Joey and Rory. Such Sadness.

I probably won’t sleep tonight. So much anxiety. I saw the picture of Joey in her hospital gown, holding her baby. Cancer is awful. It’s vicious. What it does to a body is…I don’t have the words. Seeing pictures of Joey, how thin and frail she is, I was taken back to my time with Vanessa. she looks so much like her in this condition. She has the same form of cancer; cervical cancer. The protruding clavicle, the neck so thin the bones almost stand out, arms as thin as a child’s. I remember.

Vanessa eventually accepted what was happening to her body. She refused chemo. She saw what it did to Rita, and the pain she saw Rita experience was just unbearable. She asked me just not let her suffer. I was sure to administer her meds on time. I didn’t want her to suffer. I think she feared the pain more than she feared death.

Joey is young, talented and beautiful. It breaks my heart that this monster of a disease has her in its death grip, and there’s nothing that can be done. All the more heartbreaking that she has to say goodbye to a baby. My heart breaks for that family. I know what they’re going through.


Anxiety and Depression- Reblog

A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker. And sometimes, silenced completely.

It is not your fault these things happened. And if you hear the tales of what they were, you will likely hold an opinion in your head of what could have been done or said as a result to resolve the issue. But your experience in this life is not the same as mine, Friend. No matter what we have in common, we can never share the exact same perception. Please make sure not to confuse your perception with mine. We are different.

Sometimes I need a break from people. Usually the people who I don’t yet know completely, but like, and with whom I want to hold some kind of friendship. I’m already tired of feeling anxious and sad and don’t want you to grow tired of me feeling anxious and sad. I’m sure you care and would be happy for me to confide in you, but I’ve confided in friends before and been burned and heartbroken in return. I can’t bring myself to take that kind of risk again.

I’m afraid I won’t be good company. I’m afraid I’ll burden you with my emotions which I don’t feel would be fair on you. I have heard of your struggles too, Friend, and would like to help you, but I can’t. I take all struggles as if they were my own and my load is already far too heavy. Sometimes my whole world is devoid of any good news, and any conversation we could have would be very quiet on my behalf. All I can really do is listen, because if I speak I might burst into tears. But I don’t feel strong enough to pretend to be holding myself together right now, so I’d just rather not.

I’m sorry you feel I’ve been avoiding you. You see me comment on social media but I ignore your messages. This is because commenting on social media is usually not personal. It’s a distraction. It’s a way to have adult conversation without the spotlight being on me. I can do it in my pyjamas without having done my face to look like I’m prettier than I feel on the inside. I don’t run much risk of having to answer the question “How are you?”

…because I don’t want to lie to you. That would make me feel anxious when I’m already feeling anxious. I don’t believe in lying to people, especially people I care about. So for that reason, I can’t run the risk of being asked this question.

You may see me posting an update about a group I went to, or am going to go to. Maybe inviting someone along. But I still haven’t answered your messages. This does not mean I’m feeling better and have purposely skipped you. This doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. My doctor told me to do things in the community so I don’t completely shut myself off. This is what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get myself back into the habit of being seen in public for something other than to run a quick errand. I’m trying to quell the self-talk in my head that tells me everyone hates me and thinks I’m weird. Sometimes when I meet new people and they smile at me, I think that perhaps I’m not all that strange. “I can do this… I can do this…” I say to myself.

You see, Friend, with a head full of thoughts like mine, there is no invisible ticket machine. In a perfect world I would answer all messages and requests in order, and you’d be able to know when I’m going to call your number. But that’s not how this works. There is no ticket, no number, and if I can’t shut off the feelings inside me, I might never get to you. Or I could respond to you tomorrow. I really have no way of knowing.

To expect that I give you attention specifically is just unrealistic, and I’m sorry. I regret that the nature of this beast is not one where I can gain complete control whenever I want to, and give all the people all the attention they want or deserve. You may be lonely too, and I’m sorry. But I’m training myself to take care of myself and my needs, and to give myself all the attention I deserve, because that’s what is supposed to help me recover, or at least cope.

Part of the reason I got into this mess is because I put everyone else’s needs before mine. And they took, and took, and took some more until there was nothing left, because I was so willing to give. I regret being so naïve. I love to see people happy, but I forget that I need to be happy first. You might not be one of those people of whom I speak, but that’s unfortunately irrelevant. I can’t handle any of it yet.

Maybe we struck a friendship during a time when socialising wasn’t so daunting. Maybe you think it’s totally uncharacteristic of me to be silent and surely you must have caused offense. But Friend, understand that this condition is unpredictable and the best thing you can do is just wait.

There is no forcing a friendship with me. I need time. I’m grieving that part of me that no longer exists and that bright future I thought I was going to have.

As part of my anxious predicament I’m regretting so many things. Things that are long since dead and buried, things that happened yesterday… The way I reacted to something, the person I shouldn’t have trusted but did, the thing I said that surely must’ve made me look like an idiot. The fact that I feel this way in the first place. The fact that I can’t make it stop. The fact that I’m hurting my friends by accident by apparently turning my back on them. The fact that I don’t have the strength to be what my loved ones need any more. The fact that I can’t talk to you about this in person because it’s too hard. The fact that I can’t have friends because I can’t talk to my friends and therefore none of them can begin to understand why it’s hard for me to keep friends. The fact that I am so alone I don’t know when I’ll ever be less alone. The fact that there are people depending on me that deserve better than for me to be so afraid of so many things that I can hardly function.

I’m trying, Friend, and I’m so sorry if you’re hurt by me. If you want to walk away I understand, but please do not convey to me the disappointment that I’m not what you want me to be, because I’ve got enough disappointment in myself for the both of us. Just send me positive thoughts as much as you can spare in the hopes that maybe, one day, I’ll be on the other side of this, and I’ll be so grateful that you were so patient and understanding. When that day comes I will be able to call you a ‘Great Friend.’


A Nervous Wreck

Alabama Shakes

They’ve been around for a few years now, but I heard the group Alabama Shakes for the first time just a couple days ago. Their video “Joe” was on the side bar on YouTube. The still photo of Brittany Howard caught my attention because she looks like she could be the sister of a friend of mine. I clicked on the video, the one where they appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show, and I was blown away. I heard rock, soul, reggae and gospel in one song.

What presence Howard has! I wish I had just one quarter of her confidence. I couldn’t stop watching her. She didn’t just sing, she PERFORMED. You could tell she had that audience in her palm that night!

Alabama Shakes are real people; real, beautiful people as opposed to a group that’s been packaged and corporatized by the entertainment industry. You can hear the freedom in their music.

I’ve seen some huge names perform in concert, but that video of Howard singing “Joe” was the best performance I’ve seen since I saw Luther Vandross perform live in the mid 90’s. Her musicians and back up singers are also incredibly talented. I couldn’t stop re-playing the video. It’s been a long time since music has been able to move me. With so much sadness lately, music just hasn’t been a priority for me. I think Alabama Shakes pulled me out of a slump. They’re touring now and I just wish them the best of everything!

Leaving the Church Without Leaving God

Worth a read.

The author’s experience with four different churches led him to boldly abandon the traditional social means of worship and as a result, he now enjoys a happier, more peaceful and more spiritually fulfilling relationship with God. In his role as minister, he continues to lead private bible study sessions, and to provide spiritual counseling to those who are burdened with the pressures and complexities of this life. Please follow him on Twitter @, and/or email him at


The Day Vanessa Died

I decided to write this blog post hours ago, but instead of writing I busied myself with a hundred little unnecessary things; anything to help me protract my procrastination for as long as possible. It’s not as if I’m being forced to write this. If I never write it life will go on. Nothing earth shattering will result from my inability to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. Strange how I feel so compelled to write, yet my anxiety over it has had the better of me for most of the day. Well, I’m finally here and I’m going to put down a few things about the day Vanessa died.

Her living room had been turned into a hospital room, complete with a hospital bed, oxygen tank, tubes, and a medication table. The wheel chair was parked in the corner of the room. Just a week before, one of the hospice volunteers stopped by and took her for a spin through the neighborhood. She enjoyed that.

The night before, she was sitting on the sofa, leaning to her right. She was staring at the ceiling as though she was unaware of anything else in the world, as if she was already gone.  From the literature hospice provided, I knew instantly what that meant.  It was very late, but I called hospice and asked if the duty nurse could come by to have a look at her. It was nearly 3:00 a.m. when he arrived. He examined her, took me aside and told me that the end was near. I knew the time would come, but the feeling in my stomach still felt like a punch. I can’t begin to describe the tension I felt. I was there alone with my sister, and she was dying. I was actually going to be there with her as she departed this world. I pulled myself together and went to her.

Vanessa, let’s get you to bed so you can be more comfortable.” She said, “May as well.” I still cry sometimes when I think about her saying those words. The sofa was just a few feet away from the bed. I picked her up off the sofa, and we walked as if slow dancing those few feet to her hospital bed. In her day, she was a striking 5’9″, 125-130 pounds. Holding her as we walked to her bed, she was no more than 80 pounds. As we slowly walked, she said “I love you so much, Karla.” I said, “I love you, too, Vanessa. And I’m so sorry you’re sick.” I sat on the bed with her, laying beside her for a few minutes, and sitting back up to hold her hand. She began her stare into the corner again, and I sat there and cried quietly.

I was expecting her regular hospice nurse at 2:00 that Friday afternoon. Watching Vanessa’s chest rise slower and slower, I called and asked if she could come sooner. She arrived and began her examination. I knew from her expression that it was time to call Vanessa’s daughter. I did so, and it was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had to make. Without Vanessa’s knowledge, I called and emailed her daughter several weeks before and while I didn’t mention cancer, I did tell her that her mother was ill, and that she needed her urgently. Still, she didn’t come.

Vanessa deliberately hid the extent of her illness from her daughter, and made me promise not to say anything to her either. It was her decision to make, but I found the circumstances rather untenable. I think she just wanted to protect her daughter from the pain and unbearable grief that she would no doubt feel, but this secrecy during a time of such sadness put a considerable amount of pressure on me.

The hospice nurse was aware of Vanessa’s request, but as the end drew near we both knew that her daughter had to be told. We had a conversation with her, telling her how dire things were and telling her that she needed to come say goodbye. I felt terrible being in that position. I knew she was scared. She must have been terrified. Still, I could no longer protect her for Vanessa, and what the hell was I going to do or say once Vanessa had died? It was time to talk.

The hospice nurse was great. She made me feel not so alone. She examined Vanessa, took the stethoscope’s ear piece from her ears and said,”She’s gone.” All I could muster as I began to sob was, “Are you sure?” She hugged me as I cried, and I eventually broke free so that I could call Vanessa’s daughter. It was actually my second call to her that day, as I called her before I called the nurse. I knew what was happening, and I wanted to tell her that her mother was dying before I had to tell her that her mother was actually dead. I was still trying to protect her to some degree, as I knew Vanessa wanted me to do.

This time when her daughter answered, I couldn’t talk. I passed the phone to the hospice nurse because I was crying. She very gently called her by name and said,”Your mother has just passed away.” I was very grateful to her for that, for being the first to say those words She just understood that I couldn’t do it.

To add to this difficult, painful, situation I should mention that prior to all of this I had not seen Vanessa for nearly 20 years, and our phone calls were few and far between. Nothing happened to effect this estrangement, it’s just how life played out for us. Neither of us set out to let so many years go by without being in touch, but it happened. Still, I knew she thought the world of me because in our few exchanges over the years, she always made me feel it. She was a full ten years older than me, so I knew very little of her as I was growing up.

The hospice nurse asked where the towels were, and asked if I wanted to help wash Vanessa’s body. I got the towels, but declined to help wash her. Instead, I went outside and called my own daughter who lived 10 hours away. When I returned, I noticed that the hospice nurse was not using the towels I provided. She was using my favorite towel, and in the midst of all this sadness and pressure I felt, the pettiest of thoughts crossed my mind, “Why is she using my favorite towel and not the towels I gave her?” I removed Vanessa’s wedding rings, kissed her cheek and said goodbye. It’s strange, but when I kissed her, I could have sworn that I felt her exhale; take a breath.

When the funeral home came to take Vanessa away, one of them kept me busy with paperwork while the other two put her into a body bag. I remember aside from seeing the feet sticking up at the bottom from inside the bag, you could hardly tell there was a body in there at all. I still cry sometimes even though this happened two years ago; November 1, 2013. It’s also the birthday of our oldest sister, Rita, who died in 1989 from the exact same cancer. Strange, but it all feels just like yesterday.

Gandhi’s 1940 Letter to Adolph Hitler

My son-in-law found this letter on Business Insider and sent it to me. It’s a wonderful letter, and a significant piece of history. I love where Gandhi tells Hitler, “You are leaving no legacy to your people of which they would feel proud.”

He was so right about that. In some ways, Germany is still reeling from what happened under Adolph Hitler. Some of the guilt remains to this day.
Read the letter here:


Paul Robeson Play – A One Man Show

Paul Robeson Play

This is a One Man Show to celebrate the life and legacy of Paul Robeson. The play may be performed without royalties, however, the playwright must be contacted at least 30 days prior to the first performance. Approximate run time is 82 minutes.

A great script with challenging work for actors from beginner to seasoned. Recommended for community theatres, schools, churches and other venues.

Albert Speer Quotes From Spandau: The Secret Diaries

I think that for as long as I live, I will continue to try to comprehend what was happening in Germany before, during, and for years after WWII. Much of it is so difficult, so inhumane and so banal, I can’t pretend to wrap my head around it. Still, it remains one of many areas of history by which I am totally fascinated.

Spandau: The Secret Diaries is a definite “must read” for those interested in history of WWII. Below are just a few noteworthy quotes from Speer, Ribbenthrop, and Hitler:

The Himmlers, Bormans, Streichers, and their ilk cannot explain Hitler’ success with the German people. Hitler was sustained by the idealism and devotion of people like myself.

We who were least inclined to think selfishly were the ones who made him possible. Criminals and their accomplices are always around. They explain nothing (8).

Jodl and Keitel: Intelligent men who, because of their fascination with Hitler, cast aside the moral traditions of their class (10.)

Passion, whether springing from hatred or resentment, is still a motivation. Lukewarm-ness is nothing (24).

Relieved of all the need for thinking, we left everything to the chief executive officer (25).

If the human features are going to be missing from the portrait of Hitler, if his persuasiveness, his engaging characteristics, and even the Austrian charm he could trot out are left out of the reckoning, no faithful picture of him will be achieved (40).

First we’ll practice a systematic population policy. India and China shows how quickly nations can multiply.” –Hitler

He then elaborated on a system of bonuses that would make every family regard children as a source of additional income.

In 1932, Germany produced no appreciable increase in births. But, in 1933, National Socialist policy had provided the country with almost three million more people. In light of such figures, the few hundred thousand killed in the war did not matter (48).

We must bring the masses illusions.”- Hitler (103).

Sometimes I think Hitler consciously tolerated or even deliberately promoted the corruption (Black marketeering). It tied the men to him (116).

There’s always a war on. The difference is only whether the guns are firing or not. There’s war in peace time, too. Anyone who has not realized that cannot make foreign policy.” – Ribbenthrop

Whoever succeeds me must be sure to have an opening for a new war.” –Hitler

In future peace treaties, we must therefore always leave open a few questions that will provide a pretext. Think of Rome and Carthage for instance. A new war was always built right into every peace treaty.” – Hitler (144).

Letters From Nuremberg

Thomas Dodd – a chief prosecutor in Nurmeberg. An excellent lawyer, dedicated to his profession; but what a romantic! From Senator Christopher Dodd (His son) we get a different picture of him as a husband away from his wife, who was home in Connecticut with their five children during the trial.

Here’s this brilliant lawyer by day, his talent being noticed by Jackson, the lead prosecutor – and at night, he wrote these beautiful love letters to his wife. In many of them, he sounded like a love sick – almost pathetic teenager stricken by separation from his true love for the very first time. The letters show a very different side of Thomas Dodd, a side of the man which his professional, by-day courtroom persona never betrayed in the least. I loved reading this book. Here’s an excerpt from one of Dodd’s letters:

“My dearest, if my letters seem lengthy and detailed, you will understand that first of all, I am trying to string out my time with you – for while you are in my mind at all times during the day, at letter writing time I have you alone with no interruptions. Thursday morning, standing in the main portal of the Union Station in Washington, you made a memorable picture for me as I gazed out the taxi cab window until the dimness of the dawn light blotted your loveliness out.”

Christopher Dodd said he wept as he read that letter from his father to his mother. – “The power and eloquence of my father’s words overwhelmed me. I had known my parents as children do. I had not seen them in this intimate way-as characters in a love story. And if I had yearned for an inside view of the Nuremberg experience, I certainly found it.”

It’s really a wonderful read, not just for the love letters, but also for “an inside view” of what the trials were like as America’s top prosecutors put together the case against the Nazi regime.

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Ophelia and Hamlet. Love?

To Laertes, Hamlet’s affection for his sister, Ophelia is a mere dalliance; a temporary condition which she should not mistake for lasting love. He tells Ophelia “For Hamlet and the trifling of his favour, hold it as a violet in the youth of primy nature, forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting. The perfume and suppliance of a minute; no more” (1:3:8). Laertes tells Ophelia these things because he understands that because Hamlet is a prince, he is subject to one day be king. As such, the decision about his future wife is very important and cannot be left solely to his discretion. Laertes understands that tradition does not permit Hamlet to make such an important decision based on fleeting emotions. He explains to Ophelia that “His greatness weighed; his will is not his own. He may not, as unvalued persons do, carve for himself; for on his choice depends the safety and health of the whole state; and therefore must his choice be circumscribed” (1:3:16). Because of these things, Laertes warns Ophelia to guard herself emotionally, to which Ophelia responds that “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep” (1:3:45).

Like Laertes, Polonius attributes Hamlet’s insincere affection to temporary youthful dalliance; “I do know, that when the blood burns, how prodigal the soul lends the tongue vows” (1:3:117), and he also advised Ophelia against Hamlet’s advances: “Affection! Pooh! You speak like a green girl” (1:3:101). He tells Ophelia that Hamlet is “A prince, out of thy star” (2:2:141), and admonishes her to not be so free with her time with Hamlet, and she agrees to obey. Although she replies “I do not know, my lord, what I should think” (1:3:103) when her father asked if she believes Hamlet to be sincere, Ophelia is swayed by Hamlet’s affection. She seems to believe that Hamlet is sincere, and even to return his affection as she tells Polonius “My lord, he hath importuned me with love in honorable fashion” (1:3:110). She believes Hamlet loves her and those feelings are requited, yet she still finds it more virtuous to heed the warnings and the wishes of her father and brother, and rejects Hamlet.

Knowing that Claudius and Polonius are listening in hiding, Hamlet tells Ophelia that he indeed once did loved her. She replies that he made her believe so, to which he coldly replies “you should not have believed me…I loved you not” (3:1:118). At this point, Ophelia concedes that she was deceived.

This deception, although it too may have been contrived as Hamlet was aware that Polonius was listening, contributes to Ophelia’s eventual madness, but the major factor in her decline is Polonius’ violent death by Hamlet’s sword. In an attempt to identify the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior, Polonius, with the Queen’s consent, hides behind a curtain during a conversation which the Queen begins by telling him that his behavior has offended the King. Having never acknowledged Claudius as King, Hamlet replies that it is the Queen’s behavior which offends; “Mother, you have my father much offended” (3:4:9).

Hamlet tells the Queen to sit and “you will not go till I set you up a glass where you may see the innermost part of you” (3:4:20). His outrage over her marriage to the murderous Claudius has reached a dangerous point. Overhearing this, Polonius yells from behind the curtain where he is hidden, prompting Hamlet to draw his sword, killing him sight unseen but believing him to be Claudius.

Initially, the Queen refuses to receive Ophelia at Elsinore. She is persuaded to do so by the   Gentleman, who provides her with an account of Ophelia’s state of being. He describes her as “importune, indeed distract” (4:5:2), and further reports that “She speaks much of her father; says she hears there’s tricks i’ the world; and hems, and beats her heart; Spurns enviously at straws; speak things in doubt that carry but half sense, her speech is nothing” (4:5:4). To this, the Queen replies “Let her in” (4:5:15).

I think Ophelia’s mad songs were for both her father and for Hamlet. This is evident in her first lyric where she sings “How should I your true love know from another one?” (4:5:23).  This question could only be posed to Hamlet. Where she sings “He is dead and gone; at his head a grass-green turf, at his heels a stone” (4:5:30), and “White his shroud as the mountain snow,” (4:5:30) we can be reasonably sure that in her despair, this lyric she sings is a reference to her dead father.

e is dead and gone; at his head a grass-green turf, at his heels a stone” (4:5:30), and “White his shroud as the mountain snow,” (4:5:30) we can be reasonably sure that in her despair, this lyric she sings is a reference to her dead father.