Thursday, December 1, 2016

Life Is Good.....

How many times do we think, “Where does the time go? My kids are growing up so fast"? And then we have grand kids….


 Throughout our lives we think we have all the time in the world. “When I get to be 80”, seems like a lifetime away. And before you know it our kids have grown up and left the house. They begin to have children of their own, and our parents are aging. And so are we! But it will be a another lifetime before we get to be that age, too. Won’t it?

Do you ever stop to think that this is how our parents and grandparents might be feeling right now? That they are nearing the end of what is their life. Of who they are, and what they know. That they realize they don’t have much time left and that isn’t really likely they will live another 10 years?

Many cling to their faith, and that is a wonderful, beautiful, essential thing. But they are human. They have fears too.

My prayer today is that I be mindful of the elderly people in my life. That I tell them often just how much I love them and how they continue to make an impact in my life. I want them to know how much they still contribute to my life and the lives of my family.  That they are cherished this Christmas season. And every season.






Peace~

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Through the Eyes of a Child.....


There is nothing like viewing the wonder of Christmas through a child’s eyes.

I was thinking about this last night as I’m snuggling with the pups, my Christmas tree being the only light in the room. It’s still dark, but the small white lights sparkle with a warm glow. I feel safe, warm and content. My thoughts begins to drift….

I know how commercialized Christmas has become. Christmas decorations have been on display in stores since October. Black Friday deals, Cyber Monday….buy, buy, buy. And then, buy some more!

I become annoyed with it all. I don’t want to step foot in a mall. The traffic and parking is horrendous. There are too many people everywhere, and most of them are moving too fast. I don’t want to put up the decorations this year. It’s too much work. It takes too long. Most of the kids will be elsewhere this year….why bother.

And then…..

I had a little helper this year. My sidekick, and precious granddaughter, Charlotte. One by one I haul out the Christmas boxes from the attic. I used to count the trips up and down those stairs (maybe one of the reasons I balked at the idea). But this year it wasn’t so bad. I had help with the boxes (Kaytie), and my walking/running with a wiggly puppy has made me stronger. Thank you, Oakley!

Charlotte and I worked on those decorations all day. She had free reign on where to put the Christmas Village and the Christmas Carolers (what are Carolers, Mimi?)


She helped put together the “Merry Christmas” blocks. She threw angel hair and snow where ever there was an open spot. Including the floor. We listened to “Holiday Station on Pandora- Christmas”. And one point we switched to Kid Bop and did the Whip and Nae Nae.

As I’m reflecting on the wonderful time we had last weekend and the memories that were made, I can’t help but be reminded of the JOY in Christmas. Even through all the commercial bull crap, it still gives us pause.

We don’t need to buy into all the hype and material things. But what I believe is important, is that we take the time to slow down. To be mindful of the blessings in our lives. To take a deep breath and remember that we are all here, and it is our job to connect with one another and to love.

And most of all, to give Praise to our Creator, who makes all things possible. It is my prayer that you are all able to see the Wonder and Magic of Christmas through the eyes of an innocent Child. And rejoice in it.

Peace~

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Wonder of it All....

The Holidays are such a special time filled with family, love, laughter. But for so many, this time of year brings sadness, fear, dread, anxiety.
I know for me, no matter how busy and hectic I try to keep myself, I can't hide from what I'm running from. She always finds me.
Be kind. Be loving. Be tolerant. Be an inspiration. Be a helper. Be nice. You may never know how your compassionate acts helped someone through a rough day.
It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.


 I wrote that post right before Thanksgiving. The evening of my Monday Meltdown Day. Before my Testy Tuesday. Because this time of year evokes so many emotions. By Wednesday I was grateful and joyous, because family was with me. But I’m still on a roller coaster. Thing is, I’ve learned to embrace the ride, and I don't make excuses for it. There are days when it takes everything in me to show up at that empty table. And then there are the days when I am bursting with thankfulness and awe. And joy. I would not miss a second of it.


 Today I saw Jillian. I saw her spirit in a vibrant man who is currently fighting melanoma with everything he has. His determination reminds me of Jillian’s motto, Fall Seven Times, Stand up Eight. What an inspiration and an example of the will to live.

The melanoma community is going through a rough spell right now as their melamates are dealing with some staggering blows. But the wonder is in realizing how someone’s journey, someone’s struggle, someone’s pain can somehow bring light for those immersed in darkness. We all need purpose. And we all need help at one time or another. Be that light. Be that beacon through the storm.


“Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life”?

-Mary Oliver


Make it count.


~Peace

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Girls On a Plane, and Bug....

Saying goodbye sucks. As I’m walking into the airport, my chest feels tight, the lump in my throat is making it hard for me to swallow. 

 It pains me to see my daughter, Jenni, cry. It torments me to see her hurting. We’ve been through a lot together the last 5 years, and I hate seeing her so vulnerable, while she tries to be so stinking brave.

 I make a bee-line for the bathroom and splash cold water on my face. I’m hoping I can stop the tears from leaking long enough to get through security.

After a long awaited trip to Florida to see Jenni and her boyfriend, Cody, I’m on my way back home. I’ve enjoyed the time I was able to spend with those two. I loved being able to share in their adventure, and I’m so proud of their independence. 


Leaving family and friends and moving to Florida for school hasn’t been easy for them, but they are making a life together and preparing for their future. It hasn’t been easy for me either. :) Did I mention how proud of them I am?

As I settle into my seat on the airplane, I look forward to reading a little, with the possibility of closing my eyes for a few minutes. The woman next to me asks if I have enough room, and begins to strike up a conversation. Ugh. I don’t feel like talking, I’m missing my daughter and the last thing I feel like doing is being pleasant to some stranger sitting next to me on a plane. 

I sigh and reconcile myself to small talk.

“How many children do you have?”, asks the woman on the plane.

This question comes often, and each time before I answer, I wonder what their response will be. 

Sometimes the reaction is shock, with a quick change of subject. Other times I’ll get some response with an, “at least she is no longer in pain”. Uh huh. Thanks.  

Even though I thought I’d stopped the tears earlier, they’re back in full force. I hate that!

But here they are, (surprise!)  tears rolling down my cheeks as I answer her question. 

“I have four children. Three here on Earth, and one in Heaven”.

The woman on the plane looks at me, touches my shoulder and responds, “I understand what you’re feeling. I’ve lost two children of my own”. Huh?

And we talked. I could feel the kinship. One that you can only feel with another mother who shares in the pain of losing a child. The grief, the devastation, the helplessness and the anger.

I immediately asked her about the children she lost. One child was a four year old little girl when she choked to death on a balloon. The other child was another daughter who died at the age of 50 of a heart attack. We talked about Jillian, but mostly we talked about her kids and her life. And it was good.

Jillian’s birthday is Saturday. She would have been 27 years old. I know I’ll never stop missing her or stop wishing that she were here with her family, sharing in our everyday lives.  Celebrating birthdays, Holidays, new nieces, marriages, accomplishments, new homes. Puppies. Stuff.

I also know that my life and those in it continue to be blessing to me.  I take time for my grief and doubt that will ever change.  I really don’t want it to either. I can lean into that.

But I rejoice in the life I have and the gifts in it. I never want to take those gifts for granted.

Even the gift of connecting with a woman on a plane.

I left my daughter, Jenni, in Florida. But she’s here, and we’ll get through this too. We're pretty awesome, like that. :)

In our one wild and beautiful life.

~  Peace

P.S- Cody- Give my girl some extra TLC, won’t ya? :)




Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I'll be back....

April showers bring May flowers. And with the promise of spring flowers comes May Melanoma Awareness Month.

Ever since Jillian was diagnosed with Melanoma in July of 2010, I’ve been an active participant within the melanoma community. This is our chance to be heard. To blast the media with our stories, all in the hopes that people will become educated and more aware of the dangers of tanning beds and the sun.

 We have made great strides in those few years. People are starting to listen. The FDA is paying attention, and so are you. 

But for me this May, all the hoopla, postings, stories, photos, and media coverage will take their toll.

I’m afraid.

Living with the death of my daughter has been extremely difficult. There is no path, no map (in my case a GPS). It constantly shifts and changes. Sometimes the road is bright and clear, other times it’s dark and full of pot holes. Sometimes it’s underwater. There are times when the boogie man is lurking under the bushes waiting for me. But I am learning to navigate, and to swim through the storms. And I pray the boogie man away often.


A couple of years ago, someone very close said to me, “You have to figure out what helps, and what hurts”. That’s funny, because what may have helped me before, can hurt me today.

The loss of some of my melanoma friends to this disease, and the progression in others has tipped the scale for me. I have decided to skip out for a while. Take a little break while I focus on my family.

My youngest and last child still living at home will be getting ready to leave the den in May. I want her to have my full attention.



I hope you understand my need for escape. But then again, I don’t really expect you to. I won’t be too far….I’ll just be under the front porch waiting for the rain to lessen some.


I love you all, I truly do.

~Peace











Friday, March 11, 2016

Raining You..

Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I realize I don’t. Not one little bit. I have figured out that to move forward each day and to feel productive, I need to build an invisible shield around my Jillian thoughts.


Last week there was a fissure in the shield, though. A huge crack. Everywhere I turned, there she was. It was almost as if she wanted to share in the beginnings of spring with me. To let me know she’s right there with me. To walk past that bird cage and hear her exclaim, “Mom, you’re going to fill that up with a Robin this year”.

The problem with those voices and the feelings of her presence, is that I have to face head on, over and over again, that she really isn't here. And the pain of how much I miss her. Her voice, her goofy smile, her laughter and her energy. I miss it. And I’m still angry about it.

There doesn’t need to be some upcoming event for me to feel that punch. No birthday, no death date anniversary, nothing. It comes out of nowhere.

I’m learning to embrace those days when they come. To try not to analyze it, and certainly not to try to explain it. Just breathe with it, and to be gentle with myself. It feels a bit like I’m honoring her, too.

I explained it to my mom like this. “Mom, I feel like a wounded animal who has crawled under the front porch to lick it’s wounds. I need to be alone, and to process this. You can't fix me ”.


I know I’ll have many days under the front porch, listening to the Jillian rain. And I’ll be the thunder in reply, rumbling in grief. And the lightening is the promise of the power that surrounds us all, reminding me that I’m not in control, He is.

I’m okay with that. I’m way okay.

~Peace

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Donna Moncivaiz- We Love You More!

I was in Tennessee when I heard that Donna had decided to go on Hospice care. She told me melanoma had reared its ugly head once again, and had spread. There were no more medical treatments available. 

We talked about her amazing family and how they were taking such good care of her and how much she loved them. We ended our conversation with the promise that I would come to Chicago the following Friday and we'd enjoy pizza and beer together. I never made it. Donna made her way to heaven that day, October 23, 2015, leaving behind her family, friends, and the melanoma community to mourn her passing.


It has taken me this long to blog about my friend, and my words are inadequate in describing what her life meant to those who loved her. Instead, I am going to share some stories that were written in her honor. Please feel free to message me if you would like me to include yours. .




Today Donna is being laid to rest. Her family plans to have a celebration tonight as it is also Donna’s birthday. So for those unable to attend Donna's Celebration of Life, please join together at 10:00 PM ET and raise your glass in her honor. Cheers to the Winner!

~Peace Donna. We love you more