Saturday, December 24, 2016

You Love Me More: Our Christmas Letter



       Daniel,

    It is now eight years counted in Earth years since you parted so quickly, at the beginning of that Christmas season.  Since you missed the Christmas in 2008, then you are actually about to miss the ninth Christmas since your departure.

                      There are a number of things you know I do since your departure, in part as remembrances of you, and in those early years, as a probably attempt to stay sane.  Each year, I have either written a Christmas letter to you that is found in your Christmas stocking, or I post it here on your blog, or both.  I place your ornaments on the tree each year.

                    As you know, this year has been richly challenging.  Your brother's wedding was beautiful and memorable, and yet, I did not see you there. I hope that while I concentrated on suppressing happy tears that day, that you and my Dad were able to sneak in and get good seating.  The wedding cake was superb and unusual and I hope you both got a taste.

                   The world continues to be difficult, fitfull and uncertain at times.  Sometimes, even I will admit to having learned to appreciate that you will not know some of the trials that are all too common here.  This year when one of your brothers were hit on the interstate and his car rolled over, I was two things. I was grateful for the life of your brother and for his safety, and a small part of me was grateful that this would never happen to you. You will be spared many of the sorrows of life, and I have learned to be somewhat grateful for this, even though I have no real choice.

                 The animals are still fine, and when they are not, they are home with you.  I still remember your big shining eyes. I remember your rare but generous tears. I remember your generosity to people and how well you conversed with human beings of all ages. How can it be that this year you will be twenty-one ?  I love you and my Dad more than words can say.  Each one of these years beings me just a bit closer to the breath that will see me reunited with you both.   I love you, Daniel.   Yes, I know,  you love me more.




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Monday, November 28, 2016

Eight Vast Years

           




       I found this picture of you taken when you were about eight at Christmas, at the first farm. I believe your sister says you were being dressed to be an elf.   I can't believe that it's eight years today since you had to depart. I love you just as much as I ever did, and the memories of what you liked and disliked when you were here are still fresh. You will always be my son whether you had continued life here on Earth, or in Heaven. Your siblings and your dad mention you often and we often giggle at things you said which have turned out to be quite true. Love to my Dad and everyone with you. I love you wider than the oceans, and deeper than the seas, and I always will.





Saturday, November 26, 2016

Stop Crying: This is the Good Stuff

             




  Today, just two days before Daniel would have been gone eight years, one of my sons was married in a beautiful church ceremony with friends and family in attendance.  He has married a lovely young woman that Daniel clearly would have adored. Perhaps our entire family will benefit from a wedding anniversary that occurs just two days from Daniel's sudden departure from Earth.
            
              There were lots of tears at the lovely well attended wedding.  In fact, some of the bride's nieces and nephews asked me why so many of the adults were crying.  I told them that first, we were crying because seeing two people very much in love who finally are able to marry one another is both rare and sweet and makes us cry. Also, such beautiful music, which was especially chosen by the bride and groom makes many of us cry, all by itself.  Also, if we are the parents of the bride or the groom, we cannot help but remember them as small children and wonder how they made the jump from toddler to kindergartener to teen, college student, graduate, and then husband or wife. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly when they might seem not to have for us.  Lastly, we cry because we are just a grain selfish. When our children marry the love of their lives, there simply will be a bit less time for us, and we cry because we may, just a bit selfishly,know that life will change and that we will miss them.  The kids seemed to accept this, or perhaps they simply were sorry they asked.

              In any case, I send understanding and good wishes to anyone who has had to sit through beautiful music and has been the mother of the bride or the groom.




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Our Fragile Times

                
Daniel,  May, 1996-November 28, 2008


 









       This week, two ladies who worked with my daughter died on the same day.  Later in the week, the lady who took over work for one of our family members while he vacationed, passed in a car accident.  The end of this existence will come for each and every one of us, and yet, we work, play, and sometimes plan as if it will not.

    We are just five days away from the day when, eight years ago, my son Daniel, who was only 12, collapsed and died here at home. He had a clean autopsy, and so the prevailing pathologist's theory is that he experienced a sudden heart rhythm disturbance, as increasing numbers of children who play sports are doing, and that despite immediate CPR, his rhythm disturbance was non-recoverable. He's had a physical with a professor of pediatrics just a week or so before his death, and now ironically, both my son and that physician are dead.This time of year used to be my favorite, and yet, even eight years past Daniel's passing, I am fragile around Thanksgiving. It seems to me that almost everyone in our family eventually passes within October or November.

                    I am however, not quite as destroyed as you might expect because I know a few things which ease the journey.  Our trip to Earth is a temporary one for us all. Each one of us is issued a mortal flesh suit and then raised with the idea that our stay is somewhat open ended. After all, when we're in school we may be told that by the time we are middle aged, there will be a cure for all the cancers, and failing organs will be laboratory grown and transplanted. You'll live to 120 the school physician told me at 16 when I had a tennis physical.   Of course, none of this is true. Our bodies are on loan, a bit like a tuxedo rental from the Men's Warehouse. We work and play and over time, we age. The aging that is evident on the exterior indicates that similar or even more severe aging is occurring internally.  Entropy is real. We age in steps and eventually must evacuate our flesh suits even though we wish, at that point,  simply to shelter in place. It is universal. It will happen to us all.

                   I have actually accepted my own mortality pretty well over the years. The only reason I fear it now is that I have more skin in the game than I used to.  I still have four children remaining on Earth, and a grandchild. I dislike the idea of feeling as if I will ultimately be abandoning them all in a world that is not quite as friendly as most mothers wish it were.

                 Still, we come to Earth. We live, we love, we work, and this too is very important.  Eventually, we leave the rental suit and go home to a more permanent arrangement.

                  Make sure that tomorrow when you see family and friends that you drink the water and realize how cool and quenching it can be. Be kind, even to those who don't really deserve it, because this could be their last Thanksgiving.  Drink the sparkling cider and don't be tempted to drink anything that muddies your memory of this rare day. Realize that the little kids who will spill gravy on the oriental rug are going to remember tomorrow always. See that they remember you for forgiveness.  Remember always to place people above even valuable things.  Make sure that although you have a strong work ethic, that you are also known for the important ability to set work aside, even just for a day.   Eat and enjoy, but not so much that you make the rental suit sick, because you will have to inhabit it the day after, as well.

                   Enjoy this day as if it is your last, not because it will be, but because someday there will be a day that is.

                      Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This Time of Year

           






      No matter how many times we revisit this time of year, as it approaches, I still have trepidation as if it's a train pulling into a dreaded station.  This year, it will be eight years since Daniel enjoyed Thanksgiving with friends and family and then, the day after, in preparation for Christmas shopping, collapsed and died in our home's main floor bathroom.  Even though we heard the crash of his falling, and unlocked the door with a key and started immediate CPR, there was no coming back. The helicopter team from the University of Virginia ran an exceptional code, but he was gone before they had really arrived.
               We live now in the altered, no fractured timeline doing the best we can to propel our children forward in a world frankly Daniel might not quite have recognized from eight years ago.
                 The song below, by Steven Curtis Chapman, is a comfort and I hope it will be to you as well.




https://www.facebook.com/stevencurtischapman/videos/10154374217952949/?video_source=pages_finch_trailer




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

          
Daniel


 
               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.



https://www.amazon.com/Cloudless-Days-Oliver-Swinford/dp/1329389379/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

 

 

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:


http://lifeaftertherescues.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-short-life-of-peep.html





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




 Daniel,

      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.
 
               

  Daniel,


            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.


              






Sunday, May 8, 2016

Forgotten ?

             
Oil painting    Simon Gaon

 

        I have wondered how long it would take before people outside our family completely forgot about Daniel's passing. How long would it take for us to get to a point where his birthday would come and go, and no one would say anything, via card, or via e-mail or phone call ?   I have that answer now.  This week would have been Daniel's twentieth birthday had we been lucky enough to have his soul remain with us in a flesh suit here on Earth.  There was not one phone call, not one e-mail, not one card and few who came to the blog to see what would be here.  It took only seven and a half years for all of those who knew you to be absorbed by the Earthly and to forget. People have their own problems, their own grief and their own losses.

               It doesn't matter.  Our family won't forget. I won't forget.  For as long as I live you will be one of the most important reasons I came to Earth. Daniel, you and your siblings made the trip, as arduous, as difficult and as hard as it sometimes is, worth it.

                Today is Mother's Day and it looks as if that has been forgotten too.  It doesn't matter.  Had you been here, I know you would have remembered.  As I move through life more and more waits for me where you are.




Monday, May 2, 2016

Daniel's Twentieth Birthday

      


 
   Sometimes, it's hard to believe that this week, had you remained here on Earth, you would be twenty years old. It shouldn't be amazing to me. Some of your friends are in college and have girl friends, and are decidedly man sized.  In my heart though, you are somewhere between twelve and nineteen, a beautiful boy who simply had not yet been corrupted in the ever deteriorating world that the remainder of your family occupies. No wonder God called you home. Perhaps in his place I would have also. In dreams I have had, you have been about thirty, and so wise.

              This week I had an interesting experience.  Your sister and I were on our way back from an errand with her baby, and we stopped at a Burger King. I stayed in the car with the baby, and your sister went inside to get the food.  All at once, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young man of about twenty walking from the highway up to the Burger King. For just a moment, simply from his walk, I wondered if it were you. As he drew closer, I could see that he had a red long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of khaki cargo pants on. He had brown hair with the same distribution that you had, and a bit of facial hair stubble as if he were attempting to grow a beard, but it had been a fairly recent thought. He walked right past the car, saw me, and there wasn't even a hint of recognition. Sometimes it still surprises me that someone who looks something like you, doesn't recognize me. It's silly, I know.   As I watched him walk into the restaurant I told myself that as of this week, that the man walking in would likely be the size you would be now, had you still been here. He was about six feet tall and of average to muscular build.

         When your sister returned with the food, she had seen him too and thought that he looked like you also.   I am at a loss as to what to do for your birthday this week. In the past I have sent canned goods to the food bank. I know you always enjoyed doing that.  Other years I have done a secret good deed in your name. Some sad years I have simply made you a birthday cake I know you would have liked. Of course, your brothers and sister, and now your nephew consume it.   This year I am already planning your cake. I will play the good deed by ear.





           There is less turmoil regarding your birthday and the anniversary of your departure from Earth. However, I am never okay with your being gone.  Sometimes, it's as if you are on a special outing, perhaps an exchange student program, and that my job is to keep the farm maintained and ready for your return. I know that is not going to be, but sometimes that's how it seems.

         I miss you and my Dad very much.  Happy Birthday........and I love you more.




Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince Dies

     

 

        Today, the sheriff's department in Hennepin County, Minnesota went out to Prince's estate to find him in cardiac arrest in an elevator. Although CPR was performed, he was later pronounced dead.  Within the past week his private plane had made an emergency stop in Illinois so that he could go to a hospital with a severe case of the flu. Some news outlets have been reporting that he had a prior medical history of epilepsy.  His real name was Prince Rogers Nelson and those who have met him or worked with him have said he was a true musical prodigy, He worked in the music business successfully for over 35 years. He was 57 at the time of his passing.
                    He is probably best known for the songs "1999", "When Doves Fly", "Lets Go Crazy" "Kiss" , and of course, "Little Red Corvette".  He not only performed, but wrote hits for Sheila E, Sheena Easton, and the Bangles.

   "Six o'clock already and I was just in the middle of a dream"
    "I was kissing Valentino in a crystal blue Italian stream"

    (From Manic Monday)     This is vintage Prince.

   One of my personal favorites is a song Prince wrote that was specifically written for and recorded by Celine Dion.







He is also known for the the aid he gave to other musicians in terms of assisting them in the music business.

             I remember well that the year in which Daniel was born saw the birth of Prince's only child.  The child had significant birth defects and Prince and his wife did everything they could for him. I believe the boy spent most of his life in the hospital until he died. The following year, the two were divorced.

              Prince impacted several generations with his music.  It's hard to believe that both he and Michael Jackson are now gone.   Prince released two albums last year and had worked up to a week or so ago.

             Prince was known for being intensely private.  He was also a Jehovah's Witness and did go door to door on occasion.  The band in Heaven just gets better and better.

             I send my condolences to his family, his friends, and the remaining members of his band.





Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Visit to Elmira, New York in Dream

        

 

   Last night I had the most strange dream.  The family and I were traveling out of state to meet someone who was providing both a reference and a great opportunity for a job for our eldest son. The family was happy to travel there with him so that he could be alert and well rested for the appointment.  As he often is in my dreams, Daniel was with us.  We arrived in Elmira, New York and attended an afternoon party at the home of the man who was providing our son with a reference. He had a large home which had everything from a bar inside to an English garden outside. The party spilled throughout the house and through the gardens.  The gathering was very nice and we all had a nice time. We realized, as we took quite a time to gather our large family, that no one had seen Daniel since the beginning of the party.   The rest of the dream was spent with the family wandering through different businesses in Elmira looking for Daniel. He had visited several shops and had apparently left the party to explore. He had no cell phone.  Of course, in real life, Daniel has been gone for seven years. In real life, Daniel would not leave somewhere without someone knowing where he is and how to reach him. He would also have borrowed a cell phone in order to stay in touch. In the dream, I was truly worried and afraid because although he would be nineteen now, in the dream, he was twelve and a half.




              I awoke in a sea of perspiration, with the instant knowledge that I not only would not be retrieving him from Elmira, New York, but that he had been gone from Earth for seven years already. I have no idea why the dream was set in Elmira. I haven't driven through there since 1983 when I used to drive the rural routes from our home in rural New Jersey to Montreal.  In a sense, I suppose I lost Daniel during the journey that is life. Perhaps the dream is simply my own restatement of this.




Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Message to Daniel


Sam Shepheard



Daniel,

 Today, one of my friends from Linkedin reported that his son Sam had passed overnight in his sleep. Most of us know how lost we would be, as parents, if we were to lose one of our children, especially unexpectedly. We could imagine what a loss and a devastation that could be. However, our family has actually lost a son unexpectedly.  You passed in an instant almost seven years ago, and although I recognize the shock, the loss and the grief, I am short of any real wisdom.

    What can I say to his father Craig ?   I could tell him that Heaven is real and that Sam is safe with God and is free from the limits our bodies and brains place upon our far more perfect souls. I could tell him that I have heard from you, and my Dad in dream, and that you have provided factual information in advance of our hearing it later from others here on Earth.   I could tell him that at first, when the pain is so new, that the memories of all that you and your child have shared, are locked away in your mind and your heart for safekeeping. Eventually, each of those memories come back one by one, almost in technicolor. The moments of your hugs and things you said are now some of the very best memories of my own life here on Earth. I want to tell him not to evaporate. I want to tell him that it's worth continuing to live and that there is good left in his life.  Sam will be there when it is time for him to leave this life.

       Daniel, if it's possible for you to welcome Sam, I would appreciate it.   I remember you, and think of you every day here on Earth.  I love you wider than the oceans and deeper than the seas, and I believe you have always known that.

        May God bless Craig and his family, Sam,  you and my Dad.


 



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Gift to Daniel

   



 

   One of the sad things about having lost a child, is that now, almost seven years later, I don't know what surprises would have come in terms of the music you would like.  Music is something we could have shared as you grew.  I knew what music you would have enjoyed at 12, but I can only hazard a guess as to what you might like at 20.

          Still, I thought of Daniel when I saw this.  This young man is Aston Merrygold.  He clearly has been influenced by Michael Jackson, but then there is a good deal in the song, and in the video that is his own.  For some reason, I think Daniel would have liked this, and have been amused.

        Aston Merrygold has an album which is about to be released in May, 2016 called Showstopper on Warner Brothers Records

          The song below is from that upcoming album.    Enjoy.


 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Have You Seen Jonny Dorey in the Last Six Years ?

          



    This next week, Jonny Dorey will have been missing for six years.

  The story is a long and complex one, but the facts remain that although his parents accepted the idea that he may have drowned in the James River, his bicycle or his body have never been found.

    So, Jonny.   If you are out there and you've finished exploring for a while, you should contact those who love you.  I can promise you, as a parent of a child who really has passed, that your returning from being "presumed dead" would be the greatest gift to your parents and to your brother.  It wouldn't matter why this happened.

  If you have seen Jonny, then please contact:

 Anyone in the Channel Islands who's had contact with Jonny since Tuesday 2nd March 2010 should contact Guernsey Police on (01481) 725111. 

Virginia Commonwealth University Police can be contacted at (804) 640 3380.




     Although he normally speaks with a British accent, he does have some expertise in other accents.
He is an accomplished camper and outdoorsman, and he likes animals.


http://learnedfromdaniel.blogspot.com/2013/03/jonny-dorey-has-been-missing-for-three.html

Our prior posts on this subject:

 http://learnedfromdaniel.blogspot.com/2011/05/where-is-jonny-dorey.html

http://learnedfromdaniel.blogspot.com/2012/02/updates-on-missing-vcu-students.html








Monday, February 8, 2016

The Short and Important Life of Nicole Trott

         
Nicole is on the left and is pictured with one of her many dear friends.

 

          Nicole Marie Trott, like Daniel, was one of four children.  She was a high academic achiever and hoped to become a veterinarian. When she wasn't excelling in academics and in sports, she was helping to care for animals in a shelter.  She had been a recent high school graduate and planned to start pre-veterinary studies at Rutgers University in her home state of New Jersey.   Most importantly, she was a kind and loving person who brought joy to everyone who knew her.

              At 18, she attended a party and experienced a collapse and sudden cardiac arrest.  She died in the hospital in which I was trained, which is the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.  Upon autopsy, it was learned that a beautiful symptomless girl had a cardiac anomaly called ALCAPA


http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/893290-overview

          



                Nicole's family has started a foundation that gathers funds for the purpose of cardiac testing for high school athletes.   So many children and teens are collapsing and dying from sudden arrhythmic deaths of a variety of causes.  In Nicole's case, a causation was found, while in our son Daniel's case, no structural cause for his sudden arrhythmic death was ever found on multiple autopsy.

              Please consider donating to:

 http://www.nicolesheart.com/




This is a poem that was written by Nicole:



Love...

by Nicole Marie Trott
No definition could ever convey
What such a small word has to say
Movies, songs, poems, and books
Give love many faces and many looks
It cannot be described by words alone
But with a look, or by a lover, shown
Distance can be, to lovers, a vice
So until we're together, these words must suffice
Although we're apart, it's only physically
For when I close my eyes you are here with me
I can smell you scent lingering in the air
And taste your sweet lips as if you're right there
I hear your voice, and it sounds so near
And I can feel your breath whispering in my ear
A glance at your face and in your eyes I hear
All the reasons you love me and hold me near
I hear in the silence what your lips don't say
So I know you love me more each day
You hear me say it and know it's true
But I'll say it again, "I love you"





Waking From a Nightmare

                 
This is not Daniel. So far as I know, he never tried a cigarette or a lite beer. Someone sent me this picture and it looks so similar to him at five or six except that Daniel had lighter eyes. I decided to include it.



           Last night around three thirty in the morning, I had a strange dream.  We were all living in the blue house we had owned when the older children were small. Daniel had never lived there. He had been born in the next much larger home we moved to after this one.   In the dream, I came home in the afternoon from work and could not find Daniel.  I quickly tried to call everyone including the older children who were in college. I was hoping that someone had picked him up to do something, and I had either not known or had forgotten.  I had trouble making these calls because I had a new phone and could not get it to respond the way I wanted, especially in view of the stress of being worried.  None of them knew why he would not be at home today. When I called his school they said that he had not reported to school that day.  This is also strange because Daniel never attended school.  He was homeschooled all of his academic life. I also rarely if ever, worked during the day. I was consumed with worry. I went outside and called for him, as if he had simply been playing outside.  I knew something was very wrong, although I still hoped there was some sensible explanation for his absence that I had not considered. In the dream, I believe he was about nine years old.  I began to dial the police when I awoke. My heart was pounding and I was in a cold sweat.  However, waking from this particular nightmare brought no particular solace. Daniel is still not here with us.   Yes, he died suddenly and unexpectedly and was not abducted never to be heard from again. But his beautiful flesh and smile are still not here. He is still absent from Earth in the manner in which we always knew him.  I lay awake until four thirty when I decided to start the day.

                    Perhaps I had this dream because there was an amber alert on my phone yesterday. Perhaps my own psyche is trying to tell me that Daniel's passing from a sudden arrhythmic death is preferable to an unexplained disappearance. Sometimes, I tell myself that in a parallel dimension, there is a Daniel who still lives with us, and is not twelve and a half as he was at his departure from Earth, but who will be twenty years old in May.  I just know that I still have empty arms.



Saturday, January 9, 2016

Visits in the New Year

            




         I haven't heard from Daniel in a dream in quite a while.  I wasn't really pining to do so, although as I have said on this blog many times, that anytime he or my Dad would like to appear in dream, I would be happy to see them.  Last night at I believe about five in the morning, I heard from Daniel, once again.    He was on a short trip with three of his friends.  Two of them were light brown haired young men, about his age, one of them with glasses.His friends briefly discussed something about Russia and it being Christmas there, and something about the oceans and dolphins. The other one was a brunette young mother, about thirty, who was a nurse who came wearing a multi-colored scrub top and pink scrub pants.   They were stopping off to visit loved ones in the holiday and New Year season.  We were all eating hors d'oeuvres mostly made of cheese. There were some I noticed that were little axes and arrowheads of cheese.

                In the dream, Daniel who will be 20 this year was tall and calm. Somehow I told him that I knew he wasn't dead. I told him that now he was here, that I would like to take him to the electrophysiology cardiologist to make sure that his heart was working as it should be.  I said something about family history. I also wanted to feed him better than lumps of cheese.  I asked him how tall he was now because he seemed to have grown a great deal. He didn't know how tall he was, and so I estimated from my height that he was between 5"10 and 6 feet tall.  "Yes, you're six feet", I said with some certainty.   Then Daniel said, "I just came to give you this" Then he hugged me. I could feel the hug as if it were real. Then, they all had to go.
               In the dream I thought that Daniel was physically present as if his passing had been some type of mistake. Upon awakening, I realized that this was simply a visitation in which he came to show me that he is alright, and to leave a hug.

               I am happy to have visits from Daniel and his friends anytime.