Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finding Hope After A Loved One Dies

It's been awhile, my friends. Shortly after my last post I received news a dear friend of mine (40 plus years) had cancer throughout her body. The news hit me hard--it hit all who knew her hard especially her family. Betsi was the poster girl for living life with gusto, passion and sheer enthusiasm. She left us about 8 weeks after her diagnosis to wear a sparkly suit and eternal smile.

I went to CA to be with her in her final days. I didn't have time to chicken out traveling due to my PTSD. There was no time to hesitate. When Betsi woke up in the hospital and saw me standing beside her bed, her face lit up like a sparkler. She said, "Wow! Wow! Wow!" over and over again. For a few days she rallied. I told her over and over she had given me courage to do what I never thought I could do by leaving my safety net of home. She gave me a gift I could never have imagined--freedom from my mind's prison of PTSD long enough to be there for her, and her family helping them out. Hearing her tell me she loved me will never leave my thoughts. I can hear her say it as if she were in the room with me and it's always followed by her magical laugh.

It's been difficult for me to resume life as "normal". I've felt incredibly sad even though I have a wonderful life. I haven't been able to paint, play my guitar, sing, write, or do many things that bring me joy. It's as though I felt guilty to simply "go on with my life". How can one when your heart aches for it to just be a bad dream and not real? Betsi wouldn't like hearing this. She's always been one of my greatest fans in life and cheered me on in living my dreams great or small. She would want me to continue sparkling, shining and splashing color on every corner of the world.

Betsi's occupation was an HR Specialist , but she changed it to being an HR specialist for Hope Rocks. She was my right hand on my Hope Rocks page on Facebook--my faithful admin. The Hope Rocks she made (literally hundreds of them) and left for others to find gave her great joy her final months on Earth. She had no idea she'd be leaving us so soon--none of us did--she just did what felt right even though she didn't feel well physically. Here's a message she sent to me Valentine's Day 2011.

" Hey, 60-75 Hope Rocks left at high school for Valentine's Day! I put out all I had done and am doing more now. You gave me hope back and I love you for it! Well, I love you anyway but you know what I mean!"

Yes, Betsi, I do know what you mean, and looking back on these dark days, and months of grief, I see it's time to allow HOPE to light my way again and warm my heart just like your laugh did. You gave me my hope back that I could be even somewhat "normal" living with severe PTSD. I won't waste that gift. I'm shaking the cobwebs off my monkey pants and art supplies. My guitar needs me. Life needs me to re-boot and find more ways to spread hope. I'm grateful to carry the torch for all who need a little hope, and the only way hope grows is when you give it from the heart just like Betsi did and still does every time I think of her.

I love you, Betsi, my HR specialist. Until we meet again... Sparkle on, Cosmo Betsi, Sparkle on~

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