Journal

Journal entry by Marie Groh

Dearest Miki.

Yesterday I placed your hearing aids with someone I "met" on my Nextdoor Neighborhood blog when I asked for recommendations of organizations that accept used hearing aids and place them with needy people who cannot afford new ones. Apparently, they refurbish them, clean them and adjust, program and fit them to the appropriate new recipient.

Handing them over was really hard Miki.  They are so iconically you.  How many times was I with you when you would pop one out, dig a little battery out of your pocket, replace the spent one and pop the device back in your ear. I can see that event in my mind as clear as day. I wanted to keep them forever, to look at them, and to remember.  But I know that YOU would want them to help someone who can't afford to get tested and buy new expensive hearing devices.  SO. I put my big girl pants on and did the right thing. In your name. Because it's what you'd want me to do.  You made me a better person. But I have so many regrets. I needed you to hang around for another 20 years (G-DWILLIN') to fix me completely.  I am so flawed and had so much to still learn from you.  How I wish I'd been different. Kinder. More selfless. More giving.  But I wasn't and now you're gone and I can only learn from you via memories of how YOU lived and behaved. 

I wonder if you can "hear" me when I talk to you. I sure hope you can.  I would give anything to hear you again.  I copied all your voice messages on my phone into my itunes library.  I play them once in awhile just to hear your voice but it's quite painful..mixed bag. 

Donated to: Marion Downs Center in Denver https://www.mariondowns.com/

Like you, Marion was a professor too, but at a Medical University in Colorado. From her website: "Dr. Marion P. Downs was a Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado School of Medicine where she spent more than 35 years providing clinical services to benefit patients with hearing loss, devoting her professional life to the promotion of early identification of hearing loss in newborns, infants, and young children. During her outstanding career at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Marion Downs created, developed and evaluated techniques for testing hearing in children and for fitting them, some as young as a few weeks of age, with hearing aids." 

I think you would approve Miki.  I miss you my friend. 

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Journal entry by Marie Groh

Three months ago today.  Friday March 20th. My friend was dying. At her own request.  Refusing further treatment and only asking for pain management.  After decades of fighting against the horrible disease that changed her life at the age of only 25 and caused her so much pain, discomfort and intrusion, she was succumbing to complications from surgery to remove a pancreatic tumor and piece together the remaining organs and tissues in her destroyed gut from so many other procedures from the previous nearly 50 years.  

She had a pain threshold that dwarfed mine so I can only imagine the level of pain she endured for those weeks following the 10 1/2 hour surgery that had been deemed successful. But the after effects. That's what had her scared from day one. And boy was she right. I've not witnessed anyone in that kind of pain before.  And she warned me about it. She told me I'd hate it. That I'd be shocked by it. That I should brace for it.  

On that day, I KNEW she was "dying", BUT I also knew that I would get to spend a whole day with her soon. Friday was going to be the day but she wanted to meet with her attorney and they had JUST changed the rules at the hospice hospital. When she was admitted just days before the rule was no more than 2 in her room at one time.  Then the next day - no more than one.  Then almost immediately, no more than one visitor in a 24 hour period.  Not one at a time...just one.  So Friday was to be Sarah's day.  Once she entered the hospital that morning to visit with Miki, she was going to be the ONLY visitor allowed for 24 hours. SHE could go and come back as many times as she wanted in that 24 hours, but nobody else would be allowed.  

I had spent almost an hour on the phone with Miki the day before reading her every single Caring Bridge comment made by all of her friends, family, students, and acquaintances. I heard her chuckle and awww and even interject some details about a memory that had been related.  I think it made her supremely happy to hear all of the words, sentiment, love poured out on this site.

I was looking forward to MY day.  And not knowing if I should selfishly hope for more or lovingly hope that her pain and suffering would soon be over.  To my horror, a late afternoon phone call telling me that we needed to get to the hospital NOW and that there was very little time is burned in my brain forever.  I understood the gravity of those words. I just wanted to see my friend alive one more time.

When we arrived she was still breathing. VERY measured and very shallowly.  We touched her. We held her hands. We told we loved her. We told he we would miss her forever.  She took only 3 or 4 of those breaths after we arrived and never opened her eyes - but she somehow held on so that we could see her alive one more time. We numbly went about gathering her things and giving the hospice nurse the information about which mortuary to call. And then we left to live lives without Miriam, (Miki) E. Felsenburg in it.  Not yet realizing the impact that would make and the toll it would take on our hearts. 

Today.  Three months later. I still talk to her.  Every day.  Some days I tell her how much I miss her and love her and wish I'd appreciated her more and spent even MORE time with her. Sometimes I ask "why didn't you tell me more about your amazing life and the impact you had on so many?"  And I know the answer. She was humble.  The great ones always are.  

With the warming days and continuing self isolation and covid fears I wonder what our summer would have been like had this event not happened.  Would we get to attend even one art fair this year? She would have needed to take MUCH stronger precautions with her compromised health so I know our lives would have been far different this summer than our summer of fun in 2019.  But she would have been here to talk to and play bridge with (online only) and share thoughts on whatever Netflix or Hulu or prime or Xfinity tv series we were into at the time.  She would tell me stories about Lily and Benny and send me pictures and I'd ooh and ahh and tell her I wanted to come over to see her and THEM!  And we'd figure a way to do it safely for her.  Their new mommy is so kind to send me such cute photos of them in their new life. It warms my heart and I'm so thankful for them and the stories of their antics. It's keeping Miki alive for me in some ways. 

So-3 months on - I'm not a lot better.  I'm missing her even more than I did at the beginning when there were details to handle and other people to soothe and inform and personal belongings to go through and arrangements to make and information to impart. Now, all of that is behind me.  And I have nothing but time to miss her through. 

Here's to you "Lois". The best "mom" I ever had.  My best friend.  I miss you so much and love you so dearly.  

Journal entry by Marie Groh

Yesterday was another one of the "those" days.  All day you were on my mind.  So many times I have reached for my phone to call you and tell you something "very important" and then I remember.  I used to tell you that your voice mail greeting had a tone to it that made me somehow sad whenever I heard it. I actually said "Miki, if you ever die, (and you'd better not!) if I somehow hear that voice mail greeting, it will make me cry so hard, because there is SUCH a sweetness to it...the sound of your voice, the way it lilts up when you speak your name...it would be unbearable to hear it after you've died because it's almost too sweet to hear when you're here, alive, present in my life!". 

Yesterday I was missing you SO much that I stupidly dialed your number and almost hung up before it rolled over to voice mail.  (I wasn't even sure it was still connected because I thought Sarah would have disconnected it by now)...I heard that message and as predicted I was newly gutted by the missing of you. All the things I NEED to say to you.  All the things I WANT to share with you.  My eyes miss your face. My ears miss your laughter...my favorite part of any day was doing my own brand of improv for you and hearing you gasp laughing!  It made me want to be funnier for you.  

I hope you are NOT resting in peace...that would be the last thing you would want.  I hope your soul is soaring in simultaneous time...flitting from reality to reality, universe to universe, time line to time line, at YOUR behest, YOUR desire. I hope in death you are having the time of your life...and don't drift too far away because when it's my time, I want YOU to be the one who greets me on the LIGHT side of all this darkness.  

I miss you Miki.  My eyes still have so much ability to leak. I'd have thought that by now my reservoirs would have run dry, but that voicemail greeting. I am spending today figuring out how to copy it somehow to my phone so I can save it and have it forever.  Unlike you which I no longer have. 

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone."

Journal entry by Marie Groh

a few more photos of my beautiful friend in her prime.  Clear skin that would become so painful for her from so many prescription meds to combat Crohn's Disease diagnosed at the age of 25.  A disease that would permeate and plague her until her last breath...but one that never bested her...never. She fought it like a badass super hero warrior with more bravery than I have ever mustered. And even at the end, it was HER choice to exit.  She didn't succumb to Crohn's or Cancer. She graciously, bravely, and so gracefully simply took her leave.

Journal entry by Marie Groh

At the cemetery on Monday I was telling Jean and Fran about one of Miki's early assignments as a journalistic working for the teen magazine TEMPO.  I told them that an assignment she was given to pick up at the airport and spend a day with Peter Noone, Lead singer of the wildly popular, at that time, Herman's Hermits.  After that day and the ensuing article she wrote about it, her job became that of meeting artists coming to Colorado for performances, hanging out with them and writing about her experience for the magazine.  Today, I found the article.  Taking photos of old newspaper that is long and in a very big album that curves because of the bulk is not easy. I apologize for the quality. I believe the three photos will allow you to read the article without missing too many words. It reads DOWN the left and then down the right. So you'll have to look at each photo twice if you attempt to read the whole article...Well, you'll figure it out. You're friends of Miki's so I KNOW you're smart! 

I hope every one of you is safe and healthy. 

 

Journal entry by Marie Groh

Addendum to what I just posted below with the 4 photos from her TEMPO album.  There's another photo I want to post here for a very specific reason. This photo was actually posted on the FIRST page after the photo of herself which graces the front of the album:  The sentiment she pasted there decades ago, is truly how she lived her life. At some point I will, for the CARING BRIDGE photo, replace the photo of the casket spray which adorns her final resting place, with this  photo because I think she'd want something that encapsulated her life as opposed to one that symbolizes her death. 

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Journal entry by Marie Groh

Yesterday I visited Miki's grave. The day was lovely. There was a herd of deer wandering around eating grass (and occasionally someone's fresh laid flowers!)The sky was very blue with very large puffy white clouds. The grave still fresh and the cemetery personnel had culled all the still viable flowers from the casket spray and they were laid lovingly on the grave.  I sat and talked with her for the few minutes before Lynn Stuart arrived and then she and I move some boxes of things that Beverly had packed for me to go through - pictures and albums and some letters. Lynn had to leave and I waited for two of our bridge club friends, Fran Vanecko and Jean Hupka.  We talked by Miki's grave for quite awhile and enjoyed the birds and deer, the mountains, the weather.   I told them about one of her very first jobs at Tempo, a teen magazine, and how after she was sent on assignment to pick up  Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits at the airport, and hung out with him for the day showing him around Denver and even Estes Park, her job eventually became meeting all the acts who were flying into Denver for a performance. Apparently "Herman" was impressed and likely smitten with our girl!

Today I opened one of the boxes and took out a VERY large "album" of sorts, STUFFED with articles written about and by Miki (I presume..because I haven't gone through much of it yet), but it appears to be entirely from the late 60s and early 70s and here are photos I took of A: the album (so you can see how big it is) and also of the first article about her and the next 2 pictures are an article SHE wrote.  If you are waiting for things from me, please know that I WILL be sending them. There is still A LOT to go through and also there's a PANDEMIC!  So I will be saving these things for you and sending them as soon as I can.

 

 

 

 

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Journal entry by Marie Groh

Dear Miki,

Today is hard. Harder than yesterday or the day before. I'm not sure why.  Maybe because the weather is getting nice and I started thinking about art fairs coming up and how much fun we had last year going to all of them together.  Everywhere I look in my apartment I see you. Something you helped me pick out or decide on or place in the perfectly correct space.  The vase I bought at the consignment store to replace the one you deemed "common and ordinary".  You were SO right. SO right!  The replacement is neither common nor ordinary and it gives me joy whenever I see it and the one it replaced was just there...nothing special...nothing joyful...just common...and ordinary.  Two words that could never be used to describe you my sweet friend.  

I'm looking at the heart mirror on my bureau and I laugh when I remember the faces you made if I ever showed up wearing heart anything.  And don't get me started on the candles. Those REALLY made your face scrunch!  

I was hoping for more joy and release with memories of you, but for now, it's not so much joyful. Not much release. Just pretty much pure grief. At least it's pure. Not muddled. Just grief. Nothing more.  Nothing less. Not unlike the grief suffered by billions over the time of mankind on our beautiful planet which you enjoyed maybe more than anyone I ever knew.  There was no place you wouldn't go if it caught your attention.

Your grave marker should say "here lies the tiniest badass ever born.  She came. She saw. She suffered. But she CONQUERED! She never met a challenge she didn't overcome...until the very very end."  And I'm unsure how to think about THAT challenge. Did it beat her or did she just decide to bow out of the confrontation before it ended with HER victory over it because some wins just aren't worth the hassle it takes to get them?  Part of me wonders if she was visited in some of her drug induced fitful sleep by her beloved Regina.  And perhaps, upon awakening, the sorrow of reality without her overcame the natural fight that lived inside her.  Maybe she just wanted to be with the love of her life and seeing her in the dream world was far better than the nightmare of the real world in which she found herself daily and in every waking moment enduring discomfort or severe pain.  

Whatever the reason, she CHOSE (another little badass trait) to leave when she did, I respect her and support her in that decision. She knew I'd grieve as would all who loved her...but this was for HER. She was doing what was good for Miki.  And she knew it would hurt us.  But our pain cannot be compared to the very real physical pain she had to endure.  So yeah. It hurts. I miss her a whole lot.  But I'm trying to imagine her and Regina laughing together on some celestial roller coaster in perfect weather, with no lines to wait, just as many rides as they want, again and again and again. And I'm hoping, that when it's my time to exit stage left, I'll find them on that ride and the seat will have enough room for THREE souls to enjoy the thrill, to scream and laugh together for just one ride and I'll move on to MY heaven.  But we'll be able to pop in and out of each other's heavens at will. Yeah. I LIKE that fantasy. It feels right.

So my dear Miki "Lois, Mom" you're never leaving my heart for one single second. Part of you lives there now.  A sweet part of you. And I can feel you there.  And it's not common.  Not ordinary. It's beautiful and so very special.

As my grandkids say to me,
I love you eternally,

 Marie, "Stewie"

Journal entry by Marie Groh

new pics of Miki I have to share

Photo 1. That face. No idea the year because nothing written on the back.

Photo 2. Both of those body languages...I'm so familiar with them!

Photo 3. Shirley Temple would be jealous of this cuteness!

Photo 4. Someone needs to tell me if they know the other little girl with Miki and I THINK that might be her mom in the other one?

Photo 5. I NEVER expected to see her in such a dress!  I had to show you. 

Bottom line: This is tough. It makes me both sad and happy and it also makes me feel like I'm getting to know her more and more through this process. 

Journal entry by Miki Felsenburg

I am so sorry to have to start another Caringbridge, but I do. I found out on Thursday that I have pancreatic cancer. I won’t have definitive news for 10 days. Next Friday, at 8 pm (yes 8 pm) I’ll have two more MRI studies. Then on the following Tuesday, 1/28, is when I’ll get the news. I’m hoping the pancreas is re-sectable, and the cancer can be removed. There’s a 20-30 percent chance of that. That would be the greatest news. But we will see. I probably won’t have anything to post until 1/28. Feeling good now.
Miki’s Story

Site created on January 18, 2020

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