Tag Archives: live

Celebrating Yoshie – Living Bravely and Boldly with Lung Cancer 

28 Jun

Hello lovelies…this post is about my life between the miles – it is about the celebration of my mother-in-law’s life that came to an early end because of her battle with cancer. 

We celebrated mom’s life this past weekend. We didn’t want this day to come, at least not until she led a long happy life. But we didn’t have a choice. We have been forced to go on without her. And while we all feel the suffering, the pain, and the grieving, we are fortunate mom is no longer experiencing the same. On June 25, 2016 family and friends gathered to remember the light that she was.

Mom was only 60. A fresh new 60. She would have told you she was 37 though. It’s amazing that in a flash backwards we were celebrating her 50th birthday in the same house. She was as magnanimous then as she was during her last days, and remarkably enough, the same age, 37. 

We celebrate mom’s life because that’s what she would have wanted. Nobody has a choice about time traveling on. We just have to. We have to go on without mom. I see the reservoir of pain that the loss has caused in the hearts of her husband and son. I know we are all feeling the suffering and pain of her loss. F*ck cancer. 

During the memorial I realized that the pieces of mom that we keep don’t have to be material. They are memories imprinted on our hearts. Family and friends cheerfully shared stories of her radiant smile and her infectious laughter during the celebration. We learned from others what we have always known, that mom was wonderfully generous and warm. She was always excited to see you and she made you feel like she was your biggest fan. Mom’s boss shared with us that she made sure she was the first to wish everyone “Happy Friday” at work. It was a game! We could picture her enthusiasm at the office and we all shared a heartfelt yet heavy chuckle.
 
In learning of this story I reflected on my Fridays. Every Friday in my inbox I had an email from mom. The subject line was simple, “Happy Friday!” And the content of the email was a “hello, happy Friday, happy weekend. Love you. Miss you. Ciao!” My heart smiled but wasn’t free of pain. I realized in that moment I won’t be receiving any more emails from mom. Our little exchanges stopped when God decided he needed her more than we did. And in those moments I selfishly acknowledged how I still needed her emails. Having mom peppered in my day with a Skype call, phone call or email made everything okay. She gave me peace and made me laugh despite the peripheral chaos. I need happy Friday. And now it’s gone. 

I was sprinkled in and out of mom’s life for 15 years. But in the time I spent with her and her family, I saw how mom had done the best she could raising her family and in being a friend. She, again, gave generously all that she had and more. There was no end to her generosity. Ever. Even during her final days. 

Mom fought cancer emphatically. She knew cancer was a ruthless bitch but she wasn’t afraid. Mom chose to be brave. She fought bravely for 26 months. Her oncologist’s best case was 24 months. Leave it to mom to fight longer! But she didn’t know. She refused to know the prognosis of lung cancer. In a sense, her incredulous disposition allowed her to be jubilantly blind to the unyielding outcome that awaited her. In my opinion, I think it was a blessing because it allowed her to live each day boldly!

Mom was brave her entire life (she took a chance on David – her husband). Brave and equally stubborn (I know where Andy gets it from, thanks mom). This combination of attributes helped her mental grit to stay strong and continue to fight. Not one day did mom reveal that she felt like a victim. She refused. She didn’t take the easy way out and let cancer get the best of her. She stayed happy. It was remarkable. How can one be so incredibly happy when faced with such an untenable and dire diagnosis? She was happier than what seemed appropriate. She really put things in perspective. We can learn so much from her.  

We miss her. I’m so fortunate to have found my way back in her life. Oriana knows her grandma. She used to kick to the sound of her voice and mom’s entire face would light up. Her smile would grow with such exuberance. Oriana will continue to know her grandma. Not in a physical sense. Not by her voice singing lullabies and seeing to it that her granddaughter, who is the splitting image of her son, falls asleep, but because we will continue to speak of mom and share her memory, like they share the same birthday. In a way they are one. 

It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around mom not being here. It’s hard for me to see my fiancé face this reality. The hurt is visible. But I believe Oriana has helped him through this pain. As a mother now, I understand love in another form. And with that, I’m bewildered that with mom being such a soft, benevolent soul, that someone of her own bloodline didn’t make an appearance at the memorial. In addition, she didn’t phone or send flowers. She wasn’t absent because she couldn’t handle the emotional affair, she was absent because over the course of several years, her heart has been completely dissolved of love and forgiveness. She is devoid of feelings. This woman is a mother, too. But clearly she is missing a sensitivity chip, a maternal link that unifies sisterhood and the celebration of women. In addition to her absence, she also neglected to send mom flowers or a card for (her last) Mother’s Day and her birthday. It wasn’t until mom’s husband reached out, again after countless efforts, to inform her that mom’s days were shortly numbered that she finally showed up. The family was happy she made an appearance. Mom was able to see her three grandchildren that were selfishly poached from her for years before passing. 

This person saw her brother but disregarded him as blood. One could speculate that she gives more respect to strangers than to her own family. In her typical tasteless mannerism, she also failed to congratulate Andy on the birth of his daughter and engagement to me (like some other tacky people). 

Anyway, I’ve given this woman too much attention but I bring it up because Andy, despite the history of her wretched behavior, included her in his speech as well as in an exquisite video montage that he created for the service. 

While we scoured through photographs, I couldn’t help but have sheets of tears fall down my face. Picture after picture painted an image of mom holding her first granddaughter. Laughing. Smiling. Dancing. Nurturing. Exactly how I remember mom. In those moments I was forced to accept that mom has three grandchildren that had spent minimal time with her but the time that was documented revealed a history of fun and joy. And here we are with Oriana who will never be charmed by grandma’s silly lullabies, soothed by her gentle touch, or bounced by the rhythm of her dancing. In a very short time going through pictures I had a laundry list of upsets because Oriana was robbed of mom by cancer, and her other grandchildren were robbed of mom by her very own daughter.m. Andy’s sister has no clue what she has done. I would do anything to have Oriana know and love mom in a physical state. I would do anything to have my daughter be embraced by the warmth that was mom – but she never will be. The thought is unbearable. 

What I’m writing isn’t absent of honest conversation. Every family has dysfunction. I’m not airing out dirty laundry – her behavior has been flagrantly evident and witnessed by family, friends and medical staff for years. But the tale of this dysfunction stopped at mom’s death. There were so many opportunities for this woman to make things better, amicable at best. Andy, being the class-act that he is, found that he exhausted his efforts over the years. Any effort made was returned with mute silence. Silence that begged to be undisturbed; screeching evidence that she had long abandoned the family. The disturbing thing is that mom knew she wouldn’t come to her funeral. The only time I saw mom cry was when she spoke of this. Cancer didn’t hurt mom’s spirits – her daughter did. 

The memorial was a success. Andy did not preclude his sister from the service. Family and friends asked where she was and he casually remarked that she couldn’t make it. Interesting. Family from Japan made it out to see mom in March when it was revealed that the cancer metastasized to the brain. That was a 13+ hour journey not including layovers. Family and friends also traveled from Arizona to Wisconsin to celebrate mom’s life. We even drove 13+ hours from DC to Wisconsin (with a newborn and a dog). But she couldn’t make a 3 hour drive. The trek must have been burdened with too much traffic, or perhaps guilt…

She is undeserving of this attention. I digress.

Mom, we will practice forgiveness as you have displayed by example. It was just that her actions were so glaringly dismissive and you deserve more. You deserved more. You deserved the world. 

Your absence hurts but we know you and Oriana share the same spirit. We see you in her smiles and hear you in her coos. Andy, Oriana and I are writing a new story. Oriana Yoshie is your bloodline and she has your charismatic spirit already! Your life is being carried on through our little girl, and that is our sweeping redemptive ending – or beginning. Your spirit goes on. 

The reality that you’re not here though sends an electrical current of hurt through our bodies. Moving forward without you is a monumental task. We celebrate you, every single day. I wish you could be here. We wish you were with us to watch the NBA finals. We wish we could have seen your happy dance when Cleveland won! We wish you could hold your granddaughter today and every tomorrow, but we are eternally grateful you both met each other. I know you’re looking down on us and you can see this, but I want to tell you, your son is an extraordinary father. A generous fiancé with a stubborn streak. Please help me learn to accept this! But honestly, with his stubborn attitude aside (an indication that you’re still very present) you would be so proud. We ask that you continue to guide us like you have through this unchartered experience. 

We will remember to see the beauty in the ugly. We will remember to fight through adversity. We will remember that there is always a reason to smile when things feel heavy and hopeless. We will carry on “Happy Friday!” notes. We will let go of resentment. We will practice forgiveness. We will do all of this in your honor. We will live courageously, bravely and boldly with you in our hearts and your cinematic laughter in our ears. In closing, and with Elton John’s words, we remember “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

We love you. 

Wishing you all unconditional love, the courage to forgive and the strength to fight boldly any battle or heartbreak that you face.

God bless.

Thanks for stopping by.

XO

Valgal


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It Won’t Be Simple

27 Apr

Hello friends!

A blog today about my life between the miles. 
 
Let’s talk about love. I’m not getting gushy on you I swear but instead, honest. About damn time huh? I have a peculiar arrangement but it’s not unlike several others out there. I read it best the other day by Cheryl Strayed in her book Tiny Beautiful Things. Her ability to transcribe it into a raw form had me riveted. What I thought was a feeling inexplicable to delineate was far from it. 
 
Taken from a page in her book:
 
“[Love] It is not so incomprehensible as you pretend, sweet pea. Love is a feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be as light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nursed by humor, and loaded with promises and commitments that we may or may not want to keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is tackle the motherfucking shit out of love…”
 
And it was in that moment I recognized the feeling of relief. The answer to my question had it ever been a question was staring right at me in a string of letters comprising words on a page. 
 
I was reminded that love should not hinge on practicality, status quo or convenience. Was I suspect to all three? Had I been a villain? Probably.
 
The idea of love warms my heart. However, saying the word love and having it fall off your lips is devoid of seduction if you don’t act in love. Seduction is an art and we all want to be seduced, but don’t we want to taste the nectar of the fruit of our labor, too? Don’t we want to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it in all its forms, ugly and beautiful, soft and edged?
 
I’m no walk in the park. He knew that. Others know that and probably mutter silent prayers that they took a detour! I hope he enjoyed the journey. Or perhaps only the view? This is where I’m caught up.
 
The journey is the magic of growing and being authentic. It’s a colorful journey painted with pit stops and wrong turns, injuries, memories tainted with rejection, truths that hurt you to your core and challenge your character and then the deliberate lies to try to make it all better and cover up the emotional wounds and scars. There is laughter and song and dance. It’s all the stuff thrown at you like confetti in your relationship while you try your hardest to avert the colors that hurt you each time you pass Go.  
 
A lesson learned on this path is self-discovery. There is no right or wrong way in or out of love. It is the very path of love and it is dictated by no one individual. Colors bleed together or repel from one another. Time changes the palette but it doesn’t make it any less real. Love lost is greater than no love at all. F***, how many time must we lose out on love? The chaos of love paints a pretty picture made up of broken hearts, shame, disappointment and reverie but I’m hopeful there is meaning to it all.
 
The meaning I take away for now is that I’m going to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love-love for myself. I want to experience all the colors.
 
It’s time to start being authentic, time to start being Valerie. I’m on the verge of 30 which is unremarkable because I’ve been claiming I’m 30 for two years now. I’m comfortable in that box. And now I’m comfortable to be 30 and divorced.
 
There you have it. I said it D.I.V.O.R.C.E. 
 
And let me tell you, this color is by NO means unflattering. You can be pretty in pain. You can be pretty in pink. You can be pretty in red. And heck, you can look pretty in Divorce!!!
 
I grappled with my marriage from day 2. He knew it. For privacy we will leave it at that. I’m thankful for the journey with him. Some colors were familiar while others haunting. I hurt a lot. He hurt a lot because he couldn’t fix me-I’m not saying I was broken…Every day we smiled pushing forward. The relentless ways we tried to carry on was exhausting. I wasn’t living my truth and I was robbing him of his. I dimmed his light and that wasn’t fair.
 
We continued towards forever but it felt like a lie. I apologize to him for that. I experienced a whirlwind of emotions on that path. High and low. Good and bad. Silly and uncomfortable. However, I was always anxious. Colors bled together and lost their vibrancy. 
 
I speculated the path I was on. Running gives you a destination and I felt that my non-running life had none. With running there is an end-goal, that sought after finish line that promises the emotions, the sweat, the tears, and the pain will all be worth it…but I didn’t have that same vision. The emotions, the sweat and the tears were weighing me down and probably him too. My colors were fading. We didn’t share a vision because I didn’t have a vision. I was lolly gagging around to nowhere. For that, I am so sorry. 
 
In running you can take so many different routes and still end up at your destination. Paths can take you left, right, straight ahead, shit you can even side-step and go backwards a time or two and still get to where you want to go. You’re still on the map and its flourished with a canopy of the richest green or painted with autumn leaves. I was off the map. I was bound by no white winter snow or desert landscape. I was off the grid somewhere familiar but very alone. He didn’t make me feel alone. By all means he tried to get me to feel “un-alone” but I pushed him away and remained alone. I couldn’t pull out from under it. I loved but my love was “loaded with promises and commitments” that I didn’t want to keep  because I changed when our problems didn’t. The painting of us looked the same to outsiders but to each other, our perceptions and realities gave it a whole new face. Sure we were happy! We are good people but by no means were we/are we saints. There are no halos adorning our crowns. The course we were on changed somewhere before “I Do” and in the middle of loving ourselves, our true and authentic selves after saying “I Do.” I blame myself for always changing the course but I hope he finds a new color that warms his heart where my colors couldn’t.
 
I never changed the course out of malicious intent. I changed the course because I started being Valerie. Others may claim I was or still am lost but I assure you, while I’m not found, I’m back on the map. A destination will be had and its decorated with ocean horizons and soft sand. 
 
I owe it to him to say this-this is not a beat down. This is not a diatribe or memoir about what went wrong. This is my truth. This is me saying what has happened has happened and I implore him to move forward in the direction of happiness as well to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love by loving himself and someone special selflessly-The color of true and unapologetic romance.
 
I’ve been struggling with my emotions as of late because of my right hip’s labral tear. It has limited my running abilities consequentially limiting my ability to outpour my emotions on the path. I haven’t had an outlet until I decided to travel. I traveled on the grid but off my known map. I got outside of my head and explored a world where the current was strong but my will to not be frozen by fear was stronger (I got in the water).
 
I’m carrying on walking (wish I were running) in my own park-a destination I know well but caution others if they don’t want a pistol with a frontier mind. It’s a colorful place and you won’t be bored. It is a place I’m proud to own! I’m hoping someone special will enjoy not just the view but the journey with me one day. Until then…
 
and until next time…
 
Happy strolling (running) in your park! 😉 And may you be blessed with love in its best boundless forms. It won’t be simple. But it’ll be worth it. It’s always worth it. Love lost and love found-it’s always worth it! Thank you for the self-discovery and the lessons.
 
XO
 
Mahalo 
 

Val
 

Running High

2 Jan

Hello friends!!! And Happpppppy New Year!!!

As I reflect on the blessings and tough luck that was 2014, I approach 2015 hopeful. There were moments in 2014 I found myself tongue-tied and twisted. It continues to be a trickery issue. The issue of ambition and happiness. Can you have both?

A friend of mine shared a thought-provoking article a few days back that touched on a similar subject. Replace ambition with love. No, no, no…I’m not saying, “Love and happiness…Can you have both”. Keep reading.

The article was about self-identity. Let me explain and circle it back to my endeavors and exhausting commitment to running. The article states that love is emotional and compatibility is logical.

Hmmm. Okay…[thinking oil and vinegar…]

I’m clearly emotionally involved with running but my commitment to run for hours upon hours and abuse my body to the point of dehydration renders me delusional, high and happy and is likely NOT logical. The question is, do the two really blend together, or are they like oil and vinegar? Can you have love without compatibility? Can you have compatibility without love?

I have evaluated this topic and I am left puzzled.

This whole time I have been preaching to you that running is where I have found myself. Running is my identity. I was wrong. (That tastes like vinegar but I’m fortunate that I have acquired the taste)

Running is my love and we are compatible. It is a graceful tango with emotion and logic! (I wish everything were so easy.)

Running leaves me empty at times but also fills me with euphoria. Running gives me a sense of happiness and thwarts any feelings I may have of dissatisfaction, anxiety and depression (temporarily). Running and I get along, pretty dang well. When we argue, we argue fair. We have a mutual understanding that when I’m being a pain in the ass (quite more often I’m sure than I would like to admit) it will call me out and drive me to dig deep and push harder until I break through the barriers I have created. It peels away at my layers exposing me to vulnerability. It allows me to be transparent in this forum in which I express my life between the miles. It is the ultimate relationship as it challenges me and keeps me striving for more. Our dance through emotions gets me intoxicatingly high. Who wouldn’t want this?

But as I said minutes ago, I was wrong when I exclaimed that I found my identity through running. Running is NOT my identity. Running supplements me. As should any relationship. Running makes me whole but does NOT define me. I say again, as should any relationship.

So here I am again reflecting on 2014 and trying to project 2015. I said project, not plan. I will NOT plan anything (we all know how that went in 2013); however, I will commit to goals.

I am told I cannot sit still and I don’t know how to relax. True. It is because I have been drugged by the arrival fallacy and honey, I am severely addicted. If you’re not familiar with the arrival fallacy it is the belief that when you attain your goal, you will be happy. The trouble with addicts, like myself, is that once you taste the sweet nectar of success, you want more. Attaining one goal often reveals another goal or peripheral goals that you want to aspire towards. My running endeavors are a fine example. I ran a half-marathon and immediately after crossing the finish line, I was as high as Seth Rogan and James Franco in Pineapple Express (but with adrenaline and endorphins). I thought it would be a good idea to commit to a training plan for a marathon. Someone should have puff puff passed ME but my lungs were burning with the euphoric shock of finishing a race and I was highly vulnerable to the vapors of the arrival fallacy. And now, with two marathons in the books, and several half-marathon training runs completed, my goals shifted from completing marathons to Boston Qualify. For real this time. I will BQ in 2015. I think I’m still high.

That is my runnerlution in 2015. I have no other resolutions. I have no plans. The trouble with the BQ is that the commitment to training is exhausting, oh but the inebriation…

I had a lot of failures in 2014. Some related to my marriage with running. What relationship isn’t flawed? Commitment to anything is exhausting. The give and the take. The difference in opinions. The way love and compatibility don’t line up as often as you would like.

Love and compatibility weren’t fully aligned during my first marathon in 2014. I ran it just to see how I would do. I had a lot of fuel left in my reserves when I finished and I carried some resentment about it. Nonetheless, I was on cloud 9 and couldn’t come down. I ran my second marathon high on Mucinex while trying to fight bronchitis. Love and compatibility were in line this round but my health wasn’t. I flirted with a BQ. I missed the mark by four minutes. My ego wasn’t bruised but my lungs were. I came up short but I was damn happy for even showing up and racing at all. That’s the perk of the post-marathon glow of high spirits.

I ask you this, what happens when you try and you give it your all and you come up short? Time and again (in life and all of your relationships and endeavors?). Do you keep moving towards the original end-goal? Or does your goal manifest into something else? Do you change your direction to meet new unanticipated peripheral goals? When do you realign your goals to meet your needs and desires? Does love and compatibility drive your ambitions?

I recognize that I am perpetually creating goals. It doesn’t make me unsettled. It makes me thirsty. I am the arrival fallacy. That is life! I am running my life (pun intended) with what I hope is the perfect blend of love (emotion) and compatibility (logic). So far it has been the secret to my healthy affair with running. It keeps me high, baby! Stay high!

Happy New Year Friends!!! May 2015 greet you with a healthy glow, love, happiness, success, and inspiration!!! Stay high on life…get high on the run. Commit to love and compatibility and allow yourself to have both!

What are your runnerlutions?

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Aka Valarina ***(Thanks, Dad! He has requested I remove Valgal and use the nickname he gave me since yay high…oh you don’t see me showing you yay high…newsflash, I haven’t grown. Be it 2 or 29, I’m still yay high but not “high” – if you read the blog)

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