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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.

Stinky.

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.

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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

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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!

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I have PTSD- and that’s okay

I came across this article today and it has resonated with me.

I have PTSD. I have been diagnosed, treated and I am proud of my work to make my life with this a little better.

To assume I could come out the other side unscathed would have been naïve and I have been okay with my vulnerabilities.

But I have not known where to put those vulnerabilities or how to categorize my experiences.

Because when I think of PTSD…….I have not been in combat, I have never faced enemy fire, seen a friend shot or sat in a bunker in the freezing rain for my country. My life has never entailed being exposed to the elements for prolonged periods of time; except for those self-imposed.

I am hesitant to relate my life to that of a solider. But there are parts that I think I might understand. In times of extreme stress, one wakes with a defined sense of purpose. I must defend that line, I must keep this child alive, I must look for the enemy, I must stop this seizure. Communication is short and to the point. Nothing else matters than that sense of purpose.

And when we are called upon for what we are trained to do……

I have seen Moms step into action without a word, seemless to rescue their medically fragile child.

I have issued orders to a medical team and thought…..who the hell is talking?

And I am still hesitant to write this comparison; because I sit here with my limbs, physically unscarred, not knowing the combat life, not knowing what you, combat solider have gone through.

But I do know I have PTSD. Maybe like you, it has settled in my bones, my ears, my brain, the sound of a siren; when watching a movie and they perform CPR; you either turn away or critique their style.

It is there; separating us from the rest of the world.

Combat changed her, some may say

Her child changed her, some may say

Of course it did. Life changes us. Extreme life in front of our eyes alters us.

Trauma is trauma. And like any life story must have a narrative; an audience and validation. I am grateful to those in combat brave enough to tell their stories and request their trauma be acknowledged. I hope it compels others to acknowledge that trauma is real and demands a voice. And most importantly, that we all are heard and not alone.

To Healing.