All Posts By

Vicky Bates

The Journey After…

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Shortly after Rock’s death, I was walking through a meditation garden prepared for a visit from the Dali Lama. Two monks were standing on either side of the entry. It was Rocky’s anniversary and when I looked up at them I uttered this to the strangers: “Today is the anniversary of my son’s death.” “How old was he?” “He was ten years old.” The one monk looked me in the eyes and said, “He had a full life”. That was such a powerful statement that it grew on me more and more as I thought about it. “He had a full life.” Rocky did get and give so much in life. I tell myself that my tragedy in this life’s journey isn’t about me in the purest of sense; it’s about Rocky, the person who blessed us with his presence. It’s about his choice to go. It was never about our desire for him to stay. He came to us. We were a gift to each other, and only he could know when he had…

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The Hidden Key

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Isn’t it strange how the loss of a loved one, their absence, is like a presence filling the room? We stand in shock with the reality of death. Everything in our lives “before” has answers. Not now. People want to know where the keys to unlocking the door to recovery are hiding. How and when will the nightmare be over? Here are some thoughts on loss. You have to go through the pain, not around it. If we go around the pain you will never recover, you will continue to bump into the hurt time after time. Turn to others for help. Over time your heart will begin to heal and open wilder to the awaiting grace. Someone said, you can’t have closure like a bank account but you will change. In time you will realize that you are stronger and can do anything after working through your grief. You will become a warrior.    

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Cats, Alligators and Birds

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  My mom was reincarnated from St. Francis and moved to a little brick house in the Midwest, outside of Chicago.   Our house had a small pond complete with cattails, water lilies and turtles. First thing in the morning, my mom would stroll down the grassy hill wearing her blue housecoat yelling in a high-pitched voice “you who, you who”. Turtles would magically come up to the shore ready for a snack. “How did she do it?” In the late fifties a friend of my dad’s from Florida sent us kids a shoebox with a six-inch alligator inside. He didn’t last long even though my mom and Ollie exchanged a strange guttural conversation everyday as she laid down for a nap not far from his cage. My brother and I would stand with ears to the bedroom door and listen to this foreign dialog. Guessing most mothers did this boring banter with alligators we went out to play.   When a huge white tomcat showed up he knew he was not allowed to kill…

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Why Not Someone Else ?

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Death has no manners. It comes and goes as it pleases, pushing into people’s lives when it has an inclination. Death has no regard for families, friends, young or old. It shoves its way in at every chance when we least expect it. What’s our response? Is it shock, anger or grief, or maybe all three? A terrible shooting occurred in Las Vegas. There is no good way to die. I lost my son suddenly. A friend of mine lost her young daughter to cancer. Once we discussed this issue and decided that both ways had their pluses and minuses. Crazy huh, knowing the end result delivered the same pain. What I have learned is that there is no special age in which we die. I have learned that we humans come here guided by our inner spirits and know when we have completed our lessons. And, I have learned that the greatest learning comes to those who are left behind.  

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Empathy

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The evening news begins. We are shocked at what we see. TV pictures float through our minds as we aimlessly peel potatoes or finish a business report. What can we do? Maybe it’s because of the recent hurricanes, but I started thinking about Noah’s ark. Did the town’s people look at Noah carrying boards and bossing his family around? Did they laugh as they looked up at the sunny sky with no chance of rain? What if someone had walked over and said, “Noah you seem so intense. Can we help you with anything? Why this urgency neighbor?” He is too busy to chat and besides they never talked to him before. People would whisper as they drank their goat-milk lattes, “That Noah, what is he thinking, water covering the earth, ridiculous, how embarrassing for his poor wife. They went back to tending their farms and planning for Saturday’s mulled wine potluck. And then, one day, they said, “Oh s…”   How can we really have empathy for others? Do we need to worry about…

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Why Facebook ?

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Recently there was an article in the Wall Street Journal that caught my eye. The story was about how facebook has helped people who have gone through loss connect with others. When my young son suddenly died there was no social media. I was faced many a night with my thoughts and pain alone. Knowing that speaking of our son’s death would only add to my husband’s heartache. I sat silently wrapped in grief, going over and over my son’s short life.   How many times can you call a friend and cry? You feel uncomfortable “bothering” them. And down the road they don’t always call you knowing your child will come up in conversations, remind you of your loss, and bring your day down. We know there is no reminding. Grief is always there, like an old record with a scratch going over and over the same melody.   Then facebook appeared. Twenty-four hours a day you could go on line and express yourself to others in groups who have also lost children. There…

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The snapshot

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  It’s a silly Polaroid, previously thought a waste of film, the “new” mother who captures every move her firstborn makes. I hold this imagine as if it were a fragile holy card, a Milagros of sorts. My two hands press it to my heart. It rests there for a moment as the unending love seeps through my shirt and I take a deep breath. Then, I lift it up a few inches from my face wondering if I missed anything, any detail of that captured moment. Here, take a look. No, really hold it up close. See how he sits, I would guess from his size that he was about ten months old when this was taken. Yes, he was cute wasn’t he, with that dark hair and that latte complexion? You knew he was adopted, right? We didn’t want to wait for a matching baby, as if we were buying shoes and a purse.   You’d think that he had great posture from the way he sat up so erectly on the carpeted…

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Always changing…

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Wanted to share “You never know when your life will change. It can change in an instant or slowly over time. “I will never go back to that,” or “I could never see myself doing that,” are phrases you may come to laugh about saying. Life is about change. What do those changes have to teach you? You are impermanence itself … an ever-ongoing ebb and flow of events and growth. How have you grown in the last year? In the last day? Time exists to show your growth, to make you aware of change. Embrace the movements of change and time. Get into the flow instead of rowing against it. Put your oar in the water and see how different it feels to do both. You don’t know how to handle change? Surrender to be carried by the currents of life and ask your higher self what you need to know now.” S. Gleseman

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Parents Need To Talk, Children Are Aware

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I have to think that my childhood experiences with death helped me evolve. But, now, in reality I think it really helped my younger son who was only seven when Rocky died and who couldn’t understand the sudden, quick disappearance of his brother. How could he when we didn’t even understand it?   From my experiences as a child, having no one give me information in the midst of many childhood tragedies I knew it was important to engage my younger son and be open. He was a quiet boy who kept a lot to himself, always relying on his big brother. So I felt a needed to be open, to give him a few words about death knowing he was uncomfortable asking or couldn’t find the words. Sometimes I would see him picking up a picture of his brother from our bookcase and holding it close to his face starring at it. Then he would put it back and walk away. What was he thinking? I have to say as a mother dealing with…

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