Friday, October 24, 2008

Love and Hope




While we are all are celebrating the loveliness of the clear, crisp Autumn days and doing our very best to stay centered and make wise choices during a peak time of financial and energetic recession, it is also important to take stay centered and focused at who and where we are within ourselves.

I've always believed that is the energies from the heart that create the healing powers of both love and of hope and give those energies the direction they need to do good for ourselves and for others.
I had 'hoped' I would be rejoining my creative side and having time to go back to my sewing and quilting projects, again.

That I could recuperate from the strenuous challenges of spending over a month in Alaska (two different times this year) helping my parents and after re-gaining my own healing energies be able to spend some time doing things of the home, hearth, and heart.

Instead, my 'heart work' is asking more of me, once again. I received a phone call from a dear sister-in-law, saying "Michele, you have to come back up, again. Your dad needs you." My dad had been taken to urgency care with what looked like 3rd degree burns on his face. It was, of course 'Shingles.' It covered his face and threatened to go into his eye, where if it lodged in the ophthalmic nerve could cause him to either lose vision or go blind.

'Shingles,' for those of you aren't quite sure of the cause, is a chicken-pox like virus. When we have an active case of chicken pox as children, we 'shed' the leftover virus and get better. Some of the virus, however, stays behind and it lies dormant in our nerves waiting for immune suppressing disorders (disease, cancer, chemo, radiation etc) to weaken us enough for it to re-emerge. As we age, over the age of 60, our chances of reviving the virus increase and we 'catch' it from our own viral supply. If you've never had chickenpox (its 'cousin') you can catch it from an open Shingles sore from someone else (as they touch surfaces after touching a sore) so really its a two way infectious possibilities...whether you've had chickenpox first, or not. After age 85, 1/2 of us will get it. And some of us will have mild cases and others, horrendous ones.

Like chicken pox, it presents with a rash, it creates horrible, scaly patches...little shingles on a house roof, that appear in dark, red, painful and/or itchy patches...usually on one side of the body. Shingles can be excruciatingly painful. People have described it like a razor blade rubbing against a nerve ending. It can last for a month, to two months to re-emerge with a complication of the virus that can hang on for years, to decades. Treatment includes anti-viral shot, pills, and creams. A vaccine is being processed to prevent its emergence and someday, all of us over 60 will probably get that vaccine.

So, I was asked to come to help 'my dad' ...because not only did this seem like the final straw for a 91 year old man who was exhausted as the primary care-giver to my 83 year old mother who is legally blind, a fragile diabetic, and has moderately advanced Alzheimer's. All this after having survived the worse kind of breast cancer a woman can get.

But life has a way of making hard things harder. And getting harder it did. The very next day, after I said "Tell them, I'm coming back up," my mother had seizures, went into a coma and appeared to be dying. A brother who was holding her hand during the process thought "what if she's not just dying (labored breathing and all) but what if there was something we could do and we're not doing it?"

They dialed '911' and 5 paramedics quickly went upstairs to my mother's bedside. She wasn't having a heart attack, but she appeared comatose, even dying. Asking about medications, in case of an overdose, they realized her diabetic complications, took her blood sugars and got a reading of ...22. 100 is normal, 150 is diabetic, and anything below 60 is get me to the hospital, now. She was a 22. She was, indeed, 'dying.' But they figured it out in time, and she's tough and she's a fighter.

We have been told many times, if she hits 40, we may not ever be able to bring her back...yet, they brought her back from a 22. Brought to the hospital, they kept her for one single day and sent her home with a half blind, almost 92 year old man with acute Shingles.

So, now you see...this is how we know our heart work is not finished yet. I have only been back in Oregon for a very short time before knowing I have to go 1,000 miles to be back with them again. But, I do know that. I am too exhausted to face it, but I can do it.

After all, it's a Full Moon of the Hunt for Change and Possibilities and I believe in allowing the Universe to point the direction we need to take. It doesn't mean that we think we are up to it, or that we truly want to, but sometimes we just need to do what needs to be done. And if it involves loved ones, or life and death situations or even if it means the difference between someone giving up and helping someone to hang on....you just have to do it, and do it, and do it..again.

So, tomorrow I fly out of Portland in the morning and arrive in Juneau in the afternoon, both Looking Forward/and Looking Back . I shall be in my beloved Alaska with my two dearly loved parents...just a bit sooner than I expected. I may not be able to make a 'Hope' quilt for AAQI with Julie and Tanya and the Priority Hope Challenge, but yes, dear Julie....I still have 'Hope' in my heart. I have hope, and I have love and I have endurance beyond absolute exhaustion.

When you are so tired, you think you cannot take one more step forward, or so despairing that you truly just want to give up...just remember, one step, one thought, one deed, one day, one minute at a time. Because there are still miracles of possibilities and potential for good.

Please send good thoughts and prayers for my parents and a four working airplanes...2 up and 2 back for me ;) And please, those of you who have the time, have the energy, and goodness knows have the fabric!...make an Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative quiltlet with Ami Simm's at her site: "Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts" , participate in the Priority Hope Challenge with Julie and Tonya, make a String Heart for Heartstrings with Mary, or celebrate Pinktober: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a comfort quilt.

We all need love, we all need hope, and sometimes we all just need a bit of comfort.

shown above:
Photo image of my hands making a heart against the backdrop of some of my quilts. This is what quilt making truly means to me and it is what giving and sharing symbolizes as well. We give from our heart when we give the work of our hands.

12 comments:

  1. Take care, dear friend. Do what needs doing with a smile. It lightens the burden.

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  2. I know that this kind of stress is exhausting, but your post is inspiring...and one step at a time is often the most courageous journey.

    You and your parents will be in my meditation "intention prayers" tonight. Yes, we all need hope and love and comfort, and my daily prayers for my father always include the words "be comforted."

    Namaste.

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  3. Ah, my kindred spirit ~ even in your distress, you are encouraging others. Blessings to you and your family (not to mention the airlines)... take care.

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  4. **Choking on tears** -- stronger than a oak are you. This time will fly by so quickly, and in years ahead when you look back you will be at peace with yourself. Consider yourself wrapped in strong threads of comfort.......

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  5. I know just how exhausting it can be caring for loved ones - I'm sorry that you have to try and do this from such a distance - it certainly adds complications. I hope both your Mom and Dad are improving soon.

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  6. My prayers go out for you. When it rains, it certainly does pour.

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  7. My spirit is on the way to provide you with that extra bit of energetic healing that YOU need to get through this time. The challenges and tests never stop but my friend, the warmth and love and prayer and connection getst stronger to help face it all, together, with our hearts and our hands - even at a distance.

    Cosmic Connections with Love, *karendianne.

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  8. You are the strongest person I know. Here's hoping your parents are well soon. Thanks, too, for the reminder to keep on keeping on with just another step, another minute.... Sometimes it's easy to lose focus and let situations overwhelm us.

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  9. Oh sweetie, my heart goes out to u and your mum and dad!!! Shingles are dreadful and i hope your dad is feeling better!! Glad to hear that your mum is doing ok!!!
    It is so hard to care for elderly parents and it makes it so much more difficult, and heartbreaking, for u cause you are so far away.
    At the moment we are having problems with my 84 yr old MIL and we are not going to sit back and let her health problems slide.....its a struggle and we r slowly getting heard!!
    We love her so and want her here for many more years to come!!
    You r in my thoughts and believe in those healing energies from the heart....love conquers all!!!
    Hugs xxx

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  10. Michele,
    You have been travelling a very challenging road- as always, you continue to walk it with courage and dignity and most of all with the purpose of supporting your precious parents. I am sure it is frightening as well as overwhelming but have faith that you will find your way during these turbulent times.
    I am sending you warm wishes for a safe journey and a bouquet of friendship hugs..May they give you strength and hope to buoy you as you find your way.
    Regards,
    Anna

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  11. big hugs and faith that you will be there and making a difference to your parents. one step, one breath, yes, you can do it and you have many of us with you in spirit-giving you added support.

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  12. so sorry to hear your parents are not to well, send them my love, hope all is well soon,
    take care,

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.