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For the first time, I watched someone die right before my eyes. Take her last breath, and fade from existence. The past few months for me have been very difficult and draining, a whirlwind of complex emotions that I couldn't process so easily. You will recall that I once wrote a post about how I felt guilty for being apathetic toward the terminally ill relative staying in our home in a hospice bed.

Over the past month, her condition deteriorated rapidly, and it became necessary to be a caretaker for her while I worked from home. I'm not a trained doctor or nurse, and my role was simply to change diapers, help her drink and eat through a straw, and simply provide some level of companionship and human warmth. During this time, my attitude completely changed and I began to feel such grief and sadness for her suffering. She died last Saturday, with her son holding her hand, and all of us gathered around her.

It becomes necessary in such times to seek places of refuge - it can be people you gravitate toward, or a place. For me, it was a tulip farm I discovered only a few minutes from my house. I spent many evenings there simply roaming the gardens and taking photos. So today, I'll just share some pictures to brighten the mood. I call these tulips "lollipops for the soul" - yes, they are delicious, fragrant and sweet. :)

1. The farm owners provide baskets for all guests to pick tulips or daffodils from the garden.

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2. I can't say tulips are one of my favorite flowers. In fact, I don't really like them very much but to walk in fields of such bright colors is soothing when you feel utterly gloomy and dark on the inside. My favorite flowers are peonies, roses and gerber daisies. I like them for their fragility.

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3. On a weekday in late May, there were all types of people there. Young, old, children visiting on school trips. There are a lot of activities besides flower picking - trampolines, places for picnics, big inflatable bounce houses for kids to jump inside. Impossible to be bored here. :)

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4. Many evenings I gathered my own bouquet, but the price is quite expensive as the farm charges $1 per tulip, and 50 cents per daffodil. We laid the flowers out in the dining room, where my relative's hospice bed was placed. Most of the time she was unconscious and sleeping due to huge doses of pain medication, but I like to believe that she was aware these fragrant and bright beauties were in her presence.

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5.
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6. In this report, I have a lot of photos of ordinary Americans in the garden. Just to show you how we look, and to celebrate the diversity of my region. We have almost any race, ethnicity or color shade in Northern Virginia. When compared to other parts of the USA that are more "white", it's like a human rainbow, and I love to see it shine in all of these natural settings and social gatherings. I cannot think of anything more boring than being surrounded by people who all look and think the same...

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7. An ode to the Dutch - tulip masters of the universe! :)

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8. These delicate layers and soft petals contrasted against the perfectly erect tulips can certainly conjure up erotic thoughts for the imaginative.

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9. Daffodils.

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10.
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11. The farm sells all kinds of hand-blown vases and mason jars.

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12. In the USA, we use these jars to store and pickle summer garden vegetables. Currently we're trying to grow peppers, cucumbers and zucchini in our home garden, along with mini-watermelons which are struggling to bloom. This is my nephew's favorite fruit, and we eat it during all of our summer barbecues.

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13. Wholesome American girl. :)

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14. Everyone constantly criticizes American women, but what is so bad about these girls? They are quite lovely to me, with their smiles and cheerful attitude. I think their manner of dress is quite typical for females in my area, as we don't typically feel the need to be dressed up or covered in make-up each time we walk outside. Casual - jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts. It's really the American way. :)

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15. The only man I saw, walking the gardens alone. His name is Dijon, which is very easy to remember. "Like the mustard," he said. :))

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16.
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17. Many times, we become so focused on the future that we forget to live in the present. I think it's very important to plan for security in old age, because I certainly want to retire as soon as possible, and have no motivation or desire to work in old age. Yet, we must always remember life is fragile, that we can't always say "I'll do this later..." Because we don't know if this day will come. This experience with my relative has just reinforced all of my lifelong beliefs and tendencies to pursue passions in life while you're healthy and capable. My relative was a school teacher her entire life, and never did anything other than work. She was scheduled to retire this September, and now she is dead, after being diagnosed with cancer only 10 months ago. All of her dreams simply that - dreams. Never fulfilled or realized.

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I don't write the above to create a fatalist atmosphere or sense of worry. However, we sometimes need to be reminded to appreciate those we love, to not take them for granted, and to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. In the end, all of these material things, petty arguments and hostility which consume people will mean absolutely nothing, I truly believe it. The main thing is to be surrounded by the positive, to work toward building relationships with people who build you up and provide love/support - not those who constantly cause stress, tears, or those who get some type of perverse pleasure from soul squashing.

We must continue to dream. To imagine, and reach for the stars...yet not forget the flowers at our feet, or all the joys and pleasures here on Earth in the process. :)

I hope everyone is doing well, and enjoying the summer season!

Comments

( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
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procurator0
Jun. 28th, 2016 02:23 pm (UTC)
Sorry hon, i feel your pain. She is in a better place now. Probably you heard this many time this few days, but it is true. Hold on there.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I am fine now. :) I don't know if she's in a better place. Currently, her ashes are in our home, waiting to be spread over the mountains of West Virginia. Yet I can see how such moments in life are easier for the religious who believe in heaven and an after life. But I don't fall in this category...and what happens after we die? I have no idea. :)
(no subject) - romanklimenko - Jun. 28th, 2016 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 28th, 2016 04:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 02:29 pm (UTC)
Sorry for your loss. :( I was not particularly close with this relative, but it's difficult for any compassionate person to watch another human suffer so much, and feel totally helpless in the process. There is no way to comfort or relieve the pain...and I cannot even imagine watching one of my own parents go through this, because we are so close.
elinelisky
Jun. 28th, 2016 02:58 pm (UTC)
Beautiful people, beautiful flowers.
I agree we need live full life here and now, future can never come, but now we have all to be happy.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:01 pm (UTC)
I think everyone can find such nice and colorful places near their home, if they only take the time to look. :)
(no subject) - elinelisky - Jun. 28th, 2016 03:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
agathpher
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:07 pm (UTC)
Don't you think it would be beneficial for terminally ill patients and their families to have a legal procedure for ending life on their own terms?
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, I support euthanasia, with certain protective measures in place. However, it is now only legal in four U.S. States: Washington, Oregon, California, and Vermont. Many Americans also have "living wills" that direct their medical care preferences in the event of being put on a ventilator, or other dire circumstances. And absolutely anyone can wear or have "DNR" bracelets/orders - DO NOT RESUSCITATE. My relative had this sign hanging beside her bed so the hospice workers were aware to make no efforts to revive her in the event she went into cardiac arrest....
allanyan
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC)
RIP. I am so sorry about your loss.
This is very nice place to calm down and breath.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I was also surrounded by loving friends and family, we all really worked together as a team to care for her 24 hours a day. This is the only humane thing to do, as we must be there for family. But nature for me is very cathartic, because I need a lot of silence and alone time in life. Not only during such difficult times, but always. :)
satyavrata
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
все не по русски, но девушка приятная. буду у вас в америках, обязательно заеду в гости.

google translate

All not Russian, but she was nice. you'll be in the Americas, be sure to'll come to visit.

best regards, i love you ))
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC)
Привет! :) спасибо.
(no subject) - satyavrata - Jun. 28th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Maks J-Fry
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC)
O man, you said you don't like being surrounded by people who looks the same. It's funny. Don't you see that these people on your photos they're all have the same appearance with their false smiles. For me they look just like clones.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:45 pm (UTC)
Why do you think their smiles are "false?" What is there to be sad about when your surrounded by beautiful flowers, enjoying nature and colorful landscapes? I spoke to them personally, and they all had a cheerful attitude. Is it so hard to believe there are pleasant people in the world? :)
(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Jun. 28th, 2016 03:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 28th, 2016 04:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Jun. 28th, 2016 08:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 28th, 2016 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mybmd - Jun. 28th, 2016 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 28th, 2016 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mybmd - Jun. 28th, 2016 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 28th, 2016 06:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Jun. 28th, 2016 07:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
south_of_broad
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC)
Sorry for your loss!
Life should go on, and the best way to deal with the loss is to focus on the positive things around you.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 03:56 pm (UTC)
Death - this is just a part of life, unfortunately. A fate that awaits us all. It was quite hard to explain all of this to my young nephew, who had a hard time dealing with the physical and mental transformations of his grandma, as she wasted away to bones and lost all ability to speak or think coherently. It was really the first time someone close to him has died. I think the main thing is to be open, and let him know it's okay to express emotion and cry. I always tell him to ask questions, and I will try to answer, or just knock on my door if he's sad...I'm not the type of person to keep feelings bottled up.
dorli87
Jun. 28th, 2016 04:43 pm (UTC)
My father is dying from lung cancer now... It is really terrible.
I feel sometimes guilty, because I think it will be better for him to die faster...
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
She died from lung cancer also. :( Yes, it is better honestly that she passed away, as it is no life to sit basically as a vegetable, with little cognitive ability and no chance for recovery. Those who pass quickly in such situations are very lucky, but she suffered for almost a month in this condition. It's really amazing that she held out so long, I could not understand it because she barely ate or drank anything...such are the mysteries of life, and death.
(no subject) - dorli87 - Jun. 28th, 2016 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorli87 - Jun. 28th, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 28th, 2016 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorli87 - Jun. 28th, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
romanklimenko
Jun. 28th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
Very touching post and wise conclusion. Hold on.
This too shall pass
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Just the normal circle of life. It just makes me sad when people die with so many plans for the future...
mybathroom
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for your lost, Shannon.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks a lot! I saw your post yesterday, and am glad you're having a nice summer. :)
(no subject) - mybathroom - Jun. 28th, 2016 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
livejournal
Jun. 28th, 2016 06:50 pm (UTC)
Почему сливают
User leo_sosnine referenced to your post from Почему сливают saying: [...] о автохтонного жителя об этом мне напоминил. http://peacetraveler22.livejournal.com/215597.html [...]
satyavrata
Jun. 28th, 2016 07:37 pm (UTC)
escusi, u luz mom, o my stupid head, sorry my misunderstood, but does not matter i fine you, i like you, i love you, insanity. sorry, my pleasure.
mybmd
Jun. 28th, 2016 07:54 pm (UTC)

(no subject) - satyavrata - Jun. 28th, 2016 08:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
livejournal
Jun. 28th, 2016 08:44 pm (UTC)
Почему сливают
User ulrith referenced to your post from Почему сливают saying: [...] о автохтонного жителя об этом мне напоминил. http://peacetraveler22.livejournal.com/215597.html [...]
hottanya
Jun. 29th, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)

Very poetic. Thank you. And the conclusion is just what I have been thinking about lately. Don't take your close people for granted, put them first.

peacetraveler22
Jun. 29th, 2016 01:27 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. My family - they are the most important and treasured thing in life. :)
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