I got to see Okkervil River preform tonight and it was everything I thought it would be and more. Will is just... amazing. You felt his vibe and energy shoot from the stage into the crowd. Soon as he walked out, I cried. Tears of joy and happiness... tears of sadness.. I felt things that I have never felt in my entire life. This overwhelming peace and gratitude.
Okkervil River and Will Sheff is something I wrote about constantly in my old blog. Losing the writing about them when I deleted was one of my more sad experiences with the loss of my blog. I wish I did not delete the blog in a rush of emotions when my father passed. I would have love to have been able to look back on them today.
So as the posts are gone and if you're not close to me, you won't know my love and history with band...so let's talk about them.
I first discovered their music through an internet friend of mine over ten years. I believe the first time I listened to them was in 2004. I was instantly addicted. I had never heard music that was so unapologetic and raw. It drew you in and forced you to open your mind.
Their music has been here for me during some of the worst times in my life. Growth, change, divorce, death... you name it... I experienced with the help of music therapy through this band.
He writes so beautifuly, honest, and open. You feel what he does. He is an amazing story teller. You can see what is going on in his head as the songs continue to play.
Here are some photos from our night.
I wanted to share the story of my journey from atheist to believer. My mind changed based because of several experiences I had with my father the last week of his life...
My father found out her had terminal Lung Cancer (extensive stage small cell with mets in both lungs, neck lymph nodes, and later found out several in his brain) in late April. In mid May we tried Chemotherapy. Our intentions were not to cure, but to shrink the cancer a bit to allow easier breathing and possibly give him some more time with us. We also could have went with hospice then and there. (The choice to not do hospice then still bothers me. But I had to let him do what he felt was best for him.)
At first things seemed well. He handled the chemo like a boss. Didn't feel too tired.. things seemed great. He was happy and confident he made the right choice. Around day 5, something drastically changed. He got huge blisters all over his legs and feet. It was a rare reaction to the chemo...
As the days passed his blisters were just getting worse and worse which made walking very difficult for him. He got transferred to a rehab center to help him learn to use his walker. Before the Chemo he was able to walk around... but after that first week, he would never be able to walk on his own again.
He was in the rehab center only about a week before we got the terrible news that he had contracted pneumonia. At this point my father had been in the hospital and rehab a combined total of 27 days. He was tired. He refused antibiotics and had me call the hospice.
We called hospice on a Tuesday am. They had everything set up in my home by Wednesday and he came home that evening.
It was really weird because at first, he was almost himself. Granted he needed help walking around, using the bathroom etc..but he had this HUGE burst of life and energy. And all he wanted to do was talk to me. About life, his childhood... my childhood. The circumstances were not the greatest... but I never felt so close to him.
I asked my father several times over this whole thing if he thought we would see each other again and each time he would say no. He told me that if it made me feel better to pray, I should do it... but it meant nothing. Sigh... I still asked. It was like in my mind, even as a non believer, if he could believe, then I knew I could... but it didn't happen.
That Saturday my dad's best friend came in from NYC. They got to spend time together and say some goodbyes. It was almost like my father was waiting for him because that is where things got bad. After my dad's friend left, my dad was in a lot of pain. He just could not get comfortable... and he hardly slept.
The following morning, Sunday he started to not know where he was. He was able to recognize the kids and I, but he thought we were on a boat and heading to an island. He kept telling us we had to be careful because the crew couldn't be trusted. Both my dad and I were on less than 1 hour sleep. It was pretty brutal.
Throughout all this he was still letting me help him walk, eat his meals, and use the bathroom. The hospice suggested a sleeping pill. He took it no problem. My bedroom was next to his... and when he finally went to sleep, so did I...
I remember it was around 12am when I felt really warm. I can not explain it... almost like someone put blankets from the dryer on me. So I sat up, and standing in the hall without his walker or help was my dad. I sprang up, yelled for my husband and literally caught my father before he could fall. My husband helped my dad to the chair and I laid on the floor bawling my eyes out. I felt so guilty for failing because I didn't hear him get up.
At this point my father no longer remembered that he had lung cancer. He didn't understand why he was so weak he could not walk. I asked the hospice nurse and the doctor on call if they thought he would come back to us and that he would remember where he was. They told me with the size of the mets on his brain and the infection, I am lucky he still knows who I am.
The hospice brought me a baby monitor. And my husband, oldest son, and I all took turns sleeping in shifts. At around 7 pm my dad was very upset. (This was Monday night). He told me he would be to the island soon, but he had to figure out the numbers first so we could be safe. I had no idea what any of this meant, but he asked for pen and paper. I gave it to him and he did what looked like some math and wrote out some numbers.
We gave him another sleeping pill, and my son fell asleep in the chair next to him. My husband and I were awake in the room next to him. We had the baby moniter, and were going to try and do sleeping in shifts.. but he (my husband) had what we believed to be a minor case of food poisoning. So I was between helping my dad and helping him as well.
I don't remember the exact time, I want to say it was roughly 2am but I head a strange sound on the moniter. Like someone going through a drawer. I called out to my son, he didnt answer. So I walked to the bedroom and as soon as I got to the doorway, I see my dad take a lighter to his oxygen tube. HUGE rush of flames as I instinctually pulled the plug to his oxygen machine. My husband ran to our son as I went to aide my dad.
Somehow he remembered a stash of cigs and where he hid his lighter. It was his bedroom and I honestly never thought to hide things. He had quit smoking 2 months ago and had been doing great at it. To this day I still blame myself.
He had some burns and the hospice told us that we should call an ambulance despite my father's wishes. When we were in the hospital, he started to forget who I was... or anything that was going on. The ER doctor told me that I could keep him there. That dealing with a dying person with dementia is hard for professional care takers emotionally and that he could not imagine what it was doing to me and my family.. I thanked him, but said I would please like to take my dad home... and a few hours later, I did.
All afternoon I sat with him. He randomly yelled... cursed. Talked more about getting to the island...telling us we were lying, he was never sick. He did not even remember the fire.
He finally fell asleep and I just broke down. I prayed..... for the first time in roughly 15 years
I just kept asking god.. I said whoever is listening... I know his body is destroyed. I know it. And I know that he can not be healed. I know it's his time... I know you have to take him.. But PLEASE...not like this. Please god... whoever is up there. Let his soul say goodbye to us. Please. Let us have him back. Please give us our goodbyes. Please god. I never ask you anything. Please give me this. Even if just a day...
This was Tuesday night.... I fell asleep in bed next to him. First time sleeping since Saturday really... I heard a voice..
"Maggie is Robbie ok.."
(Robbie is my son)
I thought it was my husband, and I started to reply and then the voice said..
"I don't know why I tried to smoke that last cigarate, I am sorry. Please tell me I didn't hurt Robbie..."
It was my dad!!!!
I jumped up and said Robbie is fine! We are all fine. Do you know where you are? He looked at me confused and said I am at home?
He remembered everything! The cancer, the fire, being on hospice etc. He did not remember telling me he was on a boat, or that he was going to an island. And when I showed him the paper with the numbers, he had no idea what they meant.
The next day we even had a laugh over the whole thing. It was incredible. Like his mind never left us. We had an amazing day.. but that evening I started to notice he was getting weaker. He didn't want to eat, and told the nurse he did not want to wear his oxygen mask.
I told my husband... I knew... I knew it was going to be soon. Early Thursday am the hospice nurse told me she didn't think he had more than a few hours left. I put some music on for him. And he told us he loved us all. He told my husband to watch over his daughters, and protect his grandkids. He told Robbie he had many regrets, and there was still so much he wanted to tell me. We told him we loved him dearly and I know he loved me. And that we would all be ok.
Just before 11am he took his last breath in my arms. And I will never forget when they took his body from my home, soon as he was in the car it poured. Pouring rain and thunder.
Next 3 days were a blur.. I didn't leave my bedroom. The hospice came to get everything quickly. I asked not to watch. When I finally did go back down stairs, the first thing I saw was the paper with the numbers on it....and that is where it hit me...
I felt the warm again. Just like the night I woke up and stopped my dad from falling...
Then I thought about how tired I was the night of the fire. But my husband was ill... so we were both awake...
Then I remembered the prayer. My prayers were answered. NO ONE can tell me otherwise. I was told he wouldn't remember me again, but he remembered everything. All of us. He got to say goodbye... and so did we.
I still have no idea if the numbers actually meant anything, but I took pictures to remember. I also often wonder if the island was were his soul was going and the "crew" who was hostile to him were his fears of death.... I hope some day to understand.
But because of this, I try to look for signs everywhere. I have faith that there is a life after this one and that spirits are all around us. Finally working up the courage to write this whole story up is my Father's day gift to my dad. It has taken me two years to do this, but I feel much better after telling it.
Went to the market this weekend. They sold carrots individually. Seems silly, but I actually have never saw this before. But it was great because I got to pick out all my own carrots.
Ihop is changing their business name to Ihob! Lol talk about a total rebrand!!!! Gives me confidence in rebranding and getting the kinks out of my own. Moving state to state was a total fresh start that I wasn't expecting in my photography business. I have only had a handful of clients since moving here. Not stressing over it though. I have had so much more time with my kids and family. I think that was really needed, and I have been able to help host some grief support chats with my therapist as well as find a wonderful hospice to do some volunteer work. No need to fake it to you make it and risk my karma when the universe has my back!
Thanks to my darling husband, I get to go see my favourite band! Okkervil River! I have wanted to see them for the past 10 years. This is so incredible. He also got a ticket for Ashlie... So I get my two rocks there with me. I am so excited and can not wait to share pictures with everyone. To be able to talk about my experiance.
This time of year is always very hard for me. My grief is in constant waves. But June will always be the hardest. As memories pop up here on facebook, or people comment old posts (with the purest of intentions)... I have to remind myself that thinking about what I could or could not have done differently.... living in constant regret is only killing my soul slowly. It's not what my father would have wanted for his daughter. It isn't what I want for myself.
I am working on redefining what June means to *me*. It will always be sad... but maybe it doesn't have to be so difficult.
I sent a love and light package to my dear friend back home in Carlisle. Her and I both lost a loved one on the same day and I wanted to help her get through it even though I couldn't be there in person. Such a terrible thing to have in common with someone, but it created an amazing bond.
I talked my best friend into doing my baba Ram Dass's Summer Solstice Meditation Renewal. He has an open mind... but is probably like lol what am I getting myself into!
Finding hope.... looking forward to little things. It's what gets me by.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. It knows no boundaries. Anthony Bourdain had money, he had fame, he was respected. He touched many lives. He had maybe the coolest job I can conceive of. A life I wanted.
Sigh...What I am saying is.... Depression doesn’t care. It can happen to anyone.
We all need to do a better job at understanding these things are out of our control. There is no simple solution. You can't just tell someone drink some water, get more sleep... think positive etc..
Sure I talk a lot lately about love, light, and my inner spiritual journey. Crystals and affirmations have brought me a lot of happiness and help me deal with my greif and PTSD...
HOWEVER... it is important to stress that I am also in therapy. I do not think ANY of this would help without my peer to peer consoling or chats with my thearpist. I get regular help for dealing with depression. I speak openly about it. I bug the heck out of my support system and close friends. You don't have to suffer alone. Get help if you need help.
We need you here. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It isn't your fault....
Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255
But if you're like me and are weird about being on the phone... there is a text service too. The 'Crisis Text Line'
Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA
to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.
"Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving."
I have personally used this service several times. And even at 4am, they connected me with someone to talk to.
Another good service is https://www.7cups.com they also peer to peer help as well as licensed therapists. If you download their app, they have grounding exercises and other things you can do to offer a distraction. Most of their services are free.
You can also talk to me. Inbox me. I might not have the right things to say. But I will listen, I want to listen.
I don't normally get emotional over celebrity deaths.. I may re-share some because they are tragic....or my outspoken views on mental health...but I absolutely adored this man. He was amazing as a person, and lord knows how many time I joked with my friends and family about wanting his life. He traveled the world and connected with so many different people and cultures.
Through his amazing story telling..He showed showed Americans that they needn't fear people who live in different countries because their cultures may be different. He connected with people through food. He was not afriad to try new things. He had such a light and vibe about him. The type of person you'd want to be around and just talk to for hours.
He made so many people happy. His show in a lot of ways helped me through my grief. My lowest times in the past couple of years. Watching him visit all those beautiful places thinking ok, before I die... I would to see this, I would like to experience this.. I want to do this... THIS... this is what life is about...Watching his shows and documentaries gave me joy... so just... hearing this... It's like a punch to the gut.
Anthony Bourdain inspired me to see the world, to be unafraid of what I found unfamiliar, and to find love in food and friendship.
I think everyone has such a mindset that death disconnects us from our loved ones. This isn't true. You can still connect with them. They are always with you. We are energy. The physical body has died but the soul is eternal. In life we interact with souls even though we see bodies. Changing the way we think about life and death is a big step towards changing grief. Yes loved ones are not physically here but energetically will always exist and be with us. We can still speak with them any time we choose. If anything I think there is more accessibility because there is no physical barrier. It's all in how you think about souls and death.
Saw this shared in my grieif group...
Isn’t this true? Something so beautiful is patient, strong, and courageous enough to know in order to shine beautifully I must grow THROUGH the dirt
How often do you find yourself trying to grow around the dirt?
With growth, comes a process of pain, a process of struggle, a process of darkness.
ALLL in which are there to help you get prepared for what is on the other side of that dirt.
I understand the process is never by any means the most comfortable, BUT who ever said that everything beautiful, everything worthy has to be comfortable?
For you to bloom you have to go through dirt too, it’s apart of the process and the cycle in nature!
You’re capable of it, sometimes, you just resist it, which can prolong your blooming season
Understand that YOU are capable and YOU are prepared to go through the dirt !
I put together my first Crystal Grid. I love it so much. I plan on later explaining just what a crystal grid is, what it's used for and why all crystal lovers should add this to their meditation. Also, I pulled these two cards.
Sundays I am involved with two peer-to-peer grief therapy sessions via video chat. It's interesting to be able to learn the views of other people who are struggling with their own losses. I get to meet and interact with people from all different walks of life. Not only people in the US, but from around the globe.
Today we touched on something that really hit home for me...
The way friends and family take in our lives and the changes we have made. I thought I was the only one who was told they changed. Or was called a weirdo amongst other things when infact it is something most of us had to endure.
Grief is so complex. It makes it almost impossible for you not to do soul searching. You never get over it. Rather you learn to grow around it.
Some of my friends were calling me weird or talking about my change of attitude before my dad had passed. My father's illness, knowing he would soon die set the stage for me to start learning that not only will I have to have a life without him. But that my life would never be the same.
It hurts to change.
It hurts to grow.
It hurts to let go.
I promise you though, change is good. Let them call you weird. Keep moving forward and doing what you need to for yourself.
Humans are able to adapt to anything life throws at us. Things in our daily lives, culture, and society grow and evolve. It would only would make sense for you as an individual to change as well.
"She changed, she's weird"
Never stop growing. Never stop learning. Remove those toxic people from your life who just can't fit into your world amymore. Those who don't support you or dwell too much on the past.
I believe, based on living, learning and watching for 35 years, that the reason our divorce rate is what it is, is not because marriage is hard or because relationships are tough, but because humans are impatient... Most of us want love... to share love... to fell love... to have a best friend and lover of our own... to have someone share our heart and keep it safe... to be a part of that magic and beauty... But, instead of waiting on that magic and beauty to happen, waiting to find that deep soul connection with one special person... People try to create it, where it is not... they rush in. They let their wants, their desires and their ideas, overshadow the truths, and what actually is.
I absolutely believe true love exists... but it has to happen in it’s own time. It can’t be created where it’s not, forced or rushed. It’s like trying to force a spring flower to bloom and be beautiful in the winter... when it just wasn’t meant to be.
Be patient. Wait for love, don’t force it. It will find you in its own time, if it is meant to be yours.
You are heart and soul.
Breath and life.
Stardust and sunshine.
Moonlight and magic.
Never stop looking inside, and striving to be the very best you that you can be. You were created for greatness. And everyone’s greatness is different.
Find YOUR greatness.
Find your peace.
Find your love.
Find your joy.
And be that.
Attached to nothing.
Connected to everything.
I had to share this here and on facebook. I know some will really feel this on a spiritual level. Ha.. The funny thing is, I rarely swear anymore. But the message is strong. You don't have to be positive every single day to live a happy, positive, and productive life. We are human, and we all have our bad days and weak moments. We must continue to push forward and strive for our own best life.
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )
Married + 5 Children
Born in New York
Living in Chicago Land
Italian + Mexican American household
Published Photographer + Artist
Lung Cancer Activist + Advocate
Social Media Enthusiast
Openly in Grief Therapy
Believes in Freedom Of Religion
Studied Animal Science
Backpacking + Hiking
Crystals + Meditation + Yoga
Writing + Scrapbooking + Blogging
Foodie + Cooking + Baking
Tropical Fish Keeping
Coffee + Coffee Shops
Travel + Road trips
Okkervil River + Good indie bands