My birthday was earlier this week and I am here to say there is hope. For the first time since Adam’s death I felt lighthearted and happy on my birthday. I wore a favorite dress to work. Had two nights out to dinner, one with familiy and one with friends.

This year has brought so much transition, so much change. I got my first real job in 20-some years. I am selling our family home and moving to a townhouse that I really like in a beautiful community. The most important thing about that, to me, is that the community maintains the outside of everything! I’m so sick of fighting with my yard. Sadly we lost our oldest cat, Zoe, last week, but she had lived a long and good life, and at 17 was ready to go.

While Adam was sick I learned to live day by day, and sometimes, moment by moment. We never knew what might happen so we just quit expecting particular outcomes and didn’t make any but the most necessary plans. Pop culture is calling this lifestyle “mindfulness,” or “living in the moment.” It has brought a mental freedom that I never expected.

Because I’m living in the moment these days, I get less stressed about the enormity of moving, or the fact that I have so much to learn to do my job well. Figuritively, I just put my head down and bulldoze my way forward, one task at a time.

I recommend this.

Thoughts and blessings to all of you who are still struggling through early grief. It is paralyzing at worst and exhausting at best. Love yourself and be mindful, and put your head down when you have to move forward.


3 thoughts on “Birthday

  1. Dear Sheryl,

    Here I am again – you may recall I wrote to you a few months ago to thank you for your story, and share mine with you. I am Karen, who lost my husband so suddenly, so unexpectedly, after us both having cancer then a most remarkable remission for us to live with such joy in a new phase of the reinvented life we dreamed of.

    I just wanted to let you know that I was recently diagnosed with a THRID CANCER – b-cell non Hodgkin lymphoma of follicular origins. I stated chemotherapy last week. So much of my story has thrust me into the depths of it all being so surreal, but now there is something different. Suffering both deep and consuming grief has abated somewhat. I do not feel a victim to circumstances, I still go on each day feeling clothed in a golden mantle of love and hope and albeit small treasures of joy. I am not a survivor – I am a liver. I distain the cancer “warrior, battle language” that seems to denigrate others who die and have done their best to live but could not escape the inevitability of their disease.

    At first there was tremendous confusion of fear. Fear that the two other cancers that have been in remission might have gone amok and hooked up along side the lymphoma – and it was not just me but the 2 expert oncologists I conferred with. We still do not know for sure, but from everything we have gathered in the long haul of testing, it appears my St IV Metastatic breast cancer, as well as the St III metastatic cervical cancer are not involved., and are still in remission.

    All of this is to say that I have been blessed with the most miraculous (it feels to me) transition from the deep devastation and longing so attached to grief. It has not come easy – I go to therapy each week. And this time around I made a choice to voice my emotions to the many friends and family who are my wonderful support system to say I CANNOT DO THIS ALONE. I NEED HELP TO ENHANCE ANY CHANCE OF SURVIVAL be it emotional and/or a life /death scenario. And lo and behold, I have over the past two months been able to actually feel so grateful for the time and life I had with my beloved Hugh. I can look at photos and smile and feel a rush of gratitude to the love we shared,, I can tell wonderful stories of mirth and am finding many, many memories surfacing, giving me sheer delight as I share with family and friends. Three cancers over six years – I could never imagine this last, the lymphoma, would gift me the insight and capacity to extend to every person who comes forth into my life acts of loving kindness. It is so true that being thrust into an abyss of darkness often opens us up to what is really significant about this life we are given. Oh, how I adore Leonard Cohen!

    The last time we wrote to one another, I felt a true kinship with you, dear Sheryl. I am so glad that you have progressed (through such painful and hard work) through your grief, and that your Darling Adam remains in your life in a most joyful manner. Me, too – I have very special messages sent to me by my darling Hugh!

    If you would like to be friends on FB I would love that! But if not, I will completely understand. I think you could go to my page and see the updates I have written, and have been published by my
    wonderful bloggy friends in the MBC community. Karen Sutherland, that is my page. And oh, my heart skips a beat each time you write Adam’s name. My darling son is named Adam and he is my compass, my joy, and has borne so much with willing and loving shoulders.

    Much love, much comfort, much joy to you, dear Sheryl. Perhaps it might be nice to be able to e-mail?! Let me know and I will facilitate it.


  2. Hi Karen. Thank you so much for writing to me. Your kind words mean so much. After the hope and light-heartedness I felt when I wrote about my birthday, the wave crested and I am now in the trench again. Feeling overwhelmed, unable to please anyone, asked too much of, etc. I can’t believe you have another cancer to face. My friend Gloria from my facebook blog also suffered successive cancers, and she and her husband were sick at the same time. Please check out my blog over there, at, and find what Gloria has written to me. She always had the best advice. I’m sorry that I can’t write more to you right now; it’s just the low energy and sense of disappointing everyone getting me down. Stay tuned, though, and keep writing to me! It really helps. ❤

  3. Dear Sheryl,

    Thank you so much for responding to my comment…er… long winded missive. Of course I will still write to you. I am so sorry that you’ve fallen into that horrible trench. The people around us, those who love and care for us can never understand the devastation of having a course of being uplifted, even finding joy – only to be suddenly jolted into such overwhelming sadness, and sometimes being so bewildered; it often feels like punishment. Why? What? I have never been able to discern the purpose of not being able to hold onto the good stuff. Perhaps it just takes practice to realign one’s mind and say to the monkey voices, “NO! SHUT UP!” and fight like hell to keep from falling into that god-awful abyss. I don’t know. My therapist keeps reminding me that the monkey voices are spewing FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real. Again, I don’t know – and at times cannot even conjure up that acronym?! Have you ever wondered how in the name of all things sane do we ever survive this mental/emotional/physical/soul searing/heart wrenching state of grief? And the wretchedness of the kind of loneliness – no matter how we are surrounded by loving family and friends that is so very painful. I HATE THAT.

    You are a good woman. I believe in you, I am so grateful for your blog and can only imagine how sharing your story, your truth – the good, the bad, the ugly raw candor you so eloquently express – has helped so many others through their grieving. Thank you for telling me about your friend, Gloria. I will definitely go to your FB blog and read what she has written.

    Please know that I am thinking of you, doing all I am able to help shine a bright light of hope and good wishes for you, Sheryl.

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