Saturday, September 13, 2014

Letting go

Today we let Maggie go. We took her ashes and spread them in a place she loved and she can be part of the wind and the flowers and the whole world. I know there are many different ways to handle these things, and I also know this was the right way for Maggie.

It was a hard thing to think about doing, and I've done nothing but think about it all week. I found a couple of poems to read and cried all the way through as I read both aloud. Strangely enough, once we actually started taking turns spreading her remains around, it wasn't difficult at all.

Maggie is free. She has been free since February and today was only symbolic of that; but it was a very meaningful symbol for all of us. We know she's out there. She is everywhere.

 And that makes me feel just a tiny bit better.

Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die. 

Mary Elizabeth Frye 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Today is the walk. I though it started at 3:30, but the walk itself starts at 5:30. The festivities start at 3:30. I will be checking in at the reg desk from 3 on, but we should plan to meet there at 4:15 or 4:30.  The team has been requested to congregate at the trailers near the near the new hospital for a tem photo at 4:45. I will have yellow hardhats (plastic) for everyone on the team. CI hope you can take part in the photo.

The registration desk in on 3rd street at Gene Friend way, just north of the intersection of 3rd street and 16th streets

email me at coghlanmcdonald at gmail dot com or call my cell if you have it. (email me to get it) I will have my phone with me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Checking in from Galway

We are having a fantastic trip. It has been bittersweet indeed, though. I am
Drawn to things Maggie would love and then stop myself  In Killarney I started to cry when the lovely innkeeper asked about my children. (Poor guy). 

There are signs of Maggie everywhere. We were lost  and asked two women for directions. It wasn't until we got Close that we realized they were taking a young disabled man for a walk in his wheelchair.  What are the odds of that?

And then today we were in a 500 year old church in Galway. We walked down the ramp out of habit

When we got to the bottom we read the white plaque visible above 

It made me cry again. But I decided it was a sign that Maggie is ok out there and among friends - Even some named Maggie. 

Here's to all the young Maggie's out there watching over us all. 

We will be back on Friday. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Earthquakes and Ireland

Traveling has not been part of our life for many years.

We did a little when Maggie was young and easily transportable. She didn't have a trach yet and she was light as a feather.  In 1998, 16 years ago, we took two trips. We went to Philadelphia and Washington DC in the spring and in the summer of that year she was the flower girl in her cousin Kelly's wedding in Montana.

 The year before that Maggie and I also took an incredible trip to Lourdes France with the Knights of Malta when she was three. Steve  and the boys stayed home. That trip had about 50 doctors and nurses so we felt pretty safe. As her care became more complicated all of that stopped. Even our annual week at Lake Almanor came to an end. That was fine, because that's what we had to do.

Steve and I never got away together until two years ago when we went to New York for four glorious days. It took me months to get the approval for additional nursing time, staff the nurses and create a safety net in case someone couldn't show up. Maybe three months of arranging logistics for four days off. Almost not worth it. Almost.

In January of this year - a month before we lost Maggie - Steve said, "Let's go to Ireland." I smiled and said great idea but inside I knew it would never happen. There was no way I could make the arrangements for a longer trip and I would not be comfortable being out of the country and unable to get back to her easily in an emergency.

Then February happened and Maggie was gone. The logistics that ran my life were suddenly not an issue. We were floundering and sad and needed something to look forward to, so I reminded Steve about his desire to go to Ireland and we decided to do it. Since then the only bright spot has been the  mystical trip in our future. It was so far off, we thought it would never get here.

But that day has arrived. Tim will stay in the house and take care of things at this end. We leave this afternoon and have a fantastic trip planned.  And while I am excited and nervous, and even painted my toenails bright green, I find myself a bit conflicted, guilty and a little melancholy. I would give anything to be complaining that I am stuck here and cannot travel, but that's not true anymore. It's confusing.

Then this morning there was a major earthquake that woke me at 3:20 AM and I never went back to sleep. I figured that was a sign: Steve and I are taking our first ever international trip together and the earth moved. Selfishly, my first thought was "God, I hope the airport stays open." That told me I really was psychologically and emotionally ready to go.

I grabbed one of Maggie's scarves and put it in my bag; in fact I picked a green one so I can bring my little leprechaun with me.

I will check in from the Emerald Isle. 

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Napa and Vallejo and other areas who were injured and/or suffered property damage in this earthquake.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I am not a crook

I thought I had already shared this story, but evidently I didn't

Last May we planted some roses in the Mission High garden in memory of Maggie. It was a really great day and all the special ed kids joined in to help however they could or cheer us on if they couldn't. I wrote all about it in this post: Maggie World: Maggie's Garden at Mission High.

We finished about 1:30PM so the kids could get back to their classrooms and get ready to head home. It was quite an emotionally draining day, but exhilarating at the same time. When it was done, we were all spent. My mom went straight home and Steve had to take off for a meeting out of town. That left Eddie and I to make our way home together. (Tim could not get off work.)

As we headed home Eddie said, "You know mom, I could really use a beer." We stopped in the Inner Sunset and went into the Mucky Duck, a friendly establishment and ordered our beer. I had never been in there before, but I looked around and realized I knew the owners of the place. Well I don't "know" them, but one of them has been reading this blog since it started (six years ago this week.)  I asked the bartender if the owner was named  Baker and she said, "Yes how do you know them?"  I explained that I didn't really, but I knew Amanda was a faithful reader of my blog.

Of course then the bartender asked what the blog was about and I told her and tried to explain Maggie in the most upbeat possible way, becasuse that's how I always present her. I told her about Maggie's life, and her passing and that we had just come from planting the roses, hence the reason for an afternoon beer. Now I know that bartenders are good at listening to people's troubles, but this was a lot to lay on this woman.

I ratcheted up my description of Maggie's energy and giant personality. I explained it took seven straps to keep her in the wheelchair and I tried to imagine that life force if it weren't in a disabled body. Laughing I said, "if Maggie had the same personality in a healthy body, I cannot imagine what she would be doing now."

Eddie, who had been quiet through all this because he was still processing the emotions of the day finally spoke.  He was sitting to my left, but he stared straight ahead and said;

"She would be in jail."

Spoken like a true big brother. I was dumbstruck for a minute and I looked at him. He was still staring straight ahead sort of expressionless. I started to laugh and then nodded and said, "You are absolutely right. She would definitely be in jail."

And I was filled with pride, for reasons I cannot fully explain. I actually never thought of Maggie as a non disabled individual becasue it was so much a part of her. But trying to imagine her wildness and personality in a typical body spelled real trouble. Please understand if I had a perfectly healthy 20 year old daughter who was headed to jail, I would not be proud at all. But thinking of Maggie wreaking havoc on society was sort of fitting.

We toasted to our lost little criminal and ended the day on an upbeat.

(one of Maggie's favorite books)

If you find yourself in the 9th and Irving area, head into the Mucky Duck and toast Maggie.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Just Monday

It's the first day of school in San Francisco. I used to wait and wait for this day. Maggie and I would wait in the driveway with bags and bags of supplies - and I am not referring to binder paper. Maggie would start jumping for joy when Nurse Janice came walking toward us from wherever she parked. Then we would cheer when the bus pulled up and we would wait to see if we knew the bus driver and cheer if we did. (By the last few years we generally knew them all.) Maggie would get so so so excited as she rode the lift onto the bus and again when she saw the other students.  I would wave goodbye and start my Dance of Joy as soon as the bus pulled around the corner and continue it all day. It was a win win. Everybody was happy.

This year it's just Monday.