Monday, February 28, 2011

The World on a Ledge

One of the things we are very lucky to get over the airwaves here in our rural area, is digital television versions of foreign news. Al Jazeera-English, IBA News (Israeli) , France 24,DW German news, Korean News, Euro News, RT (Russia Today) South Asia Newsline, occasionally Australian and others, and BBC run a couple of times a day. This is not available to everyone here, and we are indeed very lucky to have it. I watch these often because they generally go into more depth than US world news, and because US news is often quite deficient in world news unless it appears to directly impact the US today, this minute. This is partly responsible for the American phenomenon of not knowing too much about the rest of the world, it's politics and geography, until they visit, and then, they learn. Often I am able to get perspectives and information unavailable on US news. Sometimes I learn things about my own country or my own state, that I did not know. Daniel would occasionally watch these with me.
This has been the first week since his passing two years ago, where I think it might be better for him not to be on Earth at the moment. Despite changes in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and and trouble in Libya, with demonstrations in Yemen, and now Oman and Cuba. The US economy is deeply in debt. Although the present regime would like to believe that the economy is improving, the experiences of our friends who need jobs, or are losing businesses or losing homes would seem to fly in the face of this. Most people I know do not trust the Obama Regime, and we never did. I don't know anyone who voted for him, and frankly, we are surprized he got in. The regime is fond of accusing anyone who opposes them as being racist. Frankly, I would have been quite pleased to have a biracial president. I would have considered such a person a cohesive factor for many groups. I simply made the mistake of reading the man's books and discovering that he has socialist ideas and leanings, and I simply do not. I believe in rational capitalism. The market takes care of itself and when necessary, those who are doing well help those who need to be lifted up. In the days in which I could, I sent someone other than my own child to college, and sent money to help put a college on an Indian reservation. These are things I can no longer afford to do.
Sometimes I think that by calling my youngest child without clear reason or cause, God was sparing him a terrible challenging time which was to come, while my older children would somehow have to make their way through the challenges which will emerge. I don't know what is to come next, but I do know that the US federal reserve printing additional unbacked money will fuel inflation and will not repair a broken system no matter what the present regime tries to tell us.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Considering Rational Preparedness

Yes, it is true that our family, who was broadly prepared as we live in a profoundly rural area, lost a beloved child in spite of all of our efforts with regard to medical and general preparedness. The fact is, Daniel passed without symptoms, without indications that anything was wrong. He has a glorious day, the day before his passing. Even on autopsy, the cause for his passing is simply an educated guess. The US best university centers for pathology could find no clearly defined reason for his passing, on autopsy, and therefore the death certificate states, "Probable cardiac arrhythmia due to unknown etiology". In laymen's terms,this means, "He died suddenly without cause, with no blood abnormalities, and no clear cause, so we think his heart stopped following a rhythm disturbance. It happens sometimes". Of course, as his mother, this doesn't help me much. Daniel received excellent and immediate CPR. The only piece of equipment that might have helped Daniel may have been an AED or automatic external defibrillator used immediately. These devices are making their way to government buildings in the US, and can even be provided to a few homes, but one must know there is a problem in order to invest the funds or get a prescription for the device in the places one is required, if needed. I am afraid that as prepared as we are here, we were hit with the one scenario that we, and even the emergency medical helicopter, could not adequately alter or lead to an outcome change no matter how much we wanted it.
This leads me to my next point. Although the "no win" situation is always possible, most medical issues in the home could be stabilized or addressed until medical care is eventually obtained. Families need to prepare a rational medical kit including medications they routinely use, bandages, supplies etc. Be sure that any medical special needs are also addressed. AEDs are actually designed to be quite automated and although they require someone to read and follow directions, they do not, in fact, require medical training. The device itself reads cardiac rhythm and delivers an appropriate shock.
There are changes in the world just now,in which food shortages, civil unrest, and the results of natural disaster may make obtaining proper food , water and routine supplies difficult for a time. Now is the time to gather supplies, organize them, and formulate plans for whatever the most likely natural and man made disasters are most likely to occur in the region of the Earth in which you live. Children need to have a plan as to what they are to do, in the event a disaster occurs while they are away from you. This need not be scary for them. This is part of reasonable preparedness that all human beings should make when considering where we live. Daniel used to enjoy checking the medical kits with me, and supplying and storing extra food for the animals. I miss his helping me and offering suggestions. In Heaven, this is one task from which we will be relieved, but until each of us are called by God, we have an obligation to prepare our families, our children, and ourselves as best we can for both natural and man-made disasters. The preparation for simple possibilities is simply "Rational Preparedness".

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Excursion

Today, Adam, (Daniel's oldest brother, and my oldest son, one year younger than our daughter Stephanie) went on a Spring trip to our nearest city, a couple of hours from here, to buy supplies, look at some new hardware for the farm buildings, and have a quick and inexpensive lunch out. It was a glorious day, with warm wind, just a hint of pollen already, and bright sunlight on the highway there. Adam took his truck and drove, and so it was a chance for me to look out the window. It's amazing how much we notice around us when we are not driving, changing lanes, or thinking about what exit is next. Even though we were not doing anything amazing or noteworthy, it was a wonderful day. It was wonderful to hear all of Adam's thoughts, projects under way, and news of all of his friends. It's also always wonderful to know that the children you have raised are decent,intelligent and good people, and that our efforts are never wasted. It also surprizes me sometimes to see how much like Adam is, in some ways physically, to my father when he was in his twenties. For these few hours, it was almost as if, all was well, as if Daniel was at home, and would be there when we returned.
On the way home, we stopped at a garage sale. It is unusual to see one in the country that is not exclusively on a weekend, but these people were moving this week, and wanted to move less than they had. We bought some new cookware in boxes and some other things very reasonably.
I miss Daniel so very much, although I know we all do. Today though, it was as if Daniel was with us also.

Carolyn Arends "Reaching"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

America's Most Damaging Export

Daniel and I used to speak together about many things. It has always been a tradition in our family to include all of our children in conversation. Their opinions have always been valued, and evolved very quickly as they spent time in the world, even if their thoughts on things did not always match our own.
One of the things which bothered Daniel and myself is what we both referred to as "The most damaging US exports". We are referring to American television. By watching exported American television such as "Dallas", "Dynasty", "Santa Barbara" and many such programs, one would get many mistaken impressions. The first mistaken impression is that "All Americans are obscenely wealthy." Although it is true that there are some wealthy Americans, they are increasingly rare. Many Americans now make a fraction of what they once made, have lost homes they once owned and many now seek the services of a food bank in order to eat. A food bank is a charitable organization in which those who have lost jobs or been unable to make sufficient money can come to get some pre-packaged or canned food in order to make it to the next payday. Churches, grocery stores, farmers, canning companies, and individuals donate the food, when they are able, sometimes just before expiration of these foods. Many foodbanks are quite stretched in order to provide to the number of people in need today. Traditionally, it may have been easier for the lucky to amass wealth here, but it has always been easy to starve here as well. The second misapprehension is that "All Americans live like kings". Although there are those who have their own swimming pools and palatial homes, this is unusual and this is why it figures so prominently in some of our entertainment. Many Americans do not live well. Many live with relatives, unable to find jobs which would allow them apartments or rental homes of their own. This is in part a consequence of high business tax in our nation which forced many jobs in manufacturing or factory work overseas. The third bothersome false impression is that Americans are self serving and mercenary. Although our television might give that impression, this is not true. Americans are as diverse as Russians, as the British, or Australians, as Egyptians, or as Canadians. I am sure there are some rude and arrogant Americans, but there are far more Americans who quietly do good works all over the world, and who seek to work with other groups, rather than impose their will or even their own ideas. Many of us are Godly people who see themselves not only as children of God, but as citizens of the world.
It is true that in some ways, until recently, that many Americans have been your more fortunate cousins, but it is also true that many Americans are generous caring people who will not rest until they have made their own existence count in terms of bringing food, health care, clean water, or infrastructure to different parts of the world which are as yet, undeveloped.
I am not suggesting that we censor television or legally restrict exports of such, but somehow, US television producers allowed the export of what amounts to misleading propaganda. More thought needed to go into balancing rational American television as an export, in addition to the release of the far fetched series which demonstrate the worst of humanity. The export of American caricatures as characters, with situations which are unlikely in much of our country, are in part responsible for the undesirable anti-American backlash of the last few years. Many Americans are simply families working hard to feed families, keep their jobs, find and keep decent healthcare, and educate their children. The next time in a foreign land you see a preposterous premise for an American television series, know that it is, in fact, preposterous. There are inspiring and interesting REAL stories which do not revolve around gun toting amoral individuals. Television producers should work harder to tell about those. Daniel would want you to know.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Animated Daniel or Toy Story 3 ?

Periodically I make a trip on the weekend to Sam's Club, in the city, about an hour and a half from here. With the price of fuel it is usually lumped with a number of other short trips at the same time. I bought the items I needed at Sam's and as I headed to the checkout I pushed the cart through the DVD section. I looked over and spied the new Toy Story 3 DVD. I grasped it thinking how much Daniel would enjoy it, and then I thought that it was not rational to continue to buy things for him. At that point,I imagined him saying, "Get it. YOU'LL ENJOY IT. I'll watch it with you." I gingerly put it in the cart,while feeling silly.
That evening, the family and I watched it, and it was indeed as if Daniel wanted us to. Daniel would have enjoyed this particular storyline very much, and many of the jokes. Daniel also had all of the toys from the Toy Story series. In Toy Story 3, Andy, the child to whom all the toys belong,has grown to 18, and is leaving for college, and must make some decisions as to whether to donate his beloved toys or not. As some of you know, Daniel,although he was 12 1/2 at his passing was evaluating and visiting colleges, and could have attended one fairly soon. The main character in Toy Story 3, Andy, looked a great deal as Daniel looked before his passing. In addition, to Daniel a really gifted animator in his own right, the Toy Story series was important to him as a future student of kinetic imaging, which was one of his considered majors in college . Seeing a young man who closely resembled him as an animated being was especially touching. I watched the feature, and tears fell down my face for so many reasons. Perhaps Daniel did watch this with us. Perhaps simply the memory of Daniel loving Toy Story 1 and 2 so much was a potent reminder. It certainly felt as if he set it up, and was there. Incidentally, all of Daniel's toys and computers, remain in his room, where we all visit, watch his DVDs, play with his computer, lie on his bed, and talk to him.

"Toy Story 3" and photos of same are material owned by Pixar Inc.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


So much has happened this week. Some time ago I mentioned in a blog post that we had contacted Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, in part to tell them how touched and impacted we were following the tragic death of their youngest daughter Maria, and their interviews afterward. Of course, we mentioned our own terrible loss of Daniel, and how we have been faring since then. Yesterday, we received a letter from them, and an autographed copy of the song below. Maria is the young child in Steven's lap in the family picture above.
Mary Beth is writing a book about their experiences as a family and Steven is currently working on a new album. They are kind and decent people who are continuing to raise mindful and fine children while remembering and memorializing Maria in all sorts of ways. Please check into his music and Mary Beth's coming book.

Daniel passed six months after Maria, and I remember all of us, including Daniel, were very sad when we heard about the tragic accident and the circumstances of Maria's passing. It is also a reminder to everyone that life can be short, and that things can happen very quickly. We never dreamed when Maria passed that Daniel would pass six short months later, although I could only imagine how lost and deeply saddened they were over the loss of little Maria. Daniel would not mind at all if we memorialized Maria in the video which immediately follows.

Monday, February 7, 2011


You can think whatever you would like. You could choose to think that I am a bereaved mother, who created the idea that she can "hear" from her father and her young son who passed within 31 days of each other, in 2008. You may also believe that our loving God, left a window open sufficiently to allow me to, on occasion, and particularly in dream, receive occasional communication from them. There is actually a name for this phenomenon. It's called clairaudience. A living person, is on occasion, able to "hear" telepathically something from one who has passed,sometimes a relative, sometimes not. I know that many years ago, when I was seeking the funeral home someone I knew had used, the name clearly came to me, in my head, and I called them first, finding that they were indeed the foreign funeral home that was used. I had attributed this to angels at that time. Since Daniel's passing this has happened a number of times, although most of my communications from them has come in deep REM sleep, around 4 am and I cannot choose or control when this happens.

I remember some things that Daniel told me some time ago. He told me that our brains, senses and bodies are the looking glass through which we see the world while we are here. Each one of us are handicapped in some way, either through our brains and their adaptations, or through impairment of senses, age, or even attitudes. When we are set free, disengaged from our bodies, all the inputs, all the information, and truths come to us correctly and in balance. We are still the people we were before, but without the bodily constraints and "error messages" that we normally must process. Daniel, being a very bright person, particularly in the field of computers, often uses computer analogies in order to explain things. He is also frustrated sometimes in that he tells me something in dream, and I may not remember it in my waking times. Sometimes, it takes several times before I correctly recall what I was told. All of this was told to me in order that I might not grieve so severely. Apparently, once set free from the body "life" is peaceful, and highly interesting. I can miss him and this is natural, but I am being asked not to grieve to a point where my parenting is impaired or my life does not continue in the path itis intended. He has said that he has continued to learn and grow, and that even if he could, he would not, come back. He and Dad will wait on what I understand to be, the "edge of Heaven" until all of our family get there, and then we will ascend to even a higher place there.

For those of you who have read the blog all along, there are a number of times where Daniel and Dad individually have provided what came to be known as factual information through clairaudience.
Consider for just a moment, the possibility that we can be positively directed by those who love us, in this way.

Vocals by Christine Dente

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Iditarod


One of the things about grief, is that we can have a perfectly horrible day, almost languishing in grief and sorrow, and then follow it up with a day in which we are appreciative of all the times we had as a family and with Daniel, where joy and golden moments were felt. Yesterday was a day in which you might think, despite the rain, that Spring might come this year after all. My husband went outside to take care of the animals, and Jared, our eight year old beautiful Siberian Husky made his annual Iditarod run. Despite the fact that Jared has walks, and has an exquisite kennel here, Siberians enjoy at least an annual excursion into the wilds. This is a problem for this individual dog, as he is not very adept at finding his way home, and because we live in a place where the nearest neighbor is a bear. Every year or two, I have had to devote hours to tracking, locating and retrieving our dear friend. He is always happy to see us, and always comes home gracefully, but still does the excursions when able. He is neutered, and we have six other dogs who do not do this.
Yesterday, Jared pushed by my husband who was feeding him, and headed off through the woods. I hoped his information tag was still there. We drove up and down the parallel road but could not see or hear him. Down the road, a large free running bryndle pitbull makes walking to look for him difficult. I remembered thinking that if the US does descend into a Depression and people are foraging for food, they would do well to stay away from this area with the bears, the wandering pitbulls, and a mountain lion which was taxidermized from our area last year. A couple of hours later, I went back to the house to print off some pictures of Jared to place in the general store with a "Lost" appeal, and the phone was ringing. A man on the other side of one of the great forests opened his door this morning, and Jared raced in. His two year old son was enjoying him, and the man marveled at Jared's excellent condition. " Does he live inside ?", the man asked. No he has a kennel which gives him the best of both,including a radio, where he seems to like NPR best rather than a music station. I thanked the man profusely, and Jared wandered back to the truck I brought. He fell asleep almost immediately.
Daniel always loved this dog, and James loves him now. He is an energetic, crazy, direction impaired, loving, lick-you-to-death creature. I am so glad to have him back safely. Life is too short not to have a dog or more than one.

Judging from Jared's proclivity to jump and muddy up clothes,he has a similar regard for clothing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

There May be Dark Days

Today was one of those days that is sandwiched in between the good days, the bad days, and the very bad days. We attended a therapy session which is designed to support my husband and I and fortify us and solidify us as parents of James, who has endured a great deal prior to coming to us at 14. I was down today, and this is unusual for me. The therapist observed that as much as we are doing well with James, that having James does seem to underscore the loss of Daniel, at times. I was tearful as I related that I wish they had both grown up together here.
Grief is a journey, and it is adversely affected by sickness, cold, days without sunlight, winter, reminders, and simple annoyance. The news on television with regard to the economy and world situation is also not a help sometimes.
I wish that we could facilitate, address, and treat grief, and somehow resolve it to a background plateau of some kind. The fact is, we cannot. It becomes a part of us, to surface sometimes at inopportune or sometimes even happy times, when a trigger has tripped.

Grief is a tidal wave that over takes you,
smashes down upon you with unimaginable force,
sweeps you up into its darkness,
where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces,
only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped...
Grief will make a new person out of you,
if it doesn't kill you in the making.
Stephanie Ericsson