Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


When Travel Was Allowed

A trip down memory lane. Yes, that was a pun. I can’t go to some sunny destination so I thought maybe I would remember a really amazing trip I made in 1991 with my former husband John, my parents, and my aunt. The latter three are now deceased.

It was one of those opportunities that only come once in a lifetime for most of us. Six weeks in an RV traveling around the west. The scenery and experiences were incredible.

It started in Colorado when we went to the Garden of the Gods. We visited a great-aunt there who I had only vaguely heard of. It was beautiful. One day we drove around in the car and experienced sun, rain, and hail, all in one afternoon.

Next stop was the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It’s hard to describe but one time we were sitting on the edge and we saw a rescue helicopter. It looked like a tiny toy. Until we say that, we didn’t even have the perspective of just how massive it was.

One of my lifetime memories occurred there. As I get older, I sometimes wonder if I really remember things factually, but this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

John and I were sitting and watching the sunset. Several other families were doing the same thing. There were a few people who spoke different languages. It was eerily silent as the sun slowly went down. It was breathtaking. Someone started to sing How Great Thou Art. Everyone joined in, some in their native language. Even my atheist husband sang. It still gives me chills to remember it.

Badlands, South Dakota
Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota

The Badlands and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota did not disappoint. Although I admit Mt. Rushmore took about five minutes to see.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming- buffalo

Yellowstone National Park, WY was incredible in its own way. Bubbling puddles of water and mud were everywhere. It was fascinating. We saw the most animal life there. There were deer, elk, coyotes, and buffalo. One buffalo slowly walked down the middle of the road oblivious to anything other than enjoying his leisurely stroll. The cars were backed up for miles in both directions.

By far though, the most memorable moment on the trip had nothing to do with scenery and everything to do with relationships. We were at a camp site and there was a small pond. Mom and I decided to venture out in a canoe. Of course, neither of us had ever been in one before.

I wish I was capable enough to post a video of it. It was classic. Dad was trying to help us with his typical impatience and disgust. You would have thought we were battling Niagara Falls and all he could do was keep yelling at us two numbskulls.

When we finally managed to move the damn thing, Mom starting screaming out of fear. It was hilarious.

Me? Well, I’m recorded asking, “So how do you oar?” And then in true Darcy Thiel form, I hit my head with an oar.

John was a smart ass but I have to say his narration behind the camera was award winning. He tried to answer my question by telling me to slap the water with the oar. Of course I did it and of course that drenched Mom. He then told Mom to hit me in the head with the oar. Now that wasn’t necessary because I had already done that.

Dad finally went from annoyance to laughing when we ran into another canoe so he had to walk all the way around the pond to get to us. Did I mention that the other canoe was just sitting at the water’s edge? It wouldn’t get out of our way.

I know things are not the same in writing, but I hope I’ve shared a smile with you.


Accident Prone

I’m not sure why I am so accident-prone. I’ve been clumsy since I can remember. Is my brain too pre-occupied? Am I overtired? Perhaps I am too much in a hurry. Is it because I’m always on the move?

It’s probably all of the above. Maybe at the same time, maybe for different incidents.

This weekend I finally made it to my boyfriend, Tim’s cabin. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. When it is finally finished, it will be amazing.

Before we left, I had Tim help me pick the raspberries. Every day we have to go out because they are in full swing. He was holding the container for me which is much more efficient than me doing it myself. Except when you turn and hit the container and every single raspberry falls in the grass. We crawled around on our hands and knees until we got them all.

Next, I had to get my pillbox packed. I have one of those two-week ones so I don’t have to fill it as often. When I grabbed it, it dropped on the ground. Every single pill (4 per day) scattered on the kitchen floor. Son of a bitch!

I put the container on the counter and finally got all the pills in the right slot. When I tried to shut the cover… Yep. Spilled one of the weeks all over the counter AGAIN. Didn’t even bother swearing this time.

We pulled into the cabin site a few hours later and immediately Tim helped our friends back up their camper to the most level spot. Within five minutes of being there, I hit my leg on the rusty fire pit. That was lovely. Luckily, my friend had a first aid kit.

Let’s see. What else happened? I think everyone had a favorite story of the weekend.

While walking on the property, the uneven terrain was sometimes wet. It is covered by fosses and ferns of different textures. I was doing ok until my left foot got sucked down (about 6 inches I would guess) and I knew if I tried to step up, my sneaker would be gone. Swallowed in who knows what.

Luckily, my brain kept up and I stood still. Those damn sneakers were the kind my podiatrist wanted me to wear post-surgery. They were expensive and the only pair I have.

With help, I finally escaped with my sneaker intact. It was soaked and full of water though, so I couldn’t wait to get back to the cabin and get it off.

Then there was the time I was sitting in the lawn chair with a cold beer in the drink holder and my cell phone sitting next to that. For no apparent reason whatsoever, I lost my balance and the beer fell over. Got my phone wet and more importantly my clothes. Last pair of shorts I had, beer-soaked. This made my friend giggle.

Another favorite was when we were packing up. I had our two metal marshmallow sticks in my hand and also an empty glass bottle for recycling. Someone said, “Hey Darcy! Be careful. There is a bee in that bottle.”

Now they didn’t yell and they didn’t sound alarmed. But I glanced at the bottle, saw the bee, and freaked out. When I jumped, the metal poker scratched my thigh. When there was no blood (unlike the time I nailed the fire ring) my other friend giggled.

He also suggested I sit in the air-conditioned camper and relax. I thought that was a great idea so I went inside and shut the door. At least I tried to, but I pulled the plastic slider right off the door. Thank God it was an easy fix but I was definitely on a roll.

The last event of the weekend was to go to the watering hole again to cool off. I decided to stay put. The group agreed for safety’s sake that I just wait at camp. Who knew what could come next.

I’m sure if Tim and my friends read this, they will remember more stories I have forgotten. Never a dull moment.

Sigh. I can never lose my sense of humor.



Saturday I called my friend Summer. She answered and immediately said “Do you have allergies or are you sniffling?” “Definitely sniffling,” I choked out. SHe is surprised and says I haven’t called her crying for months and months!

Tim and I bought a pop-up camper several years ago. The first summer after he died, my ever-practical father asked me if I was going to sell it. I told him that “they” recommend you don’t make any big decisions for at least a year after a death. I considered selling the camper a big decision.

The second summer came around and my dad was the first to ask again if I was going to sell it. Apparently you shouldn’t sell campers the second year either. I just couldn’t do it.

Now it is summer three. Here’s the thing. I no longer have a hitch on my vehicle. If I did have a hitch, I couldn’t drive the camper anyhow. If i could drive the camper, I couldn’t put it up or take it down. So every summer, good ‘ol dad or someone else puts it up in our driveway.

I love it. I nap out there all the time. My favorite time is when it’s raining. Sometimes Frankie has his buddies over. It comes in handy when we have company. Last summer my college roommate came with her very-allergic-to-dogs son and they slept happily out there while they were here.

This year, dad couldn’t remember how to put it up so we got out the DVD Tim made for us while he was sick. I watch it every year but I still haven’t got a clue how to do it. It helped dad though and he got it up.

Now I know that I could keep asking for help every year. I know there is nothing wrong with loving to sleep in it and having it out there to do so all summer. But I’m also a pretty practical girl myself. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree I guess.

So when a dear, dear couple came to me and said they were interested in buying a used camper and wanted advice, I sat there with a knot in my stomach. This was probably the situation I was waiting for. I would love to see it go to someone who would use it. I know they will enjoy it and it will be used the way it is meant to be. No advertising, no bartering. They just dropped the opportunity in my lap. I knew it was the “right” thing.

But sometimes the “right” thing doesn’t feel good. I kept it together until they left so they wouldn’t feel bad, then I walked directly into the house and went to my bedroom and cried my eyes out. I’m so damn sad about it!

People ask me if I feel close to Tim when I’m out there. It’s not so much that as I am aware of his presence everywhere. But it is a very cold, hard cup of cold water in my face. If Tim were alive, we would so NOT be selling it. We found it together and had many memories together. I was telling the couple that are buying it about how we used to zip Frankie up in the windows when he was an itty bitty thing. He would wear his warm, footy pajamas when he camped and he would giggle when we’d put him there. (Don’t worry. I am aware that is a little twisted to do as parents but we thought it was funny!)

And truth be told, I also worry if selling it is a symbol of things to come. What if one day it’s no longer practical to keep the house? I have to rely on a lot of people to help me keep up with everything. I hope it never comes to that.

The good part is, they don’t have a hitch on their vehicle yet. So I don’t know how much longer I have my little camper, but I’ve been sleeping in it every night and every chance I can until they take it. I’m slowly cleaning out the cupboards and reminiscing as I do it.

Moral of the story… It can be the “right” thing and still be sad. Sniff.