Touch The Rain Hear the laughter see the beauty take a moment ease your pain Smell the fragrance feel the softness soothe your worries let them fade Dance in moonlight bask in sunshine swim in memories you have made Your life's journey a true blessing pause a minute touch the rain By: Susan L Urasky
Coping with grief during the holidays is difficult. I am sharing my touching story of caring for my mother during the holiday season and how I found strength amidst the darkest hours.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Christmas Lights, and a Music Box
A Christmas Story
We looked alike coming from the same European mold, with our rounded faces, Mother with a stern look, and me without a care in the world. We were complete opposites, constantly repelling.
Mother, the strong-willed, working woman held everything about herself, including her emotions, protected and locked away tightly inside a vault.
Me, oh, I was softer around the edges and wore my heart on my sleeve, chasing dreams.
As the leaves changed their color for the season and turned crisp and crunchy beneath foot, news circling this household changed the holiday preparations for the season. The cul-de-sac was aglow with twinkling lights as the anticipation of Christmas was drawing near, except for the house in the center. There were no lights sparkling in this home, making the dimly- lit house seem ominous.
Mother could ward off colds and flu with her determination her whole life, never stepping foot inside a doctor’s office, and under no circumstances did she get routine physicals. But this nagging cough seemed more than just a cough, compelling her to visit the doctor.
The doctor shared his findings. I had worked alongside this familiar doctor at the beginning of my nursing career and trusted his judgement. He expressed his sincerity and shared that end would come quickly. This was something Mother would not be able to will away.
Mother, who methodically prepared for the future, lived in the present, and sealed away her past, said she was ready and wasn’t afraid.
The internal struggle for me was more than I could bear. Yet, somehow, I managed to maintain composure with tears held back, looked into my mother’s eyes as she relayed to me her wishes.
The Stories of Old
The stories of old would be told a bit differently this year, as they had been when we lost my sister and said our final goodbyes to my father not long ago. There were just the two of us remaining, mother and child.
All the battles we fought through the years that had seemed important to me were extinguished, and now it was up to me to respect my mother’s final wishes.
My mother’s strength drained in just a few weeks and in her eyes, I saw the truth. The look in her eyes when she relinquished to her fate was the same look in a child’s eyes when they learn to walk; they fall, but they are determined to get back up, they reach out for their parents’ hand and try to stand again.
Her eyes spoke, there would be no getting back up. My mother now reaching out to her child.
As the autumn air grew colder, darkness came earlier, and the nights lasted longer. I prayed and hoped the angels were nearby to guide me. I administered medications more frequently, and I listened to the sounds in the night, as a shepherd would guard his flock for a lost lamb crying out. The only sound was the air flowing through the tubes filling my mother’s lungs with well-needed oxygen.
A Star Shining in the Sky
I made footprints in the snow as I paced outside. I saw the clear night sky and the snow reflecting the moon’s light and as the heavenly stars gleamed down as it once did years ago upon the manger, it offered a sense of hope. But as I looked back upon the house, I saw no hope.
Was it the angels that gave me this determination? I hastily brought the heirloom boxes out of their hiding. There were generations of shiny ornaments passed down from great grandmother, to grandmother, to mother, and now to me. Memories from the past filled the small tree with colorful lights beside my mother’s hospital bed. As each ornament was carefully placed, I sang along with the choirs of the seasonal music playing. My heart felt less heavy.
Visions of all our Christmases past flashed as tears welled in my eyes. Feelings of both happiness and sadness filled my soul as if it were to explode. Was this what my mother was experiencing? Was she remembering the days of old? Was she seeing her whole life flash before her? “Silent Night” began to play and a presence was felt in the room beside us as if the angels had joined the choir. I stroked my mother’s hair and whispered, “Sleep in heavenly peace.”
A Silent Night
Maybe the angels heard my plea. My mother was blessed with an ounce of strength. She was able to sit up in her favorite chair for just a short while and she was able to quench her thirst with a few sips of water. Her face gleamed and she spoke to those who had passed. Perhaps, she saw angels amongst those familiar faces as she spoke to them. This unusual bout of energy was short-lived. I placed her back into her bed and she looked at me and said, “ I love you, Susie.” “I love you too, Mom.” And I kissed her.
Mother had succumbed to her hospital bed and I tended to her day and night to keep her comfortable. She was freshly bathed, her skin covered in scented lotion, hair freshly brushed, and donned in a pink nightgown.
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Mother’s discomfort increased, and as instructed by hospice, I gave her a dose to calm her and ease her breathing. Beside her table full of medicine, I noticed an old music box. Mother loved all things Irish. I lifted the scenic painted lid and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” echoed through the room from the music box. I read aloud the cover of the box:
May your troubles be less
And your blessings be more
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door
A calmness flooded my mother’s face and I felt still.
The Spirit of Christmas
I found promises in the lights that glistened and in the songs that I sang. I began to believe the box of heirlooms we unveil each year holds the spirit of Christmas. The memories from generations past whispered out to me; I had something to hold onto. I felt the meaning in those treasures. By some means, in that that short time, there was a new bond that formed between my mother and I as we shared our last Christmas together.
The fresh covering of the night’s snowfall instilled a sense of calm on this day, it was clean and bright as it sparkled in the sunlight. Mother was surrounded by her loved ones and rested easy. The lights of the Christmas tree shone down on my mother’s face. The angels caught my tears on this day, as my mother lay now in heavenly peace.
I dedicate this story to my mother and to the nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals and patients along with their caregivers in hopes of offering strength and hope during the holiday season.
I welcome your comments and encourage you to share this story.
The explosive sounds from fireworks begin their debut a few days after my birthday. It should be a happy time, but that’s not how I remember this day. The week America celebrates its independence, the police had broken down the dead bolted door to my sister’s condo for a well-being check. They found her body slumped on the floor of the bedroom, with a bible and photos of her children in her hand. No pulse, not breathing. My sister had committed suicide while the 4th of July Celebrations were beginning.
My sister had taken her own life and left a note that I retrieved from the detectives mandatorily investigating her suspicious death. They saw my pain and gave me a copy of her carefully handcrafted letter, after pleading and tears. She blamed the ones who loved her most.
After the coroner’s inquest, my sister’s death was ruled a suicide and had been dead for several days before she was found. The toxic overabundance of mixed medications ingested with alcohol, determined an overdose. After her body was finally released, a memorial was held.
My character development
While writing my novel, I developed a character named Sara, who has a sister that took her own life. Many years have passed since my own sister’s suicide. But my own sisters’ way of living is not to be repeated with Sara’s character. Sara wants more than anything to be well and has a great support system in place. She’s compliant with her medications and at the first sign of any potential changes in mood she will share these issues with her psychiatrist to discuss her bipolar symptoms.
In this current novel that I am writing which is based on true events, you will probably root for Sara to see her doctor, to take her meds and feel well.
Writing helps me personally share internal emotions that have shaped me as a person. I develop characters based autobiographically in some instances and research medicine for accuracy. As a nurse for over 30 years, I am weaving credible medicine into a plot full of horrific turns.
Follow my writing journey
I hope you follow my writing journey. As my novel continues to develop, meet more of the characters, including Nurse Carrie Winters, my protagonist, who is Sara’s best friend and find out what Carrie discovers.
A story based on true medical events
A story of friendship, families, the strife for wellness, trust, hope and betrayal, and Nurse Carrie Winters is caught in the middle.
While the sky bursts with colorful explosions on the 4th of July holiday, I look to the sky and remember my sister.
More on why I am writing
Read more about why I am writing in this previous blog post https://susanlurasky.com/my-first-blog-post/
“You Have Been Selected Through a Random Drawing to Serve as a Juror…” Part 2
Part 1 click link here https://susanlurasky.com/how-to-serve-as-a-juror/
Through the eyes of a juror. Part 2
I was seated in the front row of the jury box amongst a mixed bag of chosen jurors ranging in age from 35 to 80; 5 females and 9 males. Alongside the jury box was an armed deputy and at the entrance to the court room was also an armed deputy. Sitting in the middle of the row gave me a view of the whole courtroom. As the charges were read to the courtroom, I tried to focus my view toward only the judge, and all the instructions that went along with the charges. For every charge there was a list of additional descriptions to determine a verdict of guilty. Such as intent and what is reasonable in order to find the defendant guilty of any of these charges. The list was drawn out.
The Defendants Charges
intentional homicide, child abuse, aggravated battery and first-degree reckless
injury. My gaze wandered to the defendant. The stoic man with thin pale skin
about 50 years in age looked front and center. No emotion, no expression came
from his face. He sat hunched, leaning on the table between his attorney and
another man to his left with a pen in his hand.
My stomach flipped when I heard the word homicide. My mind began to whirl about as the judge continued to speak. He concluded in saying that this man is innocent until proven guilty. And the juror’s job are the facts and that his job is the law.
judge announced that we will now hear opening statements. No writing materials
are provided at this point for what they have to say is not to be considered as
evidence. The only evidence is the witnesses testimony and evidence the
attorney will present. It is up to us as jurors to come to conclusion based
upon only this. This was happening fast…as time seemed to not pass during the
morning hours, we were proceeding at lightning speed.
First-degree intentional homicide was affixed in my mind. This man was charged with intent to kill and caused great bodily harm to a child, also a felony.
There was no time to reflect of the felony charges.
rose, a slender alabaster skinned female approximately in her early 40’s
arranged herself in front of us jurors behind a podium equipped with a microphone
and began her opening statements clearly and with precision. She was working
diligently with her crafted speech making direct eye contact with all 14 of us.
She had obvious experience and knew where to emphasize the crucial points. Her
opening, I must say was convincing, for her role was to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that this defendant was the perpetuator.
well-groomed public defender slighted balding had his opportunity to state his
case. His eyeglasses were on to read and off to peer into our eyes. This on and
off again of his glasses was rather distracting. He noticeably practiced facial
expressions and held them as a living statue does while performing. He was a
seasoned attorney in his 60’s I presumed. His ebb and flow of his constructed
statement seemed as if he missed his all his cues. His point was received, and
his main duty was to create doubt. Reasonable doubt.
I was not to take into consideration in rendering my own verdict anything these two lawyers just discussed for over an hour. But how can you unhear what you have already heard. If we, as jurors, were admonished not discuss this case with others as to not be potentially influenced by a conversation, why does our court system allow opening statements, I wondered?
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
reminded myself this man is innocent until proven guilty. He is charged with
these four felonies but innocent. I reminded myself that I am to keep on open
mind, and I needed to concentrate.
those who are unfamiliar with my personality, they know me to be inquisitive,
gregarious, intuitive and a detailed oriented well-organized person. I tend to
be rather social and wear my emotions on my sleeve. I am expressive and a
person with deep feelings. I now have been sworn to secrecy, told what not to
say and who not to say it to. And look at “just the facts”!
The opening statements filled my mind with questions that seemed to bounce back and forth within my head. My body tensed. My fingers cold. But I sat still and kept my poker face. The judges voice of the charges came to the front of my mind. The defendant had been charged with intent to kill this young girl and caused permanent bodily harm; she lost an eye. This was remarkable. I tried not to fidget and to remain focused. As the thick binders of information on the DA’s desk sat with the details on this case tucked inside awaiting their debut, I now knew, this WAS serious!
“The state calls” …to be continued.
While absent from blogging, social media and my writing, I wanted to share one of the reasons I have been absent, I was recently selected to serve as a juror and felt compelled to share my story:
“You Have Been Selected Through a Random Drawing to Serve as a Juror…” Part 1
The Justice System
I was required to appear at the court house on March 11, 2019. The line entering the to enter the courtroom was lengthy and we were required to be searched and walk through a scanner.
I was intrigued by the amount of people, over 50 now seated in the back of the courtroom on very old pew like benches. This made me begin to think that this might be something serious, but at this time I had no idea of what type of case I might be chosen for, civil or criminal? We watched a video with instructions and information on the service of a juror.
The Jury Box
The judge entered the room following the video, and the attorneys were at the appropriate tables and the presiding circuit court judge called out 24 names to sit in the jury box. My name was one of this first 24.
The courtroom was a large room. The bench or the seat where the judge sits was in the corner with flags behind his bench. To the right was a witness chair and the left sat the clerk of the courts and the court reporter. The attorney tables were large worn wooden tables that probably witnessed testimonies for well over 100 years. The district attorney’s (DA) side was filled with three ring binders over 4 inches thick. Seeing that much information, I pondered the obvious…they have a lot to say here.
I was curious, admittedly very curious to know what the charges were for the defendant sitting between two gentlemen. The DA and the defendant’s attorney began asking each potential juror questions, “called Voir Dire” which means “to speak the truth”. After several Q & A’s, and preemptive strikes the attorneys whittled down through their list of potential jurors and after hours of time passing, the attorneys made their choices.
The judge stated when I call out these names please stand and remain standing. He called out 14 names, and yes, to my surprise, my name was called. I am sure my reaction was written on my face. The judge dismissed the seated potential jurors and the announced that we were the chosen jurors for this case and the case should take approximately one week. He also stated that two of us would be alternates randomly selected at the end of the trial.
During the selection process I swear time was not moving. There was complete silence and I began scanning the defendants table and the people behind in the benches, then peered over to the DA’s and the people sitting behind on that side in the benches. Who were these people, I wondered?
Now that the jury was selected, the courtroom beginning proceedings seem to take swift action.
Immediately, while still standing, we raised our right hand and we appropriately were sworn in and took the oath for a juror. I admit I was completely stunned that I was chosen to sit on a jury panel in the courtroom’s old rickety wooden chairs.
The strict instructions to jurors were given by the judge, especially not to discuss the case with each other or anyone, even our spouse or family, avoid social media and the news.
The judge stated that this case was a criminal case and he read the long list of charges against the defendant…to be continued
A Mind’s Captivity a micro poem by Susan L Urasky
Depression and agoraphobia
Depression and agoraphobia. The anxiety that builds during depression may cause one to stay indoors. One may pull the shades and turn off the lights. At time the senses are so heightened and intense that the light increases their anxiousness. To look outside may feel like the panes of glass will cut and cause harm. A panic instills and may cause one to breathe rapidly and with shallow breaths, hyperventilating, triggering a numbing sensation throughout their limbs. They cut ties with others, leaving them alone. I feel there needs to be more awareness of mental illness symptoms, and to try to understand how those suffering feel. People with friends that are suffering from agoraphobia may not realize they are not intentionally shut out but their friend’s illness is keeping them from doing the things they commonly did in the past. You can reach out, you can accept their illness. Be more aware.
I was inspired by this photograph of mine to write, “A Mind’s Captivity” a micro poem to capture the longing to be free from the shadows. Those who suffer from agoraphobia; are held captive in their mind. https://susanlurasky.com/blog/
Depression and suicide awareness
Depression and suicide awareness.
We must take notice, we must pay attention to the signals from those who have depression and are hurting. Their pain is deep and sometimes hidden. Look into their eyes and see those tears that no longer stream for they are dried up. Hold them close and warm their soul. Offer kind words for they are scarred from the harshness. Listen to the soliloquies, for they utter their torment. But on the other hand, ignorance will fail. To be oblivious is to say that their feelings are not valid. Take action to avoid facing the outcome and having to bury your loved ones ashes…the consequence of unnoticed depression, is suicide. Don’t let them be “lost in the gray”.