“If I never saw you once again If suddenly you met your bitter end I’m not sure I’d ever understand But I could say I loved a good man … Oh your tender heart, Taught me the hardest part that I could never learn And everything you do promises I love you If you ever slip out of my hands I could say I loved a good man” -Anthony Cameron / Garth Williams

 

You’ve been gone 2 years, my my my have I grown and learned. I think you would be proud. You would be, even if you wouldn’t want to admit it.

Everyone reached out today, I LOVE that they did that. I LOVE all the pictures and memories I was sent today. I LOVE that they still love and miss you.

They were worried about me. Concerned about me. Wanted to make sure I was okay. And you know what I was. It has been two years, but today is just another day. I miss you no more today than I did yesterday and I will tomorrow. I love you no more than I did yesterday and I will tomorrow. The fact that you died sucks, but it sucks everyday. Today is the anniversary of you being pain free and no longer suffering, and for that I am so thankful. The suffering you endured I wish on no one.

Today I set goals and promises to you.

  1. I promise to finish the book you told me to write. I remember standing on the back of the big boat in San Diego, after getting out of the water from cutting fishing line and seaweed off of the props and hooking up the pipes for a bait tank. I had cuts from the knife on my fingers and my jaw hurt from biting down on the zip ties. But I did it, and you taught me how. But as I stood there dripping wet, chugging a beer you said, “When this is all over, you need to write a book, but just the good stuff”.  I remember us laughing when you said “just the good stuff”. That book will be finished this year, it will be full of the good stuff but our story is not complete without including the bad stuff too!
  2. I promise to catch a marlin. We were so close so many times and you wanted it so badly for me. You taught me how to drive to them, set the rods for them and hook them. I am ready to catch one.
  3. I promise to get in real shape. You always said we were all show and no and go hahahhahahaha  …. It’s time to change that! I am 40 after all. The fact that you were 40 when you were diagnosed has been heavy on my mind these last few months and I know I need to make every effort possible to stay healthy for as long as possible. I owe it to you.
  4. I promise to try. You wanted to meet someone and get married again. You didn’t want me to be alone. I’ll try. I promise.  
  5. I also spent A LOT of money on boat parts today … you would be proud.

I love you and miss you today, just like everyday.

– xoxo Victoria

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“The days flew by oh I’ll never forget Saying I do, one I won’t forget … I knew you’d save me From all that I was running from You’ll be my compass And I’ll be your light” – Lauren Engle

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We LOVED the 4th of July! Fishing, fun and fireworks! Boats, beer and bikinis! hahahahaha We always saw the most epic firework shows!

Today I realized there was another thing I missed about Duane – something that I hadn’t thought about before …

When there was a disagreement with people in my life Duane always had a witty comeback (something I never have) and then the ability to load the boat, pack snacks and take me somewhere to fish where we wouldn’t have phone reception for a few hours, or days. It was so nice to just leave all the crap behind. He would give me that last closing statement and “we’re out”!

He had this ability to make you want to leave it all behind and to make you realize life is so amazing and can be so peaceful and beautiful without all the bullshit. I didn’t worry when he said say this and we’re done, lets go. 

I miss that. 

– xoxo Victoria 

P.S. How tan were we? (Other than my face) hahahahaha

“The ones we ain’t seen in so long The hold up a beer ones, the wish they were here ones The not forgotten but gone They’re in a better place up there But they sure left a hole down here We just go on livin’ and go on missin’ the ones” – Jeremy Stover / Richard Chase Mcgill / Paul Charles Digiovanni / Justin C. Moore

Happy Birthday Duane! Today you would have been 47 years old!!!!

Holy crap that’s old! I would have spent all day teasing you and making fun of you for how close to 50 you are. Your come back would have been some smartassy one about how you didn’t act almost 50!

We would have woken up from camping, morning fished and then water skied and wake boarded. We would have ridden dirt bikes, and flown somewhere for dinner.  The day would have ended with a harbor yacht ride eating your favorite – my mom’s carrot cake – double decker like she only makes it for you! 

We always managed to fit so much into a day! Today I bought (you- hahahahaha) a pool, “installed it” and ate that special carrot cake you loved so much. 

I miss you. Buddy misses you. Everyone misses you. I love you! Happy Birthday!!

– xoxo Victoria

 

“Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me” – Anne Hathaway

I don’t talk about loneliness a lot but it’s deafening. Even with the tv on, music playing and a dog barking the loneliness seeps in. 

I am lonely. So so lonely. I have lived in North Carolina for almost two years, and I have just as many friends if not less, than when I moved here.  I have tried. I know I am weird and quirky, I have been called both by numerous people, but I still don’t get it. I will drop anything to help someone. I’m easy going and don’t care what we do. I’m up for anything. Maybe it’s because I talk too much? I’m alone a lot, so when I’m around other people I tend to talk a lot because I don’t socialize very often.  

It’s hard because sometimes I think I have plans and then when it comes to the day before or the day off I never hear from the people. I will reach out and not receive a response. And then right before it’s a half assed text apology and still no real invite. It sucks. 

It’s hard to be the only single one. I am always the third, fifth, ninth or eleventh wheel, I don’t care but I think I am excluded a lot because of it. It makes people uncomfortable for some reason. I’m fine with it, but it bothers others. The thing is … I’m not single by choice and widowhood is not contagious. 

I don’t need pity invites or pity calls and text messages. I’m okay. Just realizing how lonely I really am. I feel like I have given this area a shot but maybe I need to consider moving, or just find an area that is not this area. hahahhaha 

If you are lucky enough to have someone sitting next to you right now, tell them you love them.

– xoxo Victoria

“Loneliness is, like, when you wish someone else was there, and solitude is when you enjoy being alone. I don’t always wanna be alone, but I definitely like pockets of solitude to recharge and come back to myself. I think that’s so important for everyone.” – Jonathan Van Ness

“It’s those little things. It’s the little everyday things that change us forever” – Shawna Korgan

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This is an amazing documentary, everyone should watch, NOW. Talk about the power of the mind. True grit and willpower… And LOVE. 

This is Grant Korgan’s story … In a nut shell – he is an adventure athlete that suffers a life alerting spinal cord injury but pushes himself to “ski” the South Pole. Very cool. 

Im not posting this to share a cool movie I saw, I am sharing this for all my caregiving friends. Grant said something during an interview that spun me. Literally spun me. 

Grant was being interviewed and sharing what he was thinking right after his accident. I am paraphrasing here –  He said he felt so bad for his wife. What had he done? He had broken her husband. He had changed their life together. The life they had and he had promised her was cut. He was no longer able to do what they had always done. Everything was different now. HE WAS BROKEN. 

WOW! As these words came out of his mouth tears welled in my eyes. I hit rewind and watched it again, taking it all in and feeling the words as he was saying them. Realizing that Duane felt this way. His frustrations and sadness were made from feeling broken. From feeling like he couldn’t give me the life he always had. (And we did have an amazing life!)  I had never, ever considered Duane could feel this way. I never thought of Duane as broken, never thought about our adventures being curtailed. Never thought our life wasn’t amazing. 

Grant Korgan gave me insight into what Duane was thinking and feeling. The fear he felt when he was diagnosed with ALS. The feeling of being broken, of not being whole, of not being enough.

I’m crushed and heartbroken for Duane. I feel so horrible that he thought this way, that he thought he was broken and that he was “disappointing me”. I hate that he felt like he wasn’t enough. I loved him, still love him and to this day don’t think he was broken. He was an amazing human. 

I wish I had the sense to even consider this thought – I don’t know what I would have done or said but … I don’t know but I hate knowing he felt this way. 

Love your people! Life can change in an instant!

– xoxo Victoria

P.S. They live in Reno and there are so many beautiful shots of Lake Tahoe and Reno – I was filled with wonderful memories of skiing with Duane and our life in that magical place.

P.P.S. Here is his wife, Shawna’s Ted talk – she’s amazing!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jl51nmLY5k

P.P.P.S. If you tell me Duane didn’t fell this way – you didn’t know him. 

“So hold your head up and tell yourself that there’s something more And walk out that door Go find a new rose, don’t be afraid of the thorns ‘Cause we all have thorns Just put your feet up to the edge, put your face in the wind And when you fall back down, keep on rememberin’ Every storm runs, runs out of rain” -Hillary Lindsey / Gary Allan / Matt Warren

On Friday night I had the amazing opportunity of attending the Vintage Lochmere 2019 to support Team Drea and ALS research. It was an amazing event with wonderful wine, unbelievable food and even better friends. I was honored to speak about Duane and our  ALS journey. 

The event was put on hold a few times during the night. Two massive storm cells came through. Golf ball sized hail, gale winds and torrential rains. It was bad. The event continued and everyone had a great time. 

All I could do was laugh. Laugh at the situation. As the first cell hit Duane’s photo fell and shattered. That was the final sign I needed to move forward. 

Duane always said to me, “ALS is NOT your cause. You don’t need to deal with ALS for the rest of your life. Don’t search for a cure, there will be no cure in your lifetime. But it is your job to help people. You need too help them. But remember ALS is not your cause”. 

I have struggled with this for a year and a half. What am I supposed to do? What did he mean? How do I separate the two? How do I help people and not deal with ALS? In my mind there is no difference. 

This weekend I realized what he meant. I need to help people. Answer questions, help care for them, teach them and support them. BUT I can no longer be immersed in the ALS world. It hurts my heart. There is no cure. Every week I see someone I “know” die. I have great, wonderful friends with ALS and I will continue to be their friends and support them but I need to take a step back a bit. It’s time. 

I have learned so much in the last five years and I will continue to share and help but ALS can no longer control my life! I feel the weight off my shoulders. 

Thank you Duane. 

– xoxo Victoria

“One day I’ll be gone The world will keep turning I hope I leave this place Better than I found it” – Drew Pearson / Kesha Sebert / Stephen Wrabel

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I will be the first to admit that I have been very lucky in life.  I have been fortunate to follow my dreams, no matter how many times they changed and have always had the support of my family and friends. 

Today I found out that I didn’t get something that I really wanted, probably the one thing that I wanted more than I have ever wanted anything before. I did my due diligence, did my research, provided the references, followed up but it didn’t matter. This is the first thing that I have gone above, beyond, side ways, backwards and in circles for. 

A bill was recently passed to help family caregivers. They (whoever “they” are) formed a committee of people from all over the country to help family caregivers. Well today, after 6 calls and four messages in three weeks I learned that I did not get a place on the committee. 

The truth is I figured there were really only three to four seats on the committee for everyday citizens, the rest would be for organizations and nonprofits that donate money, because let’s face it that’s the way our government and country works. 

When I found out today I asked questions. Not a single question I asked could be answered. The person in charge of this committee (they are on at least the 6th different person) didn’t know any stats on caregiving. The average age of caregivers, percentage of young caregivers, young spouse caregivers … the number of young spouses who die within a year of their spouse dying, the suicide rates of these caregivers – nothing. 

And you know what – he didn’t care. Any question I asked was pushed aside. He did tell me I am able to go to the first meeting they will have in Washington DC, but they don’t know when it will be, where is will be or how I can find out about it. 

I am disappointed. I could have actually helped, I could have made life easier for thousands of people. But is doesn’t matter. I am sad that the people in charge of this don’t care, they think they do, but until you are IN IT you really don’t. You don’t know the dynamics, the struggles or the real needs to this group of people, until you are this group of people. 

So night I am wiping my tears and figuring out the next step … is there a next step? I know I can help people, but how?

Thank you to everyone who wrote letters of recommendation, nominations and showed their support. I love you all. 

– xoxo Victoria

“Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay My, oh, my, what a wonderful day Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!” – James Baskett

My sister and I went to Florida to celebrate my 40th Birthday last weekend, it was great to hang out with her and do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. The weather was amazing, the resort was beautiful and we didn’t stop laughing the whole time we were there.

We spent the first day drinking “through the countries” in Epcot. Saturday we played at the Magic Kingdom from open to close riding all the rides. Sunday we spent the day at the pool and then had a delicious dinner in Disney Springs and Monday we headed home. The weekend went too fast!

It was such a great trip. This last month has been full of laughter and so many coincidences from the past … Duane surprised me and took me to Disneyland for my 30th Birthday!

If you follow me on Instagram you already know all this … the real reason I wanted to blog about this trip was to show you the HILARIOUS pictures that were snapped on Space Mountain. hahahahahaha My sister was directly behind me – the camera goes off at the exact same time – how do we look so complete opposite? hahahahaha 

I can’t stop laughing at this! hahahahahaha 

I am excited about turning 40 and can’t wait to see what this new year has in store!

– xoxo Victoria

 

“Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten” -Aldo Gucci

 

I am not a label person, never have been, Duane was.

I follow @seersuckerandsaddles on instagram and watch her stories daily. A few weeks ago she posted about this Gucci watch. I saw it and liked it but didn’t think about it again. The next day she posted about it again and it was about 50% off … thought about it, but decided against buying it. A few days later she posted about it again. I had this horrible nagging feeling to order it, so I did. It arrived, I looked at it and put it back in the box, ready to return it. It was extravagant and not something that I normally buy. 

A few days later I still had a nagging feeling about this watch. I went back to the box, opened it up and put it on. I fell in love. It fit perfect and I loved it! The nagging feeling stopped. 

Then I remembered …

When I met Duane he wore a Gucci watch that he loved. He wore it for years but after beating it up on fires, water skiing and fishing it looked like crap. For his 40th birthday I got him a new one. He loved it. 

So for my 40th birthday this year I bought my self the same present I bought Duane. It’s weird how things come back around in new ways. I am constantly being shown Duane is still around. 

– xoxo Victoria

“Loose Lucy is my delight She comes running … Round and round and round and round … Singing thank you, for a real good time” – Jerome J. Garcia / Robert C. Hunter

Lucy Lucy, Loose Goose, Lucy Loo, Lucifer … Lucy my love. I miss you. I will always miss you. 

This is something I haven’t written about or talked about a lot, or at all really. In all honesty my heart is still so broken. In August of last year I decided Buddy and I needed a new family member … enter Lucy. The craziest, cuddliest pup I have ever met. All she wanted was to be touching another living thing and to eat. She was super easy to train, a complete spaz and loved Buddy more than he was comfortable with. hahahahaha She was just what we needed. 

On March 28th Lucy was killed. A school bus driver swerved onto my property and killed her. It was very graphic. It was the most horrible thing I have ever seen. The driver didn’t stop and it took 24 hours, the police, school principal, parents and lots of digging for me to figure out who did it.

I was devastated. For her, for Buddy and for me. I couldn’t stop crying, as I type this I am still crying.

She died alone. I was 20 feet away, but she was alone when she died. I am 100% sure she didn’t suffer. She didn’t even know it happened, but she died alone. I believe with everything I have that no living being deserves to die alone. Holding a hand or a paw in those last moments is how a life should end, with the passing soul knowing they were loved. So my biggest hurdle, the thing that hurts my heart more than anything, the thing that makes me cry the hardest – did she know I loved her? Everyone keeps telling me she did. I told her everyday, I showed her everyday, but she died alone and that should never happen. 

I just miss her and love her and hope he knew that. Buddy misses her to! (He created a “shine” for her, I’ll post a photo of it tomorrow).

Fast forward to tonight … Buddy and I were driving over to my sister’s house. I was driving on the 2 lane highway and I notice a car coming towards me swerve into my lane and swerve back and keep going. They were avoiding a dog… a dog who had just been hit, whose tail was still wagging, laying in the highway. I immediately pulled over and put my hazards on, the car coming in the opposite direction did the same. (Both of the cars behind us also stopped and held traffic for a good 4 minutes for us to run onto the highway and help this poor dog). We carried him onto the grass and the other girl looked to see if the neighbors knew the dog … they did. It was a neighbor’s dog – their 3rd dog in 6 months to run onto the highway and be hit. The went to the house, no one was home, another neighbor called the owner. He said, “it’s ok, just leave it”. WHAT?????? I was blown away by this, who says that? I stayed with that dog as the blood gurgled in his throat and he took his last breath. I kept my hands on him the whole time, petting him and telling him it was ok. 

When I knew that he was gone I stood up. Another neighbor thanked us and said he would take care of him if the owner didn’t. i hate to leave him, but there was nothing more I could do.  I joined Buddy in the car and drove to my sisters. Buddy climbed into the front seat and licked my arms and laid his head down, he knew what had happened.  

When I got to my sister’s house I realized I was covered in blood. She gave me towels told me to take a shower. All I could do was think how thankful I was to be there for this dog. Show him love in his final moments. I am so sad. The owner’s callousness made me question human kind once again.

– xoxo Victoria