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We Are All Broken

We Are All Broken

Over the years, I have been adopting older, sometimes sicker dogs, and sadly, three of them passed in less than a year. It’s been devastating in so many ways. But I know I can’t close off my heart, especially with so many dogs in need, and I’ve learned it’s not that one dog replaces another, but that one more dog can find a loving home when there is room in the heart. And I believe that my dogs who have passed lead me to the pups who come after them.

So I adopted Jax back in January soon after Maddie passed, and Lacey a few weeks ago soon after Heidi passed. Jax is approximately eight years old, and Lacey is almost seven. They are getting along well and I love them dearly. But one thing I know is that when you adopt an older dog, they come with baggage. Just like people. And I’ve learned over the past few months that Jax freaks out over certain things. Like if I say I’m going to pick him up, he goes nuts, like a bucking bronco. It’s as if he needs to make sure he has an escape route. And I wonder what happened to him in his previous life that makes him so stressed by that simple phrase. But in the first few weeks after he came to me, I saw him flinch when I went to pet him on the head. He was fine if I scratched him under the chin, but I saw the flinch if my hand moved towards the top of his head. And it made me wonder again, what happened to him. He doesn’t flinch anymore when I pat him on the head, so I know he has learned to trust me. To a point. But he still yanks away from me when I ask him if I can pick him up, usually when I’m trying to help him onto a couch or bed.

Lacey seems to be a very happy-go-lucky girl, full of energy and very playful. I have discovered she is terrified of thunder, and even rain without thunder since it seems she anticipates the possibility that thunder might come. She shakes so hard that she could be a Vitamix, and there is no comforting her. I’m thinking I need to buy her a thunder shirt to see if that will help. She cringes when I just tell her “No.” Again, I have no idea what her history is, but from her condition upon adoption, it might not have been all that happy. The first few weeks, when it would be time to go to sleep, she would dive under my bed and not come out until morning. And then, suddenly last night, she jumped onto my bed and spent the whole night up there with me. I was so glad she felt safe enough to do that. Jax, due to some arthritis issues, cannot jump onto my bed and he won’t let me pick him up, so I need to buy some kind of stairs or ramp for him and hope he’ll use them, because I can see he really wants to come up as well now that Lacey is up there.

So brokenness is not exclusive to any one species. And life experiences and the age an animal or a person is when they are rescued play a big part in the healing process. However, rescue, when referring to an animal is a lot more clear-cut than when talking about humans. With an animal it usually means getting them out of a bad situation and finding a loving and safe place for them to heal and trust again. With humans, it’s a lot more complicated. Especially once they’re older. And unless we’re talking about rescue from a life-threatening situation, once we’re adults, do we really want to be rescued? Many of us don’t want to be dependent on another human being to get us out of a bad situation. And we may not even want to tell anyone how bad the situation is. In fact, we may be so scarred by previous situations that we can’t really trust anyone to not hurt us. And we may end up building protective walls and be unable to recognize who we can trust. And in reality, we learn that we are the only ones who can rescue ourselves. But again, depending on the level and depth of the brokenness, we need to at some point chip away at those walls. Because loneliness can be just as toxic as living in a bad situation. And a life without love will often have us merely existing in a beige world.

We can learn a lot from our pets. I watch these two sweet babies wanting so much to trust that they’re safe and loved now. I’m hoping time and patience and pouring as much love as I can into them will teach them that they are finally safe and loved. I’ve been through this before with many of my pups who have passed. And it’s the most gratifying thing in the world when I can actually see the change in them, the uncertainty disappearing and the trust and the bond between us growing. But people aren’t as straightforward as dogs, and hurt and confusion are hard to cast off. But we need to take lessons from our dogs. We need to sense who is good for us and who we need to keep away from. And once we know who is good for us, we should embrace them and open our lives to them because while we may not be looking for rescue, we do need that human connection to make our lives whole and worth living. And of course, our animal babies do that for us as well. We just need to have the courage to open our hearts.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Nothing Changes

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Aching heart

No sleep

Mind on an endless loop imagining the terror

And the screams and cries

Of the babies for their mothers

As they were slaughtered

By a monster

As their teachers

Threw their bodies over them

Hoping to protect them

From weapons that rip holes through bodies

But they didn’t stand a chance.

And picturing the families

Who kissed their babies goodbye that morning

Who were destroyed forever

And how everyone in that school

And in that community

Will never be whole again.

And fury at the insanity of the endless empty platitudes

And useless thoughts and prayers

Spewing out of the mouths of those who are complicit

But somehow manage to sleep at night

As these repeated tragedies

Never end

While innocence and innocents die.

But their blood money

Makes their pockets heavy

While their spirit are light

Because as long as they make sure nothing changes

To prevent this

For as long as they block even the smallest move

That the rest of us drop to our knees for

To make life a little safer

And a little more sane

They’ve once again won

And they rest smugly

On top of their blood-soaked sheets.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

If It’s Not One Thing

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So it all started last weekend when I was scheduled to fly to New York. (Airline that starts with an A and ends in an N) Unfortunately, there were no nonstops available, so I had to change planes in Charlotte. If I had any clue of what was about to happen, I would have driven to Charlotte instead of taking a connecting flight. But I have a tendency to be clueless, so that didn’t happen. The flight was supposed to leave at 9:00 AM. I boarded the pups the night before since I needed to leave my house by 7:00, got up at the crack of dawn, got to the airport in plenty of time, and waited at my gate with approximately 36 other passengers for the hop, skip, and a jump flight to Charlotte. The screen at the gate said the flight was leaving on time. Even at 9:00 o’clock when we still hadn’t boarded, it still indicated we were leaving on time. Even though there was no plane. Well, surely, that meant the plane would arrive soon, right? Not really. Soon, the screen was updated to read we were leaving at 10:00. I had a connecting flight to New York at 11:00. It became immediately apparent that I wasn’t going to make that flight. I headed to the gate to change my flight. But no one was there. Did I mention it was a Saturday? I guess the airlines don’t want to pay for workers on the weekend. There was only one gate in the whole area with two workers and it wasn’t mine. The line to rebook was long, but I trudged over and waited my turn. I was eventually put on a later connecting flight and all seemed good.

But another hour went by. Our little band of travelers waiting hopefully at the gate started to bond, as we simultaneously looked out the window for a plane that still wasn’t there. As it approached 11:00, we started to lose hope that we would be taking off any time soon. But we noticed at the next gate, there was a plane there. And people were lining up to board. And word got around that it was another flight to Charlotte leaving on time at 11:00. How in the world was that possible? Why weren’t we getting that plane after waiting for two hours? I called the airline as I waited on the line once again to see if I needed to change my connecting flight. Oh, and we were not told anything at the airport. No announcements that the flight was delayed. If you didn’t receive a text or email, or bother looking at your phone, you would have no idea that things weren’t going as planned. And certainly no idea why this was happening. In fact, when I asked the woman at the gate, she was annoyed that I even asked and told me that no one had told them anything about a reason. When I finally got through on the phone to an agent while still waiting on line, she told me the reason was maintenance issues that had started early that morning. I asked why the other flight to Charlotte was getting to leave after we had waited for two hours, she said because that plane was full! So what? We were almost full from what I eventually discovered, but we had been there for two hours already with no sign of our plane. She assured me our plane would be leaving at 11:00 and at that point I also found out that on the connecting flight I had been moved to by one of the agents, I had been put in a middle seat – no thank you! And she couldn’t change my seat because she hadn’t booked it, but I should ask for the bulkhead and no, I shouldn’t be charged because this was due to having to be rebooked. Well, all of that was wrong. No plane at 11:00, and of course the annoyed agent told me that no matter what I had been told on the phone, I’d have to be charged for the bulkhead even though they were rebooking me. I didn’t make the change because I had a gut feeling the day was not done with us.

When noon came and we were still waiting, losing hope that I’d ever get out of the airport that day, I rebooked my connecting flight once again. A much nicer employee took pity on me and told me she was upgrading my connecting flight seat. Since I didn’t think I’d ever even get on the plane, I took it as a nice gesture which still couldn’t possibly make up for the aggravation and loss of my afternoon visiting relatives in New York. My new connecting flight was supposed to leave at 2:30. It didn’t look hopeful. But then, suddenly about 12:45, a man swung through the doors like our fairy godfather and announced that we were going to be boarding in fifteen minutes and we should all get ready. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but we did board. So I was hopeful I’d make the 2:30 connecting flight. And yes, I had been upgraded to First Class, which was a nice perk. And then we sat on the tarmac for quite awhile without moving. And the pilot eventually announced that he had been instructed by the Charlotte airport to keep us on the ground for a half hour. Noooo! The next flight after the 2:30 flight was at 4:30. Well, amazingly, we were airborne at 1:30, and got into Charlotte at 2:00. If you’ve ever been to the Charlotte airport, you know that if your connecting flight isn’t at the same concourse where you land – and it never is – you will usually have to run through the airport like an Olympic athlete for what seems like miles to get to your connection. I landed at concourse E. My flight to New York was at concourse B. Since I am not an Olympic athlete, I didn’t hold out much hope for sprinting across the airport in twenty minutes, but miraculously I breathlessly made it just before they were going to shut the doors. That’s Part One of my trip.

I stayed at a hotel for three nights. Because there was a fridge in my room, I wanted to stock up on food for my meals so I wouldn’t have to pay a fortune to take in food. My cousin took me to a nearby market where I got a bunch of yummy options. When we unloaded my purchases into the small fridge, I noticed it didn’t seem very cold, but I was so exhausted, I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have. So when I got up in the morning, hungry and ready for breakfast, imagine my shock when the refrigerator was no cooler than my room and everything I bought was inedible. I called the front desk and was told oh, yeah, there’s a button on the inside of the fridge that you have to press to turn the fridge on! Are you kidding? Did anyone mention this to me when I checked in? Was there a sign on the fridge to notify guests about this button? Was this a secret only the cool kids knew? Was I supposed to psychically guess this? I mean, how many of us think we need to press a button that you can’t even see unless you’re on your stomach on the floor like a lizard, peering into the side of the fridge, in order to turn it on? So I finally located the button, pressed it, and the refrigerator was suddenly working. But it gets better. I bought dinner, put the leftovers in the now cooler fridge for breakfast, and when I woke up, guess what? It had turned itself off during the night! So now the new food was also inedible. I called the front desk again. Oh, yes, they told me. They were so sorry. But I wasn’t the first to complain about this happening! This was not a cheapo hotel, you guys. (Starts with an H and ends in an N) Allegedly, I’m getting some kind of refund, but I haven’t seen it yet. I will be contacting them. Part Two of the saga.

The night before I was supposed to leave New York, I called the car company which I use to get me to and from the airport. Always reliable, always arrive about ten minutes before scheduled. I had a morning flight and was supposed to get picked up at the hotel at 7:30. When they hadn’t arrived by 7:25, I had a nagging feeling that something was screwy, especially because of everything else going haywire on this trip. I called them. I was put on hold. I was told that they’d be there in seven minutes. This was very odd. They are about seven minutes away from the hotel, so it sure sounded like they had forgotten about me. When the driver arrived, he told me he had just been notified that he needed to get to the hotel and get me to the airport. I called the company from the car and asked what had happened. I was told they weren’t sure but were looking into it and would call me back. So far, guess what? Radio silence. I guess this will remain one of the great mysteries of the world. Part Three.

Amazingly, nothing worth reporting occurred on the flights home. Well, hopefully, the black cloud over this trip was over, right? Oh, no, life had one more sharp stick to poke me with. After picking up the pups, and arriving home sweet home, I grabbed something to eat and a drink out of my fridge since I hadn’t eaten all day. Everything seemed OK until about a half hour later when agonizing stomach pains ripped through my body to the point I could barely stand. Without the gory details, let’s just say the emptying of my body lasted for about a half hour. I finally crawled into bed, begged the Fates to forgive me for whatever I had done that had angered them and to take pity on me. I fervently apologized for anything and everything I had ever done in my life that could have caused this. Part Four, and hopefully the end.

Fingers and toes are crossed.



Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

The Sunflowers Will Always Grow

Sunflowers_helianthus_annuus



The history of the world

Is filled with those whose thirst for infinite power

Is like their need for water

Or oxygen

And their desire is boundless.

They don’t hesitate to sow chaos

And fear

And death

Where cruelty is the point

And peace is the enemy.

We believe we live in modern times

Where we’ve learned the lessons of the past

And understand the cost of not standing up to evil

Yet evil continues to flourish

Like a snake slithering across the earth

Seeking its next victims to strike.

We don’t need to go back too far

To find examples of hate

And sadistic acts

And slaughter of the innocents

On a scale once beyond our imagination.

And while we are determined to never live through these monstrosities again

It’s already too late

For they’ve never really disappeared

Since the seeds have been cultivated from the beginning of time

And they continue to spread like kudzu, choking their way across the landscape.

The world now watches in horror

As blameless people are attacked in Ukraine.

A peaceful nation where the sunflowers grow

And the people just want to exist in harmony

Which has now been invaded by a Goliath filled with evil and madness

And false ideology

Determined to grind them into submission

No matter how much blood is spilled

No matter how much pain is caused

No matter how many people die

All for the insatiable lust for power that bleeds across the world.

Families are torn apart

Babies starve

Children scream for the safety that they were wrapped in only weeks ago

As they hide below the ground

While screaming bombs and missiles shatter their lives.

And death and destruction march across the land.

The world cannot remain silent

But needs to continue to stand up for those in Ukraine

And let the Russian dictator know

That these barbaric, sadistic acts will be met with righteous responses

From every corner of the earth

And evil will not win

For we will not forsake

The innocent people who are fighting for the country they love

And a return to the peaceful world they once knew

Where the sunflowers will always grow.



Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

The World’s Upside Down

I’d like to tell you about my passion project. “The World’s Upside Down,” is a song and a music video that I have been working on for almost two years. I recently released the music video, and before you hopefully watch it, I’d like to tell you how it came about.

When the world shut down in March of 2020, I was alone a lot (except for my puppies). So I’d take long walks every day just to get out of my house, but still see people from a safe distance. Up until the week that the schools shut down, I had been a tutor for elementary-school-age children for many years. And I started thinking about all the children and how they were feeling and reacting to what was happening in the world. I knew it was confusing and scary for adults, so I could only imagine how it was affecting the children. So I wanted to write something for them because I’m both a tutor and a writer, and so much of what I’ve written over the years has been for children. I also wanted to assure children that at some point, the world would return to some sense of normalcy through caring for each other and acts of kindness.

And so, “The World’s Upside Down” was born. It started with the idea of animals and a farm. And a farmer who should have treated them better, so they turn his world upside down in protest. Every day on my walks, I’d come up with more lyrics and another part of the melody, and I would record myself as I walked – quite a sight, I’m sure!

And once the music and lyrics were finished, I searched for people who could help make my idea a reality because beyond writing a song, I wanted it to be a music video. I needed performers and at least one musician, plus someone to do illustrations for me. Over the next two years and after lots of setbacks, I finally found all the right people for this project. And I’m hoping that I will find a way to raise money for several charities that help children and animals, which is my next step. And the step after that will be to make this a book that children can read while listening to the song. And maybe even an animated video after that. After all, this is my passion project.

I hope “The World’s Upside Down” will bring children hope and trust that things will one day get better if we are kind to each other and look out for each other. And I hope at some point it will make money to help the charities that work with children and animals to make it a better world for them.

Here’s the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kkw9V4Ob-c

I hope you’ll like it and share it so that more people can see it and enjoy it and hopefully find hope and healing.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

My House On the Corner Of the Street

I actually do live in a house on the corner of the street, a few blocks away from a larger, much busier street. It’s in a neighborhood, which like many neighborhoods, has streets numbered in ways that make no sense. Cross a street and the houses that were only double digits on one side are suddenly triple digits. Go down a block and the name of the street has changed. Go three more blocks and it has changed again. So I can definitely understand people being confused when searching for a particular address, even with Google Maps. Also, in my neighborhood, the rule is, if you’re in a corner house, your address is based on where your mailbox is, not where your front door is. Except the rule isn’t always followed. It does make you wonder how anyone found anything in the pre-computer days.

As a sidenote, the subdivisions can change on a dime as well. I am a few houses away from a much more upscale subdivision than mine when you cross another street. And their subdivision has a pool only a few blocks from my house. So when we moved into my corner house, I had no idea that the pool was only for the fancy people. I thought I had hit the jackpot with a pool within walking distance of our home. Well, it was a bucket of icy water in the face when I soon discovered that I was a member of the riffraff that didn’t stand a chance of joining that pool. But I digress.

Anyway, I’m very sympathetic to delivery people who are trying their best to get packages to the right address, especially this time of the year when they’re under tremendous pressure to get everyone’s eagerly anticipated gifts to them before Santa is scheduled to arrive. I have found delivery people to generally be very cheery and kind in spite of the pressure they’re under. So please don’t take what I’m about to tell you the wrong way. But in the past week, I’ve had four packages not meant for me, delivered to my house in error. They were left by my front door, and they were obviously gifts and I got very excited when I looked at my front steps each time and saw another box. Who were they from, I wondered. And what delectable delights might be awaiting me, I also wondered.

The first box was from Target. Ooh, I thought. This will be something fun. I started to bring the box inside when I happened to look at the name of the recipient. It wasn’t me. And it wasn’t even my address. Or my street. My hopes were dashed. I picked up the box and began walking my neighborhood, trying to find the address. It was on the adjacent street where the numbers changed from two digits to three as I mentioned previously. So after walking back and forth along the street for about ten minutes, I finally discovered the address and brought the grateful recipient her fun present – whatever it was, but I’m sure it was fun – from Target.

Two days later, I had just left my house, turned onto the street where my front door is, and there was another box! This time it was a very festive-looking holiday box. In spite of myself, my excitement level rose. Someone had obviously taken a lot of time and care into choosing a box for what had to be an amazing present. I stopped the car and trotted to the front door. I picked up the box and surprise, surprise. It was for the same woman who had received the first box! I couldn’t believe it. My address isn’t even close to hers. Was the UPS driver just randomly leaving boxes at my house because he couldn’t be bothered looking at his phone for the correct house? Did he enjoy getting my hopes up and then dashing them? I once again brought the present not meant for me to the lady who must be a wonderful person, receiving all these cool presents, and she was very grateful and I told her maybe she could contact UPS and tell them where she lived.

Then yesterday when I got home, there were two big boxes on my front steps. Dare I get my hopes up? They were nice-sized boxes, definitely containing something intriguing. Surely these were for me, right? Wrong. They weren’t even for the nice lady who had received the previous boxes. No, I was being taunted now, seeing how many other people were getting presents this year in my neighborhood. This was for someone way down another street where the numbers also changed to make no sense. Because these were rather large boxes, I took my car to deliver them, rang the bell, but no one answered, so I left both boxes on their front porch and left. I feel like I should charge UPS a fee for not only delivering four packages to addresses they could have easily looked up, but also for getting my hopes up and dashing them four times in one week.

I finally wrote a large note today and taped it on my door, addressed to UPS. I was very polite but made it very clear what my address is and that the only packages that should be delivered to my home are those with mailing labels made out to this address. I hope this solves the problem. I didn’t mention the dashed hopes though. If they continue to misdeliver, you can be assured that a charge for causing me emotional distress will be in the next note.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Finding My Voice

We take a lot for granted. I think for many of us, our voice is not generally something we think a lot about, always sure that it will be there whenever we open our mouth. Referring to our voice can mean several different things. To most of us, the first thing we think of is our speaking voice. Next, maybe our singing voice. And next, if you’re a writer, it’s who you are when you write, the style that makes you unique and recognizable even if the reader doesn’t immediately know who the writer of the piece is. Writers such as Ernest Hemingway or Franz Kafka spring immediately to mind, along with Margaret Atwood and Alice Walker. So when we lose our voice in one sense of the word, it can be devastating. And if we lose our voice in several senses of the word, it can shatter us because we’ve completely lost our identity.

Several years ago, I noticed it was getting harder and harder to swallow. I was so swamped at that time with the obligations of life, I thought I didn’t have the time to check it out. Until one day at the dentist, when I tilted my head back, the dentist said that he believed something was wrong with my thyroid since he noticed a lump there. At that point I found the time, went to have it checked out, and I did indeed have a lump on my thyroid that had to be removed immediately. It was a straightforward surgery, I was told. They needed to remove the lump along with half of my thyroid. Nothing was said of possible things that could go wrong, aside from the possibility of dying during surgery. So I had the surgery and woke up to discover I could no longer speak. I had no voice at all. When I communicated this to the nurses and then the surgeon, I was told not to worry, that it would most likely be just a few days and my voice would be back. But that didn’t happen. It turned out that my vocal cords had been damaged. In the end, it was six months until I could speak again in a somewhat normal tone. During that six-month period, I initially could only whisper, and eventually it became a hoarse whisper, then a very raspy simulation of what my voice had been, until it was almost my old voice, but never actually the same. And, while I was no Julie Andrews, I had always loved to sing. But even after my speaking voice somewhat returned, my singing voice was gone. My range was pretty much nonexistent, and I sounded like I was croaking most of the time. It was one more thing to add to the list of things that went wrong in my body from that procedure, and it was extremely disheartening.

Around that time I also stopped writing for awhile. I had lost that voice as well. The focus was on my speaking voice and next on my singing voice, both having been taken away from me. So the fact that I was having trouble finding the words to express all I was dealing with, causing me to stop creating during that time, seemed like a secondary issue. All of that pent-up need to communicate both orally and through writing just got swallowed down and I didn’t allow myself to grieve or express my devastation at my loss in the ways that might have helped me cope with what was happening to me. I had lost myself in almost every sense of the word. It didn’t occur to me that losing my creative voice was hurting me just as much as losing my speaking voice and my singing voice.

But I knew that for me writing is like breathing – I start drowning if I’m not creating. And so I pushed myself to start writing and submitting again. And while the ratio of acceptances to rejections has been somewhat horrifying, there have been acceptances so that’s a positive thing. And I need to keep reminding myself it’s not all about acceptances, but the act of writing and putting one’s soul out there is a huge and commendable act of bravery on the part of every writer, even if no one else ever reads it.

And in the midst of the pandemic and ensuing quarantine, when there wasn’t a whole lot else to do, I found myself not only writing prose and poetry, but music and songs again. So I decided it was as good a time as any for self-improvement and I signed up for virtual voice and guitar lessons. The amazing thing is the two instructors I found have enriched my life to an extent I never even expected. My love of the guitar came back and I have enjoyed re-learning what I had only taught myself a long time ago, and I look forward to that lesson every week. And my voice lessons have exceeded my expectations. My voice teacher has pushed me and my voice beyond anything I had hoped for to the point that I have my voice back. Or, I should say I have a voice back. It’s not the voice I had before, but it’s serviceable. And I’m thrilled with what I now have. I eagerly anticipate my weekly voice lesson as well. I’m forever grateful to have found two teachers who never give up on me and continue to push me to not give up on myself either.

So if I’ve learned anything from the phase of my life, it’s definitely don’t take anything for granted. And when life hands you lemons, don’t give up, but throw them right back in life’s face. No one has time for that nonsense.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

My Best Friend

When I saw his picture online

I knew he was the one for me

Since there was something about his eyes

That drew me in immediately

And when we finally met in person

He was kind of shy at first

And turned away with his head down

Until we were led to a private room

Where all he wanted to do was kiss me

And I fell for him head over heels

And there was no question

That he was coming home with me

And my other pups agreed

That he was the perfect addition to our family.

My sweet boy had a rough time before the shelter found him

He was sick

And caked with mud

And he needed months of treatment to make him well

Yet through it all

He always let me know he was so grateful I had chosen him

Although he really chose me

And the kisses never stopped

And he always exuded joy and fun and goofiness

Like sunshine warming the soul.

His self-assigned mission has been to patrol the yard

Making sure everything is in order

And warning all squirrels and bunnies

Not to even think of breaching the perimeter

Or suffer the consequences.

He’s been full of mischief

And in the beginning his favorite thing to eat was my clothes

And if he sees the cat across the street

He paces and cries

And a few times he broke through the fence to get to that interloper

And I’m not so sure that his purpose was to make him his friend.

At 80 pounds

He believes he’s a lap dog

And always wants to cuddle

And snuggle

And he used to jump onto my bed

Along with my two smaller pups

Who didn’t take up much room

And he’d stretch across the entire width of the bed

So that I had to scrunch my legs up

And give him the real estate on the mattress that he had claimed for himself

Like a king.

He was 5 when he came to me

We’ve had less than five years together

And I’ve hoped for more

But he suddenly got sick a few weeks ago

And no matter what medical attempts have been done for him

Nothing is working

And I fear that good-bye is around the corner

So I’m writing this through my tears

Because it’s becoming more and more apparent

That there is no miracle on the way this time

And I know that I’m about to shatter

Because he’s my baby

And he changed our lives

Beyond anything I could have imagined.

I’ve adopted so many pups over the years

So I’ve lost so many, too

They’ve all been my best friends

And it never gets easier to say good-bye

Although I don’t always cry when I think about them now

And I can find the smiles.

But I’ve lost pieces of my heart each time

And I often wonder how anything is left at this point.

But I know I can’t close my heart

Because inherent with love is loss

And we have to accept that as part of the deal

For what we get in return

Since anyone who has ever known the love of a dog

Knows that while we might say that we rescue them

They’re the ones who rescue us

From loneliness

And despair

And sadness

And being too much in our own heads.

Our pups teach us so many lessons

Such as to live in the moment

Enjoy life

Don’t think too much

Make lots of time for playing

And eating

Be loyal

And always fill our lives with love.

And at some point

The time will come to open my heart again

But for now, good-bye is the hardest thing to say

And it hurts so much.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

A Shot In the Arm

It didn’t have to be this way. The controversies. The overloaded hospitals with health workers pushed beyond their limits. The daily number of deaths that are beyond anything that should be remotely acceptable. In Florida alone, an average of 245 people died each day in August. It was reported by ABC that today Texas broke its daily death toll record and was up to 408. In what world is this acceptable? Red-state governors are banning mask mandates which put their voters and the children of their state in constant jeopardy. Instead of protecting their constituents, it’s almost as if they’re out to put them in mortal danger. No one can figure out their end game when so many of their own voters are dying because of the misinformation about vaccines that they’re constantly inundated with and wholeheartedly ingesting.

In previous times, vaccines were met with relief and gratitude. It is counterintuitive that people would refuse a life-saving vaccine in the middle of a pandemic. In our country, this goes back as far as George Washington ordering the first mass inoculation of his troops against smallpox. He had survived smallpox as a teenager and knew the dangers of the disease. He also knew he needed to save his troops from the disease spreading. It was a wise move.

The polio vaccine was embraced by the public because they embraced the science and knew they were in it together. And parents were terrified for their children. In 1952, approximately 60,000 children were infected and nearly 3,000 died. Today, we keep hearing about parents who fight mask mandates in their children’s schools, disrupt school board meetings, or even physically threaten the people in the schools who are trying to protect their children. A mask is a piece of cloth that could save lives if worn properly. What has happened to our society when parents refuse to put their children’s safety and health above all else?

Per NPR:

“The years-long campaign of information and donations to the polio eradication effort made anxious Americans feel they were invested in a solution, Stewart says. So confident was the public in the research leading up to the polio vaccine that by the time the Salk vaccine was ready for experimental testing in 1954, the parents of 600,000 children volunteered their own offspring as research subjects.

When the results of those studies showed the vaccine to be safe and effective in 1955, church bells rang. Loudspeakers in stores, offices and factories blared the news. People crowded around radios. ‘There was jubilation,’ says Stewart. People couldn’t wait to sign their kids up for a shot.'”

Sadly, there is no such unity today. Everything about COVID-19 has become political and divisive. Instead of focusing on the common good, too many people are only out for themselves and their comfort.

To address the false narrative that the current vaccines were developed too quickly, an article in healthline.com stated:

“Both the mRNA and adenovirus technologies behind the COVID-19 vaccines were built on decades of research and experience.

‘The scientific community wasn’t starting from scratch. Adenovirus and mRNA technology has been used in humans for decades. These are not new technologies. It’s mature, safe technology that was tailored and employed to fight this pandemic,’ Jordan said. “

There are so many people who have refused the free and safe vaccine, claiming all sorts of falsehoods about its development or imaginary side effects, ignoring the science. This pandemic will never be under control if we can’t get a larger percentage of our population vaccinated. But the same people who claim the vaccine isn’t safe are running to take Ivermectin – a horse and cow dewormer – which is not approved for fighting COVID-19 in humans, and has many side effects. Definitely not a safe option, so where is the logic in this?

And now, as is being said, this is now becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. There are numerous stories of those who refused vaccines because of their political agenda and buying into the nonsense being fed to them constantly online or on TV networks (can you say FOX?) that require their own workers to be vaccinated but tell their viewers not to trust the vaccines. Those who have caught the virus due to these false narratives get so much sicker than those who have breakthrough COVID in spite of being vaccinated, and many of the unvaccinated have died. As they finally realize the virus is real and is deadly, they beg for the vaccine when it’s too late. They leave messages for their loved ones that the virus is real and to get the vaccine. They become believers once it’s too late. But their refusal to accept the reality earlier doesn’t just affect them and their loved ones. It affects all of us because not only can they make the rest of us sick, put our children who can’t get vaccinated yet in danger, overflow our hospitals and endanger the lives of those who need non-COVID emergency services, and lose the hope we had earlier this year when we heard that vaccines had been developed that could keep so many of us from getting deathly ill or actually dying. It seemed we were finally going to be able to live our lives again, travel, be with our loved ones, gather with our communities without the constant threats of what this virus could do to us hanging over us. And then, a new, more transmissible variant appeared which barreled through the unvaccinated population, putting us all at risk. The vaccine doesn’t prevent us from getting sick or transmitting the virus (hence the need for everyone to continue wearing masks), but it does in almost all cases where there are not underlying conditions, prevent death from the virus. Which is a pretty powerful and positive effect of this vaccine.

The fact that there are governors and other government officials who vociferously and emphatically refuse to prioritize the children of their states being safe is mind-boggling. The fact that there are so many parents who agree with them, is even more so. As the numbers of deaths and severe illnesses continue to ramp up in those states, this stark reality is starting to change some minds about the wisdom (or the lack of it) of these ridiculous policies, but sadly, there are still plenty of people onboard with this way of thinking.

It turns out that President Biden gave a speech on this issue earlier today. I wrote this blog before his speech, but I agree with what he said, and understand his frustration with the people who are prolonging this epidemic for no good reason. You will not die from the vaccine – no one has. But over 600,000 of our fellow Americans have died from the virus. Do the right thing – get your shot. Please.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

After the Fall

Posted on

I stepped into air

And that’s all I remember

Until I was surrounded

By panic

And questions.

Did I fall

Or get dizzy

Or pass out

And I just kept shaking my head

Because it hurt too much to speak

And they made me sit up

With ice on my head

Until the ambulance came

And more questions followed

Like where I was

And who I was

And when it was

And how many nickels were in a dime.

 

They said I needed a scan of my brain

And couldn’t go home

Which was the first of many times

Since the fall

That I was brought to tears.

And at the hospital

They made me lie flat for the scan

Which just made it all worse

Since I can’t lie flat

Without the room spinning

And they scanned my scrambled brain

Where they found there was a bleed

And I had to be taken to another hospital

Where they could deal with my trauma

And the ambulance bumped and thumped for miles

Until we got to the new hospital

Where I waited for hours

And they wouldn’t let me eat or drink

Because I was warned that a bleed could mean

I could have a seizure

Or a stroke

Or need immediate surgery

Or die.

So with all those possibilities

How crazy was it

That having food or drink was considered the worst of the options.

 

The hours ticked by

As I felt faint

And hurt

And dizzy

And scared

And I was unable to stop the tears from coming

As I lay alone in the stark, white room

Listening to all the non-human sounds

Of machines beeping and buzzing

But the one thing that would have helped

Would have been music

To make things better

And its absence was glaring.

 

The team finally came

And said I could get a real room

And drink and eat,

Now the best of all the options.

And then two handsome young guys said they were taking me to the tower

Making me feel that I might be in a fairy tale

Instead of a nightmare

Just for a moment

So I told them I must be a princess

And that made them smile

Even though no prince was on his way

To save me

And I couldn’t even save myself.

 

The caregivers were angels

Who did their best with my fragile body

As they poked and prodded me with needles

That couldn’t find their way into my veins

No matter how many times they tried

And I drifted off to sleep.

 

I was awakened as dawn broke

To get my brain scanned again.

It was hours later until they came to tell me

The bleed had stabilized

And I might be released

But no one really knew

As my head throbbed

And my eye blackened

And I longed to just sleep

While my body screamed at the indignity

Of all the pain

And the inability

To cure myself.

 

And the dread

That things will never be the same

That I won’t be able to find my words

Or be who I was

Is constant now

But I fight it

Determined to break through the fear

And the pain

And the tears

And surface to where I was once again

And the love I’ve received

From so many people

Has been like a transfusion

That gives me the strength

I need so desperately

So I can heal.

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved