March 28th 2016

I was Visiting Erich McChesney’s page today (March 28th 2018) and saw a video he had made a few years back…. great memories. On this morning in 2016 Dr. Agola and Dr. Nelson began a long (much longer than expected) day of operating trying to made E a new artery in that big ole brain of his. They did amazing work and tried to pull off an impossible feat. And were successful! Erich’s eyes when he woke up and squeezed my hand said a million things without saying one word. He was so thankful and happy that he had made it through. Sadly this day was just the beginning of a tough road. He fought hard. 2 days later He Happily celebrated his bday with a lot of visits from loved ones with eye blinks and hand squeezes and smiles…and then he went to sleep. I don’t think after that he ever truly came back 100%. There were moments in the weeks following with a foot movement or a hand movement or his eyes would flutter or try to focus on you. But I think his mind and spirit had begun to separate themselves from that body bc he knew it was not going to ever support him with the kind of life he wanted. He made me promise months before, when he was still talking and walking (and eating all the food he wanted and loved) that if he could not come back and live a full life, one that included all those things at the very least, not to allow him to come back at all. So I kept my promise to him, I owed him that much, even though I did not want to, and Dr Agola and I made the call to let Erich have some peace and quiet in his life for a few days before he said his final good bye. Those were rip-your-heart-out painful days, yet also so quiet and peaceful. I am so thankful to the many many many friends and family who stood by us over the months and years leading up to today and the 40 days that we existed in limbo until we said farewell. Erich was, and will always be a good man, an awesome Friend, a wonderful poppy, a loving family member. I miss him everyday. His laugh, his hugs, his sense of humor, his cooking….and most of all his unwavering love for anyone who meant something to him. If Erich loved you and was your friend, you knew it. So if you are one of those people take a moment today and remember this guy who fought so hard for everything that mattered to him. And was a true fighter right up till the end. We miss you E. I’m glad you are at peace and that you gave us so much to be thankful for. ❤

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Memorializing Erich

On This Day. 2 Years Ago. We Memorialized Erich McChesney at First Pres. in VB with songs, hugs, speeches, prayer, tears and bagpipes – and then the next day we set him free out on the water off 47th street with more hugs, love, toasts and songs. I wanted to grab all of the kind words and speeches and statements that have been made to honor Erich over those two days and then following on Facebook. Please read, share and enjoy:

Mary McChesney – May 14, 2016 – Today is a day I never wanted to come. There were many times over the last few years where negative thoughts would creep into my mind and I would imagine this day and then push those images aside and think, no way, that’s not going to happen. But it did and we are here in this sad, empty and lonely place. Void of the feeling from just being in a room or on the same planet with Erich. He had the biggest and most wonderful presence. If you knew him you could feel him whether he was sitting next to you or was a hundred miles away. I dont think its as simple of a feeling as love…it was there of course, but it was more than love, it was a calmness, an assurance that things were ok, and a confidence that comes from having some one care so wholly about you…. it was peace. Peace of mind, heart and soul that he was there for you for anything and everything no matter how big or small. And it’s been more of the inconsequential moments I’ve had the last week that felt the most painful. Times when I normally would have been calling him on the way home just to say hi, or debating dinner plans or choosing a pair of shoes for an outfit….those have felt the loneliest. And it’s a level of deep sadness that I did not know existed. Which coming from me is impressive really….since I cry over FB memes and sad commercials… So all that said, I guess I just needed a moment to share in preparation for today and tomorrow where we will fill rooms with people, stories, music and all the things Erich loved. Most importantly of those of course will be all the PEOPLE he loved, and who loved him. It is a gift to know so many people also love me and Hannah as well. We are better people and have deeper friendships and loves in our life because of Erich. I will laugh and cry with them and I will try to not feel pain but rather a fraction of Erich’s love as if he were with us in person and we will honor Erich and be strong for him and give him what he always gave us when he was with us – peace. ❤

Andrew Lasher – May 14th, 2016 – Gregarious, kind-hearted, amazing, generous, larger than life, witty, stern, crazy, thoughtful, brash, good, SO FREAKING LOUD, loyal, sarcastic, funny, stubborn, and courageous; those are just a few of the words I’ve heard used to describe Erich over the past week. From my experience with E, all are quite accurate. My personal choice is very simple; I chose “brother” because that’s what he is to me.
Prior to meeting Mary, Hannah, and the rest of their extended clan, Erich didn’t have a traditional family to speak of. He cherished being welcomed into the fold and that inclusion meant the world to him. He loved you all; Phelans, Lillibergs, and Johnsons, very much. Personally, I thank you for taking him in and making him one of your own. He deserved the chance to experience what being part of a traditional family feels like. You all made sure he did.
That being said, his non-traditional family has always been enormous. If I asked for a show of hands of how many of you consider him to be a brother or son, I’d be looking at more than I can count. He had that effect on people, he drew you in from the beginning and there was nothing you could do to stop it. His loud voice (aided by the fact that he was deaf as a post), that big booming laugh, his remarkably quick wit, and absolutely genuine nature were too much to walk away from. You never knew what would happen next when you were with him, but you knew that whatever it was it’d be worth sticking around to see.
For those who don’t know, Chestnut and I met at Army Basic Training in 1994. By good fortune (more mine than his) we spent the next two plus years together at Fort Bragg and have been extremely close ever since. Speaking of the Army, I’d like to share a message from his brother paratroopers with whom I’ve been speaking all week: “Chestnut, you have made your final manifest. Know that we will pick up your boots, weapon, and flag and carry them forward for you. May your drop zones always be made of sand and your winds always be calm. Rest easy trooper until we see you again. Airborne All the Way…H minus Loyalty.”
E and I didn’t talk as often as we should have, a fact that I now deeply regret. Life and geography get in the way. Things happen and you just don’t pick up the phone as when as you should. However, when we did talk it was like no time had passed. Our conversations could last three minutes or three hours, but you knew each and every second was a genuine as it came. When we actually did get together, holy hell, but we created stories that could fill volumes. That is something I’m sure is true for many of you here.
I will close by paraphrasing something one of his life-long friends said recently: “He was just so damn infectious! If you were close enough, the gravitational pull of his personality would suck you right in. And you would remain there captured in ever loving orbit, circling him for eternity.”
Erich you are greatly missed on this plane and are, I think, loved far beyond what you realized.
Rest easy brother, enjoy the Maker’s Mark, and thank you for bringing us into your orbit.
We are all better off for having known you.

Cori Simmons Triano – May 16, 2016 – Today, we celebrated the life of an amazing man… my best friend, my brother, Erich McChesney.
One thing I learned today is that Erich was clearly placed in so many of our lives to show us what it means to consciously choose love. Personally, he showed me what it means to love unconditionally. That’s how he loved his wife Mary, his daughter Hannah, his entire family and all of his friends.
To say that Erich was loved by many is an understatement. To say Erich had an affect on everyone he ever met is an understatement. To say that I was a better person because of Erich is an understatement.
I’m so grateful for the memories shared even though that means that now I have to grieve the loss of the best friend I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful for the people that Erich brought into my life. Some of the best friendships I’ve ever known began through one common denominator…Erich.
Please keep Mary, Hannah and all of Erich’s family and friends in your prayers as we all try to pick up the pieces and continue through life’s journey without Erich’s infectious laugh, quick wit, or his larger than life personality.
Erich, you will forever be missed. You will forever be loved. You will never be forgotten my brother, my dear friend.

Bryan Lewis – May 16, 2018 – Today I say goodbye to one of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and being almost family with. His passing hit me harder than most and I think I’ve cried more over this than 1,000 viewings of ‘What Dreams May Come’. Life sucks sometimes and this is certainly one of those times. The world lost a beautiful, intelligent, kind, funny and loving soul. Erich McChesney, I am honored to have been a part of your life. I wish you were here to read this. I’ll never forget you. ❤
https://deathandtelevision.bandcamp.com/track/1615-a-song-for-erich-nick-vardaro-remix-v1

Mark Jones – May 18, 2016 – I didn’t get to toast my friend Erich McChesney during his memorial service or at the celebration of his life afterward. Nor was I really ready to. But after a long quiet drive home, I was finally able to finally put into words what I was feeling. So here goes the best that a lowly squid can muster….
Years ago I had a young Sailor who when on liberty in some random dive bar in the Mediterranean would raise a beer and belt out,
“Here’s to you as good as you are
And here’s to me as bad as I am.
But as good as you are
and as bad as I am
I’m as good as you are
As bad as I am.”
In a drunken haze I would stand there thinking hard and trying to figure out if somehow I had been complemented or insulted.
But when it came to Erich “I’m as good as you are, as bad as I am” actually makes sense.
Erich has been by every one of our sides at times in our life when we were at our very worse. I guarantee that each of us can remember a time when we where having the worst lows of our lives and Erich stood by us. He never judged. He never belittled. He never trivialized. Most of all, he never felt sorry for himself. He never once tried to make his personal pain, illness, frustration, or mental anguish the center of attention. He never once felt sorry for himself.
He was always there to listen, lend a helping hand, and lift our spirits, no matter how bad you felt.
He always made sure that we realized that in his eyes, we were still a good person. That was his true gift to this world.
The last few years, as you know, I too have dealt with my own debilitating and potentially deadly disease. The double edged sword of depression and alcoholism is a very really disease. However, the very simple cure for it is to continually strive to be as “good as you are”.
From today forward, when I am struggling, I will think of Erich and strive to be better, just as he would want it.
I raise an ice tea to you my friend for every day I will strive to be AS GOOD AS YOU ARE, AS BAD AS I AM.
Cheers.

Mary McChesney Aug 8, 2016 – I went back to Feb/March on my timeline today and read every post, looked at every photo, laughed, and loved every memory shared, and enjoyed every second of it!! I did not cry. I was happy, joyful, and blessed to have the memories and love to look back on. These past 6 months have been a testament to all of our souls. I love you all so much. I love Erich so much. That will never change. He loves me, Hannah and all of you as well. He expects A lot from us as people he loved. He expects lives to be lived, loves to be cherished, adventures to be taken. If you knew him, and you loved him then you know that he would never be happy thinking he had made one person sad, or hurt. His mission in life was to make people happy, bring out their light, their joy, their laughter. My job now is to do that for him. I’m not sad, I’m lucky. I have his love and support to help me, guide me and send me forward. No, I’m not crying anymore… I’m happy, loved, and content. ❤

Cori Simmons Triano – March 30, 2017 – Today is my brothers birthday. He would’ve been 44. We should’ve been celebrating his recovery and rehabilitation after PED surgery to bypass his nasty, fusiform aneurysm today. Instead, we are celebrating the 43 years of awesomeness that Erich brought into this world. Nothing has ever been the same since you went to Heaven. I find that I’m angry and selfish that you’re not here. Then I find peace and quiet and a calmness in knowing that I will see you on the other side one day. When Mia sang Happy Birthday perfectly this morning, out of the blue, and kept telling me to be “happy” anytime I cried, I knew you were with us and letting us know that you were ok. And I’m fairly certain that you were up there telling me to stop crying and stop being sad and to celebrate that you were no longer in pain. Driving home tonight after celebrating with friends, “Sweet Tides” came on in my car. I knew then, without a doubt that you were saying “good job sis for celebrating life and not spending the night crying.” I so wanted to spend the night crying but I knew you didn’t want me to. You are missed so much that it makes my heart hurt. It’s so hard to lose the unconditional love of a brother and miss the sound of his voice and his laugh. I’d give my life to have you poke fun at me just once more bc I knew that was your way of expressing your love. There has never been anyone as special as you and there will never be anyone like you. Thank you for your love, your friendship, your brotherhood and your loyalty. You were the real deal. A true brother no matter who was your mother or your father. We were blood and I’d given my brainstem to save yours if I could have. I know that time will heal this open wound in my heart but there hasn’t been enough time to heal just yet. I love you bro with all my heart. Cheers to you! I hope the BBQ and bourbon are amazing in Heaven and that you’re sitting with Saint Matthew planting orchids and talking about life’s great mysteries. I know you are. So many memories today have flooded my brain. No words can express how glad I am to have those memories. I selfishly wanted more though. Love you every day big bro! Every.single.day. ❤

Mary McChesney – Aug 10, 2017 – some sweet photos popped up in my memories today of Albin and Erich! Albin was probably the most loving, happiest dog ever to bless me with being their momma…although he was most happy when he was with Erich McChesney, so my guess is they are both extremely happy to be together again. ❤
Albin passed about 2 weeks ago. He fought hard for a few months with his doggie diabetes but it was too much for his little body. We gave the family a couple of weeks to come to terms with it before we told a lot of people but I figured these pictures on my Facebook today was a good sign that it was okay to share with everyone! We loved that little guy so much – but Erich McChesney loved him the most — so I really do think they needed to be together – and that’s why Albin had to say goodbye to us for now. I am so happy that those two are together again. Playing and happy!

Cori Simmons Triano – Dec 28, 2017 – This (sign in the pic below) was written for you big bro! You were on my mind over the holidays and especially the past two nights while watching David play. I knew you were there, dancing with me, yelling “YEAH!!!!” in between songs and being the loudest and proudest person in the crowd. It’s just never the same without you. At holidays, at concerts, at times when I need advice or a joke or to share something that only you would laugh at, or just when I need that reassuring and unconditional love that only a brother like you gave me. Losing your best friend of your whole life is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to live with and most days are starting to feel easier than the day before, but the past few weeks have been really tough without you to lean on. I know you’re watching from above. I know you’re always listening when I talk to you. I know you’re catching me when I fall and telling me to stop crying when I start to share something funny about a bacon pic on your timeline and then go down this path of writing a diary/blog and wind up with tears streaming down my face. Daggone bacon sign pic made me think of you and how much I miss you, every day. I wish I’d saved every voicemail, or at least one of them, because I haven’t heard your voice in so long and I sure would love to hear it, especially your laugh. I’ve wanted to hear your laugh for so long that I’m starting to forget the sound of how loud and unique it was. I don’t want to ever forget that laugh. Ever.

You’d be proud of your boy! He was amazing the past two nights on stage. The whole band was. I’m so proud of him. The kids were hilarious! Seeing it all through their eyes last night was so humbling and precious. They cared more about the free skittles, pool table and pac-man games upstairs than seeing backstage, having a run of the place when it was empty or being on the stage when they had it all to themselves earlier in the day. They’re amazing little people and they miss you. We all do! Merry Christmas in Heaven brother. Love from your lil sis. I’ll see you again and I’ll keep talking to you every day in the meantime. ❤

Mary McChesney – March 28, 2018 – Visiting Erich McChesney s page today and saw this video he had made a few years back…. great memories. On this morning in 2016 Dr. Agola and Dr. Nelson began a long (much longer than expected) day of operating trying to made E a new artery in that big ole brain of his. They did amazing work and tried to pull off an impossible feat. And were successful! Erich’s eyes when he woke up and squeezed my hand said a million things without saying one word. He was so thankful and happy that he had made it through. Sadly this day was just the beginning of a tough road. He fought hard. 2 days later He Happily celebrated his bday with a lot of visits from loved ones with eye blinks and hand squeezes and smiles…and then he went to sleep. I don’t think after that he ever truly came back 100%. There were moments in the weeks following with a foot movement or a hand movement or his eyes would flutter or try to focus on you. But I think his mind and spirit had begun to separate themselves from that body bc he knew it was not going to ever support him with the kind of life he wanted. He made me promise months before, when he was still talking and walking (and eating all the food he wanted and loved) that if he could not come back and live a full life, one that included all those things at the very least, not to allow him to come back at all. So I kept my promise to him, I owed him that much, even though I did not want to, and Dr Agola and I made the call to let Erich have some peace and quiet in his life for a few days before he said his final good bye. Those were rip-your-heart-out painful days, yet also so quiet and peaceful. I am so thankful to the many many many friends and family who stood by us over the months and years leading up to today and the 40 days that we existed in limbo until we said farewell. Erich was, and will always be a good man, an awesome Friend, a wonderful poppy, a loving family member. I miss him everyday. His laugh, his hugs, his sense of humor, his cooking….and most of all his unwavering love for anyone who meant something to him. If Erich loved you and was your friend, you knew it. So if you are one of those people take a moment today and remember this guy who fought so hard for everything that mattered to him. And was a true fighter right up till the end. We miss you E. I’m glad you are at peace and that you gave us so much to be thankful for. ❤

Erich Gerald McChesney March 30, 1973-May 6, 2016

Published two years ago today, and it still reads like I wrote the words yesterday. It makes me happy to share this story about you Erich – even though it only captures a sliver of your life and the person you were – I think it gives those who knew you fond memories of our time together and those who did not know you a wish that they had. ❤

 

 

 

Virginia Beach – Erich Gerald McChesney, age 43, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 6th 2016 after a difficult battle with a devastating illness. Erich is survived by his wife, Mary Phelan McChesney, daughter Hannah Phelan McChesney, mother-in-law, Laura Lilieberg, and step-father-in-law, Carl Lilieberg, all of Virginia Beach, VA; brother-in-law, Mike Phelan, sister-in-law, Lindy Cartwright Phelan, and father-in-law, John M. Phelan, all of Kill Devil Hills, NC; as well as his aunt, Virginia McChesney, of Rome, GA. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as numerous friends who became his family. He created sisters of Cori Simmons Triano and Danielle Burns and brothers of Andrew Lasher, Eric Loulies and Kevin Littrell.

Erich was born in San Bernardino, CA, March 30, 1973, and spent the first part of his life in Turkey and Germany. He moved back to the states in the 80’s when his father was stationed at Langley Air Force base. After his father retired from the U.S. Air Force, they moved to Virginia Beach where Erich graduated from Cox High School in 1992. Erich then joined the US Army as an 82nd Airborne Paratrooper where he served with honor, winning many awards and advancing quickly. Erich studied Computer Science and Information Technology following his military service, completing multiple degrees and certifications before going to work for several local companies supporting their computer and network needs. His final career move married two things he loved the most: the US Army and computers. As a member of the CRGT team at Ft Eustis military base they serviced the contract for the Army Learning Management System (ALMS), helping soldiers go to school and complete needed training.

Erich was a wonderful father, husband, friend, soldier, leader, veteran and family member. He never met a stranger and fulfilled his desire for a big, boisterous, happy family through Mary’s huge family and with the many special people he met throughout his life. From high school in Virginia Beach, to the Army in North Carolina, and the last few decades in Norfolk, he created tribes of people who loved him for life and will continue to love him forever.

Erich had a wonderful and generous spirit. He gave his heart and soul to everything he did and to anyone he knew and cared about. Most people know of his time in the US Army and his love for his country and military brothers, but they may not know that he was also generous in many other ways including driving a truck for the Samaritan House; sheltering and fostering dogs for a rescue foundation; giving his time, money, and support to the Red Cross, wounded warriors, Joy Fund, United Way, Girls on the Run, Hannah’s school and music events, and many other worthy causes that were close to his or his family’s heart. By far the most generous aspect of Erich’s spirit was the support he gave to those he loved. If Mary or Hannah loved it, Erich loved it. Highest on Erich’s priority list was attending every play, recital, performance, and event where Hannah was a participant. He never missed a moment where he was needed in the 13+ years he had with his wife and daughter, whether it was a teacher meeting, party pick up, mall run or opening night of a new comic book or cartoon movie. He could even be found dressing up for a tea party or spa party in ways that only a dad would tolerate for his little girl.

Erich was an adventurer and also man of extremes. He was mouthy, sarcastic, funny and wild at heart, yet he also loved to meditate, do Tai Chi, read books, and build computers for hours on end. He had the unique ability to be still and at peace one moment, then rally and be the life of the part the next. And Erich did love a party! These were the best opportunities to use a good joke, catchphrase or sarcastic banter on his guests. He loved to dance, sing, drink good bourbon, smoke great cigars, eat any kind of spicy food and plenty of North Carolina BBQ and fried chicken!

On any given weekend Erich could be found around a fire pit, enjoying homemade moonshine in Goshen, on the Eastern Shore blowing stuff up with the guys, cultivating bonsai trees or orchids at Eggleston Garden Center, making beautiful Mala beads, mowing his yard (or critiquing Kevin’s), or playing a new video game while pretending not to hear Mary yelling up the stairs for him all evening long. He loved to sail, snorkel, search for unique stones or rocks, and would even occasionally watch Mary “sprout freckles” while they sat on the beach for hours in the summer. He never understood Mary’s love of sandy magazines and PB&J beach days, but he tolerated many hours of both for her.

Erich was generous to all with his love, time and most importantly – his famous hugs! Erich McChesney hugs were better than any chiropractic adjustment you could get and his sincere desire to make you feel better could heal all aches and warm even the coldest hearts, hands, and moments. His commitment to excellence improved his own life as well as the lives of others in so many ways, but most importantly he gave others a shining example of what friendship and a family member should look like.

Erich’s family would like to thank the many friends and extended family who have supported them throughout his illness. From cards, calls, visits and gifts, you have lightened our hearts and we have felt your never ending support. Dr. John Agola, Dr. Alex Grunsfeld and Dr. Peter K. Nelson, and their teams gave us hope and the Neurology ICU doctors and nursing staff at Sentara Norfolk General delivered the most amazing care. We will cherish the knowledge that Erich was cared for with excellence and love through each step of his journey.

There will be a celebration of Erich’s life on Saturday May 14th at 2pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach at 300 36th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.

she is soft and hard

“Well she is your daughter,” said my friend Lisa as we talked yet again about my girl Hannah – a 35 year old woman trapped in a 17 year old body. It’s true, I knew it when she said it. I know it now. Hannah is an old soul, wise beyond her years, and has experienced pain and loss already – by age 15 – that some never experience in their whole life.

How do you protect and nurture a child who does not believe herself to be a child or need help? The answer is, you don’t. She must determine that she needs and wants the help. She must learn how to ask for help. She must suffer until she no longer wants to suffer. She must walk alone, on her own, feeling that no one can help her but herself. And then one day, once she realizes that no one actually does everything on their own. She will reappear. Ready for help. Wanting to walk together. Hoping someone is still there to show her the way. And I will be there. I will always be there. Waiting for her to come back to me.

 

 

How did you do it? I miss you so much.

Hey babe As I lay here in bed this morning hurting from my mastectomy it makes me think about you and that I have no idea how you endured the amount of pain that you had all these years. I don’t know if I can handle this kind of pain all day or even all week I’m Googling everything that there is to see what Pain killer combinations are allowed with each other and trying to think of different ways to get comfortable in the bed and the sofa and the chair – anywhere – and nothing’s helping. ack! If you were here I know you would have all the answers. 

It makes me think about you so often just the amount of years that you struggled with your pain how you persevered how you read and learned about drugs about your disease about ways to manage. Makes me remember all the changes you made in your life style. your exercising, no more drive-thrus, no more Fried Chicken, no more bourbon or cigars… things that you truly truly loveD as a human! You cut those out which tells me that the pain must have been so great to be able to cut things like that out of your life but you never gave up. I have no idea why… I like to Hope and think that it’s because you loved me and Hannah and wanted to be around as much as you could without feeling miserable. And that is probably somewhat true and I know you’ve even told me that at times and so have others… but I also think there was something else deep inside of you something that a lot of people don’t have. it’s maybe perseverance? Maybe it’s determination or some sort of will to live that not everyone in the world has.

 I do know this: your ability to fight the disease you had for the years that you did is nothing short of phenomenal and everyday I think about you I’m proud of you. I’m proud that I knew you, I’m grateful that I love you, I’m happy that you are part of my family and that Hannah has you for a dad. All of those things are real and still present in our lives. Those do not Exist only in the past tense. They will live forever in my heart and the hearts of everyone who knew you and is loved by you.

 I do selfishly wish that you were here with me now, physically, so that you could hold my hand and tell me bad jokes about my boobs or the lack thereof of them and bring me pills and make me ice packs and do all the things that I know you would do for me. 

I wish you were here to talk to Hannah and to help manage Laura and all their stresses because you always did such a good job  making sure those two were as cared and loved for as I was. You also would communicate with all my friends and all of our family and tell them everything was going to be ok. You would be making me soup and peanutbutter crackers and bringing me Hershey Kisses or mnm’s with peanut butter. You would be reading all of the directions online and in the packets and telling me all the things that we have to do for me to get better. You would be bathing me and wrapping me up in towels and putting lotion on my back and combing my hair… and I would let you willingly because I love you I’ve never felt more cared for buy a human and I did when I was with you.

  I loved taking care of you as well. Even on my hardest days of your care I was grateful to have you in my life.  when I looked at your face saw all the Gratitude in your eyes I knew that every second was worth it even the hard parts. That gratitude wasn’t always easy to see sometimes… often it was hidden behind Pain and guilt and frustration but it was there none the less and you loved me and told me that every day – multiple times a day. Often, you even thanked me for caring for you which would make me mad and I would tell you to stop saying things like that because why wouldn’t I take care of you of course I would take care of you and that you would take care of me the same way if I ever needed you! And you would nod your head in silence and hold back tears bc you hated to cry, yet cried all the time there towards the end…and then we would keep going about whatever it was that was happening in that moment – and those emotions would pass and maybe even go unacknowledged, but we bot knew they were there and felt the deep connection that only comes from two people loving each other through something as deeply sad and yet comforting as caring for eachother in a time of need.

 And now here I am and I need you to take care of me and you’re not here and the sadness is overwhelming. I do know that every word, thought and need I could conjure up would be getting met by you for sure. And while that brings me solace, I do wish that you could be here in real life. Just a word, a touch or a feeling of you in another room would be like winning every lottery, sport, election, sale or competition that existed on the planet, all at once. 

  I do know this so many times over the last few days and even the last few months. I have felt you near me. Thank you for being there in the pre-op room early Monday morning while I laid there waiting my turn. I was scared, but you were there. Thank you for reminding me to ask for the things I needed without guilt from the wonderful ppl in the hospital, I was nervous, but you said – just ask – because you were there. Thank you for helping me find the smiles, hugs and strength to see and talk to all our familiar faces from ICU who came to visit me yesterday, I felt like I would crumble, but you were there and gave me strength. Thank you for helping me talk to Hannah with the right words and at the right time, I feared i would make everything worse, but you gave me strength and you were there. Thank you for sending me new strength in the form of new faces and friends. They love you and I both, and are here for us. Which i feel, make you here in my life in a real way as well. Not a way that diminishes your presence in spirit, but instead, extends you beyond whatever reach you could of had without them. 

Thank you for all of it. Every second, moment, breath, and tear. I love you and will love you deeply, truly and wholly for as long as you allow me. Just please keep coming around for as long as you are able and in whatever manner you are willing to give. 

It Cannot Be. It Can Only Be.

It cannot be that I am struggling again. It cannot be real. This cannot be happening. My head cannot wrap itself around the reality of my world these days. So much stress, yet so much love and laughter. How is it that I always feel so much of both, so often, so close together- even in the same space.

Some people are extremists in their physical adventures, I am an extremist in emotional adventures. Why can’t things just calm down? I dont know, maybe I dont want them to. Maybe I love the chaos and the feelings of those extremes. Could things ever be normal though? I am guessing, the answer is yes, and no. 

Sometimes when it is the darkest I truly believe it can only ever be this way. Then I take a deep breath and remember all the good. All the happy. The people, the love, the success and I remember that there is a way through, but I just cannot see it right now. I am trying but sometimes you just have to stop trying and invite help and inspiration from outside yourself.

 Do you control your universe or does it control you? I think that is a great question and I also think the answer to it is: YES. Yes, you can control and impact your world in meaningful ways. And yes, the world sometimes impacts you in ways never imagined.

I am praying and meditating daily to our universe, God, our spiritual bodies that guide change throughout our lives and I am asking for them to guide me, too. I feel powerless these days. I feel I have given it a good fight and I just can’t keep managing everything coming my way on my own anymore. I guess I did not know I was trying to fight this path alone. I always felt I had help, and was asking for help when needed. But maybe I was asking in the wrong places, or for the wrong things. Asking for help about specific things is not the answer. Asking for help with your ability to see the answers and paths surrounding you might be the better way. 

So if powers greater than me are going to keep sending emotional adventures my way, then I will ask them to manage me through. This is what it is. This is the reality of where I am, in this moment in time…so my best bet is to invite help from greater powers than me to help see me through. 

I sometimes think of a challeng in life like a knot you can’t get out of a tiny chain…the more you force it the tighter and more complicated it gets….however, once you relax and breathe and allow space and the air around it to have an effect, the chain opens up and you can start seeing the path that will allow it to become untangled. 

So did you actually untangle that chain or was that the space and world around you that allowed that to happen? Again, I believe the answer to that is: YES. 

So I say YES to the space around me, and YES to the help from the universe, and YES to the path opening up before me until I find myself untangled and in the right place, even if just for a moment. 

Yes. Yes. Yes. 

Themes for my stories moving forward. 

#deathwarmedover – conversations related to dying and grieving loss.

#dreamingwhileawake – my crazy dreams and what I think they mean.

#boobalicious – thoughts about my boobs, body, and health in general.

#shespeaks – parenting a teenage daughter. No more words needed here.

#conversationswE – I talk to Erich a lot. Send him notes, posts etc…. These are them.

#MoMo’ed – work life balance is a bunch of BS. This covers work, friendships, family, and the daily grind of it all….

#greaterthanfiction – my fiction work, poems, short stories etc. Hopefully it spills over from some of the other tags.

Things I would do and Erich would laugh (sometimes on purpose)

Erich Laughing

 

Everyone loved to hear my husbands big ‘ole belly laugh. Including me.

It was pure joy and happiness caught up inside a baritone bark, complete with a head tilt and eyes to the sky dance move that would easily have given Elaine a run for her money on the dance floor.

The last few years, as his pain grew stronger, that laugh grew weaker. It did not disappear – but it did get smaller. More restrained. Controlled.

You see, unfortunately the less laughter, the less pain in his head. And his main job at the time was keeping the pain and pressure off his brain at all times…. so the laugh did not leave us but it did change.

I admit I missed it so much that every once in awhile I would go out of my way to try and elicit one of those old school belly laughs.

Fortunately it was not that hard – I knew all his buttons – the good ones (the bad ones are for another post)!

Here were a few fun things that I would do to get a chuckle from Chesnutt: (sometimes on purpose – sometimes to my delight – without even trying).

– Try and fake out the animals that I was still asleep – even though they could hear my “awake” breathing under the covers/pillows. (Erich’s subsequent laughing would then of course, completely give us away).

– Run for garbage and/or recycle guys with additional items to add to their pick up (usually in my pjs and hair all a mess).

– Cook anything. especially something that called for cream of chicken.

– Sing and dance to The Voice

– Yell at the TV when ANY sporting event or political show was on (regardless of having even the least bit of interest in the sport, team, topic etc)

– Occasionally refuse to get dressed or off the couch for 24-48 hours (and watch bad TV and read for hours) – But then run like a little girl to our room anytime the doorbell would ring and make him answer it.

– Make him pack the car for a trip and then repack the car while cussing… every. single. time.* *Note this may appear on a future list about how to push Erich’s “bad” buttons as well. The laughing and jokes only came about 30-45 minutes into our trip…

– Chase Steve (the cat) with the laser light and cause a dog/cat war on who was going to catch that damn light.

– Sing in the shower.

– Step on Albin (our dumb, and always under my feet, youngest schnauzer).

– Harass Hannah and tease her about something that we knew she would get crazy irrational about… but kept on telling her it was going to happen anyway until she slammed a door or yelled at us… 🙂 hehehe

– Trip, fall or bump into _________ (insert ANY inanimate object here). I am pretty sure there are meme’s showing me doing this from security footage at work, as well as multiple nicknames for me from people we know – one nickname that I am ok with is “Grace.” Regardless Erich always found my pain to be funny – so wrong.

– My ability to lose any tool that helped me recover from the above listing – aka crutches, bandages, ice packs etc that would immediately go missing inside our house the moment I needed them. Also, the infamous boot/shoe that he named “DAS BOOT” and decorated with a sharpie by adding that name and each reason I ended up wearing it (I’m pretty sure I wore that at least 4 times in the first 6 years we were married).

– The number of times I would have to run back inside in the mornings after I “left”.

– My imitations of the animals voices and the nicknames that the animals gave us (Albin’s were all sourced from the KFC menu).

– Me and Hannah fighting about anything…(these were moments where I would NOT be pleased he was laughing but secretly enjoy it).

– Get scared during ANY movie we went to and at some point jump and scream in my seat (this also applies to all the cartoon movies we took Hannah to).

– Insert the word “cry” for scared to the above statement; remove jumping and screaming, add snort laughing.

– Make a list of 27 things we were going to accomplish on a Saturday or Sunday and then sit on the porch reveling at its beauty while drinking coffee and reading paper for 4 hours; Then run around house like a crazy person for rest of day trying to get 5 of the 27 things done on the list.

– Try to thumb wrestle him – (it’s always ended differently than I imagined).

-Try to sneak off with a “one kiss goodbye” – He always caught me – and got his other two – He was a 3 kiss kinda man…

That third kiss was always given with a smile, an “I love you” and a laugh… I remember the third kiss the most – which is why he gave them. And probably why I loved his laugh so much.

13 months.

Excitement. Fear. Hope. Frustration. Terror. Relief. Guilt. Anger. Love. Concern. Pain. Anguish. Mercy. Peace. Misery. Resolution. Nothing.

 

Those are all feelings that have fought their way to the front line of my life over the last 13 months. Depending on the situation Love or Anguish could be the winner of the day. I guess the good news about my emotional state was, like they say about the weather in VA, if you don’t like it, just wait a moment and it will change.

The one thing I did not think would bother me was the latest emotional gift…or rather lack of emotion… the feeling of Nothing. It is strange and slightly jarring to feel Nothing at all. You think back to all those times when so many emotions were running all over your body like trains on train tracks and remember how much you wished for some of those emotions and feelings to go away. But the scary thing is that when you do actually get to a place where you feel nothing, you immediately want to go back and jump onto those tracks. Nothing is not good. Nothing is quiet. Nothing is disturbing to others. Nothing is a defensive tactic that surly is masking something else deeper inside. Or at least I hope that is the case. Nothing is an insult to the memory of the person you loved.

It is good and right to feel love, anguish, sadness and pain. It is bad to feel nothing.

I will sit and wait in my Nothingness until the pain returns and that will give me hope which will lead me to a new place. Where there is something not nothing.

 

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