Today’s Quote

This is what you should do:
 Love the earth and sun and animals,
despise riches,
give alms to everyone that asks,
stand up for the stupid and crazy,
devote your income and labor to others,
hate tyrants,
 argue not concerning God,
have patience and indulgence toward the people…
 reëxamine all you have been told
in school or church or in any book,
dismiss what insults your very soul,
and your flesh shall become a great poem.

~ Walt Whitman ~

Thank You to My Peers









My most humble and sincere thanks to Ajatao2010 and witlessdatingafterfifty for the above four award nominations. Their kindness in recognizing this relatively new blogger with encouragement and support gives me even more incentive to continue to blog things that I hope will inspire one post, one person at a time.

Another huge benefit to me is that it reminds me of what an absolutely selfless blog Ajay offers to each and every one of us and it introduces me to yet another wonderful site in witlessdatingafterfifty. If you’re not already familiar with them, please click on the links to their sites below:



“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”
~ French Proverb ~

The Shoulders of Giants (Once Again…)

On this, the first anniversary of  Dad’s death, I chose to repost something from almost 3 months ago. My feelings stand.


I’ve said it before – at times, my naiveté astounds me.

  • Licensed Professional Counselor – check.
  • Loss & Bereavement Specialty – check.
  • Survived Mom’s death 25 years ago, when she was only 59 years old – check.
  • Working through the grief process (and it is a process) for Dad, who died not quite a year ago at the age of almost 87 years old – check.
  • Prepared for the grief involved in no longer having a parent alive – not even close.

Everyone grieves differently. It depends on your relationship with that person; if you’ve lost someone before; whether their death was far too quick, with no time to say good-by or agonizingly slow, with unbearable suffering; expected or unexpected; natural or by suicide; your age; and, whether you’re male (like to take action) or female (want someone to listen). The list goes on… There’s no set “process,” per se – no time frame or stages that must be followed in the correct order. Some people act like nothing has happened, while others are prostrate with grief. Shock, denial, bargaining, depression, anger with lots of people (including God), until hopefully – finally – some measure of acceptance.

My patients often ask when they will have “closure,” and I answer honestly there is no such thing as closure, only survival. They will survive.

My head knows this. My heart struggles to keep pace.

Mom’s death was 6 months after her breast cancer diagnosis, after having suffered through a modified radical mastectomy, chemotherapy, surgery, and a 29-day hospital stay. The fact that she was only 59 years old and my close friend made her torment agonizing to watch; so much so, that I actually asked her physician if I could end her suffering (and mine) by just letting her drift away with extra morphine. He shot that option down quickly.

Dad’s death at almost 87 years old was sudden. Two weeks before he died, on Father’s Day, we noticed he was slurring his words. We took him to the doctor, got him a bright red 3-wheel walker and made plans to either move him downstairs in his home (one floor, no steps) or to have him move in with my sister. That was all underway when I got the call that Dad passed away. He was walking down his driveway to get his newspaper, a morning ritual, when he collapsed. The neighbor called 911 when she saw him lying there, but he died “instantly.” (Do doctors tell that to everyone to ease their suffering? Just wondering…)

The shock of Mom’s death shook me to my core. Admittedly, after 25 years, I still light a candle every day in her memory. I don’t know how long Dad’s death will sit so fresh and raw; it’s been less than a year.

But this I do know – I was totally unprepared for the separate grief that comes with no longer having a “parental unit.” It’s unique – it’s different – it’s terrible – it’s lonely – it’s frightening.

I feel abandoned, lost, adrift, disoriented, incomplete. There’s no one to watch my back or to be my cheering section or to give me a safe place to fall.

Where is my anchor? Who will advise me, guide me, forgive me, support me, challenge me, love me unconditionally? Who will comfort the little girl in me, the lost child, as only my parents could?

I once told Dad when he was really missing Mom (which was for the entire 25 years) that he and Mom had given me everything I needed to be a success, that I had “stood on the shoulders of giants.” They were my giants.

“If I have seen further…it is by
standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

~ Sir Isaac Newton

He liked the thought of that and remembered with gratitude all those who helped him along the way.

I shared with him something I felt while at the Baccalaureate service the night before my grad school Commencement. While I sat immersed in the joyous music that filled the cathedral, I could almost sense two lines of ancestors standing behind me. They were in pairs, from my shoulders, back and up, until I lost sight of them. Without turning around, I could visualize them. Somehow I knew that one line included Mom, my maternal grandparents and the rest of her family, while the other line was my paternal grandparents…on and on and on. They were all shapes and sizes and colors, all dressed in different clothing that gave a clue to their work, some younger than others, some faces lined while others were smooth. They were all smiling. Generation after generation after generation.

I have been schooled well.

The best psychotherapists are those who have been through pain. Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest and author (1932 – 1996), reminds us that “in our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”

Who better to sit with you in the darkness than a wounded healer?

I have sat with people who have lost their child (the worst loss), spouse, parent, sibling, friend, grandparent, married lover, colleague – but never someone who was grieving the loss of both parents as a “unit.” How is that possible?

But now, as is always the case, I will be able to sit with someone who no longer has parents – as one person said to me, “Welcome to the Orphan’s Club” – and empathize with their longing for wholeness.

But a broken heart empties us of all that we might hang on to, often too long, so that it might be filled up with something greater and more wondrous that we could ever imagine or think ourselves deserving of. When I am tired enough of struggling, I will once again accept Your glorious grace. I will once again accept the plans You have for me. I know You understand.

Help me to be Your Counselor, Defender, Teacher, Listener, Instrument, Vessel, Comforter, Starfish Thrower (thank you, Diana), Harvester, Secret Keeper (bless you, T), Heartsong, Wellspring.

“Much is expected from those to whom much has been given.”
~ Luke 12:49

Dad’s favorite saying, as well as the way he always signed off on a letter or in a card – “Keep the Faith.” I’m doing my best, Dad, but I still miss both of you more than I ever thought possible.

Like I said, I have stood on the shoulders of giants – Mom and Dad the biggest and most important of all. They lifted me up so I could soar.

Your Circles of Grace – those Circles of Compassion – widen.

My thanks.

One Year Ago…

June 29, 2012: Remembrance of Dad

I held your hand in the driveway, right where you fell.

The same hand that had once changed my diapers, given me a bottle, taught me how to ride a bike and drive a car, that fed me my first (and last) piece of liver, that cut my hair into a pixie, that held onto me when I crossed a road, that gave me away in marriage, that slipped me money at the beginning of every month, that signed the checks for oh-so-many years of education, that taught me the importance of giving…

I held your hand in the driveway, right where you fell.  In disbelief.

That Friday morning, ready to leave for work, the phone rang.  Dad probably couldn’t wait until my Bluetooth call while I was on my way to work; he must have had something important to tell me that happened on this date, from the calendar he kept with all family events (big and little) catalogued.

Something very important.  My sister’s voice – hysterical, sobbing – “Dad’s dead.”

I calmly called Michael, who told me to wait until he got home from the office; he didn’t trust me to drive.  On our way there – on our way “home” – I knew it would take at least an hour – I prayed that you would still be there when I got to the house.

How could I have prayed for what I saw when I arrived?  The State Trooper was just leaving as I flew out of the passenger seat and ran across the lawn – the same lawn that you mowed on your John Deere, a special handle screwed into its casing so you could drive your grandsons around with you 30 years ago – to the figure half-hidden by the hedge, covered with a thin white blanket.

I heard someone wail in anguish and didn’t know it was me – your baby of 58 years.

Where was the dignity in this?  Dad – my father – a World War II veteran – lying in his driveway, in the sunshine.  (Thank goodness for your being covered; lupus doesn’t like sunshine, remember?)

I held your hand in the driveway.

It was right where I had seen Mom standing at your side, oh-so-many years ago after she died, as Steve, Alex and I pulled out of your driveway; by the flowering tree Mom loved that nestled the bird feeders you kept filled for the songbirds and squirrels.

The diamonds in Mom’s ring sparkled in the sunshine as my fingers entwined with yours, your strong hands, nails neatly trimmed, relaxed…at peace.  My tears fell onto our hands, a baptism, a cleansing of our relationship, joined with Mom in a bond not unlike diamonds that would only strengthen with the weight of time passed.

There was a dignity in this, of a sort…a communion, a joining, rather than a separation…  A quietness…a birth…an arrival upon the heels of a departure.

You were already being greeted by the God whom you so loved, along with Grammie and Grandpop, who sang the words of Matthew 3:17: “This is My Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”

A trembling voice echoed off the walls of my broken heart: “This is my Father, in Whom I am well pleased.”

That Well of Depression

That well of depression…

That place of complete and utter darkness;
that place where no one hears your cries;

that cylinder in the earth that was your prison,
struggling to get out

until your fingernails were bleeding…

That core of the earth…that plug…

Exhausted, you slipped along its slimy walls to the bottom,
where you collapsed, covered in sweat and blood and grime,
unable to move,
blinded by tears of frustration and abandonment…

But what if…

That well of depression was actually a birth canal…a tunnel…
a waystation…an airlock from here to there…
a bridge…

What if…

That well of depression became a wellspring,
a place of healing waters,
a baptism of graces,
a flowing giver of life…

“There is a river.”

What if…

That well of depression that became a birth canal
that became a wellspring
brought forth a beacon of light –
a way through the fog,
a welcome for the lost,
a respite for the lonely,
a shelter for the homeless,
a place to break bread for the hungry?

What if…

That well of depression that became a birth canal
that became a wellspring
that brought forth a beacon of light
duplicated its length
from the ground below to that above
and became a lighthouse?

You are their Light.

As the water bubbles up from the wellspring –
the core – the Source –
it is transformed into light;
particles of gold that pierce the heavens
in a terrible beauty.

Bringing light to the furthest reaches of darkness;
a light so strong that you cannot look upon it,
yet so gentle as to diffuse itself
into soft folds of protection (wings?).

Light that heals as it bathes its molten fluid
of serenity and peace and love.

You are back to where you started…
at a beginning rather than an end.

You are running toward
rather than running from.

You are Home.

Heart Song

If I were a song…

If I were a song, what would I sound like?

At birth, luminous angels must trumpet the Hallelujah Chorus for each and every soul in celebration of their birth, their innocence, their precious light.

As an infant, I must have sounded like wind chimes…softly stirring, different refrains, yet always in harmony. Tripping like water over pebbles in a winding brook, exploring different paths, yet always pulled forward.

But there were deeper tones – starts and stops, hesitation, background noise – too quiet – almost imagined.

Then – regimented, in step with military precision (what happened to the wind chimes? the babbling brook?), with a cadence never out of step.

Oh, no – never out of step.

Ominous darkness with undertones of rhythmic despair; on and on, building to a crescendo. A cacophony of discordant sound – keening wails, shrieks, cries, moans… Until cymbals crash and everything stops.

Then silence…echoes of silence…

But wait –

There it was –

Faint at first –

The wind chimes, the sparkling notes of laughter and joy, of innocence and love, of life and hope and play… Bright colored, shimmering golds and purples, a glittering rainbow of dance…

Free style dance.

Theresa’s dance.

It sang with spirit and direction and confidence in itself, this song. This heart song…

It never stopped, never left.


It was always there, lighting my way, dancing in the darkness, spilling its notes through the channels of my heart carved by tears.

My heart song.

Always there in celebration, always my own; song of Your heart, song of my own.

In Memory of Peanut

Peanut & Freddie

Peanut & Freddie

In Memory of Peanut
1998 – 2012

[ aka Peanster, Peanutter-Butter,
Pretty Pug-nosed Princess Peanutter-Butter ]

I was not prepared for the pain of losing you.

My son Alex will remind me in no uncertain terms that I never wanted any cats as pets. We already had Misty (a black lab), and I thought she was enough. When I came home one day from work and went to use our front hall bathroom, Alex and his Dad told me I couldn’t use it. So naturally, I asked why the door was closed, then opened it. Inside – two small kittens, a brother and sister from the same litter. One black and white with huge eyes (Freddie) and one tiny with orange/beige fur (Peanut).

I was upset. The only two things in the world that make me wheeze and have trouble breathing are cigar/cigarette smoke and cat hair. They couldn’t stay in the house.

It was them or me.

When things calmed down a little (when I calmed down a little), we all reached a compromise: the kittens could stay on our screened in porch and sleep on the padded hot tub cover. Padded pillows from our lawn chairs were arranged on top, along with food and water bowls and a litter box. They slept together, all curled up in a circle, like yin and yang.

Each night, after we came in from the hot tub, before bed, they came inside for a while to play on the carpeted floor of the den. Each night, the time inside got longer – 10 minutes, a half hour, two hours… They were so cute and so much fun, and the wheezing seemed to be getting less frequent the more I was exposed to their fur.

One night, I relented. Let them in for good. That’s when the two fur balls took over our house, and our hearts. Even Misty seemed to accept them. Peanut was Alex’s and Freddie, with his big eyes, was mine (after all, wouldn’t an optometrist choose the one with big eyes???). Our family had just expanded.

Peanut was always frail; in the first year of her life, we often had her at the vet, trying to find out why she was so tiny. Some breathing problems, lots of blood work and tests, but nothing ever too definite. She would always stay “petite” (like me) with a delicate appetite (unlike me).

When Alex’s Dad and I got divorced, and I moved out, we decided to leave the cats with Alex and his Dad, to keep things as stable as possible for Alex. I actually had my attorney put a stipulation in the divorce agreement to make certain that I could “cat-sit” several times a year.

Wasn’t I the one who gave my family the ultimatum – it’s them or me? Ummm – I guess that was me – so long, long ago.

Then, Alex went away to college, and ultimately, about 2 years ago, Peanut and Freddie came to live with me for good.

I was not prepared for the pain of losing you, Peanut.

You purred the loudest of any cat I had ever known and you looked upon everything that didn’t interest you (which was most things) with a certain disdain. Hence, “Princess.” But you also wrapped your self around my neck when I walked around the house, and stretched out on my legs or chest like a Sphinx when I was watching TV. You were light as a feather – a fur ball – and I loved you.

Each night, you and Freddie slept at the bottom of the bed, all curled up. Sometimes, you slept all night on my husband’s shoulder, paws stretched straight out. If he happened to move the slightest bit over night, you were highly affronted, glaring at him in no uncertain terms until he stopped moving and you could return to your beauty sleep.

You were a treasure. A beauty. A princess.

During the day, you held court on the couch, ensconced on my most comfortable pillow. No one dared disturb you. If I was at my computer, you would hop onto my desk and lay across my keyboard, causing all kinds of gibberish to appear on the screen. I would lift you off, trying to avoid your icy stare. We compromised and I put your cat bed on the edge of my desk, so we could be together while I worked. Cans of compressed dust remover littered my desk; that soft, long fur got into all the cracks and crevices of my computer and printer.

Then, your daily routine started to change.

You lost weight, getting recurrent upper respiratory infections. We kept taking you to the vet and you seemed to improve with the steroid shots and the appetite enhancer. You ate better, but developed an allergy to the meds and scratched your chin to an open sore, so we stopped the medicine. We had another follow-up visit at the vet in another week.

One night, after getting up to go to the bathroom, I got back into bed and put you back on my shoulder where you had slept. I remember that your breathing was so loud – labored – that I moved you to the foot of the bed to get more sleep.

But your breathing was too labored and irregular…

I woke up my husband (who sleeps through anything) and told him something was terribly wrong. We hurriedly got dressed, then I wrapped you in your favorite soft blanket as we drove the half hour to the 24-hour emergency vet hospital. It was early, early morning, and snowing.

I can still feel your tiny claws digging into my leg on the way there. But your breathing calmed a bit.

Once there, when I mentioned “respiratory distress” to the receptionist, the vet flew out from the back and hurried you into an exam room while I had to sign a paper saying whether I wanted extraordinary measures taken if anything serious would occur while at the hospital.

Ridiculous – but I signed it; all you needed was some oxygen and another steroid shot and you’d be good to go. We could work at my desk tomorrow and you could wrap yourself around my neck, purring so loud in my ear that it soothed any stress I might have.

The vet came back into the room where we waited. At first, I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) understand her. Something about tests and blood work and oxygen… I thought we had explained all of that, and we agreed on going ahead with getting you better.

Still, I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) understand her.

Your condition deteriorated rapidly. Your organs were shutting down – it sounded like congestive heart failure. You were dying in the other room.

Should we prolong your life (your suffering) or consider your comfort? I was used to this from working with Hospice; it was an easy choice – no suffering, please. (Easy? Who am I kidding? It was torture.) The vet was compassionate, saying you had coughed up a lot of blood and things were moving fast.

Could I say good-bye? Yes, but I had to be ready to see that you were on oxygen.

When I entered the hospital area, you were in a small glassed off “cage” or bed on the bottom level where oxygen was being pumped in. There was a small opening big enough for my hands for when I wanted to pet you. You were lying on your favorite soft plaid blanket, your fur wet and matted where you coughed up blood, showing how thin you really were.

I stifled a cry and dropped to my knees on the linoleum floor so that I could see you and talk to you. When you heard me, you actually dragged yourself around toward my voice, then lay back down, spent. It must have taken all of the little energy you had left, but now you were facing me, and I could pet you.

My Peanutter-Butter. My Princess.

I told you I loved you and I thanked you for your years of love, and said that it was okay for you to go toward the light. I told you that Mimi (my Mom) would be there, but realized that you never met her; she died before you were born. So I told you instead that our beloved Misty would be there to greet you. I reminded you how much Freddie loved you and how much he would miss you, but that someday, we would all be together again.

Your eyes were already fixed ahead, directed toward me but not seeing me – looking beyond me at a place where I couldn’t follow. You were already leaving, but waited just long enough to say good-bye.

It was enough – it was too much; I had to go. You were already well on your way, eyes unseeing, breathing labored. So fragile yet so beautiful. Let the doctor help to end your pain. I couldn’t see for my tears.

In the time it took me to sign papers for your cremation, you were gone. Forever lost to me, to Alex, to Freddie.

When we drove home, the snow had stopped and it was daybreak. I couldn’t go into work, I hurt so much. When you didn’t come home with us, Freddie went to the dining room window where you both sometimes shared a bed. When he didn’t find you there, he never went into the dining room again until more than a year had passed. He looked for you for a few days, then settled into an uneasy loneliness. He’s more anxious, as if a part of him is gone (it is). Sometimes he fixes his gaze at a spot above my head, or into a darkened room, and stares, listens at attention. As if you’re there, looking back.

Perhaps you are…

Peanster – your ashes are in a carved wooden box on the mantle, with your name on it. But when I opened the card that came with your cremains and saw the bits of fur they had included, just like a lock of a loved one’s hair, I cried uncontrollably. I couldn’t – and still haven’t – touched it. I also don’t want to let Freddie near it; I’m not sure what he would do if he caught your scent. That we be too cruel a thing to do to your brother.

I miss you. I thank you for coming to me in a dream not so long ago after I mentioned to my husband (yet again) how much I missed you. Be healthy and happy, Peanster. I thank you for the gift of your life. If you can, please let Freddie know you’re okay somehow. I explained to him what happened to you, but for any of us, that clinical information is not always enough.

I love you, Pretty, Pug-nosed Princess Peanutter-Butter. Someday, I’ll meet you at the Rainbow Bridge.


The Rainbow Bridge

When a beloved pet dies, it goes to the Rainbow Bridge. It makes friends with other animals and frolics over rolling hills and peaceful, lush meadows of green.

Our pets do not thirst or hunger. The old and sick are made young once more; the maimed and the ill become healed and strong. They are as healthy and playful as we remember them in days gone by.

Though happy and content, they still miss someone very special, someone they had to leave behind.

Together, the animals chase and play, but the day comes when a pet will suddenly stop and look into the distance…bright eyes intent, eager body quivering. Suddenly recognizing you, your pet bounds quickly across the green fields and into your embrace. You celebrate in joyous reunion. You will never again separate. Happy tears and kisses are warm and plenty; your hands caress the face you missed. You look once more into the loving eyes of your pet and you know you never really parted. You realize that though out of sight, your love had been remembered.

And now, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together…

~ Author Unknown ~

The Circle

The Circle
~ Robert J. Wicks ~

Lord, there is so much pain in the world.
Where do I begin to help?

“Start in your circle.”

But when I help my family and friends,
often they really don’t appreciate me.

“But I do.”

And when I reach out to my co-workers,
some suspect my motives.

“I know what is in your heart.”

Still, I think I should do more
to help those I don’t know
who are suffering in the world.

“Then, widen your circle.”

But by myself I can’t do much
to lighten their great darkness.

“Yes, I know. That is why I am with you.”

If only I could believe
You are with me.
If only I could really see you, Lord.

“Open your heart in prayer
and you will believe and see.”

What will I see, Lord?

“That as you walk through the day
I am the center of your circle.”

Without These Things

Jesuit Center Cloister

Jesuit Center Cloister

I recently returned from a 7-day silent retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Those of you who keep up with my posts (thank you so much, by the way…) may recall that I am trying to remember that I am actually a human “being” rather than a human “doing.” Immersing myself in solitude for a week, other than an hour each day with a Spiritual Director, is a soothing balm for the soul. It offers a sense of peace. Tranquility.

In the quiet, I can hear my heart speak.

The weather during the week of my retreat was brutally hot – each day and night, with temperatures in the mid-90’s. And did I mention no air conditioning??? That’s right; for the person whose idea of roughing it is room service, there was no air conditioning to be had. While I tried to sleep, two small fans moved the hot air around me like a thick blanket.

I was miserable.

Which got me to thinking (a good thing to do on a retreat)… What did the Desert Fathers do? What did people do before electricity? In fact, the advent of electricity certainly doesn’t ensure that even a majority of people on the planet have access to it, let alone have the luxury of air conditioning.

How did people survive? How do people survive? They did, they do – and so could I.

Which brought me to a few things I wrote in my journal that I was grateful for, like modern medicine, eyeglasses, medication, physicians (you can tell at that point I was worried about heat stroke).

Truly, without those things, I would either be dead, blind, or lost inside myself.

Which brought me to this journal entry on May 31st:

Without flight, I would never have traveled to so many countries, met so many wonderful and diverse people, did so many exciting things…

Without paper and the invention of the printing press, I would have never read all of the tens of thousands of books and writings of scholars and saints, of humorists and philosophers; the works of classic literature and fantasy, of mystery and love stories, of essays and politics, of angels and cake recipes; their words challenging me – healing me – inciting me – knowing me…

Without God’s gift of creativity to the artists and creators of music and poetry, paintings and sculptures – I would not know of beauty that speaks to my soul in a language that is universal…

Without farmers and fisherman and growers, I would not have delicious foods and spices and sustenance to nourish my body and to break bread with friends and family…

Without carpenters and engineers and architects, I would not have a home to live in or roads to travel or bridges to cross or cathedrals with buttresses that sing to my soul…

Without botanists and horticulturists, I would not have flowers that carpet the fields with color or trees that reach up to the heavens or plants that can heal the body…


So I made myself a promise that I would remember to not take things for granted, and to think of 5 things each day for which I was grateful.

So here is my first gratitude list:

1) Thunderstorms.

2) Cats (especially Freddie and Peanut).

3) Toothbrushes/toothpaste.

4) The Hubble Telescope.

5) You – reader of my blog – friend.

Thank You, Hubble

Thank You, Hubble

To Those Who See…

To Those Who See
~ Gwen Frostie ~

To those who see bare branches –
and know they hold the buds of spring;

to those who see stars falling in the heavens –
and know the constellations will remain forever;

to those who see long lines of geese fade far beyond –
and know they come back again to nest;

to those who see with wonder in their hearts –
 and know what glories there can be;

to those who see miraculous sights
 and envision all of the wonders hidden from the eye…

to those who hear multitudinous sounds
and listen to the symphonies that silence brings…

To those who see…