Tag Archives: women

The Other Side of the Couch – Remembering Tallu

Pink Clouds

 

 Tallu Schuyler Quinn, minister, mother, wife, CEO, writer, poet, fighter for justice, maker of bread, raiser of chickens, lover of life, died two months ago of glioblastoma.  Today the book that gathers the many strands of her life into haunting and beautiful essays is being published.

The Parnassus bookstore website says about Tallu:

“Nonprofit leader and minister Tallu Schuyler Quinn spent her adult life working to alleviate hunger, systemic inequality, and food waste, first as a volunteer throughout the United States and abroad, and then as the founder of the Nashville Food Project, where she supported the vibrant community work of local food justice in Middle Tennessee. That all changed just after her fortieth birthday, when she was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma, an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer.

In What We Wish Were True, Quinn achingly grapples with the possibility of leaving behind the husband and children she adores, and what it means to live with a terminal diagnosis and still find meaning. “I think about how my purpose may be the same in death as it continues to be in life–surrendering to the hope that our weaknesses can be made strong, that what is broken can be made whole,” she writes.

Through gorgeous prose, Quinn masterfully weaves together the themes of life and death by integrating spiritually nourishing stories about family, identity, vocational call, beloved community, God’s wide welcome, and living with brain cancer. Taken together, these stunning essays are a piercing reminder to cherish each moment, whether heartbreaking or hilarious, and cast loose other concerns.

As a mother, a kindred spirit, and a dear friend, Tallu Schuyler Quinn looks into our eyes with well-earned tears in her own and tells us the bittersweet truth: We are all searching for what has already found us–present and boundless love. This love will deliver us and never let us go.”

Tallu’s love continues through this beautiful book.  I hope that you will buy it and read it and tell others about it – it is a book meant for giving.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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The Other side of the Couch – Ukraine

 

sunflower

I sit here today, safe, in my own warm house with my own possessions around me.  I can use my cell phone to call anyone I want to call.  I can walk outside without worrying.  I can speak my mind to my neighbors, and while we may disagree, I am not afraid that I will be turned in to the police for something I have said or done. I have money to buy food, and if I need cash I can go to the bank and access my checking account to get more cash.  My family is safe, and I know that I can see them whenever I want to do so.

And as I sit here, safe, warm, with choices and a future, I am thinking of the people of Ukraine, who have none of these certainties.  I am thinking of the women and children who are saying goodbye to their husbands and fathers; I am thinking of the young men and women who are choosing to fight for their country at the risk of losing everything, because if they do not they have already lost everything worth living for.  I am thinking of the maternity hospital, bombed by the Russians.  I am thinking of the waves of refugees pouring across the borders into the West.

And I am thinking of the soldiers from both countries, soldiers who are fighting in a war that they neither chose nor believed would happen.  These young men – and women – will die because of the twisted mind of a man whose greed and vanity and ego have released the scourge of war once again on an innocent people.

The Russian people are suffering as well – pulled into a war they, too, did not choose and blinded by the limited access to other perspectives than that which is fed to them by the state-run media.

Here in Fortress America, far away from the realities of war on the European continent, it may be too easy to say to ourselves that this war has nothing to do with us – it is over there, far away.  I know that there are some who are saying exactly that, although their voices have been muted by the extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukranian people’s fight against Putin.  This is exactly what was said in the 30s and 40s in the runup to WWII by many – until we were attacked at Pearl Harbor.  Let it not come to that – let it not be that our political will to fight Putin and his war machine has to depend on our own country being attacked in order to muster the will to crush him.

I am grateful that the leaders of the European Union have stepped up and that the careful diplomacy of the Biden administration has created a unified response to an unprovoked attack on all democracies.  May it hold firm in the difficult days ahead.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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The Other Side of the Couch – A Balanced Life

Bird Feeder

Today is the last day of the Great Back Yard Bird Count for 2022.  Sitting today at the computer I have a view of our bird feeders less than six feet away, and I have loved counting the familiar birds that appear.  Today house finches and mockingbirds have been the most frequent visitors, although an occasional pair of mourning doves have also consistently searched for spilled seed on the ground.  The mockingbird puffs up and acts like the king of the feeder, but the smaller house finches are fierce in their determination to reach the seeds despite his aggressive posturing.  Just now a Carolina wren has appeared – lovely rich brown with a yellow belly – so cheeky, and in love with the dried mealy worms.  The squirrels are in the mix as well, for though we have squirrel-proof feeders, those amazing acrobats have found several ways to defeat the trapping mechanism.  Oh well.  Squirrels must live, too.

The birds of the air live their lives according to the urges and instincts of their species, knowing when to eat, drink, find a mate, build a nest, raise a family, migrate or not.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a creature driven by instinct rather than by plan or intention.  I do not think birds plan, exactly, where to find seed or find a mate.  For them it is not “tomorrow morning I will check out the feeders at the Whites – if they are empty, I will go across the green space to the people on the other side.”  They just go.

I do not know a great deal about bird physiology, but I do not imagine that they experience stress in the way that humans do.

What do I know about managing stress?  I know that rest is essential.  I know that being present in the moment is helpful.  Any kind of creativity – drawing, painting, writing, playing the piano – all of these are calming.  Meditating, quiet music, warm baths, cuddly blankets – all help.  Anything that helps the body move out of fight or flight (the activation of the autonomic nervous system) and into calm (the activation of the para-sympathetic nervous system) helps the body calm down.  An essential tool in this process is breathing.  A breath in – a longer breath out – repeated at least three times – signals that vagal nerve system to move into PSN – and the body responds with letting go and calming down.

What I am recognizing about myself, however, is that I am not always aware of stress.  I live my life, I think, in such a way as to be always ready for and thinking ahead into the next thing.  For example, cleaning up the breakfast dishes – group tasks so that all is done most efficiently with least effort. Going to the bedroom?  Find objects that are out of place and need to be picked up on that trip. Errands to run? List the stops and plan the most productive route.  I accomplish a great deal by living this way.  My question to myself, however, is whether leaning into the future is creating a problem with balance in my life.

I do not plan time to stop.  I do not plan time to rest.  I seem to be almost driven to do.  And so, I ask myself, what am I driving toward or pushing away from?  If I stop and rest, if I let myself meander a bit, if I take the longer way to go just because I want to see what is there – if I stay in the present moment and take those breaths – what could happen?

As I pause here to feel into those questions, the answer that surfaces is not a surprise.  I will grieve.  I will experience the losses of these past years yet again.

So, to find my balance I need to re-balance – a time of experiencing being in the moment that will include more tears, and more journaling, and more just being quiet with the memories.  No “to-do” list on grief.  It takes the time it takes and follows its own song.

If you find yourself caught in the cycle of never-ending doing, perhaps watching birds as they live in the moment could be a reminder of the power of now.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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The Other Side of the Couch – Patience Rewarded

Kara 2022

20131206_213818

When a feline companion of eighteen years left us last May, I knew that at some point I would want to adopt another cat.  Our resident cat, Jasmine, now ten years old, came to us at age two when her first family moved to New Zealand.  She and Oscar became friends – he was ten at the time – and although they were never buddies, they did tolerate each other to the extent that they sometimes even sat on the bed together.

Jasmine adapted well to being on her on, especially because the pandemic has resulted in my being home almost all the time.  However, as things began to open, it became apparent that she would be home alone for some stretches of time, and I was worried about that for her.  She had always been with other animals.

We decided to adopt a younger cat in hopes that they would become playmates.  Alas – best-laid plans – when we went to the cat rescue to choose a cat, we were chosen – by a nine-year-old female named Kara.  She was a greeter – she was seated in a small box on a table right next to the door as we came in, and she was friendly right away.  We looked around, and we spent time with several of the younger cats (there were twenty-five cats roaming around) – but the one we thought we had come for turned out to be “playful” in a bit of a rough way.  My husband wanted none of that – and Kara was our choice.

In adopting an older, female cat and attempting to integrate her into our home with an even-older female cat, we were embarking of a journey that would require patience!

So began the Saga of Jasmine and Kara, a continuing story told in weekly installments to an avid audience of friends.  Following the instructions gleaned from our cat whisperer friend and from Jackson Galaxy YouTube videos, we began by not even allowing the two cats to see each other.  Kara was whisked into the house and placed in a secure room with her own box, food bowls, toys and water. This happened to be the room in which we watch TV, so she would be sure of company in the evening.  The next steps were to exchange scents – rub old socks or t-shirts on each cat and put those objects in the other cat’s areas.  Next we moved Kara into another room for a bit and let Jasmine into the TV room to sniff around.  We did this repeatedly.

The next step was crucial – we put up baby gates at one of the entrances to the TV room and began to crack the door open when both cats were eating – thus creating an association with “seeing other cat equals getting food”.  We quickly learned that Kara is an agile escape artist who could climb right over those gates!  However, they did serve the purpose of allowing visual contact if they were monitored.  I also learned that as soon as Jasmine saw Kara that I needed to pet her (the resident cat!), reassure her that this interloper did not mean she had lost us, and play with her using her favorite toy, a fishing pole with feathers attached.

This journey began in September.  We are now at the point at which both Jasmine and Kara are out and about in the house during the day.  Jasmine is the dominant cat – a Maine Coon mix weighing in at twelve pounds; however, Kara, a long-haired black tabby with Maine Coon features as well, and weighing about eight pounds, is a little acrobat and very interested in joining with and playing with Jasmine.

This has not yet occurred, but I would say that the possibility exists that they could end up on a bed together. It has taken patience, time, and determination – some would say why work so hard?  In part it is because we were chosen – but also it is within our ability to provide a safe and loving home to an older cat – and the rewards of that choice are many.  We love them both, quirks and all, and I have hope that the patience we are all displaying will be rewarded.  

Patience is an old-fashioned virtue – in our fast-paced and throw-away society, we are not used to delaying gratification or waiting for things to unfold.  Jasmine and Kara are teaching us time-honored truths by showing us that it takes time to adapt, to trust, and to create new connections.  It will not be rushed – it takes the time it takes – a timely reminder that even fear and conflict can be mitigated by patience and a good meal!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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The Other Side of the Couch – Goodbye and Hello

Sunset

The turning of the year is for many a time of reflection – what has this last year brought to us; what are we leaving behind; what are we welcoming in the year ahead.  As I write this post, we are experiencing yet another wave of COVID-19 distress as the Omicron variant has become the dominant disease vector; we do not yet know enough about this variant to predict much about it other than that it is more contagious than the two prior variants – we hope it is less lethal.

This year for me has been a year of facing loss and mortality.  My brother, brother-in-law, sister and aunt all died of cancer this year – I am the oldest of five siblings, and these losses have really brought into focus the essential question that life presents to all of us.  Our time here is limited.  What do we choose to do with that precious time?

COVID prevented me from spending the time I would have wished with my brother and sister.  We were barely able to see Glenn a few weeks before his death – he was fighting hard to get to another clinical trial that held out so much promise, but his cancer was too far advanced.  My daughter and I flew to San Francisco and spent two precious days with him – just being together, talking, remembering.  When we left, we still were hoping for more time – but it was not to be.

Lindsay’s situation turned so quickly.  She was diagnosed in November of 2020, had surgery, and the extensive tumor was identified and removed.  She joined a clinical trial that worked so well until suddenly it didn’t.  In early June of 2021 she was hospitalized, and scans finally revealed that the cancer was back in all her internal organs.

Because Hawaii was so strict regarding COVID, when we learned that her time was short, we still had to have COVID tests within 72 hours of travel.  The only place in Nashville that gave the tests approved by the Hawaiian government was finally identified, and we flew on July 3.  Arriving at 2 in the afternoon, Lindsay, by this time in hospice at home, recognized us, welcomed us, but was not able to converse.  We were just together. During the night she became unable to respond, and in the early morning hours I talked to her, sang to her, told her it was ok to go.  She left us at 8:45 on July 4.

Three weeks later we said hello to a beautiful new granddaughter – Cora Lindsay.   Named after my sister, her great-aunt, this child carries hope into the world as a legacy of love.

The thread that binds all these experiences together is that legacy.  I am a fortunate person in that I grew up in a family that was and is bound together by love.  Although we have certainly had our struggles – no families in my experience do not have struggles – we got along (for the most part) and valued kindness.  Whatever I can say about my time on this earth, I can at least say that I gave and received love.  That is no small thing.

May you find ways in your own life to love.  The gift will return to you a thousand-fold.

Happy New Year.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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The Other Side of the Couch – Are We There Yet?

Here & Now

Are We There YET?

I remember as a child taking car trips with my family – I was often buried in a book, but I know I must have asked that dreaded question many times – and I am equally sure that my younger siblings often did the same. Time passes differently in childhood. Days are endless; summers last forever, and it seems that Christmas will never come.

Time moves differently as we age. The rushing river of Time of which we are never outside becomes ever faster. The meandering pace of childhood picks up speed, and time passes in minutes as we grow older.

And yet that question remains – are we there yet? Have we reached our destination? The “there” changes over time, and yet it is still somewhere out there in the far distance. We are moving toward a horizon that always is just out of reach.

Have you considered what “there” is for you, and whether the possibility exists that you are already “there”? If we as humans are constantly focused on the next thing, that which is to come, we miss so much of what is here now.

If I have learned anything from these months of pandemic isolation, it is that now is what we have. The opportunity to slow down, pay attention, spend time with people I love has never been more present and essential, especially given that these months included the loss of beloved family members (my brother, sister, brother-in-law, and aunt – none to COVID, but gone nonetheless) – and the loss of a feline friend who gave us eighteen years of loving presence. We also received the gift of another precious granddaughter and the adoption of another feline friend.

Friends, “there” is a mirage – a desert oasis calling us away from the actual present. I hope that you can find ways to stay fully present with your life today. It really is a gift, and it is all that we have.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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The Other Side of the Couch – Pandemic Gift

Backyard Birds

The days are already shortening, and the air is occasionally brisk if one arises early enough.  Yesterday as I worked at my desk I watched two squirrels fighting over the bird seeds that had fallen from the feeders – each determined to be the most successful.  A territorial mockingbird has hovered over the feeders at times as well – the smaller birds seem to just give way to this larger and certainly more vociferous creature – they come back when the mockingbird departs.

Watching the birds and wildlife from my window during the last eighteen months has been both solace and lesson.  It’s a small window really, looking out on a little slice of green, some shrubs and a holly bush.  Farther away across the sidewalk path is an oak tree, and farther on are steps and the landscaping and front doors of neighbors.  Few people actually pass this way – so the wildlife is mostly undisturbed.  We have even seen an occasional deer.

I often pause during the day and watch the unfolding drama of survival as the house finches, cardinals, black-capped chickadees, Carolina wrens, blue jays, robins, occasional bluebirds vie for life sustenance.  The squirrels have become adept at defeating the so-called squirrel-proof feeders and perform acrobatics on a daily basis just to get to an occasional reward.

I don’t remember a time before the pandemic when I took the time to sit and watch the panorama of life go by.  I have always been on the go, a doer, completing tasks, getting things done, being organized.  I noticed this morning that I unconsciously create little patterns that streamline the smallest tasks – bunching together the steps it will take to put things in the recycle; making sure I stop at the trash on the way – I do this without much thought.

This way of being has actually served me well over the years – and yet, and yet – as I watch the birds and take time to just be, I am grateful for this unexpected pandemic gift – the gift of slowing down, of taking time for nothing more than being present.

When this challenging time ends – and I do believe it will either end or become mitigated in some way so that we will be able to once again be out in the world – my hope is to hold onto this gift, this experience, of being more centered in present time.  In the end present time is what we have – the past is gone; the future is not here – so I will delight in my birds and squirrels and in being here in this world, at this moment in time.  May we all be so blessed.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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The Other Side of the Couch – Don’t Wait

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

Twenty years.  Hard to believe it has been twenty years.  The pain has receded; it isn’t daily now as it was in the first several years.  When it returns it is tempered now by sweet memories of better days.  The things we did together, the moments of laughter we shared, the trips we took – these are precious now. 

Twenty years.  Hard to believe it has been twenty years.  The pain has receded, but when it returns it is jagged and still painful and hard to understand.  The pain has not been worked through – it seems instead burned into our memories without healing.

Today, September 11, has two meanings for me. 

First, this day would have been my dad’s 101st birthday.  He was born in 1920, and he died unexpectedly on the 5th of July, 2001.  The first anniversary of his birth occurred on the day that the 9/11 attacks shook our country to the core.  Now, twenty years later, we are remembering as a nation that terrible day.  I, as a single human being, am remembering both the terrorist attack and the loss of a beloved father.

The most important lesson for me out of all this loss is a simple one.  Don’t wait.  Don’t wait to visit loved ones. Don’t wait to say you love them.  Don’t wait to take that trip, to write that story down, to share happy memories.  Our time on this earth is not a given, and we never really know what is ahead.

I didn’t know on July 1, 2001 that the phone call I had with my father would be the last time I heard his voice.  Thousands didn’t know on September 11, 2001 that they were saying good-bye for the last time.

Don’t wait.  It may be the last thing you ever get to say or do.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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On Top of Old…

No, that is certainly not Old Smokey.  That’s a picture I took from the northwest side of the Nashville-Davidson County Landfill.  What appears as a mountain ridge-top is a 77-acre mound of garbage!!!

The site, Southern Services Construction & Demolition landfill, is owned by Waste Management. The company has plans to expand the site by 17 acres, a plan that was rejected by Nashville’s Solid Waste Region Board.  In April, the company filed a lawsuit against Davidson County.  According to my research, the board has a “Solid Waste Master Plan” which aims to send near zero waste to landfills by 2050.  Not exactly around the corner, but it’s a start…

So now, according to the news, Waste Management is having a shortage of employees.  Therefore, areas around Nashville are not having their garbage picked up.  The company is resorting to alternating schedules, so people’s trash is piling up.  According to WSMV, “An ordinary chore turned into a mound of frustration this month for people living in one Antioch neighborhood who say they weren’t paid a visit from their garbage truck for more than two weeks.”  So sad.  And I saw interviews on television showing people’s “trash.” 

How pathetic.  I mean, c’mon people!  I saw so many examples of recyclable items: Coke cartons, beer cartons, cans, milk jugs, plastic bags…  What’s the deal?  It’s 2021 and it’s high time, no, it’s WAY PAST high time for folks to WAKE UP AND SMELL THE GARBAGE!!!  Where do they think it goes?  Into a pile.  Okay.  And where does that pile go?  Nowhere, people –  Nowhere!!!!!!!!!

Now: Many neighborhoods have recycling collection.  Sure, they have some restrictions (like no glass – dangerous, I guess), but how hard is it to get it to the curb?  I have to tote mine to one of the recycling collection bin centers around town, or in my county, but it’s worth it.  I’ve been doing it for YEARS.  I just plan it in to my schedule and I know, at least I hope, it’s being dealt with sustainably.  As for plastic bags, most grocery stores have bins for those.

I know the public hears the word “recycle.”  I believe they even know what it means.  But if we don’t start conserving resources, and recycling serves that purpose as well, and limiting our garbage dumping, we are going down a very slippery slope.  “Earth Day” is more than just one day a year. Please…

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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The Other Side of the Couch – No Words

Clouds and Sorrow

As I begin this piece tonight I find myself faced with putting into words what cannot be, can never be, put into words, because words can only carry us so far into experience.  Tonight I am faced with an attempt to put into words the enormity of the events of these last days, weeks, months, even years that have piled on, each one unique unto itself and yet combining into what is now greater, harder, more challenging than all its parts. And yet I am going to try, because the trying perhaps is in itself a healing process.

It began slowly – he said after we were all together that Christmas of 2018, somewhat offhandedly, oh by the way, I am having a CT scan when I get back to Berkeley– maybe have fatty liver.  Not too much alarm there – then in January the startling news of a tumor in the liver, size of a softball.  Surgery to come.  Removal of two-thirds of his liver in March, 2019.  Reports – it is not primary liver cancer, it is bile-duct cancer.  What?  Very rare.  OF course.  Not well understood.

The fight began.  He, a scientist and geneticist, participated fully in his treatment, sought information, found clinical trials.  A trial he entered gave him, remarkably, almost 21 months of additional, high-quality life.  In spite of COVID he thrived, creating family connections and friend connections across the globe, hosting as he always did, connecting others.

November, 2020 – she called, having experience shortness of breath – went to the ER for removal of a liquid surrounding the lungs.  In the process of this, a CT scan revealed an abdominal mass.  When surgically removed and reviewed – ovarian cancer of a rare and slow-growing type (which meant not responsive to chemo).  In January of 2021 she entered a clinical trial.  She did very well.

Suddenly things began to change.  For him, the clinical trial stopped working.  The cancer invaded the biliary tree in the liver, and all attempts to help bile leave the liver were unavailing.  Although another trial showed promise, the fight to get there was lost.  He left us on May 2, 2021, having survived 21 months post-diagnosis of a type of cancer that rarely if ever allows for more than months of life.

And while all this was happening, she was doing well.  A dancer, a lover of nature, she thrived on this beautiful island.  From January 2021 to June 2021 she was upbeat, feeling good, feeling positive, enjoying life in paradise, her name for her home on Maui.

Suddenly things began to change.  A sensation of pressure in her legs – unclear origin.  Suddenly problems with digestion.  Next discomfort in abdomen – visit to ER revealing fluid gathered in the abdomen, which when drained showed signs of advanced cancer.  Further hospitalization showed the cancer suddenly invading all major organs.

She went home to her beloved partner and entered hospice care on June 30.  We arrived – her sisters, her niece, her brother-in-law – on July 3.  She knew us.  She thanked us for coming.

She left us on July 4, 2021.

A brother.  A sister.  Both younger than I – ages 70 and 67.  Both lost to rare cancers that overwhelmed the best efforts and best care each could have.  There is no one to blame.  Everyone loved them and fought hard for them, but the cancers were relentless in their proliferation.  They both died surrounded by those who loved them.

And now, those who loved them are faced with the daily task of getting up each day and living lives from which their daily presence is gone.  Those who loved them have to pick up the pieces of life, to face the bureaucracy of death, the death certificates, the computer passwords, the search for things like safe deposit box keys, the bank accounts.

Those who loved them have to distribute their earthly possessions, decide what to keep, what to give, what to do with the remains of a life.

And yet most of all, those who loved them are faced with walking through each day with the reality of their absence.  Many things are said about death – but for me the truth is that death is absence and loss of the precious connection between human souls.  I carry them with me in my heart, but I want to hear them, and talk with them, and remember with them, and that will never be again.

So today I mourn the loss of my brother Glenn Hammonds and my sister Lindsay Hammonds – two bright stars who blazed through this world too quickly and left it too soon.  I am only at the beginning of the journey of grief. Today I can only feel the loss.  Perhaps happy memories will help, but not yet.

Friends, hold each other close.  Don’t wait to be together.  These COVID months have stopped us in so many ways – but for COVID I would have spent months with each of them instead of having to wait for vaccination to make it safe to go. I am grateful I was able to be with both of them before they died. Don’t wait.  Life is not a given, and we are given now, but nothing else is sure.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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