Archive for the Philosophy Category

A Change Of Plans

Posted in Children, Faith, Family, Friendship, Future, Grandchild, Gratitude, Grief, Hope, Inspiration, Kindness, Life, Loss, Love, Parenting, Philosophy, Relationships, Special Needs, Wisdom with tags , on May 20, 2014 by Morguie

As we recently revealed, CJ has a special needs grandbaby, affectionately known as “Noodle.” His mama, Holly, called him that very early on…because he seemed a bit awkward and floppy due to being unable to hold his head up. This was long before we were aware he had Cerebral Palsy, (CP for short) or the serious epilepsy of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS).

Anyway, as some of you are aware by reading, CJ’s post dedicated to Holly for Mother’s Day, CJ struggled very much with the diagnosis and prognosis given for Noodle. It was shortly after we were given this devastating news that Holly was able to find a profound essay explaining the sort of disappointment we were experiencing.

We found a beautiful YouTube clip of the essay to share with you. We hope it touches you like it did us. We also hope that it helps enlighten you, too, to the similar plights and feelings of others you may know who have a special needs child…because it is a tough adjustment to make mentally, emotionally, and in every other way life will be affected, from the start.

When a baby is coming, there are so many wonderful plans, hopes, and dreams for him or her. The story in the clip tries to convey what goes on when one is forced to accept that those wonderful plans will never play out the way one had hoped.  The essay was written by a mother of a Down’s Syndrome baby. She wrote in a way that helped us to accept what is.

It helped CJ to see it at the time, although it still doesn’t take away the sadness of the disappointment she continues to feel for little Noodle. CJ admires her daughter Holly’s strength and ability to reach acceptance and handle this load remarkably well…especially since CJ herself doubts how she would have been able to, given the situation.

CJ just feels immensely grateful that Noodle (Nate) is here to love and cherish, for he has in his own way taught her much about love and acceptance of the bad with the good in life. Thank you, Noodle. Happiest 3rd Birthday, Sweetheart!

©2014, C.S. Thompson.



“Noodle” on his 3rd Birthday



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Episode 27: Mind Over Matter

Posted in Death, Divorce, Funeral home, Funeral Service Professional, Humor, Inspiration, Life, Mortuary, Philosophy, Relationships, Wisdom with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2014 by Morguie







Today, I am going to tell you a story CJ related to me, recently. We had been discussing problems and difficulties, in general. We talked of some of the more difficult things to deal with as an embalmer and restorative artist. She told me about her first days as an apprentice, about some of the things which she hadn’t expected to find so hard to learn. She said she managed to work through a lot of them, but not without  looking at the situations in a different light. Attitude and thought adjustment, she claimed, were key.

CJ learned many years ago that she was going to have to mentally turn certain unpleasantries around in order to get herself through them. For example, when she was learning how to perform tasks involved with embalming. Right away she found that it was difficult to do the cavity embalming.




For those that are unfamiliar with the procedure, the easiest way to describe : it is probably ( in CJ’s own opinion, it IS) the most important detail in embalming, due to the nature of what the cavity (abdominal contents are the main vital organs and digestive tract) holds. There are a multitude of various bacteria which occur there in life, and these bacteria translocate after death. It is imperative to keep this post-mortem activity to a minimum by applying very specialized chemicals (containing formaldehyde and other strong disinfectants) to this area.




To do this, the embalmer must first take an instrument called a trocar (long tube with a sharp point) to suction the natural fluids out (this is the very instrument that surgeons use to perform liposuction to remove fat) and then replace that removed fluid with the preservative and disinfectant by reinserting trocar needle to distribute the chemical.

The cavity is where decomposition of a dead body truly begins and is the source of the worst post-mortem problems—that is why refrigeration is mandatory, if embalming is not desired or chosen. It is optimal to embalm if there will be a viewing of the body…obviously. That is due to the preservative which slows the decomposition, therefore making the body much safer to expose to the living, generally. Disinfection kills a lot of the harmful germs and microbes, but cannot kill or slow them all, of course. The technique is a vigorous one, which involves full insertion of this 24″-30″ long instrument. 









Trocar (Photo credit: VCU Libraries)











CJ worried about how she was going to go about this task without becoming emotionally tormented. The very first time the task was shown her, Mr. B. could see this. So, he told her to take the trocar into her hands, he placed his hand over hers, and he guided her hand in the task. As they did this together, her fear dissolved, but the unpleasant task still caused tears to run down her cheeks. It seemed so violent. She HAD to find a way to think of ‘something else’ instead of what she was doing, if she was ever going to master this process.




It didn’t take her long to come up with the ideal thing. She began to think of her ex-husband. Breaking free of the violent marriage, the abuse was physical and emotional; he had been a monster, especially the very final day she lived with him. She left at the end of that most bloody day. She was lucky to be alive…she decided she could never, ever go back after that.

The anger and rage she felt for his mistreatment of her fueled her resolve to make him a permanent part of her past — but she had long secretly wished she could have exacted some painful revenge for it. Of course, she never did so.






So, when it got to the task of cavity work, she just imagined it was her ex-husband  lying there on that table.

It was perfect! In no time, it seemed she was mastering the technique and doing a very thorough job of it. Mr. B. noticed how well, indeed. He asked her how she overcame her fear to do such a good job.




She told him the secret behind her method. Then, they laughed together, so hard, that there were tears rolling down Mr. B’s cheeks. (Years later, when CJ and the ex were on good terms, she even told HIM this very story — and, even HE had to laugh about it!)

Sometimes after that, he’d come through to inspect a body later, poking and testing for firming and overall preservation of the remains. He’d smile at CJ, signaling his approval of her work and then he’d say, “You must have been thinking pretty hard about that ex-husband today!”




And that is the story of how CJ conquered her first challenge (formerly known as an obstacle or problem). It was,  simply put, mind over matter!













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Happy Mother’s Day–Dedication to My Daughter, Holly

Posted in Death, Faith, Family, Future, Gratitude, Grief, Hope, Inspiration, Insurance, Kindness, Life, Loss, Love, Mourning, Parenting, Philosophy, Relationships, Thought For Today, Wisdom with tags , , , , , , on May 11, 2014 by Morguie
JJ, Noodle, Harley and Holly  Christmas 2013

JJ, Noodle, Harley and Holly Christmas 2013


Taken days after we were advised of Baby Noodle’s medical conditions and prognosis, MAR 2012

Happiest Mother’s Day to all who are moms, or have been like a mom to a child.  I am dedicating this post to my daughter, Holly. She is a mom with so much strength and love! Holly is my first-born baby girl. She was (still is, actually) affectionately called “Holly Dolly” by everyone as a baby. She makes this mom so proud! I have to tell you why she really is so great in this mother’s eyes — Holly is mom to 2 boys… Justin, whom we call “JJ”, and Nate, better known as “Noodle.”

JJ is a kindergartener. He is such an angelic boy, and a real hit with the ladies. ALL the ladies. He is 6 going on 22 where flirting with the women is concerned! 😉 He is going to be a heartbreaker, I think.

Little Nate, our ‘Noodle,’ is a charmer, too. He is just too cute and cuddly. He is extra special, little Noodle.


I, better known as “Grammie,” got to be there in the delivery room with mom and dad as mom gave birth. He is almost 3 now. Grammie won’t lie…the birthing process seemed to be going well. But then…Noodle started having trouble getting out. I took one hand and Holly’s hubby, Harley, had her other and we all worked to push, push, push Nate through. The doctor seemed to be moving in slow-motion as the baby’s head remained firmly stuck in the canal…I felt my heart jump…I was afraid. Then after several long seconds, very long seconds, the head came but it took another 90 seconds to get the first shoulder out right behind. Then, finally, the baby was out. But he wasn’t moving. He didn’t cry. They rushed him to the bassinette and a nursing team went into action, an ambu bag employed to suction him. Someone radioed down for a specialist to assist…after a few moments, as I turned to face the corner to pray and beg God for a good sign, the baby sputtered and choked out a cry. They rushed him away to put him in the nursery in an oxygenated incubator. All seemed to turn out okay. Sort of.


Months passed, and Noodle seemed to be a colicky boy. He flailed his arms and legs most of the waking hours. Then he started exhibiting signs he had a seizure problem. He was taken several times to the Emergency Room at the hospital, when he’d have seizure-type events. My daughter was terrified. We all became worried when he didn’t make any progress with the normal milestones…not sitting…couldn’t even roll over or hold his head up. Her pediatrician insisted he was fine. But he certainly wasn’t. It took months of red-tape and ball-dropping on the part of the medical insurance and referral people who refused to realize he needed to be seen STAT, by a neurology doctor.


After five months, a consult with a specialist down in Los Angeles, finally came. What was only going to be a consultation turned into the worst nightmare. The neuro doctor, who is a teaching specialist for the Adventist healthcare system (read a superior professional in his field), told us they needed the baby to be admitted immediately. He was going to have to run a battery of tests and MRIs and scans, etc.


My daughter fell to pieces with terrible worry and angst. I was so worried but tried to encourage her and support her through this awful day.     It threw a real kink in life. She had to call her husband…his work gave him a lot of shit about trying to get the day off to come down to L.A. to be with Holly and I while we waited through the night in the infant intensive care unit. He was able to come. The two of them tried to get a little sleep in their car.  It was two days later when the doctor called and requested for us to come for an extremely important conference, to learn about the baby’s condition. The three of us were terrified. Holly, and Harley and I went in. This ‘conference’ was major. There was a full medical team of probably 6 or 8 specialists and other support personnel there.

The neuro doctor began to tell us what would become the most difficult news ever. Noodle had a catastrophic and incurable, serious problem…the doctor ran through his monologue. I sat stunned. I was experiencing utter disbelief. Shock? My heart shattered. The seizures were actually infantile spasms. They discovered he also had cerebral palsy plus a rare and life-threatening type of epilepsy…the very worst kind. This was due to a malformation of the underlying structure of the brain which holds the 2 halves of the brain together…the corpus callosum; actually it was almost non-existent. It is responsible for connecting and enabling the right and left brain to coordinate and communicate, etc. The doctor was pretty upset that my daughter’s pediatrician and insurance put off and seriously delayed urgently needed attention…the five months she had struggled to get the referral was inexcusable; he even hand wrote letters to that effect. .


He said he doubted that it would have changed the outcome, however. This part of the brain was affected in utero…around 5 months’ gestation. It wasn’t genetic. Not metabolic in origin. They just didn’t know how or why. My daughter took perfect care during pregnancy. Wouldn’t take caffeine, tylenol. Nothing. Yet…there are people who use drugs, smoke crack, and indulge in alcohol and cigarettes…why are their babies okay? It isn’t fair.   But, at this medical conference, the words that spilled from this neuro doc seemed to all be very dismal, terrible, and negative. He said the baby would be severely disabled…forever.  Probably never walk. Not talk. Not be able to be a normal little boy at all. He would forever be like this.  He would start receiving 3 or 4 different types of therapies. He would have to be given medications which would damage his already  poor eyesight. Perhaps leave him blind. He would need intensive medical attention from now on. He would need to have surgeries. He has as much as a 30% chance of dying before he turns 10 years old. I fell apart. The kids looked glazed over. They were trying to take it all in. I think they were in shock. There were specialists now in charge of coordinating his care. I asked the social worker and the counselor if there was anyway they could help find a way to accommodate my daughter and her husband…they had no money for hotel. The hospital, White Memorial, was superb in immediately providing them on-campus boarding and food.


I asked if there was ANY positive to this whole prognosis. The doctor was pretty straight-forward and honest with us. This was going to be a life-altering situation for the kids and JJ. When the conference was over, we all left to go into the waiting area until the baby was released. We cried. We were numb.


Then, I went home alone; a 75-mile trip, full of utter despair and non-stop tears. I was angry at God. Wait…I decided there wasn’t a God. I went home and told my man the horrible revelation.  I sobbed like I never sobbed in my life. I screamed and hit things, telling God how awful I thought this was of Him to allow to happen to this innocent, beautiful baby boy. I begged God to allow me trade places with my precious Noodle. I’ve lived my life. I had no need for more. I couldn’t lift a burden this onerous from my poor child…I could not remove this suffering and pain from her and Harley. I decided no God would allow such an aberration. Why!? I demanded and prayed and begged for an answer. I needed to understand WHY this was happening. I needed an answer and a good goddamned reason for this. I cried for three solid days. I cannot tell you how painful that week was…emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I wanted to stop breathing. I wanted that baby to have my life. He deserved nothing less than a chance to be a normal little boy. He’d done nothing to deserve this! The burden remains in my heart…the depression…the true grief of this. The joy had been extinguished from life as far as I was concerned.



My daughter is so special. She has had so much to bear. Terrible angst and many, many trips in ambulances for seizures that got worse. The multiple therapies and appointments. Yet, she managed somehow to stay with her University of Phoenix coursework to become a teacher.  She will graduate, getting her Bachelor’s degree June 14.


She is selfless and completely focused on those kids and her husband. They have only really begun life at 26 years of age. And this. Forever a world different from any they had planned to make as a family. Yet the love is abundant. They have mastered the art of handling this. I cannot tell you in any words…the pride. I so admire them both for their ability to make it through these storms and keep  upbeat attitudes; that all will be okay, somehow. So much love between them.That’s my  little girl…so hard to believe. Awesome. Happiest Mother’s Day, Holly Dolly. Mommy loves you so much! You are my hero. You amaze me. God Bless them. And every other family who has so much adversity to address in life. You are beautiful. And…utterly, completely AMAZING.

God, please, if there might be a spare miracle floating around? Would you remember to think of Nate? In the meantime, I’ll hang desperately to my hope. No one can take that away from me. After all, anything is possible, right God? And God…thanks. Thanks for letting us have our beautiful Nate. We are so grateful to have him in our lives. We are learning a lot from him.     ©2014, C.S. Thompson.

My Oldest Daughter, Holly and her sons--- Baby Nate and Justin 2012

My Oldest Daughter, Holly
and her sons— Baby Nate and Justin

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Thought For Today: “Character”

Posted in bereavement, Death, Divorce, Friendship, Funeral Service Professional, Gratitude, Grief, History, Inspiration, Life, Mourning, Musing, Philosophy, Thought For Today, Traffic Accident, Tragic death, Wisdom with tags on May 8, 2014 by Morguie





“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them

defines my character and the quality of my life.

I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness,

immobilized by the gravity of my loss,

or I can choose to rise from the pain

and treasure the most precious gift I have —

life itself.”

—–    Walter Anderson

CJ says:    Who is this guy? He obviously knows about me!

Well…Mr. Anderson: I cannot lie. I struggle to really find

my way back to the girl I once was; tragic events and other serious life-altering

situations seem to have made me into someone else.

I realize I cannot have the happiness and joy and lightness as before;

as when in more youthful, carefree, trouble-free days…

but I do know that living in isolation and in a lack of joy is slowly killing me.

So, Mr. Anderson, I concur.  I simply cannot put this off any longer.

I simply, and absolutely, MUST….

start to live in spite of the pain of my grief.

I mean…what do I have to lose, anyway?


If any of my fine friends reading this today also finds himself in this place…

just know that you are among friends here.


Truthfully, it hurts to discover that life is passing you by,

while you are ‘stuck’ in this sort of limbo.

Yes….I believe I must find some way to live, now.

Have a beautiful day everyone!

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