Emotional Atomic Bomb

I’ve lost both of my parents, and several friends, but nothing could have prepared me for the emotional atomic bomb that the sudden death of my husband caused.  I am still pulling shards of glass from my heart.

In the past, I had heard that divorce is like a death, but death doesn’t allow you to sit next to each other at a soccer game, and negotiate who will pick up from the Homecoming dance. Although, divorces can be devastating, they don’t leave your children permanently fatherless.

As I walk along this path, I think I should be doing better than I am, that so many things shouldn’t bring me to tears.  But at the same time, this is the person who held my hand when I had a baby. We spent twenty five years together, most of them good.

Recently, the girls like to hear stories about their dad, my daughter asked me what we talked about when we were dating.  I told her, we talked about everything, but what I remember most was the sound of his voice. He had a very slight Texan accent and a very soft way of talking, and he was wicked funny in an unexpected sort of way, one that you had to wait for. The girls have this same sense of humor.

So, maybe it’s ok if I’m taking my time getting over this.  It’s going to take as long as it’s going to take.

Enduring Friendships

Whistler Canada

I remember Susie White coming to my dorm room with a monster cookie from the Superette in Corvallis.  It was raining and she was wearing a blue rain coat, Levi 501 jeans, and the L.L. Bean duck shoes we all wore.  She told me she had chosen me as her little sister in the Alpha Phi house. 

From the beginning, no two people could have been less alike, but we got along like a house on fire.

In highschool, I spent most of my lunches by myself in the Art Department practicing Caligraphy. I went to an experimental highschool where it was perfectly acceptable to skip classes and paint for three hours.  Which I often did.

My big sis was the opposite, so much so that I believe she was the Alpha Phi social chairman for all four years. 

She was a spark plug, and I was an introvert who liked to stay up all night reading, but this was about to change. As Sue’s little sister, I was quickly swept into her hurricane of fun, and I went willingly.

We had many adventures together in her Dodge Dart.  One Christmas Break we drove it to Whistler Canada to ski. We were so poor back then, we had to pool our pennies just to go.  In the years to come, Sue would have a Porsche, and even a Ferrari, but nothing would compare to that trip.

On a recent Saturday, Sue picked me up in her BMW and we took a road trip to Napa. And it was like nothing had changed and we were exactly the same people we had always been.  The years melted away, and time stood perfectly still. 

It was completely magical.  

Oregon State University – Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Fairwinds Harvest Party, Calistoga California 2016

Calistoga, California 2016

Gratitude 

Even though, I’ve been through so much over the last few months, I am grateful for my life.

I look at my healthy kids, and feel there is nothing more I could ever ask for that could bring me more joy and peace, and be such a blessing to me.  

Fortune has favored me in so many ways; with my family, many friends, work I love, my safe neighborhood and gracious home.  

But most of all, I am thankful for my good health.  I have always been someone who appreciated my body.  Even when I was a young girl I found my hands, and eyes and my physical abilities amazing.  I was a treeclimber when I was in grade school, then a sprinter and hurdler in highschool, and a skier and so much more. 

As I watch people I love struggle with illnesses, and after the sudden death of my husband to his undetected heart issue, my own good health is not lost on me. And I guard it and protect it daily. 

When my husband died I knew I had to take care of myself.  I needed to sleep, rest, pray, and exercise.  I walk my dog and my neighbors dogs, often on the same day, and spend sometimes two hours a day outside, and I notice the seasons and the beautiful Magnolia trees that line the streets of Moraga. I walk in the open space behind my house. I am so grateful and blessed for all of the beauty around me.

Yes, bad things happen sometimes, but the leaves fall and new leaves arrive in springtime. This is what we all learn.  We experience the seasons, and spring without fail arrives. 

Love and blessings to all. 

 

 

 

 

Adversity

I’m watching my miraculous life unfold now with a keen awareness that previously I didn’t know existed. 

Last night, I attended an event facilitated by a colleague of mine.  It was on the topic of Life and Career Transition and Mastering Change, sponsored by the Elevate Institute in Berkeley. During the discussion I talked about fear and how this holds many entrepreneurs back, then ironically when I went to leave I found my window smashed, and my purse stolen. 

I resisted the urge to cry my eyes out like a normal person, but instead called my adopted mom, Sandra Floyd who told me not to worry, it happens all the time. When I got home my kids stared at me in horror while I talked on the phone filing the police report and canceling credit cards. 

My younger daughter had wanted to practice driving, but it was late at night and we had a smashed window and glass everywhere, so she assumed that it would have to wait.

The discussion at the meeting also centered around perception and how we view life challenges.  In the spirit of this, I found my keys, and spent the rest of the night driving around with both of my teenage daughters laughing, and listening to music with all of the windows down. 

Today, I wondered was I teaching my daughter to drive, or was I teaching her to overcome adversity?  In this case, I believe the later.

The Gift

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A few days after my husband died I met a woman at the Coroners Office who told me that people often leave gifts after they die.  For her a few months after her husband died, she discovered a voice mail from him that she had never listened to.  It was Valentines day, and in the message he told her how much he loved her and their kids.  She said it was his gift to her and that many people get these gifts and that they are common.

So, I have been wondering what my gift will be, and as I’ve gone through the process of dealing with the paper work involved in a death, I remembered my husband insisting I state my occupation as “writer” on our marriage license.  At the time, I was a Product Manager at Bank of America, but I did it anyway.

From the beginning my husband helped me with my work.  When we first met, I was changing jobs and he insisted I ask for more money when I negotiated my salary and I listen to him and was given a giant raise, later, I would go onto bill $100 per hour when I worked as a marketing consultant.  He had so much confidence in my abilities.  He would edit anything I wrote for work that was important.  He also listened patiently to every Power Point presentation I ever gave and he always gave me the best feed back.  He never tampered with the spirit of my work, but would only improve it, and because of this he was my favorite editor.

Even though he himself was a beautiful writer, when he would read my writing he would tell me that if he could write like I could that he wouldn’t do anything else.  I am now trying to honor his wishes and write.  And I am able to write almost effortlessly now, and these words are his gift to me.

 

Grace 

Chimney Rock Beach, Lake Tahoe
May, 2016 Photos by Denise Nomura

Since the beginning I’ve had an end in mind, to protect my children first and foremost, and at all costs. That has been my primary goal, my secondary goal has been to build a strong foundation for my future, so that I can financially support myself and my children regardless of what comes my way.

I’ve found my intuition through my journey invaluable, and I suggest anyone who is on a difficult path learn to allow their inner compass to guide them, but more than this, I’ve prayed daily since I was a child, sometimes I pray all day. I love to pray while I’m driving and I’ll ask my guardian angels to play me a song, and I’ll turn on the radio and get something hilarious like, “Jesus take the Wheel,” by Carrie Underwood, because God has a sense of humor. 

When I was a little girl on the farm and my own father died, I was comforted by my faith and that has been a guiding principal all of the days of my life.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve loosened my ties to the Catholic Church, but love anywhere that God lives, sometimes this is on my yoga mat in the Child’s Pose, or on a ski slope, or waking up next to one of my children with the cool predawn light on their skin, or serving food at a homeless shelter or petting my dog who is so beautifully made.  Of course sailboats and my beloved Lake Tahoe are full of nothing, but grace. 

Taxes & Attorneys

I left sunny East LA on Sunday, and am now on a train in a turtleneck sweater, loafers and raincoat to foggy San Francisco to meet with my husband’s tax attorney, Robert again. It’s sprinkling which is a good sign here in Northern California.  Even so, what a difference a day makes. 

I’ve been confounded  by the astonishing  way in which people who think they are going to live forever manage their money.   Once again, I am blessed to have my financial background and thankfully know my way around banking institutions, lawyers and a spreadsheet, but what about other people in my situation who do not have financial prowess?  All I can say is, get your affairs in order, because there is nothing not complex about any of this. 

I am working very hard right now for my children, and to quell this constant sense of anxiety that motivates me to protect them in any and every way possible. 

In the city, Robert talks very fast, and because of this, I am thankfully out the door in under an hour.  I’d spoken with Rob before, and cleared up any misconceptions he had about my ability to follow his words and we had a quick and productive meeting. 

On my way home, I got off the train in North Berkeley and met my business partner Andrew LaCenere for coffee. I am starting to feel the sensation of change again.  The kind you initiate, not the kind where you are dragged unwillingly and can only surrender. 

I’m still in a state of disbelief, because this time last year I was on a sailboat training for my BK Certification, or a license to sail.  Such a luxurious thing to do, even then.  And now my world is unrecognizable from what it was. I’m picking up the pieces one at a time. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not. Someday, all of this will be just a memory, and I will turn the page on this chapter of my life. 

For today, I am grateful for Robert who is extremely knowledgable and kind, and for the many others who have helped me along the way.  

Peace

Diamond and South Bay Front

Finally, I feel myself coming to some sort of peace after the shocking events of the summer. Even the word October helps me feel like I’ve put some distance between myself and that horrifying phone call in July. 

I watch my daughters and I’m stunned by their bravery and their ability to stay strong and focused. My daughter interviewed with USC on Friday.  I sat in the courtyard outside the admissions office and watched her walk away from me and into her future.  Her sunny disposition in the face of such adversity moves me to tears sometimes. I’m so proud of her.  She told me the death of her father just 8 weeks ago taught her that the only thing that matters in the end are our relationships, and our experiences with other people. 

Now, I’m in Newport Beach with my best friend.  I was here in June, an eternity ago, and so much has changed since I was last here visiting her and my garmet factory to make the first prototype for my sailing apparel line.  We walk along the waters edge in this beautiful town, and I am starting to feel peaceful and balanced again after so long. 

It’s taken me a while to process all of this. I think being an optimist I can’t believe that this is how the story ends. But maybe this is just the beginning.