Remembering Rhonda

I started following Rhonda Elkins’ blog around this time last year, and was profoundly moved by her tragic story. It had only been months since she, a registered nurse, lost her 23-year-old daughter Kaitlyn to suicide, and writing about it in her blog, My Bright Shining Star, was her way of dealing with the devastation she was experiencing.

As tough as it must have been for her, Rhonda’s heart-wrenching posts turned into a new project: a book about her daughter to help raise awareness of the rampant depression and high number of medical students who take their own lives. Like her blog, it also proved to be a source of comfort for others who were going through the pain and anguish of losing a child to suicide.

With her permission, I reblogged this post back in February to help get her message out there, that even those closest to us often keep their depression hidden.

Earlier this week, I was shocked and saddened to learn Rhonda had followed Kaitlyn last Friday, leaving her husband and older daughter to pick up the shattered pieces of what remained of their family.

Rhonda had blogged recently about the good reviews her book was getting, as well as her decision to return to her nursing profession part-time (she hadn’t worked since Kaitlyn died in April of 2013).

I, like many others, had believed she had gotten through the worst of it, and was ready to go on with her life.

We were so wrong.

Your life had a purpose, Rhonda. You shared your heart and soul with your readers, painfully, yet with great eloquence. I’m so sorry you were suffering and unable to get past your grief and depression. I’m sorry we couldn’t help you more. And I pray you have finally found peace, and are reunited with your beautiful daughter Kaitlyn.

I will never forget either of you.

Links for Rhonda:

http://hosting-9605.tributes.com/obituary/show/Rhonda-Elkins-101642909

https://www.facebook.com/inmemoryofrhondasellerselkins

https://www.facebook.com/events/771748509514127/

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The Bitter and the Sweet

I thought that I was coming home
Heart skipped with childish glee
I longed to to see my pretty mom
We’d catch up with mugs of tea

  Heart skipped with childish glee
Yes, dad would be there too
We’d catch up with mugs of tea
Like we always used to do

Yes, dad would be there too
We would have so much to tell
Like we always used to do
When they were strong and well

We would have so much to tell
Of both the bitter and the sweet
Since they were strong and well
And our family was complete

Of both the bitter and the sweet
But the real world intervened
A stab in the heart under the sheet —
Just another errant dream.

This was my attempt at a Pantoum Poem, a poetic rhyme scheme style from Malaysia.

For My Mother

Reblogging my post from a year ago. This is the first anniversary of our mother’s passing, and a difficult year it was. You are always in my heart, Mom x

Last month was my mother’s birthday.  She turned 75.

For the first time in her seventy-five years, our dear mother wasn’t able to eat any birthday cake.  She is bedridden, in and out of consciousness on morphine, and dying.  There is every reason to expect – and actually, dare I say, hope – that this is the year of her last birthday, and that her painful battle with Alzheimer’s disease will finally be over.

Mom has taken a turn this past week, a turn that plants her squarely in the final stage of this heartbreaking disease. She can no longer swallow even liquid food, so we know the end is near.

I can hardly think of anything or anyone else right now. I dread what lies ahead, even though I said above that I hope this, her last trial, will soon be at its end.

Here is a poem I…

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The TV Commercial I Wish I Didn’t Love

In today’s age of high-definition PVR’s and the luxury of watching television on demand to fit into my schedule, I rarely watch commercials anymore, and that suits me fine.  But there is one ad I have seen recently that I think I could watch every day.

I won’t reveal whose advertisement it is;  let’s just say it is for a financial company sharing the benefits of a home renovation loan.  In this particular case, the son in the ad has just renovated part of his home to make a self-contained apartment.  We see the son showing his aging father around the apartment, who appears very impressed with what his son has done.  The father touches the new kitchen cabinets and remarks that the apartment should fetch good rent.

It is then that the son reaches in a box bearing the financial company’s logo, and comes out with a set of keys.  He then gives the keys to his dad, telling him for the first time, “The apartment is yours, Dad.”

Then follows his father’s reaction of surprise, and he reaches out and hugs his son.

I swear, my heart gives a little leap and a flop each time I see this ad.  Of course, I know why;  I lost my dad nine years ago to ALS, when he was 69.  I never got to see my father anywhere near as elderly, and yet healthy, as the gentleman in the ad.  My mother didn’t fare much better, being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in her sixties, and now in the latter stages in a nursing home.

I didn’t write this post out of self-pity.  I just wanted to impart to those of you who read this, the fortunate ones who still have a parent or parents who are loving, healthy and of sound mind, to treasure them.  Please don’t take them for granted. You have something, and an opportunity that I will never know:  the ability and the joy of giving back to those who brought you up and gave you their all.

For me, watching that commercial reminds me, and lets me dream – just for a few minutes – of what could have been.