Monday, October 3, 2016

An Alpaca on an Oriental Rug

Daniel with Cammie, in early August, 2004

                         Sometimes, I look back sadly on the twelve and a half short years Daniel had on Earth. Sometimes I feel as if I should have taken him to Europe, or to Canada or even Iceland.  The fact is, I believed all those things could wait or that he could do them as an adult. I believed he would be on Earth for an entire lifetime and that there was no reason to race through his life.  Other times I look back on his life and realize that in many ways he enjoyed an unusual and special life here, even though he may not have completed the things I might have wanted for him.

                         Daniel loved animals, and in late July of 2004, one of our alpacas, Queen Isabelle, gave birth to a third cria (baby alpaca)   Isabelle's milk did not come in as it should have, and the vet came to give the cria a blood transfusion from another animal in order to provide the immunity that the initial colostrum ordinarily would have provided. We also needed, for a time,  to tube feed the cria, and then nurse her through colic, all while running her outside periodically to maintain the bond she was to have with her mother.  At night the cria slept in some clean orchard grass in our empty deep jacuzzi in the master bedroom.  During the day, she spent time with her mother outside in the grass. The cria, named Warrior Princess Camellia, or Cammie to mere mortals like ourselves, came inside to the bathroom to receive orogastric tube feedings. At times, the little dear did walk over genuine oriental rugs ! Fortunately, even young crias urinate and defecate only in a dung pile out of doors.  Daniel was especially nurturing to little Cammie, who was all of twenty pounds during this period of time.

              Time passed quickly and Cammie grew.  As time passed she not only had the bond with her mother for which we had all hoped, but a bond with Daniel and the rest of her humans, as well.  Daniel may not have seen Europe or had pastries in Paris. He may not have have seen bubbling hot springs in Iceland, or have made it to Stonehenge in England, but he did live a remarkable life.  He spent a lot of time studying things with which he had a deep interest. He read a great deal and few had such a detailed understanding of a computer and the internet. In fact, he was looking at colleges at 12 1/2 and was academically ready to go. He enjoyed close relationships with animals and was an important caregiver to them, especially when they had difficulties. He enjoyed rescue dogs, and chickens and ducks. He did far more of the things he really cared about doing than many of us have the chance to do.

             We had no idea what was to come. Probably the reason that Cammie's mother did not produce milk following her delivery, is that she was later found to have an advancing brain tumor. The vet believed it to be astrocytoma.  Cammie's mother Isabelle died in the Summer of 2004. I remember Daniel hosing Isabelle down to keep her cool following a seizure in one of those last hours.
              Then, in November, 2008 Daniel died suddenly, and with a clean autopsy. It is theorized that he passed of a sudden heart rhythm disturbance, the type often seen in children playing sports. It is theorized to have been something called Long QT Syndrome.
              Cammie is ten years old now. She lost her mother, and then she lost Daniel.  Within in past few months, her father, Ditto, passed at a very advanced age.  We still care for her as diligently as we ever did, exactly as Daniel would want it.  Cammie may have known losses, but she has also known stability in that she has remained at the farm in which she was born, all of her life. She has herdmates she has known all of that time. She has a brother who has always been here also.

                In late Fall this year, Daniel will have been gone for eight years. Sometimes it feels like it was only three years ago, and then other times it feels as if it were ten years ago. So many of Daniel's animals have lived to advanced old ages and then passed. The world has changed a good deal in the eight years since his departure.
                 And still, both Cammie and Daniel have the memory of playing together within weeks of her birth, on oak floors indoors, and on oriental rugs. Most of all I remember their joy while playing, as we worked so hard to keep Cammie alive in those early weeks.

                   And so, if there is a moral to this story and to life in general, it's that none of us know what is to come or can predict it. Of course we all need to work, because work is a part of life, but we also need to make time to do things we genuinely care about doing.  I can't account for my grandmother living to near one hundred when she had battled health issues from about forty on. I can't account for how a healthy child could die despite CPR one November day.  What I can do, is make sure that everyone I love knows it, and that the most important things I care about doing are done. Make sure that the animals you love know that too, as their lives pass so much more quickly than our own.  Don't be afraid to put your alpaca on an oriental rug if need be.

My husband with Cammie.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A September Flu


        I haven't been sick with anything other than a cold for about three years.  Somehow I have managed to catch the flu. I spent last evening figuring out what I should do since it's been such a long time since I had to treat myself for flu.  I started with extra vitamin C, then moved on to regular strength tylenol when I became febrile. I added Mucinex and lots of water when I became congested. Then, when I developed a wheeze. I brought out the nebulizer with medication which I will be using at least twice daily until this disappears.

           Since I didn't spend time yesterday exerting as much energy as I do normally, I didn't fall asleep easily when I went to bed. The program I was watching ended at eleven, and before you know it, my wheezing was back and it was midnight. Then I tossed and turned, drank more water and it was one. Then, the dogs barked
       Then, finally feeling a bit better, I lapsed into either unconsciousness or a deep sleep.  I found myself in a dream with my father.  Despite the fact that my father passed in 2008, he and I were in a navy blue Land Rover, and Dad was driving. This was interesting because most modern Land Rovers are automatic transmissions now, but this was my Dad, so he was driving a standard shift. He and I were making an evening run to some Goodwill Stores.  Once we got there, Dad found some new intelligence software that someone had donated. "This would be useful", he said,  as he presently doesn't have access to the software used in intelligence reporting. I bought some leather bags that were new and had been donated by a store to Goodwill. Dad also found a new pair of leather shoes which he delightedly picked up quite reasonably. I have no idea of the significance of this trip but I do appreciate my Dad visiting when it's possible for him. His appearances for visits in dreams help me to recall the feelings of his occasional visits and trips we made both together and with my kids. I will take these visits any way that I can get them.  Perhaps Daniel will come next time. They tend to visit separately, even though they both contend they "see each other all the time" and are in "close proximity".  I know that they care for my animals who have passed, and when they are away, the animals are cared for by Mrs Brandt, a friend of my family's from my childhood who loves dogs and other animals.

        I awoke with  simply a cold. I was a bit peeved that I could not keep the leather bags I had bought during the dream.  I am encouraged with the time I spend with Dad, and I am glad he finds a way to  visit me sometimes.

          Since cold and flu season is here, please consider getting a flu shot early.  Best wishes to you all.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Truth of the Damaged Time Line

  When you lose a child, many physicians and ministers in particular, allot you a time in which to grieve of about a year. Then they expect that you heal sufficiently to head into what they call "the new normal". If you don't, they consider that you are grieving abnormally or perhaps even arrested in the development and maturity of your grief.

       I was a great little soldier through my grief. It's not because I am particularly brave or not in touch with the devastating loss we had experienced. It's that I had three other children and a husband who was understandably broken following our sudden loss of a healthy 12 1/2 year old beloved youngest son.  I was certainly broken. I just needed to make sure that everyone else would survive this loss before I fully examined what the loss of Daniel from Earth really meant to me.

         This November, it will be eight years since Daniel abruptly left his beautiful flesh suit.  Eight years later, I don't believe that there is a new normal. I think that what happens to most people is that they craft a life without their child or the loved one they have lost and they do so as if the life they lead is the result of a fractured timeline.  What I mean by that is that if Daniel had remained here on Earth, then he would be twenty years old. He would be in college or working.  He would have adult friends and be driving and planning for the future. He would be going places with his older siblings. They would be planning vacations together.  Instead, the branch of the tree that would have been Daniel's is now absent. The life we lead is not the one we would have. Our lives without him have continued to grow on that tree and as bright as some of the fruit in this timeline might be sometimes, the tree has now grown as a disrupted timeline.

The reason this is important is that in order to make best and most productive use of the life we have remaining, it's important to describe our situation, at least to ourselves, accurately. I don't cry much, although I think of Daniel each day. I miss seeing his wonderful life unfold. I miss his commentaries and I miss seeing what he would become. I will also miss seeing the family he would have made.

I don't believe that anyone who hasn't lost a child or a loved one can truly understand the pervasiveness of such a loss, or all of its implications.  This does not mean that I am lost. I accept and believe that God keeps Daniel and that I will see him again when I leave this existence myself.  I believe that at some future day we will be reunited.

     This does not stop my feeling that in late November, 2008 that the loss of Daniel altered the timeline we expected to live. The timeline was replaced by one with less joy.  I will continue to build the best life I can for my children, my husband, and my grandchildren, just as Daniel would have strenuously requested, had he had the chance to speak to us after his passing.

      Please remember that those you love who have experienced a crushing loss might feel this way also.  There is no genuine return to the days before such a tragedy. Be kind as you talk to others, especially those who know grief, either the anticipated kind, or the kind that envelopes us. May your "time line" be linear and as you expect.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Terrible Loss of Jamil Baskerville Jr.

                 Most of the time, I am well.  It helps me that my beloved youngest son left the Earth quickly, and without pain, by God's calling, and not by violence.  I often wonder how parents of children who were victims of violence and who died as a result fare, when they are eight years past the loss of their child, as I am.

                Yesterday however, I heard something that has stayed with me and has broken my heart.

This is Jamil Baskerville Jr., in a family photo

         Last Saturday, in Pennsauken  N.J., a 24 year old man, Zachary Tricoche, became upset with his girlfriend over not bringing home some groceries he liked. They reported that a fight ensued. The woman's  two year old son above, is reported to have become upset when Tricoche shoved his mother, and he tried to defend her.  Tricoche took his fist and hit the child in the chest sending him into a wall.  When the child got up and came at him again, he punched him again so severely that the child hit the wall again, this time hitting his head and becoming unconscious. Then the child vomited and became unresponsive.  Jamil was pronounced dead later at the hospital.

          What kind of a person tells a two year old to "put up his hands to fight", before beating him to death ? Why would he think that his role would be to fight a child rather than to lay his own life down in order to protect one ?

There are too many people who have deliberately caused the death of a small defenseless child. Small children are fragile.   What kind of a monster would do such a thing ?  Then I prayed for little Jamil, and I got an answer.   The kind of person who would do such a thing, is a person who was also raised to believe that a two year old is a man, and that it's appropriate to fight like a man against a 24 year old.  A person who was raised with ineptitude and evil, will grow to see a two year old as competition and will attack him. Evil begets evil just as good begets good.

I also cannot imagine my not getting between an attacker and a two year old in a similar circumstance.  I wonder if his mother simply didn't understand what was happening or whether it all happened so quickly.

In your own life, make doubly certain than unbalanced, unstable or violent individuals are not permitted near the vulnerable children you know.

 On autopsy it was determined that Jamil's liver had been ruptured and that he bled to death internally. This is an end no child should ever endure.  Tricoche is imprisoned on a million dollars bond awaiting trial for homicide.

  Sadly, there are children in foster care who have only narrowly escaped such an end, and who will carry such a memory throughout life. It is not the shocking aberration that it should be.

       I pray for the remaining family of Jamil, here on Earth.

Friday, August 5, 2016

While Autumn Beckons


               Although it is August, and still mired with ninety degree days and afternoon thunderstorms, the trees say that Autumn will come a little early here this year.  Many of the trees have turned either from green to red or green to yellow, and this is surprising given that there has been plenty of rain and no real reason for a die back. In the Fall, it will be eight years since the day when in just a moment, Daniel was found absent from his body.  It's funny that in some ways this seems a very long time ago, and then in others, just a moment ago as the detail of each of those moments is as sharp and as clear as if it were yesterday.

                    Recently, an accomplished established country music artist Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum fame, lost her grandfather.  An album named Love Remains was born.  The following song was born of the pain of the aftermath of a miscarriage of the artist.   I could not listen to the song without being transported to those days closely following the loss of Daniel, when I think the stage of grief is more akin to bewilderment, rather than denial, anger or bargaining.

                      Since you are reading this blog, you likely know something of grief.  I have therefore posted Hillary Scott's song below.  Please also see and buy her album Love Remains which frames this song. and which probably fits the Contemporary Christian genre best.  Hillary's parents and her sister, also collaborated on this project and they are apparently all superb and accomplished musicians.

Thy Will is simply a beautiful song and is especially suited to grief and the inspiration so sorely needed afterward.

Publishing: © 2016 W.B.M. Music Corp. / EKT Publishing, admin. by W.B.M. Music Corp. (SESAC); WB Music Corp. / Thankful For This Music, admin. by WB Music Corp. (ASCAP); Songs of Universal, Inc. / G650 Music/Pure Note Music, admin. by Songs of Universal, Inc. (BMI).

Writer(s): Hillary Scott, Emily Weisband and Bernie Herms

Record Company:  EMI Nashville

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Generous and Enigmatic Oliver Swinford


            I can go a long time without meeting anyone whose words stay with me. Lately, I am a bit weary of people, particularly those who flutter like angry wasps on social media. And yes, I do mean weary not wary in this particular circumstance.  I have concluded that a lot of people are angry about one thing or another and don't miss the chance to spread that anger far and wide, a bit like a toddler spreading several bowls of chocolate icing over a yellow cake and the rest of a kitchen. Today was different, however. I was out with one of my sons, and a grandson and we quite accidentally made the acquaintance of another author. I don't know why we at first spoke, but he was uncharacteristically generous with his time and his gaze.  He was, for some reason, very familiar, and yet we have never met. It took some time for me to establish why. He is one of those people who has either died or come damn near it, just to return with uncommon knowledge. People like those not only have a different gaze than the rest of us, but they have a generosity of spirit and a recognition of souls most others can't dream of, let alone describe.  Most of us walk through life hoping that only good things will happen, but this man walks with the knowledge that for all of us, bad things will happen too, and that somehow, our souls will remain intact, and it will ultimately okay anyway.  It's also excellent fodder for writing as well.

                 I could not wait to get home, get online and read some of the work of this person.  I know a lot of talented authors.  Oliver Swinford is one of the most talented authors I have had the pleasure of meeting.  I highly recommend his book, On Cloudless Days.   This work has been described by others as captivating, compelling, and psychologically captivating. I not only agree, but I think the work is a pretty fair reflection of the man himself.

                 If my son Daniel were alive today, I have no doubt that he and Oliver Swinford would be friends. I was pleasantly reminded of Daniel and how he looked at life and of the things which befall us in this life, as I spoke with Mr. Swinford.   Please buy this book as soon as you can.




Sunday, July 3, 2016

Please See:" The Short Life of Peep"

Sometimes God sends some animals for a short stay here on Earth.

  Please see one of my other blogs, "Life After The Rescues" for the story of Peep, a Rhode Island Red hatchling at:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

On This Sunday

This morning, I felt compelled to share this. In these difficult times, perhaps we should read more.


Habakkuk 3 

New International Version (NIV)

Habakkuk’s Prayer

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.[a]
Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman,
    the Holy One from Mount Paran.[b]
His glory covered the heavens
    and his praise filled the earth.
His splendor was like the sunrise;
    rays flashed from his hand,
    where his power was hidden.
Plague went before him;
    pestilence followed his steps.
He stood, and shook the earth;
    he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
    and the age-old hills collapsed—
    but he marches on forever.
I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
    the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
Were you angry with the rivers, Lord?
    Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
    when you rode your horses
    and your chariots to victory?
You uncovered your bow,
    you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers;
10     the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
    the deep roared
    and lifted its waves on high.
11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
    at the glint of your flying arrows,
    at the lightning of your flashing spear.
12 In wrath you strode through the earth
    and in anger you threshed the nations.
13 You came out to deliver your people,
    to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
    you stripped him from head to foot.
14 With his own spear you pierced his head
    when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
    the wretched who were in hiding.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
    churning the great waters.
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Electronic Notes Through the Veil Which Separates Us


      I know that you and Dad watch us sometimes.    Your sister had asked me to "inspect" her house before the appraisal for her refinance recently, and I felt you there with me.   I am also pretty sure that you and Dad were the ones telling me in dream to check the Summer house and that there was damage there. (Thank you by the way. I have hired someone for the repairs and they are under way.)  The caretaker phoned to tell me the same, the following day, after I had mentioned the dream to your Dad.  I still miss you both very much and I think of you both often. 
        Daniel, you passed just after Barack Obama was elected, and from his writings you and I were both concerned about the direction of our country.  It actually has been worse than you and I had anticipated.  In some ways I am glad that you are not here to have seen the wanton disregard of our Constitution and the mismanagement of our country and world affairs by this regime.  The choices for the next election are not good.  One candidate is frequently dishonest and self serving and mismanaged her role as Secretary of State. Another potential candidate is out of touch and a communist.  The presumptive candidate for the Republican ticket says things that a lot of people think, but seems cavalier in some of his comments, and erratic sometimes.  Sometimes a small part of me is glad that you are home safely and not subjected to this.
       I know you pray because you always did.  Please pray for us, and for our country.  Your siblings especially have a hard road to hoe.  Your nephew will as well.  With that, I send the warmest hugs to you both.  I am doing the best I can.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Almost Eight Years Ago

I liked it, and I thought of you, but then I could not bring it home.


            Many times I function very well.  I do what I need to do as a parent and as a grandparent.  I take good care of your animals and their descendants.  Every once in a while there is something that I see or hear which triggers less than a happy recollection.  I think today was one of those days.  I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for someone and I saw a small blue and white house flag.   It said

     If tears could build a stairway,
    and memories a lane.
    I would walk right up to Heaven
    and bring you back again.

                             (Author unknown)

  I picked up the flag and added it to the few things I bought there. It will look nice on the small flag holder near the driveway. Then I thought about it some more.  You were called to Heaven supernaturally.  No clear explanation of why you passed has ever been demonstrated.  Repeated autopsies found nothing wrong but concluded that the manner in which you fell coupled with family history among older family members probably pointed to an abrupt cardiac arrhythmia.  You were called home by God in just a few seconds. Even though I gave CPR immediately, I never got you back. You were no longer there when I began.   If I were to build a bridge and walk up to Heaven to bring you home then I am doubting the plan of God. God needed you home in Heaven, and by saying I would bring you home I am doing something contrary to God's plan for you, for me , and for this family.    Still,  I love you and I miss you more than words can say.   I left the flag in the store.  I chose to trust God's plan for us all.  Perhaps this is as close to acceptance of what happened to which I will ever arrive.