No Point In Crying Over Spilled Milk

April 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

What a brilliant saying that is!  The point is: it has already happened, there is no going back.  Sometimes it is devastating but there is no fixing.  The situation has changed and life has changed.

We morn the loss but eventually have to accept the change.  If we don’t; life stops on its tracks.

So whatever has happened in your life, recognize it, embrace it, make it a part of history and then take a step forward.  Accept the possibility of different life and the possibility of surprises.

Life is a journey.  While we can map up the route, we never know what accidents and road constructions, will veer us in different directions.

Accepting and surrendering is mature and powerful.  Giving up isn’t.  And there is a huge difference between the two.

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A Light In The Midst Of Loss

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Inspiring People

Catherine Ledner
Aiding Haitian Earthquake Victims

Carol Ritter
Age: 53
Hometown: Ruxson, Maryland
Married with three children

By Stephanie Booth for Real Simple (www.realsimple.com)

On January 12, 2010, Carol was sitting in a board meeting at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center when she received a text from her husband, Tom: “7.5 quake in Haiti really bad no contact CNN cant even get in.”

Carol was stunned. Since 2003 she had served on seven medical-aid missions to Haiti through the International Medical Alliance of Tennessee (IMA) and Friends of Haiti (FOH). For the rest of the meeting, Carol, who is the mother of three children, ages 23, 20, and 15, hunched over her phone, trying to reach friends in Haiti. “It was very scary,” she says. “Everything felt so uncertain.”

Forty-eight hours later, Carol learned IMA had received a plea for help from a Haitian doctor, and just days later she and Tom, a dentist, along with six other IMA team members, set up seven makeshift operating rooms in a clinic in Jimani, a town about 30 miles from Port-au-Prince.

Working 12-hour shifts, Carol performed about 900 surgeries over the next nine days and treated countless other victims, many with crushed limbs. “We went well beyond our comfort zones,” she says. “I’m a gynecologist, but I was surgically removing dead tissue from limbs to avoid the need for amputation.”

Carol also worked as a nurse, putting in IVs and offering comfort when she could. “Performing surgery is one thing, but taking care of the patients is almost harder,” she says. “You look into their eyes and see their fear.” Carol says she will never forget sitting with one woman as her husband took his last breath. “Her wails were just chilling,” she says. Another case devastated her as well―that of a pregnant woman who had lost her baby and was paralyzed from the waist down by the time she arrived at the clinic. No translator was on hand (most Haitians speak Creole) as the woman awaited transport to the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship for intensive medical care, but Carol pulled off a silver ring she was wearing and slid it onto the woman’s finger. “I wanted her to know I was thinking of her,” she says.

Fortunately, there were a few bright moments: Carol delivered two healthy babies (one grateful mother named her new daughter Carol), and she succeeded in obtaining a U.S. visa for her friend Nadia Amedee-Louisjean, 37, a Haitian translator for FOH in her last trimester of a high-risk pregnancy. (Shown here, Carol with Nadia and her baby boy, Gaetan; they are temporarily staying with the Ritters.)

When Carol returns to Haiti, she knows the devastation from the earthquake won’t have disappeared. “The Haitians have lost everything,” says Carol. “But I’ll never stop doing what I can to help. I always remember ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’”

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A Widow On Valentine

February 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

I’m a widow.  I never thought I would say these words.  I never thought I would say them in my 40s.  Widows are supposed to be old women contemplating the end of their lives.

I’ve recently watched a few films about soldiers returning home and it dawned on me that our lives are molded by that which happens to us.  Soldiers after seeing extreme violence, injustice, fear and deplorable conditions find solace in each other not because they speak the same language or come from the same town or even share the same believes.  They find solace because they went through the same psychological wounds. They all know what happened without any need for an explanation.  They understand each other in a visceral way.

I remember years ago when by a set of mismanagement of information and conduct by others, I ended up spending time with a woman, at the time in her 30s, who was dying because her organs and skin had lost the ability to stretch.  I used to tell her to look for others who were in the same situation as she was because they would understand her and she would find community with them.  I could talk to her and have compassion but I couldn’t really understand in an emotional way what she was going through specially because then I hadn’t gone through the depths of suffering and loss I would eventually go through.

I’m a widow.

I used to think widows and widowers were sad people who spend the rest of their lives pining for the person gone.

I am now a widow and sometimes I’m very sad; a special kind of sadness; profound, simple and quiet.  But I also have a great desire to live life and to make it meaningful.

I have a friend who has had a leg and a hip amputated because of cancer.  I truly don’t know what it is to live the kind of life she does, but unlike how it was with my other friend, I now have an understanding of pain and hers doesn’t scare me anymore.  I can offer her and receive from her more than I could many years ago.

I met someone on a hiking trail who had just faced death and will spend the rest of her life fighting it off.  I listened to her, she listened to me and neither of us were victims, we were just strong women sharing our lot with each other.

When my husband passed away I wanted so much to find something positive in all we had gone through and all that I had lost but I kept saying to friends and family that I was still the same person I had been before Chris had gotten sick.  But eventually I would realize that I was wrong.  It is impossible to go through something devastating and remain the same.  In my case I believe I have developed a new level of compassion and have in a way turned my loss into something of worth; I write about it and hope it resonates with others and inspires them to have the courage to be truthful, and to realize peace comes from knowing oneself.

So this Sunday when many lovers will send gifts and share kisses I will embrace the person that I am, the person life has shaped and I will promise her to be by her side and to love and understand her till the very end.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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