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Loss and hope


I’ve been back in the good ole USA for two weeks now. I go back to Australia on February 19 and we land on the 21st Australian time. I returned to the USA because another sibling has died. To say I am a basket case would be putting it lightly. I feel like a yo-yo emotionally. This is my last full day in Crestview with Judy and Eric. Adam and I fly to Oklahoma City to visit Margaret’s daughter, Cassie for six days tomorrow.

Please don’t feel sorry for me. We all lose loved ones at sometime. Bittersweet is how I feel most of the time on this trip. I have been reunited with loved ones that I haven’t seen in a very long time. Next year when I comeback, it will be celebratory. I guess you could say that this trip is celebratory as well but it’s filled with sorrow. I am happy that my sister Margaret is no longer suffering. She is with God and other family members who have died. I just wish I had more time with her but I can hear my mom’s words of wisdom echoing in my head when I was trying to feel sorry for myself when my dad died, “Be grateful for the time you had with him. There are others out there who never got to know their father or had their father as long as you have.” Mom was right though as moms usually are.

Those who were blessed to know Margaret Mason know exactly what the world is missing now. Margaret was a very humble lady who didn’t think she effected those she had come into contact with but I can assure you, Margaret may have been quiet but her presence will be sorely missed. She tried to live her life by the example of Jesus Christ and from the outpouring of condolences that we have received I can proudly say that my sister exemplified her Saviour and lived a surrendered life.

Chuck, Judy and Cassie spoke very eloquently about Margaret at her Mass. I know Judy wanted me to speak at the Celebration of Life that they had at Lifepoint Church but I was not drawn to do so. She and Cassie both spoke of Margaret eloquently. It is now that I will share my experience of Margaret and of loss but also of the expectation that I have of hope.

Margaret Alice was the 6th child of Alice Margaret Miller and the first child of Clement Miller. She was a quiet child with a gentle disposition. She had a great love of the Lord and lived by his example. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Cassandra Marie when she was 28 years old. She was a kindergarten teacher for a time and then became an enrolled nurse. 

Margaret, Judy and I were very close. The last eight years, Judy and Margaret were pretty much inseparable. Margaret moved in with Judy after her husband Glen was placed in a nursing home because Margaret’s mental state had severely declined. She was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder which effected her so much she could not work. The stress had gotten too much for her of working, taking care of others, and neglecting her own needs so much to the point that she could no longer function. 

Margaret was a staunch  supporter of Adam’s and my relationship from the start, she trusted my decision to move to Australia and always knew what to say to make me feel better about what was going on in my life. I would say that she was like this with everyone she knew and loved because that is the type of person my sister was.

On this trip as Judy and I go places and people ask her about Margaret, I am moved to see just how much she impacted others. We went to a restaurant that they frequented and Judy had to console the waitress because she was shocked and horrified to hear about Margaret’s death. Words can’t seem to do justice for the way I want to express myself about my sister.

Margaret and Kevin are both now in heaven. Why is it that I have lost two siblings that I felt close to? I always thought that I would have more time to spend with Kevin but that didn’t eventuate. With Margaret there is less regret but the shock of not having on this earth is still feeling unreal. I thought that she would be here for my 50th birthday but I have to be thankful that I have had her as a sister. What a gift I have been given! Kevin was the fifth child of Alice’s and Margaret the sixth. They were 4 years apart I think. I thought of this parallel as I lay in bed with Adam. Chuck is the eldest boy of Alice’s with 3 younger sisters and a younger brother with the same father. Kevin was the youngest boy but the eldest to Alice’s three youngest daughters with the same father, Clement. 4 children with an older brother and 3 girls with Edward Koval. 4 children with an older brother and three younger daughters with Clement raising them. I grew up idolising Kevin and Margaret and now they are with God watching over us. 

I will miss singing with Margaret and Judy at Mass like we did growing up or around the house harmonizing. It is such a beautiful memory to have but at least i was blessed to have the experience. Yesterday Judy and I went to a birthday party of one of our cousins that we hadn’t seen in 40 years. She has two sisters as well. We were all together and I felt Margaret with us. We learned how to paint a weeping willow and the colors we used reminded me of Margaret. I hung both paintings in Margaret’s room where Adam and I sleep. It just felt right to me. 

Yes, I am sad that I have lost my sister but I live with hope that she is in heaven with all our loved ones who have passed because I believe in the resurrection of Jesus who lives and reigns now and forever more. 

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The Bridge


view of Sydney Harbour Bridge cropped

view of Sydney Harbour Bridge cropped

I’ve done a lot of study over the years about Catholicism and some soul searching. One of the key principles that I have grown to love is the idea that Jesus came as a bridge to breach the gap between God and man that occurred when original sin corrupted the world.

What if we are also sent to be a bridge to others when there is a gap between each other based on the idea that God sent Jesus to be a bridge for us? It is a beautiful concept that I have seen in action throughout my life. Most recently it has been through the death of my brother Kevin.

Kevin was the last child born from the marriage of Alice Albano and Edward Koval. His parents divorced and Alice married my father, Clement Miller. To the older 4 siblings he was their baby brother but to me and my two older sisters, Judy and Margaret, he was our big brother. Our family dynamic wasn’t the best. The older Koval children were pretty much out of the house when I was born. Only Roberta and Kevin were the ones that I got to know before they moved out.

I had a pretty special connection with Kevin. I guess it is due to the fact that when we moved to Leesville, we roomed together until he moved out. I know I have written about how jealous I would get over his girlfriends until my mom sat me down explaining the fact that I couldn’t marry him because he was my brother. If I really loved him, I would have to let him go since he would have to do the same with me some day.

The years went by and he married Lori. I was the flower girl at the wedding. I was happy for them but sort of jealous. I know how silly that might sound but I thought I would never find anyone as charming or special as Kevin to call my own. More years went by. We drifted apart as we were bound to do. We all have our journeys to make. I tried to stay in contact. Some years were good and others weren’t the best when it came to keeping the connection alive. Kevin’s marriage to Lori failed. I didn’t even realize it had happened until my mother informed me. I was married too and my own marriage failed. Kevin felt broken I am pretty sure because I knew how much he loved Lori. I ended my own marriage but I was not broken due to it. I just knew I couldn’t continue living a lie or existing in a marriage that didn’t produce anything nourishing to myself.

To my great surprise I found my soul mate when I least expected to do it. I contacted my sister, Aggie, to let her know about something. I found out that my brother Kevin was staying with her due to an injury to his leg. Our connection was ignited again for a little while. I tried emailing him or staying in contact through MySpace but that sort of dwindled out too. I know he was quite excited about meeting someone online. I tried teeing up a time to meet up when I went over for my sister Judy’s 40th birthday but it never came through. Years went by again. In 2012 I let family know that I was returning again for a visit. A mini-family reunion ended up happening that June but one important person wasn’t there. I tried messaging him through an email but no response. I believe it was my nephew Dan who finally got a hold of him so we spoke on the phone. It was nice but not as good as actually holding him. It was through this phone call that I connected with his love, Lisa. I vowed to myself never to let go again of my brother.

In all the years we were apart, I always dreamed of hugging him tight. Hearing his voice on the phone was great but nothing can compare to actually being in the presence of the one you love. I always thought that I would get to hold him again but it wasn’t meant to be. May 24th our family got together again just as it did in 2012. The one thing that I always wanted finally came true. We were all together but Kevin was in an urn. I got to finally meet Lisa but it was a bittersweet moment. All the hours of talking were great. The most important person in our lives was gone. We all loved him and I know he loved us too.

The bridge in my family is gone but not forgotten. He gave us Lisa and Sandy. He wanted us to be there for each other. In some ways it is working but in other ways it is a massive fail. Lisa could have easily not told us about Kevin’s illness and passing. She did the best that she could. In her own way Lisa is a bridge to me and vice versa.

In some ways my own mother was a bridge to my father’s sisters when he was sick and dying. I know he had asked my mom not to let them know but she convinced him otherwise. My father’s death in some ways mended some wrongs that occurred between my mother and his sisters. I am not sure why death holds such power over us. If anything I am learning that life is precious. We never know when our last day might be so we had better make the most out of what we have. We need to cherish each other.

I am going to take the time and try to be a bridge to others like the great examples I have been given before. Have you ever been a bridge for others?

Cling To Me


You have no strength.

Everything has got you down

and in the end you can’t think of how you are going to make it round.

Do me a favor if you please

And sweet darling just cling to me

cause one day and it might be soon

I’ll be the one to cling to you.

Feels like this rain will never end

Too much pain to deal with 

But sweet darling just believe 

that in the end you can cling to me

cause one day and it might be soon

I’ll be the one to cling to you.

You may feel as if you have no hope

and you are at the end of your rope

there’s nothing else you can do to cope

But I beg you to just cling to me

cause one day and it might be soon

I’ll be the one to cling to you.

 

For those who are dealing with loss and feel there is no hope don’t give up. Hold on and know in the end what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger! Lisa this is for you!

Parting Ways


 

Adam and I parted from Lisa yesterday. We knew it was going to happen at some point since she had things she needed to sort out before she comes out to visit us. It wasn’t an easy day for me and  I am pretty sure it was the same for Lisa. She was flying with Delta while Adam and I flew with United. It was pretty cool that her gate was right next to ours. She almost missed her flight to Atlanta so we didn’t get to hug. I suspect that was a good thing because if we had, I think I wouldn’t have let go.

Our two weeks together were pretty great. We were almost glued at the hip. I have never experienced this sort of connection with someone outside my family with the exception of Adam, even with him it took a little time because our friendship blossomed over time. We had conversed for many hours via the phone or ICQ. With Lisa though, it was different. Sometimes it’s hard to put this into words.

I went to bed on the 14th feeling very melancholy. I had been fighting off tears and finding it very hard to sleep because I knew what the 15th was going to bring. I always hate leaving family. Margaret and Judy I grew up with. It hurt to leave them too. I started crying as we pulled away from their place and headed out towards VPS. I wanted to be brave for Lisa. I didn’t want to break down and cry in front of her because she’s hurting too. She has lots of things to sort through. I am thankful though that we had two magical weeks together. We drove all the way from Huntington, West Virginia to Philadelphia, PA. We then drove from Philly to Crestview, Florida with a drop off in Augusta, Georgia for Sandy. I had always wanted to do a road trip and Lisa was great company as well as driver. I will never forget the fun we had and a few scares too with crazy drivers.

Lisa and I in the Altima

Lisa and I in the Altima

I am writing this on the 16th of June in Las Vegas at my eldest sister’s house. I know we will enjoy our 5 days here and then fly to Los Angeles for 4 days before we fly back to Australia. Yesterday was hard but aren’t we always parting ways in one shape or another? In this journey of life, I am beginning to realize that I am always parting ways with others. Sometimes the connections are very short but the ones with the most meanings are outstanding. They really impact you in your life. I can only speak about my own realizations. I firmly believe that things don’t happen without a reason. God sends us blessings in mysterious ways even when we are parting ways. God is love and love lasts forever.

Better Laid Plans


Maybe you have been reading my thoughts for a while and maybe this is new to you. I always try to keep things light and breezy. I know I don’t like being the one who is dark and gloomy. Who likes being around somebody who is all doom and gloom? Realistically it’s not possible to be little miss sunshine either but I do try to stay positive.

My husband and I traveled to America for my brother’s Memorial and decided to turn the trip into a month-long vacation. We were hoping to come back on happier terms. You have to make the best of a situation however you come across it. I think that is a no brainer. We wanted to do this trip next year. We had wanted to see all my siblings individually. We are doing this now; it’s just been expedited. I had wanted to be reunited with my brother, Kevin, to hug him and get to know his lovely wife, Lisa, and his step-daughter Sandy. I did get to see Kevin when we face-timed. Nothing though can compare to actually being in the same room with the one you love. I do take solace that I had got to see him even if it was through a video link because I hadn’t seen his face for over 20 years.  We laughed and looked forward to seeing each other. Every thing though changed for us all as it is apt to do.

We are getting to go places that we had never been to before. Adam and I have never been to West Virginia. We have gotten some really great quality time with Lisa and Sandy. I know Sunday the 15th is going to be a very hard day for Lisa and myself. We have been pretty much inseparable since I have hugged her on the 21st of May. We felt as if we had known each other very well even though it had been long talks on the phone or typing on Facebook.  I am dreading the 15th pretty much. We are going to have to part sometime. I know we will stay in contact because Kevin got us together. I feel very strongly about this.

I asked Lisa to join me on a road trip to see my brother Chuck in Philadelphia and my sisters Judy and Margaret in Florida. I would love to take her to see my other sisters in Nevada and California but Lisa has things she has to take care of back in West Virginia. We fly back to Australia on June 24th. The 25th won’t happen for Adam and myself because we will be flying across the international date line. We are used to losing and gaining days when we fly back and forth to the USA. Lisa and I had a great time traveling together down the eastern seaboard of the USA. I had never driven that much in the United States. We even took a trip to NYC with Chuck. Chuck was born in Brooklyn and I had traveled to NYC in 1996 with my mom, my sister Judy, and niece Cassie. Sandy, Adam, and Lisa were the “virgins” in NYC.

We started off in West Virginia and drove to Philadelphia. After Philadelphia we drove to Georgia so Sandy could stay with her cousin Mary. We then continued down to the panhandle of Florida to the city of Crestview. It’s sort of funny but I lived in the Fort Walton Beach area 20 years ago. It was interesting seeing all the changes and growth in the area. I looked forward to showing Adam the places I used to work and play at. We played in the Gulf of Mexico for a little bit. Today we are going to get our hair cut.

On the 15th we fly out to Las Vegas and Lisa returns back to West Virginia. I can’t wait for her to get her passport so I can show her our little piece of paradise. I know we are going to have a blast like we have had here. She has things though that she needs to sort out first before her trip to see us. I do know we are going to see each other again which is making me look forward to the reunion we will have. I know another post will be happening when that happens. After Las Vegas, we are heading to Los Angeles and then it’s back across the Pacific Ocean to Australia for us.

Yes, I know I had better laid plans in my head for our trip in 2015. I meant to take more time to visit friends as well as family but sometimes life happens and you have to make do with that you can. I know things didn’t turn out the way I had expected or desired. It’s not a perfect world. I had to make the most of what I have even with the sad ugly bits. I can build on what I have to make things better even if it’s just a little change.

If I can make someone smile or lighten the load even a little bit than I know I have done something good.