I got sober 15 months and 28 days ago.  Getting sober was an ending to my drinking, my hungover self-loathing, my afternoon naps, and diligently watching the time waiting for wine o’clock,so I could begin the ugly cycle again.  Getting sober was the beginning of becoming healthier; mentally and physically.  I began to be responsible for my actions, and feelings.  I started to develop better, deeper and more open personal relationships with the people I care about.  Getting sober meant I had to deal with life on life’s terms, and feel those feelings I had been drowning in alcohol and prescription narcotics.  Although not always easy, fun or even something I want to do, getting sober feels like it was the beginning of me as a real person.  In retrospect, I wish I had had the fortitude to do it much sooner.

I have had one heck of a sober first year.  I have written a lot about seeking and believing in a higher power. I have had great difficulty understanding giving my life over to this unknown anomaly and basically not being a believer.  Looking back over the last 15 months of my life, I now have a distinct impression that I have had a guiding hand on my back the whole time.  I have been through a lot of personal and emotional turmoil in the last 15 months.  There have been beginnings and endings and beginnings again.  The timing of these events has been unprecedented, and on a linear aspect, quite amazing the way it has all played out.

My life has come full circle,an ending has come to the new beginning that started 7 years ago.  We have just sold our house in Tennessee and are moving back north to New York.

New York is where my relationship with my husband began.  We ended our time there for a new beginning in the south with my son.  He has since grown up, ended his time here, and begun anew in Illinois.  His leaving the nest was very painful for me.  I knew my job was to raise him with wings to fly, yet when it was time for him to use those wings, I wanted to clip them and keep him with me, I was not ready for the ending to this chapter of my life.  He is flourishing in his new beginning, he is happy, making great money, and becoming the person I always knew he could be, what a great beginning.

When I ended my life in Massachusetts, I left my mother behind, as my son left me, it was time for me to move my life into a new beginning with a new husband and a new home.  Experiencing the beginnings and endings in my mothers life were fraught with emotion.  In September of 2013, I moved my healthy mother from Massachusetts to Virginia.  In August of 2014, I moved my moderately sick mother from Virginia to Missouri.  In February, upon her death, I was tasked with the chore of culling through her things yet again.  My brother and I distributed, packed, stored and threw away the contents of my mothers life. I was involved in all of my mother’s new beginnings.  Overwhelmingly followed by her devastating ending.

Throughout this time, I have been o loop
bserving my father in law head toward his ending  He is now 99 1/2 years old and still living alone.

Our new beginning is going back for the ending.  We are moving in with him to help him.  We both know this is the beginning of the end for him, that is why we have made the decision to return north.

We will again experience a new beginning, we are lucky, right now it is on hold, the ending has to come first.



Leonard Nimoy, Dr. Spock from Star Trek, died yesterday from COPD; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Smoking tobacco is the most common cause of COPD.  Smoking is an awful addiction, just like alcohol.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths—and an additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. In fact, for every one person who dies from smoking, about 30 more suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.

Leonard Nimoy took to social media after his diagnosis to let people know how bad smoking is.

Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now. LLAP.

When I was addicted to cigarettes I ignored good medical advice. Addicts have lying ears. LLAP

Cigarettes don’t make anything better. Nicotine taken in any form is addictive. Look into mindful meditation instead. LLAP

Breaking the smoking habit is tough. Worth the struggle. Save the lungs. Living with COPD is no joke. LLAP

Nicotine is the hook. Smoke is the dagger. LLAP

My mother was diagnosed on October 2, 2013 with Stage IV lung cancer.  She also had chronic heart failure, emphysema, and COPD.  She was a smoker for 60 years.

Over the years my mother had a series of surgeries.  I was with her for intake processing for each one.  When the nurse would get to the question of smoking, my mother would get irritated, and answer in an unpleasant tone; “Yes, I smoke, but not much, three or four a day.”  This was a lie, a big one.  My mother smoked close to a pack a day for 60 years.

As with most addicts, my mother lied constantly about her smoking. I could hear her smoking when we talked on the telephone, I would question her, “Mom, are you having a cigarette?”, she would always say no.  My children and I lived with her briefly in 2007.  We walked in after school one day, and the place stunk like cigarette smoke.  I said, “Hey mom, were you smoking in here?”  Once again she denied it, even when I told her I could smell it, and the kids found her hidden stash of cigarettes.

She never smoked in front of me, but she would in front of my older brother.  He stayed with her two years ago, and told me her condominium smelled like a bar after closing time.  I guess she thought she could hide it from me, as though my brother and I didn’t talk.

When my daughter and I packed her and helped her move in 2013, everything was coated with cigarette smoke dust, especially the curtains.  It was awful.

She finally quit smoking when she moved to Virginia at the end of 2013.  It was too late. As she had never had any preventative testing because none of her doctors ever knew the full extent of her addiction, we had no idea how much damage had been done.  Not until the horrible day In October when we received the news of impending death.

I hid my sobriety from my mother for almost a year.  I glossed over it by saying that I had to get some blood work done, and was taking a break for a while.  Even when I stayed with her in August, she didn’t know I was attending an AA meeting every Saturday.  On Saturday mornings I would tell her I was going for a long run, I would run to the meeting, and run back, I was sweaty, so there were no questions asked.

In November, I went to visit her in her new assisted living apartment in Missouri.  It was the visit before I left for Florida for two months, I thought it might be the last time I saw her alive -it was- so I finally told her the whole truth.  Yes, I have quit drinking because my liver enzymes were elevated, but there is more to it then that, I have a problem. I drink too much, I consumed a huge bottle of wine every night.  I told her I was going to AA, I showed her my 3,6,8 and 9 month chips.  We had a long discussion about our family history of alcoholism, and how I had the bad luck of having genetic markers on both sides.  It felt good to finally tell her the whole truth.

As we discussed addiction, she shared with me that if someone walked in the door right at that moment and offered her a cigarette, she would want to smoke it, and probably would.  Even knowing that she had ravaged her body with the killing effects of cigarette smoke, she still felt the pull of that addiction, and the certainty of giving in to it.  I understood completely.

During one of our last telephone conversations, she told me that she was so proud of me for admitting I have a problem with alcohol and doing something about it.  She also mentioned that she had really cut back on her alcohol consumption as well.  I choose to believe that was not because she was so sick, but because she was making a conscious decision to make a change.

As my brother and I were undertaking the horrendous task of cleaning out her apartment, I asked him where her wine and bourbon were, she always had one she was working on and a spare.  It was very noticeable that there was none there.  He told me he had gone over very early that morning to remove it all, just in case the devastation of her death caused me to decide to pick up. I was overwhelmed with his thoughtfulness and thanked him for that.  He then shared with me that she really admired what I have done, and he felt that if she had lived a bit longer, she too would have quit drinking.  We will never know.

Cigarettes killed my mother on February 4, 2014.  If I had continued to drink, alcohol would have killed me.

Addiction is horrible, addiction kills.  I choose to live, no matter how hard sobriety is, it isn’t harder than no longer having a mother.


6th stepI am slowly making my way through the steps.  I started AA about a year ago.  It took me quite some time to find a sponsor.  ( I did not know you had to ASK someone, I thought someone would just offer.  FYI to any newbies.)

My year has been complicated to say the least.  We have been up and down the east coast numerous times.  My son moved to Illinois in January, and two weeks later my mother lost her battle with lung cancer.  To say I have been distracted would even cover half of it.

I have been on the precipice of the Sixth Step for months, but every time I started, another distraction would arise, and it would get put on the back burner.

For the past week, I  have allowed my sorrow and depression about my mother to flow through me.  I have done nothing but go to the gym, shower, put my pajamas back on, get in bed and binge watch “Shameless”.  Between episodes I was working on an inventory of my character defects, and contemplating my progress moving through them and working toward spiritual and mental health.

My life is so much better sober.  I am amazed every day at how the things that used to derail my piece of mind are easier to handle.

So here it is what I have done in the past year of clear headed sober thinking.

Letting Go:
I think my biggest accomplishment to date is letting go of all of the emotional junk that I had been carrying around about my mother.  It was freeing to forgive her, and realize that she did the best she could with the limited tools she had.  I have also realized that my perception of our relationship was completely different than anyone else’s.  I never thought she loved me, but talking with my brother and seeing the realtionship through his eyes, I was very wrong.
I am working very hard at letting things go.  This includes arguments with my husband, son, daughter, actually most everyone.  It gives me a sense of lightness.
This is an ongoing challenge.  I am making an effort at not being so rigid in having and doing everything MY way.  It was a lot easier in Florida because it was not my house therefore I had no emotional investment in how it appeared.  I am find it more challenging here at home.  I am making small steps.  I have stopped cleaning up after my husband, no matter what mess he leaves.  I just look, shake my head, and walk away.  I am changing up the days that I change the sheets.  I used to always be Saturday, now I am moving it around, I still haven’t gotten beyond a week without new sheets, but baby steps. (This is very uncomfortable).  Wearing mismatched running socks, and not ironing something before I go out.  Taking myself out of my comfort zone as much as I can, just to what I can do and if I can do it.
Criticism and Negativity:
Thinking before I speak.  Big one.  Trying not to pick apart everything and everybody.  When my mind whirls into negative thinking, I drag it back, tell it to shut the fuck up, and remind myself of something good and positive.
Keeping myself present.  Not worrying about the past or thinking about what might happen.  Again, when I find myself thinking that way, I drag myself back to where I currently am.  I am hoping it will soon become a habit.  It helps that I don’t have as much to worry about anymore.
Higher Power:
This one still amazes me, and causes me wonder.  I am still slightly skeptical, but I am leaning more toward being a believer of some guiding force.  Too many things have happened that I was praying for. My son got a real job before the February move out of the house deadline, and seems happy.  My mom lived to see the Patriots win the Superbowl.  She died quickly and painlessly, just as I had prayed for.  She has sent me two signs that she is okay.
 These two things happened so quickly, and almost simultaneously, and I didn’t drink.  I wanted to when I was moving my son, I actually planned it out.  I was going to drive from Illinois to Tennessee and drink the entire liquour cabinet when I got home.  The 9 hour drive home gave me plenty of time to roll that plan around, and I decided to finish out my day sober, and reconsider it the next day.  A good nights sleep, and seeing things with less emotion the following day erased the thought completely.
Drinking never crossed my mind when my mother died. Not once.  I would suspect it was numbness and shock, my brain wasn’t really functioning with any emotion other than abject grief and shock.  There was no room for booze.
 In fact, since I have been back from Florida, the triggers and cravings seem to have disappeared. I am sure one will come again, but for now, having all this other emotional stuff going on, it is kind of amazing to me I haven’t had the urge to pickup a drink.
Some of the little things, I am working on.  I am learning to sleep with light in the room.  I know that doesn’t seem like a big thing, but for me it is huge. Having suffered insomnia as a child, I have created all these rituals and complete darkness is one of them.
I am relaxing about not exercising every day.  That used to get me very agitated. I am trying not to micromanage my sons life. I make suggestions, but not frequently.  I am not micromanaging my husband as much either. (This one is hard.)  I am leaving dirty dishes in the sink OVERNIGHT!!  And in the month of January I did not buy any shoes, I have had an epic fail since then, 3 pairs in one weekend.
I spent last week in bed every afternoon.  I was upset/depressed about my mother.  I decided on Sunday, enough was enough.  She is still going to be dead, and my lying in bed in my pajamas isn’t going to change that.  I have determined that I am going to get back to my usual routine, and if I get sad, just go with it, not crawl into my hidey hole.
I still have a lot to work on.  When I think about this program, I realize, that we are the only humans walking around that are actively working, every day to be better people.  I still have a lot of work to do.
My associate sponsor asked me to chair a meeting.  So I think I will do that, in two weeks.  That is outside my comfort zone.  I get hives when I have to speak to “large” crowds, but I already have a topic in mind.
 Progress not perfection.


Is it better to be loved or envied?

That was the question my brother asked me with tears steaming down his face.  We were in the midst of cleaning out my mothers apartment at the assisted living where she had passed away the day before.

Through his tears he told me that he knew that my mother loved him, but he said she envied me.  She envied all the traveling I had done over the last few years, the places I had been, but mostly the fact that I had gotten sober.  As I mulled this over in my mind, he added, that had she been healthy and lived, she would have quit drinking.  She never said that to him, but he had gotten that sense through conversations they had.

She did not live long enough.  On February 4, the cancer that had invaded her, took her life.

If I dig deep, I can find a gratitude in this.  I am grateful that my higher power listened to my prayers, and took her quickly.  I talked to her on Tuesday morning, she told me she was feeling better, by midnight Tuesday night she was gone.  The last thing I said to her on the telephone was I love you Mom.

We spoke on the telephone every day for over 25 years, sometimes multiple times a day.  Her world was small, so I loved sharing my daily adventures with her.  Sometimes our conversations were short, sometimes over an hour long.  No matter what I said, whether I was right or wrong, she always had my back.  I don’t know how I am going to get used to not being able to pick up the telephone to share my thoughts,to gossip or to just babble with her.

I am so grateful for my sobriety.  Through that, I reconciled my past difficulties with her, and finally felt at peace with my relationship with her.  It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t what I thought it should be, but it was the best she could do, and in the end, it really is enough.

Love or envy, it doesn’t matter now,  I have a hole in my heart.  I know that time will help it close up a little, but it will never go away.

2010-01-14 11.57.3810/3/1935-2/4/2015

Looking for Closure

We leave for Florida on Sunday.  This is the first time ever that we have decided to “go south” for the winter.  We are both originally from the Northeast, but my husband decided that the “winter” in Tennessee is now to much.

Any other year, I would be thrilled at the prospect of spending two months in a condominium on the beach in sunny Florida.  That is, once I got over my angst of what to pack, going some place different, and breaking my daily routine.  This year, I am happy, but also have an underlying sense of foreboding.

We are both embroiled in end of life scenarios with our parents.  My husbands father is still in NY, in his cottage by the ocean, driving, and living alone at age 99.

My mother is in assisted living, has two terminal cancers, and if her oncologist is correct, will not see Christmas this year.

I decided to go to Missouri last week to see my mother again.  Last time was wonderful with all the family around, but I did not feel that I had enough time alone with her.  I wanted another visit, a more personal one, to say good bye, just in case.

As I have written about before, my relationship with my mother is difficult.  In my perception, I have always been the least loved of her three children.  My mother loves and respects men, I believe that this is a generational thing.  Men make her feel more secure, taken care of, and protected.

Women, are competition.   They take attention and focus off of her.  I don’t know why this is her mind set.  Maybe it is because she was the only girl in her family, or maybe it was because she was beautiful and easily commanded attention from men, but it is how she is to this day.

I have struggled with this all of my life.  I have always questioned why I wasn’t good enough, or  smart enough to be a trusted adviser as both my brothers are.  I have always felt that she loved them more.

I have tried in the past to address my feelings with my mother, but she has always vehemently denied any favoritism.  Now, it is too late, and I have to let it go.

This proved a little more difficult than I had anticipated. As she made unwittingly hurtful comments,, I tried my best to keep a smile plastered to my face.  I was not, under any circumstances, going to confront her or ruin our time together.  I internalized all of my hurt.

That worked well until Friday morning when I woke up at 4:45 am and laid in bed sobbing like a child.


Written early morning on 11/21:

I am here, with my mom because I felt that I needed to see her before my husband and I went to Florida.  She was given two months to live in October, and we will be gone for December and January.

I have survivors guilt.  I feel as though I should be living with her in the assisted living.  I feel I should be there to take care of her and hold her hand when she dies.

I think that if I do these things, then maybe, just maybe, she will love me as much as she loves my two brothers.  If I am there for her in that way, then maybe she will be there for me in the way I have been searching for  for so long.

I will inevitably have to come to terms with this.  It is how it has always been, and it is how it will be in the end.  I need to somehow let this go.  To realize that she did the best she could to love me in her way, it just wasn’t enough for me.  It is clearly enough for her.

Nothing I can say, at this point, will change what is, and how it has been for so long.  I also realize that this is my perception, and may not be what is truly in her heart.

I will come to terms with this, and work extremely hard to let it go.  In the end, this will not be the important thing for me to carry in my heart.  I will need to remember the love and support that she offered me, maybe it wasn’t my way, but it was hers.  I am going to work to close the book on this.


Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who doesn’t mind being awoken by a sobbing woman at 6 am.  Between him and my sponsor, I got my head in the right place.

I may not have had the relationship that I thought I should have had with my mother, but she gave me the best of what she was capable of.  I can live with that.

I have also given her the best of me.  I have done all that I could possibly do to love her and take care of her since my father left 35 years ago.  That counts for something, even if I am the only one who sees it.

Our last day together was special.  We spent a lot of time talking about the past, the present and what the future holds, for both of us.

When I left, I reached down and hugged her small, fragile body,she told me she will still be there in February, and that she loves me so much,

I believe she does, and that is enough for me.







The Next Right Thing

right thing

I am back at home after having spent 5 days visiting with my dying mother.  I am exhausted, emotionally and physically wiped out.  I feel like crawling in bed and telling everyone to wake me when it is over.

We had a bit of a family reunion.  Most of the immediate family was there.  Amazing how we can all make time to see one another when the Grim Reaper is coming down the road.  Life always seems to get in the way of making time, but death does not.  It is the biggest oxymoron I have ever encountered, and we are all guilty of it. I will get there tomorrow, until there may not be a tomorrow.

Lung cancer is grisly, swift and vulgar. The oncologist gave my mother two months, even that is a stretch as we do not know where else in her body the beast is hiding.  The hospice nurse was brutally honest when my Mom suggested she may have longer than the two month diagnosis, she said it was highly doubtful.  That was two weeks ago.

During our 5 day stay, we ended up spending most of the day Friday in the hospital.   Mom was short of breath, and had to have fluid removed from her lungs. This was the second time they have done a lung tap to remove the fluid.  The first time they removed 600 ml, 2 cups of fluid.  That gave her 14 days of good walking and breathing.  850 ml of fluid was taken out of her right lung on Friday, that is over 3 cups.  By Saturday evening, she could not catch her breath after walking 10 steps.

My younger brother took her to the hospital again today.  They have decided to do a procedure called a pleurocentesis.  She will be in the hospital for 4 days.  Her oncologist discouraged this procedure when she gave us her diagnosis, as it can be extremely painful.  The pulmonologist is like a crack dealer, he keeps pushing it.  He finally got her to consent when he offered up this tidbit, “It will give you two to three months of good breathing.”  I question the validity of this statement, but all she heard was TWO OR THREE MONTHS.

Saying that to my mother was like throwing a silver lure out into a bunker of blue fish, she bit.  He had her at hello.

My brothers and I are trying to allow my mother to map out this journey for herself.  The problem we are having is she changes her mind like the wind changes direction.  We have a family meeting and agree on a medical course of care, and then suddenly a shiny diamond is presented, and we have changed direction again.

I am to far away from the situation now to be directly involved.  I do the thing that feeds my need to control and feel involved, I make telephone calls.  I call the doctors for more information.  I called the oncologist and asked her opinion on having the procedure done.  She was not of the same mind as the pulmonologist.  The pulmonologist called me to answer my questions also.  As he was speaking, I could understand why a dying woman would grasp the life line he is throwing her.

I have my reservations.  It is difficult to reconcile when trusted doctors blatantly disagree.

I called my mother last night to just give  her the facts of what both doctor’s said.  It is her journey,  her decision to make.  The only advice I gave was that she should take a little more time to make up her mind.  She did not have to rush in to the hospital at 8:30 this morning just because the doctor was available then.  I urged her to think about it.

I called her at 8 am this morning.  She told me she was ready to go, her bag was packed.  Her reasoning is that she feels the pulmonologist has more experience than the oncologist.  The same oncologist she was going to trust to restart her chemotherapy two weeks ago.

I am scared to death.  I hope she has made the right choice.  I hope the outcome is positive.  I hope I don’t have to live the rest of my life with the regret of letting her make her own decision.  I hope she makes it through this procedure, the anesthesia, the recovery, and gets back home.  I pray there are no side effects.  I pray this is not the thing that kills her.

The procedure is tomorrow.

I pray I have done the next right thing.DSC_4826


P.S. I did say to my son that I would like a Vicodin, to make this all a little softer around the edges.  Not wine, vicodin, a very strange craving.  Much harder to come by as well, so I have that going for me.




I would estimate that I have had the worst two months in my entire life.

In August my mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 multiple myeloma.  I went and spent close to a month with her to get her chemotherapy started.  We did a half a cycle, and she quit.

I then worked with my brother to get her moved to an assisted living close to him in St. Louis, MO.The timing was perfect, and the move went without a hitch.

During my time in Virginia, I attended AA meetings, and when my mother decided to have wine, I respectfully declined. I also did not comment about her drinking even though she had been told not to, or to limit it  A GLASS if really necessary.  I let it go, and let her be.


Mom moved in to her new place and began to get used to her new lifestyle.  She seemed to enjoy the constant attention, the meals in a dining room, and especially not having to cook!!  I began to think things were turning around for the better.

I had been informed by my husband, the doctor, that my mother’s multiple myeloma would not be the thing that ended her life.  It would take a be something else, such as pneumonia, or heart failure, as the disease would continuously compromise her immune system.

Two weeks ago, I could tell from talking to her that she was beginning to get a cold.  I suggested she speak with her attending nurse to get her the nebulizer breathing machine to ward off any potential lung issues.  Unfortunately, it took four days for it to get ordered and into her hands.  She started using it, but was still having difficulty.

I spoke with her again last Thursday, and she informed me that she couldn’t breathe while lying down. She had to prop herself up on a pillow to get comfortable tobe able to breathe well enough to fall asleep.  My husband was adamant she get to a doctor immediately.  He felt that she either had pneumonia or was beginning to have heart failure.

My brother got her to her oncologist last Friday afternoon.  They walked her from their office to the hospital room where she still is.

The last week has been a nightmare.  I understand the process of testing for A to rule it out, then continuing on to B, etc.  Unfortunately, again, living with someone who has practiced medicine for 35 years, and has seen everything once, I was getting too much mind-boggling information to fast.

Every time a new symptom was discovered, my own doctor knew the cause, the effect, and the eventual diagnosis.  Although, he always added, I may be wrong, I haven’t seen any her or her chart.

He then had a conversation with the lead doctor on her case.  That night he spent quite a long time drawing me pictures, and explaining what was happening, and telling me what the outcome was going to be, without REALLY telling me what  the outcome was going to be.  I got it, I have spent the last 72 hours crying off and on, crying and waiting.

I waited for the tests, for the doctors on site, for anyone, to prove him wrong.

Sadly they did not.

They called a family meeting to discuss the diagnosis at 3pm today.

This afternoon the oncologist confirmed what my husband painstakingly drew, described and diagnosed on Monday evening.

My mother has Stage IV lung cancer, untreatable, incurable, lung cancer.  Now she has two types of incurable cancer.

Tomorrow she will turn 79 years old, in a hospital room, knowing she only has months to live.  Happy Fucking Birthday.

As for me, I have run the gamut of emotions.  I have spent days crying off and on.  Feeling like I may vomit at any moment.  I have had my issues with my mother.  Our relationship was always tenuous at best.  I have never asked her how she felt about it, now I never will.  As I stated in August I have let it go, it doesn’t matter anymore.

I called her today and told her that no matter what, if she needs me, I will be there.  I will bring my blow up bed and move in and do what ever she needs.  I promised to stay with her until the end, if that is what she wants.

What I know right now, this very minute is this.  If there was a bottle of wine in this house, right here, right now, I would be at the bottom of it.

I know that alcohol never solves anything, or makes it better, in fact it makes things worse, way worse. But I would love to numb this pain away for an hour or two.  Right now I am hanging onto my sobriety by my fingertips, white knuckling it, all of those cliche sayings, I am living them. I actually feel like I DESERVE a drink for having to go through this.

Thank goodness I don’t keep wine in this house, and thank goodness the closest liquor store is over 20 minutes away.  I don’t have the physical or emotional energy to go get any booze.   Thank goodness for that too.

I will make it through this night, and tomorrow will be another day where things will probably not be better,  more time will have gone by, and this urge may be gone.  If not, I will spend the day in my safety spot, my bed.

As my sponsor said, what would booze solve anyway?

As always, she is right.

My mother is going to die, and I want to drink.

One moment at a time tonight, one stinking fucking rotten gut wrenching I may vomit moment.