Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief



Bitter and Sweet is not just the name of my book coming out. It is the mantra for my life. There is always a healthy dose of bitter and sweet in every day, don’t you think?

Take going on vacation. Definitely a sweet, right? Getting to see my daughter and her family is a treat any time of year. Actual travel? Big mix of bitter and sweet.

I get these cheaper tickets by flying out of Niagara Falls rather than Buffalo. The only problem is, there are not many options. The airline only flies on certain days, and then only once a day usually. So cheaper airfare, but Frankie and I have to fly out at 2 AM.

We agree to go to bed at 8 PM to get some sleep before we leave. After a lot of tossing and turning, I finally kick Frankie out of my bed because he’s driving me crazy. He goes to his own room and I fall alseep. Before I went to bed I set my alarm and then second guessed myself. I set the alarm on my phone too, just in case I goofed something up.

I have to laugh. I got a text about 25 minutes before we have to get up. A concerned friend making sure we didn’t oversleep. I get up and then the phone rings. My dad says he just happened to be up going to the bathroom so he decides to call to make sure we didn’t oversleep by accident. Then another text comes for another friend, just making sure we didn’t oversleep. Now I don’t have a history of oversleeping, or of missing flights. So I find it all very amusing that we were all worried. I do have a history of loving to sleep so I guess that’s what it is.

I decide to answer an email about the book before loading the car so that puts us a little behind schedule. I call my sister-in-law and tell her we’re running a little late. The roads are clear so I’m speeding. I think that if I get pulled over, I’ll just explain we’re trying to make a flight. Must have jinxed us. Sure enough, I get all the way to North Tonawanda and the lights are flashing behind me. VERY nice cop. Lets me go when I tell him the situation and doesn’t keep me pulled over very long. Bitter being late, bitter being pulled over. Sweet cop 🙂

Get to the airport without further incident. Find out the flight is delayed an hour and a half. Risked a speeding ticket for nothing. Worse though, we could have slept another hour which would have been immensely helpful. Oh well. I go over to the check-in monitors and get us all set. So I think. I find out that Spirit Airlines do NOT give you one free carry on bag. That’s only if its a backpack that fits under your seat. Guess how much it is to carry on a bag that fits in the overhead bin? ONE HUNDRED BUCKS. I almost fainted. I am certain I rode with them last year and this wasn’t the case. They are certain I am wrong. (I realize later that I flew out of Niagara Falls last year but with a different airline so I was wrong). I am in tears. That is crazy money! So I leave the counter and try to go on my smart phone and buy the luggage on line. No luck. I call my friend who gets out of bed and goes on her computer for me. Also no luck. I head back to the counter in shame, in tears. Bitter hundred bucks to swallow. Dear and sweet woman at the counter takes my license, winks at me, and checks my bag at no charge. I could have kissed her. Wow, two mercies within an hour.

By this time Frankie is complaining that he has a stomach ache and needs to eat. They announce that the snack bar is closing prompty at 2 AM. It is now five minutes until 2 AM. Can we get through security that fast? I will be miserable the rest of the day if Frankie doesn’t get some food. We run to the snack bar and another mercy- nice guy lets us get some food. Bagels. Cream cheese is gone but we’ll take butter. Not enough butter either, but at least we get some food into Frankie. Next sweet? Snack bar guy brings us over two slices of pizza. They are going to have to throw them out so he offers them to us. Sweet.

We get on the plane, praying that we will not miss our connecting flight in Ft. Lauderdale. That would be really bad. My plan was for both of us to sleep on the plane. No luck. Frankie is relentless. I think I am going INSANE.

Mom, that woman has her cell phone on. Are we going to crash?
Mom, that woman is reading a Kindle. Are we going to crash?
Mom, look out the window at all the lights. They are so cool!
Mom, look out the window. It’s completely dark out.
Mom, what happens to our bags in Ft. Lauderdale? Do we have to take them to the next plane?

Thought I was going to ring his neck in front of all those witnesses.

Get to Ft. Lauderdale. Didn’t miss our connecting flight. But they don’t seem to be boarding. Is this flight delayed too? Thank God an employee looks out in the waiting room and asks if anyone is going to Atlanta. Several of us say yes. Oh, well, the gate has been switched. THEN they decide to make an announcement. Grab our stuff. Run to the men’s room and ask the custodian to please go in and find a blond haired boy. I tell Frankie the gate has been switched and off we run. Phew, got there.

Big, big sweet. Frankie falls asleep on the second flight. Thank God.

BIGGEST SWEET OF ALL??? Hugging those beautiful grandkids. I’ve got nothing to complain about 🙂

Author: Help for Healing

My name is Darcy Thiel. What people say they appreciate most about me is my genuine nature. I utilize my professional and personal experiences to increase my understanding and compassion to help others. My career has many faces, so let me tell you about a few. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and am a couple and family therapist. As an Adult Planning Specialist and End of Life Doula, I take my experiences with my parents’ and husband's illnesses and passing to help others navigate the crazy, complicated medical world we live in. This dovetails with the books I have written. Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer, the prequel to Life After Death, on This Side of Heaven is an honest and raw perspective on coping with the diagnosis and subsequent loss of Tim, my spouse. I have done extensive speaking on the above topics through live audiences, radio shows, and an occasional TV spot. For more information, see my websites at,, or Copyright Help for Healing by Darcy Thiel © 2012-2019. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Mantra

  1. Is Frankie David?


  2. I love your positive outlook, Darcy!

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