Another Year-Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday.

The day after tomorrow will mark the sixth anniversary of Jim’s death. Time stands still. Time flies. It is amazing that it is six years since I last saw him. It is amazing that it has been six years since I last heard his voice. Well this whole process is pretty amazing and not always much fun.

I grieved when my mom died. I grieved when my dad died. I have grieved over the loss of friends and over the loss of others in tragedy, which we have seen so much of this year. The loss of Jim was different. I lost my life partner, my friend and my companion in mischief and dance. I describe the three and a half years leading to his departure, like a deck of cards thrown in the air. Just as they started to come down and I was picking them up, something else happened and the cards were thrown back up in the air again.

I am still picking up cards from six years ago. I didn’t know there were so many cards. Yet I have accomplished a bit along the way and each day I attempt to live life to its fullest. Some days it is a wee, tiny bit and other days are big a luscious and overflowing with awe and beauty.

I am beginning to realize that I may never have an answer to the question “What’s Next?” At my best I look for the large and small around me and find some marvel in it all. At my worst, I still find I can treasure my current surroundings and who I am.

  • I am not homeless.
  • I have this lovely little Roadtrek to call home.
  • My home is heated, which feels good on these chilly fall nights.
  • Elsie is always my faithful companion, in adventure and silence.
  • I know, oh how I know, I have many out there that support me daily, mostly in thought and prayer. Yet I know you are out there.
  • There are many books to read. On days where I don’t have much energy, I sit and read.
  • When I was younger I went through a short, period where everything was gray. I appreciate that I have never gone back to that place. I still can see and marvel at the loveliness of the places I visit and the people I meet. Color is a wonderful medium.
  • I have a family, sisters and nieces, that though not often heard from love me and support me.
  • And there is always my camera-I love taking pics even at my lowest.

There is always hope. In this coming year I am going to attempt to not be so hard on myself. I really don’t need to make far reaching decisions about anything. I want to focus on what is best for me at this moment in time, in this day and in this year. I want to experience a little more joy, wherever I can find it. And, although I am not sure I may want to settle down. I shall see on that statement.

I now understand a bit more of the statement from others that “you can move forward, while treasuring the moments Jim and you had”. I know that I can do both. And, ever since Jim’s passing he has been very good at helping me find my car keys. I have called on him more than once. This is one of the important reasons to keep him nearby as I adventure forth into life.

If you look on this site you will see a Go Fund Me tag. I have been raising money for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship for 6 years. I am close to my goal of $25,ooo to make this a perpetual scholarship. I have about $8,000 more to go. I have been constant and steady in trying to raise this amount. If you would like to donate, small or large, some student out there at Grossmont Community College will thank you for your efforts.  I treasure each donation because I know about the thought and caring behind it. If you would prefer to donate directly to the college, here is their information.

Mail your donation to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Contributions are tax deductible

On to another year of discovery. Who knows what it will bring. I will continue to follow my own path, carrying the memories of my time with Jim forward. This year I pray that it will be just a wee bit easier. Each year seems to be getting that way. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for 21 years of love, caring and relationship. I am thankful for being able to have those memories to help me move forward with my life, no matter what direction it takes.

Today I am thankful.

 

 

 

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Year Four-How Are You Doing?

Jim and me on our last travel adventure together, Peru

Jim and me on our last travel adventure together, Peru

October 17th was the fourth year anniversary of Jim’s death. He was and still is (in a way) my husband. He died from metastasis of salivary gland cancer. We had a really good relationship. I miss him still.

Each year at this time I have people call me and ask how I am doing. It always baffles me, a little,when this happens. I don’t miss him more on the day of his death. I miss him every day in little and big ways. Does it mean I think of him all the time? Well no. I might find myself doing something and then think, Jim would have loved this or he would not have. I know my friends are being kind and thoughtful and I appreciate that. I am just not always sure how to answer that question. At the time they ask, I might be doing fine or more than fine. Usually I am busy.

Big Waves

Big Waves

This year I was bicycling from Monterey to Pacific Grove and back, seeing a chiropractor (I slipped on the step to my RV & thought it might be a good idea to get an adjustment) and enjoying the day outside.

While biking, I stopped to watch the waves for a while. You may have guessed by now, I love the ocean and the bigger the waves, the better. I met a woman, Phyllis who was sharing the same bench with me. I am a strong believer that not much happens by accident. Phyllis has been divorced, widowed and now married for a third time.

I have found, since Jim’s death, if I want to ask a question of someone, I just do. If they want to answer, it is greatly appreciated. If not that is OK too. I asked Phyllis about her experience through grief. I really wanted to know someone else’s take on this.  I follow a couple blogs of women who have lost a partner, yet it is not often I get to talk to someone in person about this topic.

Grief is personal, yet I have found that some experiences are common to many. My question to her was about fear. I am not usually a fearful person. Since Jim’s death, fear has become a close ally. When people say to me how brave I am, selling my home and traveling, I marvel at the comment. If only they knew how fear is usually present in everything I do. I don’t get it. I didn’t used to be this way. Phyllis works with hospice as a volunteer. She said that fear appears to be a part of the grieving process for many. It was for her. Whew what a relief, I thought it was just me.

I am curious why fear? There could be a lot of emotions but why is fear mine. I will not claim ownership, yet fear is certainly close, much of time. I don’t have an answer to that question. Fear does not have to be negative. It is a good thing when it stops me from doing something stupid. It can also be good if it increases my awareness of my surroundings. Fear, though can also stop me from trying something new or different or reaching out to others. That is not good.

imagesEach day I walk through fear, to other side and open my eyes to the world as it is right now. I step into my RV, thank Elsie for her presence, have faith that all is well with the day and move on. On the days I stay still, I read and contemplate and enjoy the quietness of the ocean and the forest and for the next few nights a view of Hearst Castle.

I refuse to let fear control me. Since fear seems to remain present in my life, I will consider it an ally. It will teach me and then one day,  I truly believe it will not be present in my daily life. As an ally I can call for fear when I need it, thank it and then put it back in it’s place until I need it again.

Moving on through my life.img_4873

 

Impermanence

IMG_2577Last week I was driving to an appointment. I was listening to something on the radio that triggered me to emphatically say out loud “Darn it Jim!!!!”. At first I thought it was anger, yet as I focused on this statement I realized it was not anger. It felt more like frustration. As I parked for my appointment I decided to take a few moments and explore this feeling.

What I found frustrating was that Jim had reached a point in his life, on this planet, where he became accepting of his impermanence here and I do not have that understanding. A few days before he died he told me “whatever happens, I am ready for it”. If he got better he would be delighted yet if he got sicker and died he was OK with that as well. For his friends who read this, he also stated that he had seen or spoken  to everyone he needed to and he was ready for whatever was next. When he died he was at peace.

Here is what I am trying to figure out. How does someone get to that point in their life? How does someone reach an acceptance and peace.  Maybe when you are confronted with the strong possibility that life is near an end the acceptance and peace happens. If that is the case, well, I am definitely not there.

I used to be an RN. I worked with children for most of my career. The outcome of sickness is very individual, yet, I noticed how wise many of these children with cystic fibrosis, cancer and other diseases became, as they approached the end of their short life span. I was not alone in this observation, most of us who worked with them noticed this. I often felt that they became wise old ones by the time they died. They often left me feeling more in touch with my true essence and I felt them to be my teachers.

How do these young ones reach this acceptance? I believe, like Jim, that acceptance and peace arrives as death becomes close. It was as if they lived their whole lives in that short time.

Can someone reach that place without dying? i would like to believe so. Maybe yogis or wise ones understand this, though I am not sure.

This is an interesting topic to contemplate. I don’t find it negative or depressing or anything. I mostly would love to know how to reach that place in my life and remain alive to embrace it and share it with others.

I am glad that Jim was at peace. It was definitely helpful for all of us who loved and knew him. More than anything I wanted him to have peace and acceptance. It helped him to die with such grace. It was an honor to be in his presence.

Three years ago on October 17, 2012, Jim Fenningham died peacefully with those who loved him observing this passing. He was loved.

I miss him still.

And, I am doing OK.

IMG_3880

Another Year-Three to be Exact

Jim ready to Fly to Baja

Jim ready to Fly to Baja

This Saturday, October 17th will mark the third anniversary of Jim’s death. For those of you who don’t know, my husband, Jim died from cancer just past his 60th birthday.

It is a funny thing, sometimes it feels like three years or more and in some ways it feels like yesterday. Henry a friend and fellow runner, Jim was a runner, said last weekend he still expects to see him come around the corner for their Saturday morning run at the beach. There are times I still think he is coming home. I know better yet he still is a presence. Sigh

In lieu of a big celebration to honor his passing, shortly after his death I created a scholarship in his name at Grossmont College where he dedicated most of his work life before retirement.

He originally was the Director of Admissions and Record. He ended his career there as the Dean of Counseling and Student Services. He was absolutely dedicated to the students and his staff. Even when people were upset with decisions he made, I never knew anyone who did not like and respect him.

Usually at this time of the year I send out an annual plea to support this scholarship with your end of the year, tax deductible donations. I am trying to raise $25,000 to create a perpetual scholarship where no one will have to donate again and the scholarship will remain there for a long time to come. The scholarship, in the fall goes to student studying the arts. In the spring it helps a student studying the social sciences.

This year is going to be a bit different and here is why.

Jennifer

Jennifer

Jennifer DeMarco is a friend of mine. She was also Jim’s and my yoga teacher and mentor for several semesters at the college. I can’t even begin to tell you how much she has affected both of us and her other  students. She makes them think,change and broaden their thinking. Yoga is not just her job, it is her passion. She is an adjunct professor, meaning she teaches at more than one school and is considered part time and has little to no insurance.

She was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and will be having surgery tomorrow, Friday, October 16. Her son has set up a site to raise money to help her with the financial side of dealing with a tough diagnosis. So far they have raised over $9000. However, we all know cancer treatment costs way more than this.

Jennifer DeMarco

This year when you consider gifting, please keep Jennifer in mind, she can use all the support that any of are willing to offer her. Above is a link to the fund raising site. Click on Jennifer’s name to donate to a very good cause, to help a very good person.

If you would like to make an end of the year donation to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship, which would be gratefully appreciated, you have two ways to do this.

  • Click on the GoFundMe button on the left side of the blog page.
  • To contribute directly to Grossmont College, please make checks payable to:

Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges (FGCC)
Mention that the contribution is for The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship

Mail contributions to:
Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Tax Deductible Contributions per section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code; EIN 45-2692818

Jim & Janet before the trip

You can also donate to both causes. There is no limit to giving. There are so many causes that need help and I know for most of us we have to use our money wisely. My feelings on giving is to give to what you feel most passionate about, but give. If it is a little, good. If it is a significant size donation, good.

It makes a heart feel good to give and it certainly is appreciated.