Thursday, August 29, 2013

Of Roses and Carnations: A Friend Went Home


    I have a friend whose birthday was earlier this month.  I spent her birthday with her and we had a great visit.  I took her a big batch of birthday flowers in the colors I knew she would like. I arranged them as she told me which flower faces should be in the front.  We reminisced about a number of things, and when I could see she was getting tired, I departed.  I remember asking her if there was anything she needed, and she asked for a large type Bible.   I asked if she needed me to get it that day, and since I visit each month, she said "no".  "Just get one and bring it next time you come". She was well and happy. I see now that this was important.  My friend had fought organized religion for a long time, and now was more interested in God's word, and in studying it. It is true that most atheists don't die as atheists.
                      Despite the fact that I had arranged for someone to call me if anything ever happened to my friend, no one did.   I got up this morning to find that my friend had died suddenly this week. I am stunned.   Normally, I have a strange sense when this is the last time that I am going to see a person.  Perhaps it's from so many years of having been a registered nurse.  Perhaps it's only pattern recognition.  Of course, I don't have this 100% of the time.  I felt nothing during our visit but the joy of seeing a friend for her birthday.  All I felt was understanding and relaxation, and I got as much, if not more, from our visit, as she did.  Part of me wants to cry in that I won't be able to visit my friend each month, and that her unconditional acceptance and encouragement is gone for me.   On the other hand, I want to smile that her passing was smooth and I am told easy, and I know she deserved a safe and comfortable passing.  Just for today, I am going to cry. I am going to miss her, and then I hope I will begin to see things as they really are.  She spent a life well lived here and stayed serene and graceful with a fair measure of herself intact despite a nasty and serious illness. I am proud of my eldest son who spent a great deal of time with her in these last few years, and I am pleased that I took the time to know her.
                      Make sure that you touch base with your friends, relatives, and those who mean much to you. We all pass, sometimes quickly and quietly.   I will miss you, my friend.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When Will the Heaven Begin ? A Book of Inspiration.

This is Ally Breedlove. You can see the family resemblance to Ben.

                  One of the most popular posts I have written about a person other than Daniel on this blog has been the post I wrote concerning Ben Breedlove.   Ben is a teen who was known to have had dilated cardiomyopathy, and who experienced numerous sudden death experiences in his teens.   Before he passed, Ben, who enjoyed his life immensely, conveyed on cards via video on You-tube, what his heavenly experiences were like for the rest of us. Ben passed away on Christmas Day, 2011.
                    This was an immensely kind thing for him to do.  His videos coincided with a difficult time I was having in terms of missing Daniel, and these videos, and the smiling face of this young man was immensely inspiring and supportive to me, and to thousands and thousands of other people also. Some of us had lost loved ones, and others grappled a potentially fatal illness.  Ben was an inspiration to us all.
                  I have always hoped that Ben's family would find a way to write a book about him, his times, and his experiences.  I think many people, besides myself suggested such a thing.  I learned this week that Ben's sister Ally has written such a book, which appears below.  I recommend it to anyone who has lost someone to Heaven, for inspiration in general and especially for those moments when faith seems thin.

  My earlier post on Ben Breedlove can be found here:

You can buy this book from Amazon at the following link:

It can be pre-ordered now, but will be broadly available October 29, 2013

               It comforts me to think that our Daniel, who passed of a rhythm disturbance that occurred spontaneously, is with Ben, who knew for an extended period that his enlarged heart predisposed him to potentially deadly sudden arrhythmic episodes.  It comforts me to consider the possibility that perhaps they are now friends.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thinking of Jean Fogelberg


  When I was a teenager and in college, long before I had a beloved son named Daniel, I used to listen to the music of another Daniel.   Daniel Grayling Fogelberg was born in Illinois in 1951 to a Scottish mother and a father who was of Swedish descent.  He was the youngest of three sons. Although Dan Fogelberg never reached the pinnacle of fame most of his fans knew he so richly deserved, by virtue of talent, he defined the era with his songwriting, and in his treatment of the songs of others.   He so clearly gave direction to so many other artists. An attendee of The University of Illinois at Urbanna-Champaign, he majored in Theatre and Painting.  By 1972, he released his first album, Home Free, and began touring as an opening act for Van Morrison.  He went on to release a number of other albums Souvenirs, Captured Angel, Netherlands, Twin Sons of Different Mothers with Tim Weisberg. Then came,  The Phoenix, The Innocent Age.   Later,  Windows and Walls, High Country Snows, Exiles, The Wild Places, River of Souls, Portrait,  The First Christmas Morning, and Full Circle.  There are other albums if you include the compilations, work with Tim Weisberg and special CDs.  These albums were filled with everything from intelligent rock, incredible arrangements, to Bluegrass music, as well as the ballads for which he is so well known.  Dan was also a passionate friend of the natural environment, and was steadfastly against nuclear power use.

                Though Dan wrote and sang the music for the relationships and weddings for the rest of us, he found the veritable love of his life later in his life.  He and his wife Jean, also a singer, were happily married when Dan's advanced prostate cancer was 2004.  Dan and his wife left their beloved ranch in Colorado and headed to California for the most advanced treatment. For a time, there had been a remission.  Dan and Jean left the ranch and moved to their home in beautiful Belle Isle, Maine, full time.  Jean has related that for many years their solitude was complete there, as they didn't have a telephone in the home.   I think Dan was always a little uncomfortable with the trappings of fame and that privacy was very important to him. In the mid 2000s, I saw Dan driving a truck in the vicinity of Cary Street in Richmond, Virginia.  I think he was uncomfortable having been recognized and pulled his ballcap farther down over his face. I later learned that he was likely there to visit his close friend Jimmy Buffett (Margaritaville) who lives in the area.  Dan did help to spread awareness of Prostate cancer, and to encourage men, even those under 50, to have a routine periodic PSA test.  Some people, including Dan Fogelberg believed that more lives can be saved if the PSA test, a simple bloodtest, is offered annually for men getting a routine physical every year starting at forty, rather than at 50, as is recommended for most.

                Dan Fogelberg passed at age 56 at home in Deer Isle, Maine, with his wife Jean with him, in December, 2007.  So many people who had never met him grieved knowing that the soundtrack to their own lives had changed forever.   Dan's ashes were scattered off the coast of Maine.

               Of course for me, my own beloved Daniel, died at age 12 1/2 the following year.  My Daniel was certainly familiar during his own life of the large body of work Dan Fogelberg left to us.  When you have time, please listen to some of the music Dan Fogelberg left to the Earth.   He is certainly known for Leader of the Band, and Longer, and many others, but there are far more obscure pieces which you should hear.  I will leave one them below, one less known, and another that is probably already known to you. I hope that my own Daniel has better luck in thanking Dan Fogelberg for all the wonderful music, where they both are now, than I did in Richmond that day.

               I often wonder how Jean Fogelberg is doing.  Life is hard when your Daniel has moved on ahead of you, of this I am sure.

This song was playing in my head all week...

Since You've Asked         ~  Dan Fogelberg's version of this song written by Judy Collins.

Update:  Jean Fogelberg is an accomplished artist and photographer who continues to produce quality work and have it shown. She divides her time between the two places she and Dan loved so much, the Colorado mountains and coastal Maine.  She also does many good works in the field of bereavement and caregiver support, and is notable to me for her great compassion, most of all.    I think her own Dan would be so incredibly  proud of her.   Jean used to be known as Jean Mayer-Dailey and is a co-author of the 1980s song "Power" performed by Berry Gordy, of Motown fame.

This was their home on Deer Isle Maine, until Dan's death.  It was 536 Reach Road.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Ride Can Be Short and It Can Turn on a Dime


 My eldest son told me this week that he had run into an acquaintance we hadn't seen for a number of years. We had assumed she had moved.  It turned out that she hadn't.  The death of her husband had necessitated her return to work full time, and this had taken her away from the places where she might normally have seen us.  She was not only unaware of the passing of Daniel, but she didn't do particularly well with the news. She saw him quite a bit when he was three and four when we visited a particular shop often.
             I thought about all of this and realized what really goes without saying. This is a temporary trip. One hundred percent of us return to the God who sent us on this excursion. Sometimes such a return occurs without notice, and to a young person.  No one is guaranteed eighty or a hundred years on Earth.  Make sure that everyone you love knows it, and that they receive your best effort daily.  It could be a short ride.

Five for Fighting                                                   100 Years