Thursday, December 31, 2009

Contract of Friendship 2010

After serious & cautious consideration... your contract of friendship has been renewed for the New Year 2010!

It was a very hard decision to make... So try not to screw it up!!!

My Wish for You in 2010

May peace break into your home and may thieves come to steal your debts.

May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.

May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!

May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy & laughter.

May the problems you had, forget your home address & your memory.

Simply put ............

Live Each Moment of Your Life in 2010!

To you & yours, HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Poem de jour

Raymond Carver

This morning was something. A little snow
lay on the ground. The sun floated in a clear
blue sky. The sea was blue, and blue-green,
as far as the eye could see.
Scarcely a ripple. Calm. I dressed and went
for a walk -- determined not to return
until I took in what Nature had to offer.
I passed close to some old, bent-over trees.
Crossed a field strewn with rocks
where snow had drifted. Kept going
until I reached the bluff.
Where I gazed at the sea, and the sky, and
the gulls wheeling over the white beach
far below. All lovely. All bathed in a pure
cold light. But, as usual, my thoughts
began to wander. I had to will
myself to see what I was seeing
and nothing else. I had to tell myself this is what
mattered, not the other. (And I did see it,
for a minute or two!) For a minute or two
it crowded out the usual musings on
what was right, and what was wrong -- duty,
tender memories, thoughts of death, how I should treat
with my former wife. All the things
I hoped would go away this morning.
The stuff I live with every day. What
I've trampled on in order to stay alive.
But for a minute or two I did forget
myself and everything else. I know I did.
For when I turned back I didn't know
where I was. Until some birds rose up
from the gnarled trees. And flew
in the direction I needed to be going.

Friday, December 25, 2009

In the mood ...

So we discussed the miracle of Chanukah. A bit light on the latkes this year but I think the new traditional Chinese was delish!

Today, celebrated the season of excessive giving. We unwrapped the much scaled down but well thought out spirit of giving. Christmas. Like our sand dollar tree, everything was new & different this year. We are shifting through different paradigms.

At the end of the day, I still just love to sit on the patio, by the fire & wonder at the nightly extravaganza that is the universe.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Amber alert called off after Druid Moon returns home

After attending a whirlwind of annual global winter
solstice celebrations, Druid Moon safely returned home
in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning.

"Breathtaking", said a local witness.

Druid Moon is reported to have been following long time
companion, Sun Set, as they circumnavigated the planet last Sunday.
This year's party themes included dreidels & group chanting as they
attended both Chanukah & Winter Solstice festivites.

Druid Moon, exhausted at the end of night, spotted laying down in
her exclusive bed of palms
somewhere in the southeastern horizon ....

"Father Sun & Mother Moon
Bless this, the fruit of your
Sacred womb."

December 21-22 2009

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Reflections on the year ...

December 2009


How do I even begin to describe 2009? It was the year that made me repeatedly ask the question “why is it that we do our biggest growing from our hardest experiences?”


2009 sling shot all of us into a black hole of unimaginable emotions. A seemingly endless extreme roller coaster ride, complete with g-force turns into the unknown. Vic was always hopeful. We were always hopeful. Vic was increasingly anxious. We were increasingly anxious. Vic refused to give up. We never stopped supporting him, even as Vic continued to submit himself to inhumane, toxic treatments, all for a chance to live & love longer. Even then, Vic never, never gave up. He died the consummate warrior. Body totally ravaged from his 5 year tortuous battle with cancer, he looked death right in the eye. Mano a mano. He loved us so much he still managed to communicate with us in his final moments, through the ethereal twilight world of morphine induced coma. Vic won 5 hand to hand battles with esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer won the war against Vic. Vietnam claimed another senseless casualty.

War. Too late the hero.

We all worked hard at making 2009 special. The family marked several milestones, the biggest being Corey’s high school graduation. In 2005, upon learning of the return of his cancer, Vic vowed he would attend this event, so special to his heart. As the latest pledge to Sigma Chi, Corey really seems to be enjoying his freshman year at University of South Florida. Located in Tampa, it is far away enough to be away, close enough to hitch a ride with any number of VB alum coming home for a quick weekend retreat.

Daniel had little trouble to adjusting to Corey’s departure in August. The room was immediately reorganized & for the most part, remains much cleaner than with Corey present! Daniel is in 11th grade, driving Vic’s Wrangler & feeling very much the BMOC! He remains the image of his Dad in so very many ways, his sense of humor & loyalty being my favorites! One word - unique. Daniel is happily “in a relationship.” Lucky girl!

Kaelin, at 14, just overwhelms me. I wish that I had only 5% of her self confidence & joie de vivre when I was her age. She is just hormonal enough to be irritating but is open to rationalization & negotiation which is excellent albeit tiring. She continues to be surrounded by loving friends & makes a point of enjoying life. Just like her Grandma Lili! In November, she bravely went, sans Vic, to the fall Indian Princess’ camp out at Circle F, flanked by Coyote Breath Wiseman, Lyndall & Alex. Vic’s happiest times were during all those campouts with the children & their dads, all who share secrets squaws may not know! What went on at the camp outs, stayed at the camp outs! A touching candle & bonfire lit ceremonial painting & burning of a home made canoe honoring “Protector of Man” is a memory Kaelin will never, ever forget. He was there, beside her. Humbled. Appreciative. Appreciated.


I feel the children are coping very well. They have a beautiful network of longtime, solid friendships to help support & sustain them. We all miss, yet similarly feel Vic’s presence in similar ways - that he is in a space of happiness & joy. Odd because he was never Mr. Smiley. Believing as we do that we are all energy, so Vic is no longer trapped inside his diseased & failing body. Distanced from us, yet present. War face. Battle mode. Failure, not an option. Rather, he lives on, whole & well. He is always just a mere thought away. He speaks clearly in the wind across the deck so imbued with his love. He laughs & smirks each time I drop or break something, although I know that is all his test. He tells me “you‘ll know what to do“ when I need help. He is still there, at the point.

2009 is the year that I learned of life’s impermanence & uncertainty. Even as we learn to walk this new path without Vic to protect & guide us, I look back & wonder where did those 20+ years go? In the blink of an eye, with a final, long, slow exhalation of breath … we are learning that grief is a random, unpredictable process, not to be suppressed but actually embraced. It is through my moments of deepest pain, tears & loneliness that I am now accessing all those feelings, denied the one who is the primary caregiver. Yet, it’s all good. Good grief.

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We continue to find ourselves being nurtured, indeed nursed back, by the very best of kindred spirits & angels. To everyone who just took over in the days of hospitalization & following Vic’s death, the food bearers, the drivers, the memorial service organizers, emails, phone calls, our incredible neighbors, the support system, the soundings boards, our FRIENDS, Nicky, Debbie, “Garolyn”, Greg, Rebecca, Lili & Peter, Dennis & Cathy, Andrea, Julia, Julie, Judy, Billy, Brad & Jeannie, Mike & Shirley, Tolek, Angie, Sherry, Lindas, R & Z, Suzanne B, “Seekers”, Rubin, Mike L, Jaes, our family @ GMS & VBHS, Sherlock, Lenny, Moe, Deb - EVERYONE who continues to reach out to us now that all guests are gone, the numb is wearing off & we all make the adjustment to the next chapter in our life - our lives … you all carried us through. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS.

“’Tis the season to be grateful” & we all really are. Chanukah is about a great miracle. Man proposes. G-d disposes. Vic said that he was grateful for each day since he returned, alive, from Vietnam, 45+ yrs ago. For 20 years he told me that I was the highlight of his life & that our family brought him the greatest love & happiness at a late & unexpected time. Our great miracle is that Vic lived on for 5 whole years. For what is now a brief moment in time, we had Vic / Daddy in our life. We will always be grateful for all the memories we shared.

So to you. May you live each day in 2010 to the fullest, be it in stillness or activity. May you never miss a chance to let someone know how much you love them. May you embrace change. Not fear it. May you love & be loved, in return.

Love & hugs to all.

As always, SEMPER FI
Karen, Corey, Daniel & Kaelin


People always come into you life for a reason, a season and a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. They may seem like a Godsend to you, and they are. They are there for a reason, you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die, Sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season. And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.

LIFETIME relationships teach you a lifetime of lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a slid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being a friend …


Thursday, December 3, 2009

On this day in 2004 ...

December 3, 2004

This morning, I reached for a folder that Vic kept on the shelf above his desk. Every day is an adventure into Vic's domain - the filing cabinet - one file at a time.

A bright yellow piece of paper was on top. It was the original Living Will Moffitt Cancer Center required, signed by Vic exactly 5 years ago, today.

I was immediately ricocheted back in time, when we stood at the hospital. Confused but very hopeful.

It was early that grey December Tampa morning that the doctor spoke those chilling & ominous words that would ring in our heads for the following 4 years 11 months 1 week (who's counting?)

"95% of patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer have less than 5 years ... "

"Mortality of ... "

"Bla, bla, recurrance ... 2% survival ... bla, bla."

Like a bell clanger going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth ...

"95% ... 5 years ... mortality ... 2% ... reoccurance ... don't live ... "

And with the blink of an eye - it has become a memory.

It has all become a memory.

We chose to focus on the best parts.

It feels better to remember with a smile than a tear.

And as much as it hurts, it is better to feel ...

I still want to know why it is that we do our biggest growing from our most painful experiences?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The new normal?

It's been just over a month.
The "old" was never normal.
What is "normal" anyway?


The children are doing so well. They had closure with Vic, so very germaine to being able to move on. They also are blessed with wonderfully supportive friends.

Me too. My friends are really there for me now, as the fog & numb begins to subside & feelings begin to surface.

Each day, I negotiate my way through this new chapter in my life, I find my greatest personal comfort, solace & strength comes from our home, so full of memories.

Going through old videos has been wonderfully cathartic. To revive happier moments ... made me feel really great. Watching the skiing video of Vic & I in 1990 - wonderful stuff. It's what I needed to reconnect with the healthy, vital Vic that was.


Yes, YES, Y-E-S!!!
It DOES take time.
It's just irritating as shit hearing it, over & over & all over again.

I am figuring out things day by day, sometimes even moment to moment.

I get my greatest strength & peace from being outside on the patio that Vic built, through each stage of his illness. It was our therapy, our last baby. My ideas, his creative talents.

The wood planks breathe his energy. Each plant & tree has a story to tell. They really do!

We were very, very happy outside, under the stars.
I lay under those same stars nightly, only one of them twinkles a little brighter than the rest.

I smile. I know everything is going to be alright.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

A life

On October 19, 2009, 1:20 pm, Vic exhaled one last time
Slow, long
Then silence

In an instant, I became the sole keeper of our memories.
The memories of 20+ intense years
A history jam packed with great joys, challenges, more challenges
"Adventures" as Vic liked to call them
At least "they weren't shooting at us."


Cancer became the bullet that Vic never saw coming.

Our last family photo during the first of Corey's home-from-college weekend visits.

Our last photo
Vic laying with a gaping wound hidden under a gauze bandage
Both exhausted, yet hopeful
Both confused, yet still believing.


I so hated the fact that I could not get to really hold him, touch I could not lay my head beside his on the pillow, could not put my head on his shoulder. I just wanted to touch him. Connect with him. Bring him home.

Who knew that this was one of the better days still?

Vic growing list of conditions deteriorated each day over the proceeding 11 days.

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We feel his presence watching
We miss him so
I miss you so ...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Two lives. One destiny."

June 18, 1991

That is the inscription on the inside of Vic's wedding band. He never took it off his hand. Made sure it was the first thing he had back in place post procedures.


Severe edema forced Vic & I to resort to iced water followed by a slimey soaping, which was successful in freeing his beloved ring from his finger.

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The ring now hangs around my neck, waiting to be returned to its rightful owner, again. It rests right on my heart chakra. I close my eyes & send him power of my great love through it

We want him well enough to come back home.

To us. To Toby. To be surrounded by all our energies.

If it is meant to be, then it is meant to be ...

Why do we only learn from the hardest, most challenging of experiences?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Bitch in 0 to 60?


Let me explain ...

I came
I saw
I kicked ass

Just when we thought Vic was on the mend, with a view to coming home, a severe obstruction sent him back for more invasive surgery to move the feeding tube to a better location & clear the blockage in his intestines.

Late afternoon surgery, off to ICU. Large transverse abdominal cut, not sutured or stapled. Just packed & wrapped with surgical duct tape. Major set back.

It's been a very rough couple of days for our warrior. The VA staff have been fabulous. 2 patients for 1 nurse in ICU - with no other patients near Vic, that means constant personal attendance. Until today that is ...

Today, "Baby Krak" erupted.

Vic was feeling like total shit, same as yesterday. As soon as I arrived to a very quiet Sunday hospital, Vic was anxious, wanting (pay attention now), an ice chip, anti-nausea meds & some cold compresses for his head.

I hit the red call button.

We wait.

Vic presses it himself.

And we wait.

One mo' time.

Over 6 minutes. Still no one. No sign of at all. Until ... Enough already.

And she's off, down the empty "Purple Medal Hwy" to an equally empty nurses station. Quick check of enormous wall clock ... time elapsed ... 8 mins ...

"Excuse me."

2 nurses are fawning over new cell phones with latest cellulite reduction & meal cooking apps. 4 more nurses are sitting eating in the break room.


The Crone studies the wall board. Total # beds: 14. Total # patients: 6. Are any of those 6 near Vic's room? No. Ergo, one nurse dedicated to him in 12 hour shifts.


10 minutes & counting ...

Quizzical face turns around. Sunday @ the VA ICU is not exactly Roseland on a Saturday night.


"I see there are 6 patients on this unit. 14 beds total. Not a soul has responded to my husband's call for over 10 minutes."

More faces appear, less quizzicle, more busted.

"I was in the room with Mr. M for over 35 minutes. I just left him," says Joe, Vic's (usually) amazing nurse.

"And so?" I retort.

"He was fine when I left him," he continues.

"That was THEN. Where have you or anyone been for the last 10 minutes? Isn't this Intensive Care? My husband, whose mouth is as dry as a desert, needs ice & nausea meds yesterday! Additionally, get me washclothes & I want the doctor in attendance to come & meet with me asap."

"But the doctor was here this morning," says Joe.

Clearly, the Crone is getting her freeze-you-in-your-tracks look down. A quick about face in practical shoes & a flurry of unscheduled activity ensues.

Turns out that Vic's call button was unplugged.

Freakin' bloody marvellous!!!

Worried nurses look appropriately apologetic.

"My husband is so lucky I was here. And so are all of you. What if he were choking??? I do not want this to EVER happen again."

Crone shruggs her shoulders, straightens her back up & in her nicest, politest voice, closes with a melodious "thank you."

Pushing the curtain aside, Crone returns to her patients room with an entrance worthy of Carole Channing.

"Who's your mama?"

Vic nods his head ever so slightly & gives a weak thumbs up.

Nurses, aides, in, out. Fuss, fuss, fuss ...

Once again, a sweet "thank you" from the Patient Advocate in residence. Only this time, I reward good behaviour with the treat of the day, a beautiful almond coffee cake.

Nurses eyes wide open.

"Thank you."

Vic's eyes wide shut.

"Thank you."

That's what I do.

I am Vic's Patient Advocate. I have Vic's Power of Attorney. I am his eyes, ears & heaven knows, mouth.

Just like in his beloved Corps. You put your life in your buddy's hands. He puts his life in yours.

Failure is not an option.

I will NOT let my comrade, my partner, father of my children, my husband down.

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Time to rest. Time to heal. You are safe.

I am here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Knock, knock. Hoo's there?

Someone was watching me last night
When I got home from the hospital
I stopped for a second to take in the
nightly spectacle that is sunset


The feeling was undeniable
I was being watched
Not by someone

Look very, very carefully

There's Dede, our resident
female Screech Owl
camoflagued in plain sight

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thought of the Day

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Crone Therapy

I have a secret place
Born out of the debris of 2 hurricanes
A place to sublimate the stress of illness
A place to be free


Intended to be a place of healing
A safe place to let go
Everyone is welcome


A haven for relaxation
Just hanging around
No rules, just right


This is where you will find the Crone
The cosmic wind revives her
The pulse of the earth strenthens her
Not much else makes sense
Then I remember


It's life
It happens
It is

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vic vs Cancer: not for the feint hearted

Vic's simple overnight hospital stay took a slight detour.

Post surgical complications:

acute respiratory problems
Pain (mis)management issues
Acute nausea
Hallucinations (well, complication for him !)


He's burning
He's freezing
He's nauseous
He's in pain


He's disoriented
He's anxious
He's way out of his comfort zone
He's scared


Finally, time for a magic shot
Another chance at relief
Just like Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment"

"He's been waiting for his pain shot.
Give him his pain shot.

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Now's the time to drift away
Down the rabbit hole, Vic, it's ok

"Check out those tomatoes
... my rifle needs to be cleaned ...
... does the baby need to be changed again

He's gone, man. Solid gone!

Finally released to sleep -
nature's wonderous healer.

Man plans
G-d laughs

Vic vs Cancer: off to Battle

Some people chose to have G-d as their co-pilot.
Me, I prefer Yoda ...

How can things go wrong when the force is with you?
Vic, still in control, driving himself to the battlefield
Deep in thought
The war face slowly begins to reveal itself

Vic's surgical roommate had already left the room when Vic arrived.
We wondered if there could be a slight addiction problem with the vet in bed #2?
We laughed remembering Vic's dearest friend, Patrick, who thought he was helping his roommate when in the VA in Miami.

The guy asked Patrick if he could get him some Listerine.
Patrick did.
The guy drank it.
Patrick did not know he was an alcoholic.
The guy died.

Some of Vic's scars of war.
The scar beneath his neck - last years medianstinal surgery.
Some dark blue tattoos, mid chest - from 2 rounds of radiation.
Newly installed power port.

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"This cancer thinks it's going to beat me.

Vic - Friday October 2, 2009
Veteran's Administration Hospital
Room 7A-211
West Palm Beach, Florida

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natural therapy

"When this old world
Keeps getting you down ...
There's only one place to go ...
Up on the roof ... "

I loved this song, in all it's glorious covers.

(With apologies to Carole King).

And I loved going up on roofs
The roof tops of London
Garrets in Paris
Across the Mediterranean
Skyscrapers of New York.

It always brought me closer to the sky. To the stars.
Away from people.
Into an unknown I still long to know.
It gave me a profound sense of peace.

Nowadays, I still look up, but I try to take everything in. It is nature that really sustains me.
Buoys my spirit.
It gives me hope.

I close my eyes & off I go, to any of the places that brought me to stillness.
Sunrise in the Keys, the smell of fresh snow on the Alps of my childhood, magnificent wadis & night deserts, sunset over the Santa Catalinas ...

We are entering a very different stage of Vic's epic journey. Me, too. Children, too.
"When this old world starts getting me down ... "

I can be very happy
For a moment
In an old moment
Renewed in a new.

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