“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ---Ralph
There are many ways to shed light on seemingly impossible
situations or what we would consider obstacles to our daily living. It is not always
in our daily intake and output that is the measurement of a human being. It is
the grind. Some people struggle with miniscule grinds; while others have bus
loads to grind through. Some don’t make it. Few do. Making it, is not, not dying. It’s
progressing through even when there appears no light at the end of the tunnel.
That there may not even be a twinkle of a star in the nights ahead. And the
human that faces that, knowing full well that they can’t change the ending to
their earthly story. Yet, they consciously go through the process, has made it.
They’ve lived. No matter their age, I believe that, to be one of Life’s truths.
As this year has progressed, the pandemic actually blessed
us. Yep. Many would not agree with that. But then, they weren’t us. They weren’t
our family of four. The family of four kept at bay, restrained for the most
part. Oh, The Blessing… We got to spend our precious hours and days together
like never before. My work was halted, yet I comfortably wrote forty to sixty
hours a week, unable to sleep filled with concern for my dying spouse, my
children’s father, as well as our children. Which was not for naught.
Leading up to Norman’s diagnosis in late 2019, he got to see
our youngest daughter’s band win a HUGE New York State marching band
competition, and being a small high school marching band from New Jersey, that’s
big. And the happiness that surrounded it as well. He got to see our oldest
enjoy playing her volleyball games, our youngest start her first high school
year playing tennis and trying her hand at wrestling… that is high school boys
wrestling. Norm would say during her matches and at home, “Jody I’m kicking
myself, wrestling is such a great sport. I should have pursued it.” Showing an ‘Awe
shucks, head-shaker moment’.
I got to enjoy Norman get excited for our oldest and
youngest achieving academic awards at the end of the school year in June 2020.
Albeit, everything was online …the awards ceremony, etc... He enjoyed my
calling out from downstairs… “I finished the screenplay! Yipeeee!!!!!!” He
truly got a charge out of that. I invented so many different ways of making
food palatable for him. Too, since he was becoming more ill towards the summer,
I’d take videos and pictures and bring them to him now kept at bay on our living
room couch, and show him how the garden was progressing. It was the best garden
he and I’d ever seen since we’d been married over thirty-six years.
Norman, was not as much as I was opposed to certain
allopathic methods for his condition, I refrained from giving him my opinion. I
said not a word. I waited for him. I waited for his decision, which our oldest
initially was not happy with his first decision. She was smart enough to know
what I knew. I responded to her query of, ‘how could I allow her father to go
down a road I knew was wrong and one I deep down didn’t agree with’, but said
nothing. I explained to her, “He’s an adult. You have to respect his decision.
It is between your Dad and his Maker. It’s none of my business, nor anyone else’s.”
She was stunned. But it was a life lesson.
Soon, a few days after that, Norman changed his mind. He’d
realized, that it was quality of life which is what he had always wanted. And
so, he reversed his decisions and in doing so, he had more quality than anyone
could have ever expected and lived longer than the allopathic medical field anticipated.
He was alert and functioning till the very last day of his life on this planet.
He had no unwanted side effects from outside sources of medicines everyone
thought would extend his life, yet take away his ability to go outside under
forty-five degrees, go for a run, go for a walk, mow the lawn, or give himself
a simple shave. He had gained five more months of quality that the allopathic
medical field never expected him to have. Like mowing our acre in ninety
minutes on Memorial Day weekend, when the medical field predicted he’d be gone at
least two months prior. He also had more months of living than they expected as
All in all, we as a family of four were given the
opportunity to spend the majority of our unit of four together more than ever
in our existence. That was a blessing. We were all part of the process of his
final hours, days, weeks and months of Norman’s life. And there is no unpeace
in that. In his final hours, Norman had somehow pulled himself up into a seated
position in a bed five feet from me. And there upon his face was a joyful look
of Hope. That appeared pinned, long enough on his face, so that I and our two
daughters could see, one more twinkle in his eyes, after he had passed.
Believe it or not that was just a little more than half our
year in 2020. Not that there has not been bumps in the road, or lumps in our
oatmeal. It’s that, the pandemic helped our family manage… giving full exposure
to who their father my husband truly was. He knew how to say good-bye, and he
knew what Hope was and he watched me have Faith that in the end everything would
be okay. That his leaving although early, was forgivable. And that is what gave
As we are now here, another school year. A final one for our
now eighteen-year old daughter. She applying to various colleges, taking four
AP courses in her senior year and working thirty to forty hours a week holding down
two jobs. Our youngest in all Honors courses for her Sophomore year. Working on
getting her driver’s permit. She played in her second year of tennis, as well
marching band was able to be had. Albeit, a non-competitive season, due to the
pandemic. She improved in many areas too.
I went on a Sabbatical, even after they allowed my industry to get back
to our practices. I decided with all the paperwork, the writing, online classes
for work, having taken over Norman’s chores of mowing and such, as well,
wanting to monitor our children through what may be a rough year for them, it
would be best.
The beauty of all that was, I was doing the home
improvements that I’d been wanting to do for the last three years, in the home
and outside the house. I learned how to grow my own apple, pine, pear, avocado,
and mango trees. I created a mini tropical greenhouse for indoors. I got grass
to grow in areas we hadn’t seen grass grow on our front lawn in years. I
learned how to make my own leaf mulch. I retrained our bunnies to do their
litter in the box and they are now free-range bunnies… that is they only have
one floor we allow them to be on. Oh, they get to watch television with me in
the living room, they like that. And Mr. Cocoa Bean our only male in the house,
gets six to eight hours of free-range with the two girl bunnies, Nibbles and
And yes, I’m still staying in shape, running and so forth. I
just do everything alone…which works for me. I’ve gotten our youngest tennis
lessons off season now, and I sneak in and take one before her with her friend’s
Mom. This is the first time I’ve ever
been unemployed since 1978. Lots of
writing, studying, raking, mowing, shoveling, running, lifting, and inventing
going on instead. And crazily I’ve learned more ways to make my own dairy free
butter, milk and gluten-free flour (saves money).So, if we look at this year,
that we detest so much. Remember its’ not what it’s done to you. Its’ what you’ve
done with it.--- Jody-Lynn Reicher