This time of year I like to look back at all the wonderful things that have happened and all the things I am thankful for.

I’ll start with my thankfulness for the hardships.

This year, I learned a lot about humanity and also myself. I learned that you can never wholly know another person, no matter how many years you’ve been friends or family. I learned that I will not give up my faith in humanity but at the same time, I will not be surprised nor angry when they disappoint or hurt the very people they profess to love.

I’ve learned that I need some silent alone time so that I can listen to my inner voice and keep an inner peace that passes all understanding.

And as a result of the spiritual awakening, I met the guy I am currently dating when dating was the furthest thing from my mind at the time.

It all started when in the Spring months I lost the Master Chorale of Washington chorale family. Without the choir in my life, I learned that music accounted for much of my happiness. The choir was closed down due to financial hardships. I went through a spiritual upheaval as I realized that singing in the choir had been the piece of my life that had made it possible to cope with everything else — a sort of music therapy for my soul.

Without the choir, I needed to take some time to be retrospective and for spiritual healing and so I went to a monastery for a work week to be silent, pray and only use my voice in singing chants with the Benedictine monks.

It was a life altering event. I plan to go back each year to the monastery for a week of spiritual re-centering.

Now to the people I am thankful for.

To all of my friends, those I see regularly, my coworkers and those I’ve known since way back in the day: thank you for being a part of my life and the making of who I am today.

To the week-night crew, you know who you are: thank you for being some of the best friends I’ve had in a long time. You are a no-bullshi*t, laugh often and love (agape and philos) much bunch of friends among whom I feel freely accepted and free to show my affection.

This year I started participating in a weekly, Sunday night strategic board game group composed of grade-school friends, church friends, random participants and my brother. It has been a great opportunity for some social time without the pressure to be social and perform – other than to kick butt at a game. It has also helped to strengthen my friendship with my brother.

That leads me to my family. It’s been a rough year in some ways but I think we’ve survived in the end mostly unscathed.  Thank you to God for helping us hold it together and heal and I pray that I am able to forgive even more as time passes.

Tomorrow, I and my wonderful boyfriend, Ernie, will spend half a day with my family and half a day with his. It will be the first time I’ve shared my Christmas day with a boyfriends’ family.  I am both pensive and excited about the idea.

Merry Christmas everyone!


I’m not sure how I let a month go by without posting something on my blog, well actually I do know why. I’ve been busier than ever.

And yet in the middle of the chaos that is my life, I had something wonderful happen. I met a guy at a place and time when I wasn’t looking, at the Renaissance Festival in Maryland, of all places.  And over the last several weeks, through dates and long phone conversations and a hell of a lot of texts, I’ve grown to really like him and Ernie and I are now in an exclusive relationship.

But first: the chaos and unnecessary drama

In the last month I’ve traveled to Colorado, California and Georgia (for pleasure, pleasure and family, and work). Also, every weekend (except one) since September 12, I’ve had a festival or event to participate in on behalf of a non-profit organization called BeadforLife. And in the middle of this, someone (actually several people) I thought I knew and understood, tossed a monkey wrench into my life that squeezed out nearly all of my remaining energy and free time.

Yet through it all, having my boyfriend in my life has made these last few weeks bearable and highlighted by moments of wonderful twitterpated happiness instead of being depressed and frazzled.

I once heard a “wise sage” say (OK, it was said by a boy I had a crush on in college, lol) that he just wanted to find someone who wanted to be with him as much as he wanted to be with her. I know it’s early in the relationship now, but I think I’ve found someone who wants to be with me as much as I want to be with him.  For the first time in a long time I’m calm about a relationship and just thrilled to be getting to know someone so wonderful and for whom I get a big cheesy grin on my face whenever I think about him. Yay.

Months ago I wrote a blog about death, and how one of the unsaid things about friendship is that you’ll be there for the person in life and death…you’ll attend their funeral.

My friend Joyce responded to that saying she understood and thanking me for our blooming friendship.

I have been told that Joyce died today.

Joyce Mullins

I have asked her son to let me know details about her funeral service. And if I can obtain the day off, I will go.

Joyce and I met only a few times. We had a link in that we both worked for the dover post newspapers in Delaware, except I was her replacement at the newsdesk after she had a bad car accident, if I recall correctly. Joyce and I shared a love of many things and she regularly commented on my blogs. It was always well thought out and meaningful.

It’s weird how close two people can become without face to face interaction, but instead through writing and comments on blogs.

I will miss Joyce quite a lot.

Yet I cannot be entirely sad because I believe in an afterlife and that joyce will be able to again do the things she loved but that her body prevented lately. I have hope that she and I will be able to see each other again and go for big adventures together and long walks along the ocean or in the woods together.

Goodbye Joyce. I’m sorry your gone, and I’ll pray for those you’ve left behind.

Goodbye my friend. Goodbye.

I’ve been acting the part of a fool lately.

The problem is that I like human interaction too much.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I get a high from making new friends. Where it gets into dangerous territory is that sometimes I don’t want to lose that feeling.

Sometimes I get the idea of getting to know someone so entrenched in my head that I forget to take it easy and let things progress organically. It’s part of my personality, you see, I am a pursuer of things. It’s my profession.

If, say, I want to get something done, I find every way possible to make it happen. I’m trained to be a hunter (of news) and unfortunately sometimes that leaks into my personal life.

But I had time to think about it this weekend in between choir concerts and spending quality time with my family. And I penciled it all down in tiny two-columned scribble on the back of a photocopied sheet of music.

Unfortunately, I can usually only interpret my scribble up to 48 hours after putting it to paper. So my deep thoughts have been lost to time.

But from what I can recall of my musings, I realized that I keep hunting shadows without letting myself get to know the person(s) making the shadow. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Therefore my new goal for the new year — and by that I mean starting yesterday — is to take it easy.

If, say, I’ve made a few efforts to hang out with someone who I would like to befriend and it doesn’t work out, I figure it’s up to them to make the next move.

Am I completely off with this idea?

Taking care of the elderly is like trying to maintain an antique car. No matter how much TLC you give them…. eventually they are going to give out. My mom once told me that.

I grew up in a nursing home. My living room was where the elderly patients sat and watched TV. They used my bathroom, ate in our dining room and often even celebrated Christmas with us. You get the diea.

There are times in my life when I realize that I have to step back from the family drama and just let things happen.

I’m not sure whether this is such a moment, but my hunch is it might be.

My paternal grandmother isn’t doing so well. She’s 93 and living with my uncle in Santa Cruz, California. My uncle takes superb care of her and he also makes sure she gets to go out and see plays, go for walks and attends classical concerts (so much that many of the professional instrumentalists in Santa Cruz know my grandma by name).

He also takes her to the church where my grandma gets to visit with an Indian lady about grandma’s age. The two women have known each other for many years since both their husbands worked and traveled together. Grandma’s eyes just sparkle when she sees her girlfriend at the church. They will just sit there and hold hands during all the service.

Uncle’s love, dedication and unselfishness astounds me and makes me respect him all the more.

I add here that Grandma Hartman is my soul mate, one of a very few in my life. It will be very hard to loose her.


But grandma is old. It’s as simple as that.  And I’m sorry if this sounds cold but, taking care of the elderly is like maintaining an old car– it’s mostly guesswork, it requires a lot of TLC and no matter how much you take care of it, the car will give out eventually.

Well my uncle (and my aunt) now is faced with having to plan what to do when Grandma dies.For the first time he has found out all the numbers he will need to call My dad, who wants to imagine her healthy, wants nothing to do with making funeral arrangements. And my guess, although it breaks my heart, is that he won’t be able to visit her in the state she is in. It would break his fragile heart.

Oh dad that I could be your strength, but I can’t.It was all I could do, with strength granted to me from God alone, to help heal the hurt that has built up between my father and his siblings. I fear that there is nothing I can do to stop that from happening again when grandma dies. Their sorrow will be so strong that they will lash out and re-open those freshly closed wounds. And I will not be able to mourn at the funeral because I will be doing everything I can to keep things at peace. But to honor Grandma, that is what I will do.

I force back the tears even as I write.

Grandma has asked “uncle” to let her die at home. I don’t think he quite knows how his house will haunt him when she’s gone but that’s something one can only understand after they’ve had someone die in their house.

So here’s my decision.

I can’t fix the issues that have been built over yearsand years between the siblings no matter how much I know they love each other, I don’t think it will be enough.

I can’t make my father run to grandma’s side. It has to be his choice. And I understand why he can’t because I’m not good at goodbyes either. I also know that he’s had to attend the funeral of every elderly person we had at our nursing home and that with each funeral it drove all of us a little madder. Perhaps that is why I revel in my youth so extremely–to fight the inevitable.

So I’m letting it go. Writing this entry has been healing. I see now that anything else would be futile. I can only be there for those I love and that is what I am now determined to do.

My friend’s father’s battle with brain cancer is over. His father passed away this weekend without ever making it back to the East Coast. My heart goes out to Sam and his family for their great loss after such a long, long struggle. They will be burying his father in California.

It seems trivial today to post a note about anything else. I have never lost an immediate family member and I dread that day more when I try to imagine what Sam and his family must be going through.

I think my brain has been trying to process such a concept because I’ve been dreaming about the death of family members and waking up with tears on my pillow several times in the past month.

I didn’t know Sam’s dad and I won’t pretend to even have a clue to know what he was like, but I do know that his family is strong and they will rally around their mother to help her make it through this next trying year.

If you want to know more about what Sam’s family has been through check out the family blog…Kenton Shin’s battle with Brain Cancer.

In life, there are people who attend funerals and there are those who avoid them.

I attend funerals.

Here are the reasons why:

The unspoken promise:

To me, sitting in a wooden pew or standing at the graveside of the funeral service of a friend fullfils an unspoken promise created the moment I formed a human bond with that person.

It’s a promise that the passing of this person’s life will not go unmourned. It’s an unacknowledged oath that there will be at least one person at the funeral–at least one person to put flowers on your grave.

I use the term “friend” in this case to represent many kinds of relationships: friendship, love, colleague relationships and family bonds.

Loyalty is everything to me. Once I am your friend, it takes a hell of a lot for me to cut you from my life… a hell of a lot. Neither distance or time matter to me and, for that matter, neither does the grave.

For the rest of the story:

I also come to a friend’s funeral so that I can get the bigger picture of you (friend who has left me). To fill in the pieces of your life story. I guess it’s a little bit of the journalist in me that wants to document you in my mind. By talking to others at the funeral, I get to hear new anctedoctes that somehow sound oh so familiar and remind me of all the quirks that I loved about you.

To hold their hand:

On occasion, and growing more frequently as the years accumulate, a friend who I love to the depth of me departs this earth.

For those soul mates in particular I go to be there for those left behind.

I come armed with a credit card to take the young widow out to drink and ensure she makes it home safe.

I come armed with blank thank-you cards and a pen to fill out for the mother/father/spouse to sign and drop in the mailbox when they have time.

I come with my purse crammed with unused tissues and an arm to put around your shoulder or a hand to squeeze when the casket is lowered, if you reach for me.

I come armed with memories and pictures to share if you want.

I come to sit and be silent by your side, oh person who loved my friend too.

I come to be your shoulder to hide your face in if you cannot look.

I come to carry your purse. To gather the flowers and cards. To think ahead when you cannot and make sure things get taken care of and people are where they need to be.

I come to help keep fights from breaking out that my friend, now gone, had held in check, because he/she would want it that way for at least a day.

And most of all, I come to pray for peace and healing for all those around me.

Friend. I hope I never have to see your open grave for I know I will eventually have one too. But, if you skip out before I do, be assured now while you are alive, that I will be there and that you will remain as a mark in my heart.

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