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 …


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