In May of 2013, based on my medical condition and the large tumor growing in my abdomen, my doctor told me that I most probably would not live to the end of 2013, and definitely not until December 2015. If you have been following my stories for the past few years you know this already. I had to cut my 2013 trip around the USA short in May 2013, and with disappoint I was not well enough in the fall to take another trip in my camper van. I was in Hospice from January 2014 until early May 2014, when I checked myself out and decided to take another road trip, which thankfully I was able to do. It wasn’t always easy to travel due to the pain and my breathing difficulty, but I made it successfully. I am so very grateful.
I went to my doctor the end of November, after I returned from another road trip which was from July 10th through November 16th. On my trip, like last year, there were some challenging days but I did what I could, I took my medicine to control the pain, and in Albuquerque and Texas when I was with friends I asked for rides, when needed, so I didn’t have to drive and could take my med’s, or if I was driving I stopped and rested when I needed to since I didn’t have any specific dates to be anywhere. In November, Dr. Borrows examined me and she said that my large tumor is still growing, it’s very large and hard and we can easily feel it. We can’t feel the other 3 smaller tumors but they might also be growing. She also said that my entire abdominal and pelvic areas are harder than when she examined me in June. My blood tests came back good which is nice. It didn’t say anything about my stage 3 kidney disease so that is probably a good thing. At least I hope it is. I was told to keep doing what I can and eat what I can. Because I was more active on my trip and I didn’t eat as much or snack, I lost 10 pounds, now that I am back home with a large refrigerator, oven and kitchen I have been cooking and baking and gaining some weight back.
We have no idea why God has chosen to let me have this extra time to be alive. It could be all the prayers that are being sent to me by so many people. I’m guessing there is more that God has for me to do and/or accomplish. Maybe it’s to have a different relationship with God, maybe be closer to God, although I feel I have a close and personal one now, and I thank God many times a day, every day, for all of the blessings I have and all that I am grateful for. I can walk, talk, see, hear, breathe (although some days it’s harder to do than on other days), I can do many of these at the same time. I have a safe place to live, a safe car to drive, food to eat, I can pray any way I want, I have so many friends and people who love and care about me, I have money to pay bills and spend on life’s needs and to take trips with in my camper van. I have my camper van Molly who for 10 years has safely let me travel in her to have wonderful adventures all over the United States. There are so many things to be grateful for, even the challenges present opportunities to be grateful for.
I continue to communicate with God and ask if I am doing what I need to be doing with this extra time I have been given, or am I to be working on a different or closer relationship with God and/or others. Whatever the reason, my purpose here on Earth is not accomplished yet. Like the book Illusions by Richard Bach says… Here is a test to find out if your mission on Earth has been accomplished… If you are still alive it isn’t.
Continually I remind people to have an attitude of gratitude, to live each day to the fullest, to not put off trips or things they want to do or say until a later time because they may not have that chance. Life is short, unexpected things happen. Every interaction we have with someone might be our last one, or the latest thing we do might be the last thing we get to do. Don’t put things off… we may not get a chance to do or say whatever it is or go where we want to go. Live in the now.
Life has not always been easy for me, especially since 2010. In fact, often it’s the difficulties and challenges that bring me closer to God and my friends. The situations and people help me to reach out and say I need help, or to step out of my comfort zone. There are too many things to list on a gratitude list, which I do every day, although it is usually done verbally not written. I used to write my gratitude list and on the days where something exceptional happened, or I had a different feeling for some reason, I would draw stars on the top of the page. Sometimes one or two stars, other times it might be a 4 or 5 star day. Not every day got a star, just when I knew that God worked a miracle, or there was something I knew made that day special somehow. Then on the days when I wondered if God knew what He was doing, or why something happened the way it did, I would go get my Gratitude Journal and read the pages with the stars. I would then remember the feeling or experience that day and I realized that God has a plan. It might not be my plan. That not everything is about me. Maybe I am just a player in the life of someone else, maybe whatever happened or didn’t happen was for my growth or to put me where I was needed for whatever reason. I don’t have to know, I just have to have faith, hope, trust, and much more. If you do a search on my website for Inspirational Poems or Inspirational Stories you can read some of the poems that have helped me through difficult or uncertain times. Everyday when I pray I include prayers to go to those who need it, some are specific names, others are just letting prayers go to where they are needed. I feel confident that they are sent through the Universe to those in need.
In May of 2013 after Dr. Borrows told me that I most probably would not live until the end of 2013 I looked at things and life differently. I sold my condo and gave almost everything I owned away or donated it. I only had the bare necessities and a small amount of clothes. I rented an apartment since I had sold my condo and living in my camper van full time would be difficult when I would have to go into Hospice or need someone to help me. When I signed the one year lease I told my friend who I was renting the apartment from that I might have to break the lease, here I am now beginning my 3rd year in this apartment. When I signed the lease I was resigned to the fact I only had months left to live.
I have written about some of this in previous posts, however, I want to share some of it again here. On July 4, 2013 when I watched the fireworks I said to myself that this is the last time I will see fireworks, on my birthday in September I had a party with a few close friends thinking it would be the last birthday I would have, the same with Thanksgiving. I did this in 2014 also, however, in 2014 I decided to take another road trip. I knew it would not be easy, but I did it a day at a time and when I had days I thought I should head back and cut my trip short I waited a day or so and whatever it was passed and I continued on and completed my trip.
This past September I celebrated my 65th birthday. When I was younger I never thought I would live to 30, I had brain surgery in 1982 and had an out of body death experience. At that time God gave me more time to live. I tried to make the most of it… did I? … probably not all the time. Over the past 28 years I really have tried to live my life the best I can. The past 6 years have been physically challenging and I knew that my life was closer to ending any day. I have done my best most days to cherish every day and every moment I have with people I care about. My friends have told me that because of me they have been inspired and that they appreciate life more. That’s a good thing and it deeply touches my heart. I am glad that my life has helped others, often I am not even aware of it unless they tell me.
So since I have no idea how much longer God will give me to be alive, I made a decision this past year, I don’t tell myself that this is the last time I will experience something, or see something like fireworks, or celebrate a birthday, or go to the Balloon Fiesta. I don’t say goodbye to friends and tell them I probably will not see them again, which is difficult for both of us. I just live each day. I write my plans in sand because I know that often they get changed for some reason. I try to be open to God’s plan for me and the path I should be on, or the person I need to reach out to. I have friends that tell me they hesitate to check my website because they don’t know if they will read that I have died. I have written my final story. In fact, I wrote it in 2013. I read it again this past January and it is still relevant. In part, it reminds everyone to cherish life and to live it to the fullest and don’t put things off.
Whenever the time comes that my health takes a turn for the worse, or that I am no longer able to write stories, my friend Pam will put an update on my website, and when I take my final trip to be with God, Pam will post my final story with my picture.
I am having to adjust my thoughts too from being ready to die and being at peace with it, to now thinking that I may still be alive for several more years and being at peace with that. Several people have recently been asking when is my next trip. I honestly don’t know. Maybe in April with a short one before then. I’m not sure. I would love to take another trip, and because I am looking forward to another trip I asked my friend Pam who set up my website to add a new page that says Travel Map 2016. Pam and I laughed, a couple of years ago we thought the trip I had to cut short and return home from in 2013 was my last trip. We both cried about it, so did my friend Sharma in Knoxville who I was visiting when I spoke with my doctor and we decided that it was time for me to come home because I had all the symptoms she said meant the end was getting close. Here it is the end of 2015 and I just completed a 4 1/2 month trip and hopefully I will get another one next year, and maybe more after that. I also remember… life is lived a day at a time. Like I read on a billboard once… Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die tomorrow.
Until then… I am still having some fun. Not as much at home as when I am traveling but still there is joy in every day. It’s hard to find it on days I really am in pain that doesn’t seem to want to go away even with medicine, but then I keep saying the things I am grateful for and I put on calming music mostly by my favorite composer, Steinway Artist Kevin Kern.
I haven’t bought myself many things the past few years thinking that it’s only something else to be given away when I am gone. Even my thinking has changed in that area. In the past few weeks I have bought myself several pairs of new shoes, a few new dresses including a couple of dressy ones, now I need to go somewhere to wear them. I bought new handbags, shirts, and a new small tablet with Internet access so I don’t always have to use one of my laptops. In fact, before I left on my trip in July I bought a used 13″ laptop to take on my trip because it was more compact to take then my 17″ laptop, the smaller one worked out really great and was easier for me to use than the larger one. I am working on sewing a quilt for a friend of mine that is having her 4th child in February. Painting an older pair of jeans is another project I attempted. It’s still a work in progress and I even had the courage to wear these jeans out in public, and I was surprised when someone would say they liked my pants and ask where I got them. Here are pictures of my artwork jeans, they are still a work in progress.
I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year filled with many blessings and challenges and whatever God has in store for you.