As I forage the mirage of memories during my 2015 flare, it becomes hard to decide where to continue. I fear my audience grows weary reading about the day-to-day struggles I faced, navigating through physical and emotional pain, mental turmoil and ever-hovering lack of energy. Let us power through!

Realizing my friends were out and about working, meeting for dinner, planning weddings or baby showers left me feeling in a quandary of wondering as my mind wandered. Why had my independent, driven to succeed life style been reduced to zero? How had my nest egg turned to dust and why was I forced to close my bank account due to lack of income? Why was I unable to get support from the country that I’ve paid taxes into since a teen?

Unbeknownst to me I was grieving, not only for the life I lived, but for my life unlived. That year I missed the wedding of my two dear friends, Fred and Alisa, before that I missed the wedding of my fun loving cousin, Kimberly, plus numerous special events and outings.

All of the accomplishments I made heretofore meant little as I struggled to enjoy a simple pleasurable moment, such as watching cream settle into cloud like swirls in hot tea, sitting in the sunshine or watching a colorful butterfly flit around joyously within it’s delicate circle of life. Eventually, you reach a point where you recognize the value of small moments and choose to relish in those, reconciling the past for what it is, the unreachable past.

My inspiring friend, Ray, helped me realize the roots of my angst – grief. After nursing his bride for ten years, Ray had just admitted his lovely wife to a care facility and was dealing with legitimate, well founded grief. She had reached the point of needing round the clock care; probably most painful was the fact that she no longer recognized her loving and devoted Ray. Gone were their golden years, of not enjoying what they each had worked so hard to share together for over 62 years. I cannot imagine what that is like nor how Ray deals, yet he does so with cheerfulness and dignity. Ray is a saint in his endeavors to care for his wife and help others in their struggles, although he would say otherwise.

Each of us grieves, sometimes for different reasons; had Ray not chosen to share his experience with me, I may have never recognized or validated the stage of life I was in. There is great chance that I would’ve never recognized my own grieving process nor given myself permission to name it for what it was, precluding another clogged channel to work through later in life. Thank you, Ray, not only for your continual words of affirmation and gentle encouragement, but for your friendship. You do make a difference as you teach that we shine brighter through support and you do so with cheerfulness and dignity.

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