Ellen DeGeneres, SEND ME TO FINLAND!

2015, year of Dark Picante and trip to The World Air Guitar Championships.

Four years ago, a pair of angels disguised as my clients paid for three years of massage so that Charles and I could go the World Air Guitar Championships in Oulu, Finland. This was a dream for me and something Charles had never imagined we would do.

Otherwise, he might have thought twice before agreeing to compete when I said to him, “Come on, if we EVER get to Oulu, you HAVE to compete...You would, wouldn’t you?” Ha! Sometimes I can be quite diabolical, which I think he forgot, momentarily.

Charles and I at the Darkhorse Competition in Oulu, Finland 2015

Karaoke in Oulu, Finland 2015

2015 turned out to be the start of five years of harrowing challenges. These included the prognosis of Cheryl Muir, Charles's mom. Shortly before our trip to Finland, she was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Western doctors had no viable options for her.

Cheryl on the right in Kona, Hawaii in happier times.

And even if they'd offered her one, she had no fight left in her after going through several bouts with cancer, surviving a car crash that killed her husband, losing a beloved nephew to cancer, serving as her grown daughter's long-term caregiver, getting a colostomy due to intestinal damage caused by radiation, putting her dog down because of fight left in her, and the onset of dementia.

When her general physician told her, “You have a few months to two years,” Cheryl replied, “Two months.” We tried to correct her, but she just smile-hummed in a weird way as if she knew a secret, like a little kid would do.