Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tear's At Dawn...

Tears at Dawn...

I was beginning to wonder if it'd ever happen but for a couple of days this past week, there were no tears for my girl. It lasted two days and returned with a vengeance that's left me hollow and numb...the minds a funny thing. We can rationalize a thing, KNOW the reality of it and accept the logic but our hearts will still give not one damn for any of it.
Once again, it's O'Dark thirty....and the ache of my heart seems to leave a gap in my soul that erodes my ability to feel things normally. I'm either raw and on the ragged edge of tears or closed down completely, shutting out everyone and everything. I try very hard not to default to the latter...but I realize that I've failed miserably at that recently. If I've hurt feelings in that regard, my apologies.

In five days my first knee replacement will take place, followed by the second seven days later. Everything is in place in terms of, physical therapy and sufficient distractions to keep me from going stir crazy (I hope) for the first 5-6 weeks of isolation. After that, I should be able to drive and I hope to spend some time with my family both in South Dakota and Tennessee. My targeted return date for work is February 16th. Three months....which will complete a promise I made to my sweet honey. Beyond that? I just don't know. I have some long term goals and like most people, I'll be bound to my place of employment for the foreseeable future. I'll be 5 hours from family in one direction and 11 in the is what it is. Four months past that and I'll be 54 and nearly a year without the love of my is that even possible?

It hammers home the simple truths we all know but tend to ignore. The world will continue without you...time will march forward, relentless and uncaring no matter how much we rage against it. I understand now how so many people simply give up...what's the point, right? It's something I've wrestled with these past months daily. If God is the answer and everything happens for a reason, then was my honey's suffering for a higher purpose? If so, Gabriel is going to have his hands full when my time comes...

My honey was the spiritual rock in our household. I'm not talking about organized religion, which has failed miserably in my experience but there ARE people who; like my dear girl, exemplify both the example and the intent of all religions. They are compassionate, caring and selfless....they help strangers because they want to make a difference. It's these few that give me hope that there is a bigger purpose in our existence. They're spiritual but not necessarily religious in the conventional sense. They believe (as my honey did) they have faith. I truly wish I did...I've been reading her much marked and highlighted bible lately. I've read it (and most other spiritual books) many times over the years. As a soldier and police officer, I've seen the atrocities people of all nationalities can inflict on one another...the price of free will? Maybe. She believed in the goodness of people...of the ability of almost anyone to become a better person if given a chance. It's one of the things I loved about her...and something I've always struggled with. Trust. Mostly, I don't...

I can almost hear her chuckle and repeat the mantra she whispered so often into my ear... “Love and encourage, boy.” She did teach this knuckle dragger to do that, albeit with one hand figuratively still firmly placed on the butt of a handgun. the sun comes up this morning, it reflects off the tears that stain my face...I see her beauty there...her heart and her desires for me to embrace another day.

I'm trying baby...but oh how I miss you and your loving embrace....I hope and I pray that you're in a better place. Beyond the pain and the hurt...I love you Tammy Jean.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

An Update and Admission

An Update and Admission....

First a word of thanks for all who have taken the time to let me know that they're thinking of me and dropping by with a kind word of encouragement. It means more than I can possible tell you...greatly appreciated.

My doctors appointment for my finger went well and I'm cleared for surgery on the 9th and 16th of November. I do still have to see the surgeon this coming Monday (30th) and do another pre-op physical. Baring the unexpected, everything should be green lighted. more working days with my 12 hour schedule. Avoiding boo-boo's will be my top priority! :o)
For those whom have never done industrial maintenance...easier said than done! There's ALWAYS something to stick, poke, cut or burn you...a slip of the wrench, brush the wrong piping...instant oowee! Mostly minor nicks and the like but when the doc says NO open wounds...challenging. Even with rolled down sleeves and gloves. Nature of the beast and all'll work out.

I've been asked by a few folks what my plans are and to be honest, I don't know. I've got some rather long term goals but no specific plans beyond the upcoming knee surgery and the recovery, which the doctor optimistically hopes will have me returned to work by mid February. He said complete recovery, i.e. no swelling, pain or stiffness generally takes about 18 months. Terrific...I think!

A wise friend told me I needed to try and let go of the why (of my honey's death) and focus on the what now and when...sage indeed. This is also what my girl told me...repeatedly. I have no earthly idea of how to do any of that but it has made me think more deeply of late on what I want...eventually.

I know that if and when my heart is ready, I will not settle. I want what I lost...balance. Some people can be happy alone and I was once very much a loner. My honey gave me a different perspective on life and people. I still don't trust easily but I am much more open and willing to listen than I was. Some people can feel happy alone. I don't know if you can feel complete that way...I used to think I was but I know better now. For me there is a special joy in sharing an experience with the simplicity of pleasing another with a touch or a gesture.
The act of looking into another's eyes and feeling them touch your soul...of KNOWING that you're touching theirs...that's completion. Its joy. It's living and its love.

That's what I've lost...that connection...and it's what some never find. It's certainly something worth looking for but I'm not certain I have the patience or the ability to do so anymore. We are each unique but unified in our desires to live a life worthy of remembering. Of leaving our mark in this world. Empires fall, trends fade but memories are eternal. They can be passed on for generations. We should all strive to make remarkable impressions on those we love and those we can help in our own way. My honey did...

With her I learned that intimacy transcends the purely physical...without that soulful connection it's just sex. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but to me, holding her in my arms or laying together and running my fingers through her hair and massaging her scalp as she drifted off on my chest...heavenly. Those simple things...hearing her sing happily unaware I was home...stolen kisses at inappropriate moments...a pat or passing touch...all of THAT and more...that's what I want. Can lightning strike twice? I don't know...but that's some of the what.

As to the when...SIGH...someone said God would tell me when my heart was ready. Since we're not exactly on speaking terms at the moment, I won't hold my breath...but it's not now. All I can offer is this...
Find what makes you happy and gives you balance. Hold on to it and cherish that vocal and make the time. Make memories...they needed be extravagant. Just heartfelt. Dance in the the store or the parking lot. Steal kisses...hold each other naked! Whatever makes you laugh or smile... be silly and real.

We each get one day at a time...don't waste a single one.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Brilliance of Fall...

The Brilliance of Fall....

I spent this past weekend trying to enjoy the vibrant colors of the season. The radiant hues of reds, oranges and yellows are in full display. Honey always loved the colors if not the season. She was a sunshine many folks are. I like the crisp air and the change of season...usually.

I'm coming to the realization that this year is going to be a season of many first...bittersweet and painful. I drove around the Iowa countryside, alternating between awestruck and melancholy. I missed having her hand in looking over to see her smile. Honey loved Thanksgiving and both preparing the meal and the gathering of family. There will be neither this year...I also learned that my eldest son's six year relationship actually ended last year. They both kept this from us to spare our feelings and were quite mature about everything.

I feel bad about not noticing and that he shouldered this burden alone...but I understand their decision. I do wonder where he learned to be so hard headed? :o)

A dear friend bought me a journal and I've been writing in it. Venting and random thoughts that I could never post publicly. It's helping...another introduced a new variety of music and this too has been a blessing. So many kind words of encouragement and sentiments of caring...from people both near and far. All of which keep me moving forward, however grudgingly that may be.

Thank you. Each and every one of you...for sharing your strength and light.

There is a season for all things...we all pass through them regardless of our wishes or desires. The timing is almost never of our choosing and even when it is, there are no perfect transitions. There will be pain and sorrow, regrets and dreams unrealized. Nature strives for should we. Take the time to make those memories and fulfill those dreams, because tomorrow isn't promised for any of us. Find that balance. Worry less about the stuff and more about the time spent with those you hold dear.

It doesn't take money, for I would give all I have for five more hold her...kiss her and run my fingers through her hair. The simplest of things...the shared laughter, the hugs. Lazy mornings and stolen moments...those are the colors of life. The brilliance of balance...of living with a lover and best friend. Whatever your joy is, embrace it and pursue those adventures you desire, hand in hand. Be silly, be vocal and never leave room for doubt...enjoy each and every season as if it were your last. Only the memories will endure in the end.

As for myself, I will take these next months day by day. I have nine working days until my first surgery, which will be November the 9th. The second is scheduled for the 16th. I see the finger doctor this Wednesday and should be released for surgery. My surgeon wants to do his own inspection the 30th along with another pre-op physical. Baring the unforeseen, I'll begin the prep work two days after original plans of driving to see the kids for Christmas won't be doable. Hopefully after the first of the year, I'll be released for travel...six weeks is the target number. It will be challenging both physically and mentally but it'll also fulfill the first of my promises dear.

I've no idea what 2018 has in store... I can only hope to keep my heart open to the changing of the seasons.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Anniversaries and Adversities....

Anniversaries and Adversities....

This for me has been a week of sleepless nights and bone deep sorrow....not on the pot but close enough to stare at it longingly. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day I married my sweet honey. We would have marked 18 years of marriage and very near twenty years together...I consider it the single greatest accomplishment of my life.

We weren't perfect but we were very good for each other. We always strove to put the other first and be honest to a fault. It was painful and exhilarating....we had trails that would've destroyed most couples but we held on and endured. We taught each other how to love...unashamedly and unconditionally. She made me a better man and a more complete person.
She taught me that joy comes from the simplest things and that even our darkest moments can be embraced and learned from....if we just change our perspective. It is this loving lesson that I cling to now. Desperately.

On our wedding day, those many years ago, we'd planned a simple outdoor service. At a friends house that had a beautiful backyard in the county. It wasn't extravagant in any fashion...financially our divorces had left both of us starting over but she was beautiful in a simple white gown and I had on the only suit I owned. At the time we lived 80+ miles from the place we'd chosen to be married and we traveled there because it was close to where my best friend (who was very sick with cancer) lived.

Amazingly, a large number of our martial arts outreach families made the trip that day...we started outside but before the service could be completed, the Tennessee skies opened up and the entire group was quickly drenched in a down pour. Our friend had a converted outbuilding that was his dojo (martial arts studio) and the entire group retreated say it was packed was like saying a sardine can was roomy! Many in attendance were professional soldiers and they quickly rigged a makeshift covering for the grills set up outside...grinningly cooking, drenched in the blowing rain...tarps were thrown on the floor to protect the mats. Hardly the romantic ceremony I'd hoped for...and yet, there she stood...damp...smiling and as beautiful as the morning sun. We exchanged vows and simple girl sang for me...her voice quavering and angelic...eyes brimming with happy tears. We danced...slowly and locked into each others eyes. I fed her best friend encouraged her to smash my piece into my face...which she did for him, giggling madly.

People applauded...many in tears for our union. Best day ever...and one that we each celebrated every year. No matter the circumstances. Be it before or after work...most times in simple intimate ways...I once filled her SUV with balloons, each having a scrap of paper with an endearment of my love. We spent an evening on our deck in the moonlight...dancing to a tape of love songs she'd made for me...whispering the words in my ear as we swayed together.

For those that don't know me...I have two dancing styles...Fonzie slow dance and a version of being tazered while remaining upright! Honey was the dancer...she could literally dance to anything and tolerated my ineptness with humor and grace. We loved each other daily...holding hands and stealing kisses. A thousand tiny gestures that strung together are a love and a life lived and shared, always together...which is why I am so lost without you babe.

You sweet Tammy Jean were my hopes...and my dreams...always included you. You asked me to keep cherish each day. I am trying. Truly. Your memory and selflessness encourage me and give me strength...most days. But I miss you...and I miss us. I think a part of me always will. It's that corner of my heart that keeps me going...makes me face another day. If not with joy, then at least with a stubborn determination to fulfill my promises to you. Yes dear...still hard-headed...despite your best efforts.

I don't know if I can ever love again...I know that was your hope. Your wish for me...but for now at least, it's beyond my ability to do. I love my family...I cherish my friendships but beyond that? I just don't know. I once told you that anything was possible as long as you kept pushing no matter how many doors were closed on you...I believed that and in long as it was desired, right?

Maybe I was life, some things are closed forever...beyond our reach. It's the reality...but does that mean our dreams become less meaningful? Our desires diminished and our drives forever crushed? I know what my girl would say...she'd say, “Follow your heart's a good one.”

If that was ever true, it's a broken one now...but I hear you honey. Happy anniversary baby....I love you. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Walls and Wishes...

Walls and Wishes.....

As I sit sipping coffee this morning, I reflect on the stillness of my environment. It's more than just the predawn quiet, it's the absence of presence and the knowledge of loss that makes what should be a simple time of recharging; instead an uncomfortable reminder of the hollowness in my heart....
It's a testament to the depth of my love for my sweetest honey and a true example of how very much she enriched my life. I know that there are people that enjoy being single and truth be told, I've never been bothered by being alone...but I miss my soulmate. That feeling of completeness that comes with the certainty of a safe harbor...of a place and a person that truly accepts and loves who and what you are...flawed as that may be.

As children our experiences teach each of us to build walls. Defensible places that we can shelter parts of ourselves from harm. As we become adults, these walls become multi-layered mechanisms for interacting with others. It's natural and a commonality all humans share...we expose only those aspects that we feel comfortable with and that can be quickly withdrawn when we perceive a possible threat. It's a survival mechanism hardwired into each of us. Those things which we hold most dear...our dreams and wishes of the heart are some of the most tightly held. We learn from hard experience to heavily shield that which can hurt us most deeply.

When we love, we slowly learn to allow each other to see all of those sanctums. Our fears, weaknesses and dreams reside here and when used against us or judged irrelevant, the damage can be catastrophic; resulting in walls so thick that we deny access even to ourselves. Honey and I spent years carefully learning how to share and truly know each other each of us lies greatness and sorrow. Learning to embrace and encourage such dynamically different parts of another is both challenging and ultimately rewarding that it defies description.

It's what makes each of us special and unique...

It was my honey's wish that I not rebuild those walls that she so lovingly created doors too. In some cases, into places I had kept locked even to myself. I'm not a braggart but even in my diminished physical condition, there isn't a man on the planet that I fear...I know I can more than hold my own...and yet I can feel some of those bricks being layered once more. Closing off things and places that I'm no longer sure I can go.
I know some of this is grief but as of late I've also found myself isolating large parts of my life simply because they're painful. I'm writing less...ignoring lines of communication and becoming less social. I've never been very dynamic in that arena but I it's becoming more strained as I struggle to stay minimally connected. For those of you that I hadn't responded to, my apologies...I do sincerely appreciate your efforts. wish and my hope is that I'll keep journaling my experiences and in doing so maybe scribble something that is relatable and relevant. My fear is that this is an exercise in futility, that my random ramblings are just that....meaningless rants. So be it... for the moment, this is an effort for me to unscramble and sort through the mess I've become.

In my heart I know that this mattered to her and in this way I can rationalize that I tried...for both of us.

If you're still reading, all I know is this...even Superman in his fortress of solitude needed Lois...if you have someone in your life that you hold dear, let them on it together. All things of greatness require risk...and encouragement. Embrace the differences fully...enjoy the simple act of being free to lower your defenses and be who you are. Share your desires and pursue your dreams...hand in hand, for as long as you can...we get one shot and settling is a path to defeat.

And if you're alone? Do what you whatever form that looks like to offer a glimpse behind those parapets. I am, to share some of your own light. Maybe...just maybe, it'll light another's way. It's a worthy wish from a famous quote...

Worthy are the broken...that rise again and again.

I hear you babe...softly whispering my dear honey.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Honey Rule...

The Honey Rule...

Shortly after honey and I first became a couple, I realized that she struggled with depression and low self esteem. It was something that she really tried very hard to hide from the world but those few she got close too saw it. She could become withdrawn and sullen, at times those feelings of worthlessness would overwhelm her and bring her too tears.

Her way of counteracting this was exercise and throwing herself fully into a cause that had a high probability of failure...and I would watch in amazement as she tilted against the windmills of her heart while loving and sharing herself with strangers. It was this undaunted spirit that I feel hopelessly in love the time, it was also that vulnerability that called to me....and spoke to my soul.

We are all shaped by our experiences and by our reactions (or lack thereof) to those circumstances. We are driven by complexities that we cannot always explain...but we do feel it. Honey and I shared many of the same traits, we just executed them in dynamically different ways. Where she would embrace and encourage the broken and the lost, I would charge in looking to confront the cause...she once asked me if I'd always run towards the sound of gunfire. She called it, “White Knight Syndrome.” My response was a shrug and a which she'd rolled her eyes. Like all couples, it took us time to learn about each other and breach the walls that we all build to shelter our innermost self's.

We all harbor pain and scars...the causes are as different and unique as the individual but the intensity is universal. It's when we trust another enough to share these that true love sweet girl taught me (painstakingly) that to make peace with some things, you had to first embrace it. I taught her that you also had to also let it go. As flawed people, this is often easier said than done. So...long ago, honey and I made a rule. It sounds simple but it took us a few years to both figure it out and implement it faithfully. The rule was this...

No matter the circumstance or reason, you are allowed just ONE pity pot day in any given week. No excuses. On that day you could cry, vent, sulk or be pissed at the world and bemoan the injustice of it all. As partners, on that day you could be as supportive or as distant as required. What you could NOT do was try to fix or rationalize the other's feelings or dismiss the validity of that feeling. Period. As a man, this was especially difficult for me...I wanted to FIX it! It took time to realize that fixing some things isn't matter what.

We held each other to that standard...usually with good humor and love. Even throughout her worst trials and illness. We came to this agreement with the mutual understanding that life is short and uncertain and that it was counterproductive to waste precious days not enjoying each other and living. It led to some odd conversations when one or the other would exhibit blue behaviors beyond a day... this is from when she was very sick.

Coming home from work and coming to the top of the stairs, I'd found her staring out the sliding glass doors at the rain drenched morning. Knowing she'd been depressed and angry the day before, I'd kissed her lightly on her head, asking how she was doing. Sullen, she'd replied.

Same as shit.”

My heart breaking, I'd sat next to her and taken her hand. Replying softly.

Yeah...I know. Can I get you anything?” Shaking her head she'd sighed, answering. “I think God's forgotten me.”
As most of you know, honey was the more faithful one of us...blinking tears, I'd slide off the couch and knelt in front of her. Taking both hands, I'd gently tugged her forward until our foreheads touched. Kissing her nose, I'd said hoarsely.

Not possible. I bug the shit out'a him several times an hour.”

Shaking her head, a smile ghosting her mouth, she'd said.

I'm gonna have to apologize for you everywhere I go, aren't I?”

Kissing her and tracing her arms with my fingertips, I'd swallowed hard and whispered. “Yup!”

Wiping each other's tears, she'd added. “I gotta get off the pot, huh.”

Wrapping my arms around her and burying me head in her neck, she'd held me while I sobbed. Stroking my head she'd softly chided me. “One day a week already had yours...”

I remember telling her that sometimes this rule really sucks...and at that we'd both sniffed and chuckled. Squeezing each other hard...

But it works...” she whispered. It does. For us anyway way.

Yesterday marked three months without you my honey. I slept very little...four hours in the last 36...even with Xanax, which I detest. I've had my day honey...I hear you...But I miss your smile, your touch and laughter...but more than that...your heart. Your faith in me and in us...I knew without asking that you'd be there. Unflinchingly at my back when I rushed I was for you.

I miss our frank conversations and the moments of comfortable silence when we could just be...the tiny things. Smelling your hair as I held you from behind while you were at the stove or waiting for coffee. Holding your hand...dancing with you in the the mailbox...the way you always woke me with a kiss. So many happy moments in's the tiny details that stand out and I realize it was because of that silly rule...the one were we made each other accountable for the other's happiness.

So...for you my darling, I keep trying. Trying to see the world as you a place to be explored and enjoyed at every opportunity. I hope and share as I can. I don't know if it really matters to anyone but it does to me. It's here that I feel you the most...were the pain is bearable.

I don't know what's next...if there is a time or a place when I can get beyond daydreaming, wishing and lounging too fulfilling those promises. I know so few things these days...except that I'm thankful for the time we had. I'm trying hard to not be resentful of it not being more...I love you babe.

Now and always, Tammy Jean...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The First Time...

The First Time
A honey-ism...
I promised to add these as I can and this is a fulfillment of that. Though she's gone, I am forever thankful for all she gave me. My honey and I had a very non traditional courtship. It was a slow fuse burning from two very different perceptions.
That first year I slowly fell in love as I watched this incredibly challenged person give so freely of herself to others. Her enthusiasm was infectious and when she smiled it was with genuine feeling. From her perspective, she saw a man with an iron will (read stubborn) that loved his students and truly wanted only to see them become the best people they could be.
Much later honey would tell me the only time she ever saw me smile was when I was encouraging a student, wether it was an adult or a child....
She said it made her wonder what was hidden behind that gruff exterior...and why it was kept so tightly controlled. After our ride in the rain, I was hopelessly hooked. My sweet girl however, was not. Her divorce was only just beginning and she battled with the feelings of guilt and self recrimination that are a part of that process. She tried to adhere to a strictly teacher and student protocol and I knew that pressing her would only drive her away....and so it went for many weeks. Polite conversation in passing, a touch on my arm or that brilliant smile when she was crusading for one cause or another. 
I'd tried to casually invite her to lunch a few weekends to no was late summer and in Tennessee that means hot and muggy. I'd noticed that she'd starting wearing simple, lightweight pullover dresses instead of jeans or workout attire. She was quite simply, gorgeous. I'd all but given up our relationship (if you could call it that) moving past that one incident. 
So imagine my surprise when on another Sunday afternoon, she again came to the school knocking on the door. I still remember the dress...a brilliant purple, run through with an array of yellow, silver and golds in a random pattern. Long, about mid calf and simple open toed sandals. I must have stood gawking because I remember her laughing and asking me if I was gonna let her in anytime soon. 
Fumbling with the glass industrial doors latch, I'd opened it and as she passed, I could smell the light perfume she wore. My heart fluttered and I reverted to a sixteen year old boy again...nervous and unsure of myself. Locking the door, I retreated to my office mumbling about paperwork and she followed. Sitting on the front edge of my desk, I'd asked what I could do for her. Stopping in front of me, honey had smiled and said that she'd been praying about me. My first thought was.
“Oh shit.”
Stepping closer, she'd whispered. “Actually I've been praying for you my entire life.” Wrapping her arms around my neck, she'd kissed me. Softly, tenderly at first but with an increasing passion that soon had me on my feet, pressing her into the nearest wall. Busy hands soon left us both breathless, panting with lust and need...but strange as it sounds, I didn't want our first physical encounter to be in such a setting. I'd wanted it to be special...I truly wanted her to know that she could trust me. 
I remember looking deep into those blue eyes and knowing that she was the one...her nails were lightly scratching my back and I knew she wore nothing under that thin dress. Honey rarely did...but with trembling hands, I'd held her sweet face and promised that we'd do this...( My body was screaming NOW!) but that I wanted to get us a room. I was living with friends at the time, so there was no “my place.” I recall the intensity of her eyes as they locked onto mine...searching, beseeching. Finally, she'd giggled, shaking her head and replying. 
“You are a very different man, Jim.” 
Being as I was already internally kicking myself, I'd grinned and said. “Is that good or bad?”
Kissing my nose, she'd said simply. “We'll see.” 
After she left a short time later I reserved a room (for the next weekend) in an upscale hotel with all the trimmings. Hot tub in the room, indoor pool, ect. The day before I bought flower's and wine along with several scented was very cliché but in my defense, I was fairly young! On the early evening of that fateful day, I meet honey in the parking lot. We were both nervous but she was absolutely stunning. A pale yellow sundress...tiny earrings and very little makeup. Bright red lipstick. I took her hand and led her up to our room. 
Opening the door, she'd been a little taken aback by the burning candles and the flowers in a vase. Closing the door, I'd turned to her and asked if it was ok. Honey had only nodded, throwing herself into my arms, kissing me passionately. We made love as all strangers do...overwhelmed, yet insistently. Sated, I looked down into her eyes and was shocked to find her crying! My initial thought was,
“Oh my God! I must really SUCK at this!” 
Not very romantic, I know. Wiping away at her tears, I'd tried to ask what I'd done wrong and in response she'd just pulled me closer and held on tightly while she sobbed. As you might imagine, every single thing going through my head was self criticism. 
“Idiot!” “She realized you're nothing but a mistake!” “Was I THAT bad??!!” 
As honey settled down, I was stammering apologies....mortified. Taking my ears in her hands, she'd gently tugged me forward again, kissing me softly, she'd explained that those were tears of joy...that'd she'd never experienced anything that had touched her that way. She'd said...
“I felt your heart and your soul. I was a part of you...” 
My turn for tears...both then and now. On that day I learned that the physical aspect of making love was just the tiniest part of what's possible. I learned about greatness and touched divinity...My love now and forever, my sweetest honey.