Life Today

Happy Veterans Day

I spent three years in Germany during my twenties.

It was one of the most memorable times of my life. I was a civilian working for the military at an Armed Forces Recreational Center.

I served those who served.

Really I taught the Littles of those who served how to ski, which wasn’t a bad gig in the German Alps.

In the summer I found random jobs; lifeguard, pizza delivery and one summer at the German-American Golf Course.

I worked in one of the most beautiful places on earth

Image result for garmisch germany
It was also 1994, 50 years since World War II  and the impact of what happened here two generations ago was palpable.

The golf course sold American candy which was crazy because we lived in the land of the very best chocolate and we were trying to pawn off Twix Bars and Reese’s Pieces. A German man would come in often and buy ten Hershey bars at a time.

I asked why the Hershey Bars.

“You have the very best chocolate! Right here! What’s so special about a Hershey Bar?”

He told me that the Americans came through Garmisch on April 29, 1945.

He was six.

“I was so hungry. We didn’t have anything left to eat. The soldiers arrived and they gave the children Hershey bars. They were the very best thing I ever ate. Nothing in the world tastes as good as a Hershey Bar.”

He carefully unwrapped the chocolate and gave me a piece. I closed my eyes and tried to taste what he tasted.

I could not

I have never been that hungry. I have never been that scared. I have not had my world turned upside down at age six. 

As he ate I piece, he smiled and nodded his head; perhaps thoughts of hope, gratitude, memories of a six year old belly that felt a little less empty.

I felt so honored. Honored that this man shared this sacred memory and his sacred chocolate. Honored that he remembered the day 49 years ago not with tanks and strange men but with soldiers who share chocolate. And I felt honored that these brave men, my fellow Americans made this small boy feel so much better.

Happy Veterans Day.  

blog, home, Life Today, Life Today 2015 to Present

Do You Hear the People Sing?

It’s Friday evening.

I’m always hesitant to post on Friday. It reveals the fact that I’m not out at a hip bar drinking appletini’s but instead sitting in my study contemplating the meaning of life.

Alas, I am a tad nerdy.

But also tonight mind and body demand a little downtime. A little time to think about how amazing the last week has been and everything we have accomplished.

Last weekend our Summit for Samantha team of 61 riders rode over 130 miles and raised almost $130,000 for mitochondrial research here in Colorado. In our ten years as a tenacious team, we have raised a cumulative $893,000 for our mito clinic.

Next year I’m calling a million. A million dollars for mitochondrial disease.

I would be lying if I said this week doesn’t knock me on my hiney. I have gone radio silent on my team. It took me three days to unload my car. I am now staring at a pile of stinky rider gear in my study.


But my goodness, its awesome. And my goodness, I am so proud of what every, single, person has done to raise this team up into the ten year success it is. We are number 5 in overall fundraising for the ride; number five with teams raising awareness for cancer research, heart defects and overall hospital support. These are known, important causes that are easy to rally behind because the general population knows about them. Here we are, number five for mitochondrial disease. Mito-what-drial?

This is not an easy ride. Vail Pass after 60 miles of riding is brutal; your head plays games and your legs plead for you to stop. I turned on my Pandora about two miles from the top. The station queue’d was Hamilton but a song from Les Miserables was playing…..

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the songs of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

I pushed along to the cadence but thinking to myself, I’m not angry.

But then my other self called bullshit on that and declared I clearly had too many shot blocks.

Of course there are times when I’m angry. When we should not have to raise money for mitochondrial disease. When I should not know so many who have lost their Littles.

And when I realized that, climbing up Vail Pass, the beating of my heart echoed the beating of the drums…..

And I started to cry.

Two miles from the top of Vail Pass on your bike is a really awful place to cry. I told myself this but myself does not listen and started to cry harder; snot, sweat and tears.

This year we arranged for a beer stop at the top of Vail Pass because, well, beer. My friend Paula coordinated the stop, rallied volunteers and dressed as a giant banana to keep us going.

No really. A banana.

As I got to the top, I was greeted by my team chanting “Heather! Heather! Heather!” I was handed a cold Summer Shandy, a Kleenex and felt the relief that all I had to do was ride down into Copper.

How can I possibly be angry?

You all make it IMPOSSIBLE for me to be angry.

And not that it does not well up at times. And not that I don’t ugly cry at times. But I’ll tell ya, 61 riders, $130,000, a Summer Shandy and a dancing banana…..ya’ll are good people.

Thank you for another amazing year.

blog, home, Life Today

If we were Vampires

Hubs and I spent the last week in Vermont and upstate New York with dear friends. A friends daughter was getting married and we were lucky enough to attend.

Situated in the Green Mountains lies the estate of Abraham Lincoln’s only child to live into adulthood; Robert Lincoln. The grounds are lovely; the peonies were just about to bloom and miles of green lush forest surrounded us.

The groom turned his back when the bridal procession started.  As his bride approached, winding gracefully through the gardens, he turned and looked at her and started to cry.

And so I cried.

I love love. Love is pretty stinkin’ awesome.

Hubs was lookin’ mighty fine in his tux. I was all spanxed up. We snapped a photo in the peonies.

“We’re looking older,” he said.

Sigh. We are. He took my hand and his fingers traced the back; age spots, veins and fingers that slip so easily into his hand.

We aren’t so old. But we are old enough now to know that this time is fleeting. Views are to be taken in. Hands are to be held. Good friends inhaled. Moments sipped until the glass is dry and the mind is tipsy with happiness.

We went on to visit another dear couple in New York. They have lived a lot of life with us. After dinner we sipped whiskey next to the fire. I had a Great Dane balanced in my lap as I listened to the rain. His tail thumped my leg when I stopped petting his ears.

We talked about the wedding and how love changes as life happens.

And then our friends played us this song.

And I cried again- grateful cry about the irony of life, good sipping whiskey, a groom and his bride, a dog on your lap and a hubs whose hand slips around my fingers.

If we were vampires and death was a joke
We’d go out on the sidewalk and smoke
And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
I wouldn’t feel the need to hold your hand
Maybe time running out is a gift
I’ll work hard ’til the end of my shift
And give you every second I can find
And hope it isn’t me who’s left behind

blog, home, Life Today, Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief, The Samantha Years

Does trauma gives you a hall pass? Someone should tell the hall monitor

I posted something cryptic on Facebook Saturday. It caught a lot of attention from my tribe but it really wasn’t a big deal….

Nothing like seizures, mitochondrial strokes or premature death.

I joke because I can.

Because I have survived these things.

I watched the EEG of my daughter explode. I have held hands in the PICU, I looked at a tiny pink casket, our tribe has buried our Littles before their time. I have gone toe to toe with a PICU doc and won.

I am a badass. I run with Badasses; I am proud of the strong people who have held me up and who I have held.

And yet.

At times.

Silly life shit takes hold of me. Suffocating. Like that stupid snake in the Jungle Book. It starts at my ankles, moves up my knees, my tummy, constricts my heart and looks me straight in the eyes. Sings to me and lulls me into a sense of doubt, confusion and negativity. Trust in me…..just in me….

I hate it.

Because silly shit is not worth suffocating over. I buried two babies and still managed to put my pants on and brush my teeth.

Silly shit is not worth it.

But I think all of us who have suffered trauma deal with this; cars cut us off, people are jerks, friends disappoint us, egos get in the way, Facebook pisses us off. These are not life and death situations. But in my mind, I expect the inconsequential to roll off my back and when it does not, it rattles me more.

I could place a cath in 10 seconds, deliver rectal Valium and I never gave it a thought. Why does this rattle me?

Perhaps this is the evolving trauma process…..what do we do after trauma when real life makes us crazy.

After we put our pants on, brush our teeth, go to work, cross the street….what happens next?

And really, I don’t post this as cause for alarm.

Because cause for alarm is another issue. I sometimes feel us going through all of this are afraid to post our struggles, because we don’t want to cause alarm. We are okay, really. We cry in ours cars, we get sad but we are here, really we want nothing more than to relish in joy and live our lives.

So a question for all of us and real life; what are your tools? What are your tricks for dealing with the silly shit? I invite all ideas J

Happy Spring!