the summer of 1995. After a cancer diagnosis, you grieve, mostly because one of the first realities that hits you hard is that life will never, ever be the same. At that moment, your life is filled with uncertainty and no matter what anyone tells you, you own that grief. You own that fear.

Right now, not a day goes by and I wonder how or why.  In the past two years, I have learned a great deal about mediation and breathing. Both practices help me get past the how and why of my recent loss. You just can’t ask that question and expect God to answer. I wish I had those practices to help me in 1995 with my breast cancer diagnosis. I may have listened better.

My other advice? Listen and listen mindfully. Listen to what your family and friends say to you and how they convey it. Let go of the negative (there are always those types you know) and hold on to the positive messages – those are your truest and caring friends.

Remember to hang on because you are in for one heck of a ride. It does get better.

#grief #grieving #breastcancer #cancer #loss #meditation #breastcancerEI

Vegetarian Posole Soup

November 9, 2014

I had a number of friends over this weekend, some of which are vegetarians. Serving soup on a cool Fall day was the only idea I could come up with for lunch. I just don’t like the gotta-make-pasta for vegetarians cop out for a meal. So, soup it was! But, what could I come up with that would be easy peasy?

I love posole and I just canned several half pints of tomatillo sauce.  That’s the ticket! I decided to use two cans of black beans to give the soup some color in place of pork. In the end, it still needed something. Something was missing….No, not pork. Could not add that…. I added three scant dashes of Tapatillo sauce and that seemed to be the trick.vegie posole

Just FYI, I use low sodium ingredients. If you do not, salt and pepper the soup to taste. Paul is not crazy about cilantro, so I only provide it for garnish. If you love cilantro, add a heaping tablespoon of chopped cilantro when you add the last ingredients.

Ingredients

1 medium sweet onion, chopped fine

1 each red and orange bell peppers, cut pepper in quarters, then in to 2″ slices and cut into 1.5″ long matchsticks

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp each of cumin and paprika

1 half pint homemade tomatillo sauce or small 6oz can green sauce from Mexican aisle from your favorite store

1  4oz can diced mild green chilies

2  32oz boxes Pacific Vegetable broth (low sodium)

2  14oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed well (low sodium)

1  30oz can white hominy, drained & rinsed well

Salt and pepper to taste (I used ¼ teaspoon each)

Dash or two or three of Tapatillo or Chulula sauce

Olive oil for cooking

Directions

Heat heavy 6 qt. stock or soup pot over medium high heat, add a scant tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook until tender. Turn up heat a bit and brown the onions slightly. Add the bell peppers and garlic. Turn heat back to medium high and cook until softened. Add diced green chilies, cumin and paprika, mix well. Now add the tomatillo sauce, broth, black beans and hominy. This would be a good time to salt & pepper to taste. Turn down heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Garnish with sliced radishes, Cotija cheese, sliced limes and cilantro. Bon Appétit!

#vegetarian #posole #easyrecipe #soup #comfortfood

What Did October Mean to You?

October 31, 2014

Every year in October we are inundated by the Pink. Let me ask you this: is Pink still relevant?

I went to one of my favorite re-use stores in Boise’s Collister Center a few weeks ago, and Naomi made a casual remark that has struck me ever since. She said, “I think by now we all have awareness about breast cancer. I want to know what they are doing about it!” Naomi is right.pink ribbon

I can tell you what I told Naomi that day. I told her that all across this country and around the globe, there are researchers, scientists, oncologists and physicians working on that answer. In all of my years of either lobbying on Capitol Hill for breast cancer research dollars or personally donating to Expedition Inspiration, I have found that the funds we allocate in the form of grants to those researchers make a striking difference in clinical outcomes.

The reason I became involved with Expedition Inspiration in 1995 is because I knew the founder, Laura Evans. She was one of a handful of women I called the day I learned of my own diagnosis. After I moved to Boise in 1997, Laura recruited me to organize a small fundraiser and ever since then, I have been involved in one way or another with Expedition Inspiration. That involvement has become second nature to me.

I have seen and read about the progress and results of the researchers and scientists that are recipients of grants from our organization. Expedition Inspiration also makes a mark on the breast cancer science world when we invite the best and the brightest researchers and scientists to our Medical Symposium.  Meeting these dedicated professionals is quite an experience. Gives me goose bumps just writing about it.

Every year we deal with the Pink. Maybe it is time to make that Pink take on a new hat. The new hat can be a mission for research rather than awareness. Who’s in with me on that?

Laurie Barrera

#breastcancerEI #breastcancer #breastcancerresearch #cancerresearch #breastcancerscience #ExpedtionInspiration #LauraEvans #lauriebidaho

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