Monday, April 1, 2013

"Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise."

Although these words were spoken (by Horace) over 2000 years ago, they are appropriate for me today. First, I am beginning. In large part because of the encouragement of some key people in my life and with the help of a new blog-world friend, I have the self-confidence, the emotional energy, and the electronic tools I need to begin this venture.

I also intend to be bold. I'm prepared to be candid, to share my mistakes, my fears, and my hopes and dreams. By sharing, I hope to connect with others who have found themselves living a life they never expected to live, a life that ranges anywhere from slightly bewildering to absolutely terrifying. And through that connection, I believe we can all benefit.

Coupled with that boldness, I hope to be wise. My grandmother always said that it's from the school of hard knocks that a person gets their best education. If she was right -- and Grandma L. almost always was, as I recall -- I've probably learned more the difficulties I've encountered in the past few years than in all my previous years on earth combined!

So I'm beginning, I'm going to be bold, and I hope to be wise. But why am I here? Why am I sitting in front of my computer, writing this blog instead of catching up on this season's American Idol? To answer  that, I need to go back almost four years. Don't worry, this will be a fairly fast recap, but it's one I believe needs to be provided.

One late-May morning in '09, my husband casually mentioned before leaving for work that he was having  his yearly free, employer-provided physical that day. I barely registered the fact; after all, he was 47 years old and healthy as the proverbial horse. A few weeks later, he called me from work and asked for the name of our new doctor (our previous doctor had retired just a few months prior). He explained that his blood work had come back "a little off" -- his bilirubin was too high -- and he needed to schedule an appointment to have the test redone.

The company nurse told him the test result could be a fluke or the result of any number of minor things, so I wasn't really concerned. I called our son just in case; he had just graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in biology and was planning to enter medical school in the fall, so I figured he could explain to his science-impaired mom what might be the problem. My son reaffirmed what the nurse said so, once again, I wasn't really concerned. My husband didn't seem worried, either;  he made an appointment with Dr. B for a few weeks later, and nothing else was mentioned about it.

One doctor's appointment, a liver scan, and a second doctor's appointment later, and we were faced with a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to my husband's liver and lymphs. In fact, the scan showed a liver that was so filled with cancer that only two spots, both about the size of a pin-point and with almost no depth at all, were not diseased.

Six weeks and one day later, just 5 weeks after eating the home-made apple pie he had requested in lieu of a 48th-birthday cake, my husband, the father of our two children, passed away.

In the 3 1/2 years since September 2, 2009, my life has changed in ways I never imagined possible. As a result, I am living a life I didn't want and am facing a future far different from the one I envisioned just 44 months ago. Against my will, I am faced with a somewhat-clean slate, ready to be filled with a new life.

Hopefully, you're reading my words without a single "that's me" running through your head; hopefully, you have never faced a loss that has turned your world upside-down. Perhaps, though, you have faced the death of a loved one -- a spouse or, heaven forbid, a child -- or  maybe your loss came in the form of a divorce or an empty nest. Maybe you, like so many others in recent years, have lost a job and a promising career, or maybe you realize that you've lost sight of your dreams. You look around and don't recognize the life you're living -- it certainly isn't the one you signed up for!

Whatever your situation may be, I hope that you'll join me here, share your own thoughts and nuggets of wisdom, laugh and maybe even shed a tear or two with me as I live my redesigned life.


  1. Through different circumstances I am also redesigning the life ahead of me. This has been quite a journey, not of choice and with many challenges. I can only say that the result has been to allow me to attempt contributions to our world that would have been impossible if my path had continued as originally intended. Many goals have been seemingly blocked along the way, but have led to opportunities for me to be the change I want to see in the world. Maybe the several years of difficulties and loss have been worth it! Maybe this has been the steep climb to the peak of the world from which I can see what needs to be done and set about making it so...and with so little to lose, the personal risk is minimized, allowing me to move forward, making leaps and bounds into the field of potential and possibility. Upon this belief my wellbeing is built. Be well, new friend. Be well.

  2. Karen, thank you for sharing. I've read your comment several times, and I'm drawn to what you said about the changes you've endured allowing you to contribute in ways that wouldn't have been possible otherwise, that the "steep climb" has led you to . . . well, you said it so beautifully that I won't even attempt to paraphrase any further. In fact, I've printed your comment and placed it on my "inspiration" bulletin board above my desk. I hope you'll keep me posted on how and what you're new life looks like and where it takes you. Patti

  3. Patti- WOW what a powerful story you have written. I have to say in many ways - the loss of my oldest child, ended marriage, etc has taught me that life is not what we expect and I too am having to learn to deal with what life hands you and take it one step at a time.

    Thanks for sharing your journey and I look forward to reading more.


  4. Denise,
    First of all, I am so sorry to hear of your losses; I cannot imagine enduring the loss of one of my children, and my heart goes out to you. I also want to thank you for your kind words and for your presence here. I look forward to hearing from you again.


  5. It still seems like your story just isn't real. You truly are an inspiration to me. You and your children are constantly in my prayers. Hang in there, my dear friend!

    1. Jeanne, your prayers and your friendship mean more to me than you know!

  6. Jeanne, your prayers are so appreciated -- you have no idea. As usual, your kind words and support touch my heart more than words can say!

  7. Jean, I am so touched by your post! First of all, thank you for being here and for sharing. You didn't ramble a bit! I'm so sorry for the loss of your husband and the other things you've experienced since then. I love your attitude ("I still want to live an interesting life and am determined to do so"), and I can't wait to hear more of what you're doing!!

  8. Replies
    1. Thank you, Cheryl! Hugs are always appreciated :)