January 18, 2016
The scrapping and rubbing sound reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe. I don’t suppose most people read much anymore. Too much video; too must stimuli. I don’t begrudge that. I do it too. Read headlines and watch TV.
The background noise, however, is like the beating heart—for those who have read Poe.
It’s my foot, grinding against the other. It’s the sound of blisters in the making. I cannot stop. Grrr. Grrrr. The feet keep moving.
I can sleep, sometimes. But I always wake up sick. Sick, sick, sick. Vomiting every morning sucks. Painful.
I make it to doctors’ appointments. I do the tests. But this body is failing. I think I will miss it, and yet, I’m not afraid to move on.
As much pain as I endure—day after day for over two and a half years—I think of those who endure more than I do. I pray for you all. I think of you, migrants, homeless veterans, people in pain. Please know I pray for you.
For those who purport to be “Christians” and do not follow the true teachings of the Christian religion, I would just ask you: What Would Jesus Do? He would give his coat and cloak to refugees. He would offer love, not judgment.
And likewise, those who purport to be Buddhists would offer love and comfort.
There is NO excuse for war or harm. I guess no one knows that more than a person who is dying.
We have too many enemies: cancer, disease, natural disasters.
Please, people. Come together. Right now.
Many of us life a privileged life. And that is wonderful. But cannot we make more of an effort to take care of those who don’t?
I hear the scrubbing and scratching of my feet. I feel the pain in my body. And yet, I will continue to give. It’s all I have left.
January 18, 2016
November 8, 2015
Today I spent the day with my father, one of my favorite people, and my mother, another favorite. With my brother, my best friend from the day I was born. My dear friends.
It was a ceremony my friend Sarah conceived—let us honor four generations of veterans, including my father, Bert, who is a Korean War Veteran. I had the pleasure of escorting Ace, a WWII Vet, and my dad. This all happened at Old Tucson, the famous movie set and theme park near Saguaro National Park.
Ace (WWII), my father Bert (Korea), David Peterson, (Vietnam), and his son, Dave Peterson (Desert Storm).
I was sick, as is usual for me now, so I won’t harp on that. But I made it, thanks to help. It was a lovely Flag Raising Ceremony in honor of Veterans Day, and I admit I was proud to stand near my dad and holding Ace while the ceremony progressed.
But I have to also say I was conflicted. I am moved to see the American Flag, to hear the National Anthem, and to salute our troops. I am proud of my father and my friends who Serve this nation.
Yet I am also ashamed.
I am ashamed of the killing, the terrible treatment of our Vets, the sadness that wreaks havoc on the lives of young men and women who do serve.
And so I plan to celebrate this coming Veterans Day by sharing peace and love. It is what we want, right? We want peace. We want to feel God’s hand. We want to Love our Neighbor. So, please, celebrate with me. A day of peace on November 11. All over the world.
I love you.
September 12, 2015
I miss my friend. My keyboard. I was in Arkansas, days after surviving the crash of AA flight 1420. It was night. I was paralyzed by fear. I turned all the lights on in my house. And I turned the radio on. I was alone. Radio was blasting my favorite 80s tunes. And I typed. I had no idea what I was writing. I simply typed. It a thing I do. It’s my music. The sound of this keyboard.
Today I pulled my computer off the shelf, having not touched it in months. No writing. Nothing to say. Nothing seems to change. I am sick. I could write about hundreds of doctors visits and how I disappoint my family and friends because of a chronic illness no one can diagnose—I’ve even given up going to doctors. Love em and hate em.
It’s been two years since I took to my bed sick. Finally one doctor has diagnosed me with “stress-related gastritis.” Sounds lovely. And no cure. So I continue to wake every morning—for two years now—vomiting, aching, and praying. The later is the best treatment by far.
Unfortunately this has kept me away from my friend, my keyboard. My voice. And I think it’s the monotony of the illness that has forced my silence. And that’s why I’ve chosen to come back to my friend, my keyboard. My voice. Maybe (and I do believe this to be true) so many of my “friends” are just tired of me being sick. I understand. I love you all. And I understand. Who wants to be with someone who: “wants to be sick,” “can’t get over it,” “won’t come out.” You name it, and I’ve heard them all. I am not writing to you.
I am writing to those, all of those, who suffer quietly from chronic illness or chronic depression. I am writing to you because we all still have a voice. A powerful one. We may be injured, sick, alone, scared. We may be all those things. But we are NOT alone. And we can still do things to help others.
Such is my message today. I have, with the help of my beautiful friends, kept my gardens beautiful. I look out at the flowers, and I see nothing but beauty. I feel the kindness of people I love, and those who love me.
And I’ve learned something very important in these three years of pain (to which I see no end). Find the beauty. Appreciate a smile, a flower, the wind. Appreciate the wind.
In a world filled with pain, I believe the most important thing we can do is love.
I don’t write about my illness anymore because it’s boring. It’s a daily thing. It’s the same thing. But what I can write about is beauty. And the power of love to lift a person out of bed—even if that means just getting to the couch.
A walk around my cul de sac is now a major achievement. But you know what? It counts. As does every small kind thing you do. So let’s be kind. Hug someone today. Hug someone everyday! Let’s start a hugging revolution. It’s a better idea than building fucking walls and hurting each other.
Love is all you need.
Had a beautiful talk with a friend last night.
A new lesson. He was telling me about how badly his family fought after his grandfather died. Over money and “stuff.” Ironically we too were in the midst of an argument. I was in pain from chronic illness and a sever concussion (damn dog and tile floor while trying to ge to bathroom).
What seemed most interesting to me is that all of the people who fought over “grandad’s” money are all deceased. And what’s left?
The stuff? The money?
Again, ironically, I totally agreed with my friend about choosing love, compassion, and kindness over stuff. Crap. Rusting, molten, maggot-infested crap.
That’s really all we have. Here.
Jesus said something about that.
And our argument? Me feeling wounded and wanting compassion. He feeling helpless because he couldn’t “fix” it.
Damn, how easy it is for us to spiral into negativity? And yet, I can’t help but believe there is a better way. A way of love. A way of compassion.
A way of selflessness that brings pure joy.
And so, despite the pain, the illness, the loneliness of not being able to connect with a friend. I choose love. I choose to make a meatloaf sandwhich at 1:00 am to feed a friend.
Love is more powerful than money. More powerful than stuff. It just is.
And how in the world could I possibly know that if I hadn’t survived (or am trying to) misery?
Perhaps the things that hurt us most are our greatest teachers.
I am amazingly awesome. And I can prove it. I went to NW Hospital today, escorted by my two best friends. I was vomiting. I started vomiting at 7:15 am. Filled up my vomit cup in 45 minutes with bile. Nothing in my stomach. Same thing. Every day. Only today I couldn’t take my medicine because I had to fast for the MRI.
Vomit. Convulsions. Pain.
And at 10:30 I crawled to the car, shaking, weak, crying. The pain.
At the hospital, I sat. Waiting. A vomit bag from the ER in my lap. Waiting for an MRI. The last of three tests my new doctor ordered to try and find out what is wrong with my GI system.
I was at first angry and angst. I’m so tired of this illness. But I remembered to cut some roses for Linda, the secretary in radiology who I’ve talked to three times. It’s the New Year, and it is my last test. So I wanted to give her something for her kindness. My act of kindness for the day. I cannot give that up. I do it for Charlie and my Teachers.
When they called my name, I didn’t speak a word to my dear friends. I couldn’t even look at them. Because I was scared. I was scared and scared to cry. If you haven’t had an MRI, you wouldn’t understand. If you haven’t been in a plane crash you wouldn’t understand. But I knew what was coming. A tube. A confined tube with loud noises like gunfire. Here’s where it gets fun.
Female nurse (amazing woman) says she’s going to start my IV; pokes a needle in my arm. Male nurse (quick witted son of gun), starts strapping something around my stomach.
To the male nurse: “What are you doing?”
Female nurse: “It’s all a part of the torture.”
Me: “It’s NOT torture! It’s enhanced interrogation!”
Male nurse: “Just wait a moment while I go get the rectal feeding device.”
Laughing so hard I almost pull out the IV.
“Don’t let him near me!” I say.
Female nurse: “I got this, dear.”
We’re all laughing when they start to put me in the MRI tube. I scream. LET ME OUT!
And they do. She says to me, “Can we do this today?” She is holding my hand. I find out later she is a sister biker.
I say, “Yes.”
And into the tube I go. Eyes closed. Breathing. Meditating. I could tell that the camera was connected to the strap across my stomach, and I practiced pranayama. Breathing. Gun shot. Breath. Gun shot. Breath.
Forty minutes later, I hear her voice. “You did great. We’re done.” I push the panic button they had given me over and over, and the male nurse comes in laughing. I did it. Forty minutes not moving. Breathing. AND I made both of them laugh again.
It was a brilliant performance.
We get to make choices. To love and to laugh or to hurt and hurt. I choose LOVE and laughter. For today. Yes, there are tears. Lots of them. But the love remains. And to those who care enough to read this. I LOVE YOU.
And to the folks at NW Medical. Love Love Love!
Love isn’t some crazy emotion that involves sex and desire. Just isn’t. Love is holding the hand of a dying friend. Love is giving without want or need in return. Love is an emotion that human beings must train themselves to do (most of us), because it patient and kind. Love is not jealous, nor angered. (1 Corinthians 13). And very few human beings I know can do it.
The crazy thing is that though most of us have been raised in a Judeo-Christian tradition, we still feel love as possession. I WANT seems to equal love in this culture. Or I NEED.
But in our hearts we know that is not love. That is desire. Ignorant desire.
During this time of illness and now serious violence inside my house with my two dogs, that love is something so much more. It’s the willingness to do what needs to be done to take care of another. Love is giving, sharing, willing.
For me, love is throwing myself on the floor in between two violent dogs, both of whom I love, and taking the bites. Love is teaching me in this situation that I have to sacrifice my own body to protect the beings I love. Because they don’t understand. They are both scared. They are both injured. And, yes, so am I. But I care so little about the later. Take this body. It is not me.
I will use this body to do whatever I can to protect those I love. I hope this doesn’t sound radical. It’s not. I am a peaceful person. But when violence erupts; I will throw myself in the middle. I will take on the pain. That’s how bodhisattva’s roll. I wish I could find and hug the next suicide bomber. I wish I could hold him or her with arms of compassion so that s/he would know true love before they died.
The hardest thing for me is accepting that same kind of love. It is so much easier to give than to receive. And perhaps there is a reason for that. We are better people when we give, when we help, when we sacrifice for another.
So how strange it is, then, for me to find myself in a position of need. This badass country girl who was raided riding horses, being beaten, being broken, and killing live-stock on a farm— needing help? No fucking way. And yet, here I am, with my vomit cup. Unwilling to eat unless someone forces me (or tempts me). And I want to die.
The only thing keeping me alive is love. Given and received.
A great Beatle’s song. “Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? . . .”
“Closer. Let me whisper in your ear.”
And that song was playing in my heart this morning when I woke up. It took only fifteen minutes for the vomiting to start. I now keep a pitcher by my bed for just these occasions. I wake. I pray. I meditate. And I listen to the rolling thunder in my stomach as it starts to strike.
I have had nothing to eat or drink in over eight hours and yet I am able to produce at least a pint of bile vomit. And I listen. To the convulsions, to the sickness.
I listen to a body in pain. It has so much to teach me. It teaches me humility, and strength. No one can live like this. No one. And yet . . . I do. Every day. And so I know it is possible to rise above the reality of this hell realm and still love.
So I ask you to listen.
Because whatever it is that is hurting you in this moment, is your greatest teacher.
Believe me. I know.