Mother’s Day revisited, God and Fire

Mt. Dora, Florida

Note: I posted this late one night and promptly removed it the next morning. A couple people out there saw it and one noticed it had been deleted. They felt it was worth reading and that it made a difference for them. I decided to post it again. But, be forewarned.

Something happened on Thursday, not 24 hours after I arrived in the States from Ireland.

Actually, a lot happened. Most events were great, others were horrible.

I saw my brother, my folks, my best friend Jeff and the crew at Fluidmaster. From those that I saw, the homecoming was great. I was thrilled to hang out and talk for a few minutes and share a few adventures. I spoke to everyone I could given my timeframe. That was phenomenal. I gave everyone that I could a great big hug. There are a lot of huge hearts out there supporting me. Far more than I’ve ever deserved and far more than I was able to contact within 48 hours. I wish I could embrace all of them and tell them how much their thoughts, words and prayers mean to me. You’ve all pulled me through some serious insanity at times regardless of whether or not you realized it.

Ah, prayers. That leads me to a minor tangent… and an explanation. There are a lot of things that I’ve filtered here over the last month. Things I held back in shame, regret or concern that the helplessness you felt when you saw me going through the impossible made you feel even worse. I’ve wanted to hide so much from all of you. And, for the most part, you haven’t seen the worst of my days. I’m thankful for that because it was necessary. But, things have changed. I’m prepared, in a very strange way, to expose things I never really intended to. I think they are pretty important to share and I hope that – if you’re able to endure what follows – you’ll somehow take something away from this. I won’t spell out every detail. A lot of those belong to me. But, take what you can, whatever you’re willing to keep and chew on it for a while.

I had a number of recommendations over the last year and a half. I had to do things in my own time, my own ways. I made mistakes. There’s no denying that. But, I did what I could as I still am.

Yeah, I should have been in counseling, on drugs or in an asylum some days. For those of you who said that perhaps it was time for me to see someone … anyone … you were right. I should have.

Once in a while, I did.

There were times when it was so bad that all I could do was hide. Hide in our home wrapped up in the dreams of a world that would never be. I was tied to a place clouded by horror that made it impossible to stay, impossible to leave.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t expose anyone to that. It was my choice and I’ll live with those decisions and a lot of others for the rest of my life. No one should have the suicide prevention hotline on speed dial. Folks, the honest truth is that I did. I don’t feel that I need to hide that any more. I don’t understand exactly what changed but you can all rest assured that I don’t call that number any more. Somewhere along the line I made a decision and I’m sticking to it.

Sorry, I know this is pretty obscure, a bit brutal and probably doesn’t make a lick of sense to anyone. Its just what ‘was’. That isn’t so much the way it is now.

What I really meant to get at was me and the Almighty. You see, me and God don’t get along much any more. This is a big change from what used to be. I was raised in a strong Catholic family. I Grew up in the church, attended a private Catholic school until I was 15, studied the New Testament (by my own choice) until I could have educated discussions (debates) with people 30 years my elder. I became involved with the church and was leading youth group while I was in my confirmation classes. I was a part not only of the church’s community, but held a strong sense of spirit that was growing day by day.

Then something changed. I think that I was about 18 at the time. I hadn’t lost my faith in the big guy, I just felt that somewhere along the line our relationship took a turn from the ritual to the personal. The ancient ‘steps’ lost meaning and the long conversations started to really pay off. Much of this came from my parents. They instilled, not by instruction but by example, a faith in what is beyond our ‘reasonable’ understanding. They taught me to listen to my soul, my spirit, to God… whatever you want to call it. Listening to our inner being answered a lot of questions that the flesh found only conflict in. Its a powerful lesson that I wish everyone could learn. I don’t know if I’ve taken the time to really thank my parents for this but they need to know now, more than ever before, how thankful I am for who they are and who they have taught me to be. Knowing the spirit is more important to knowing yourself than your name, rank and social security number.

There is something within us all that cannot be defined simply enough to include in this humble note. Know that ‘it’ is there, regardless of what you call it and whether or not you take the time to listen to it. Know that it makes a difference when life hits the fan and you’re left in a triag – code red – and somehow you need to make sense of it all.

I explored my faith, my beliefs and questioned everything. Its a part of becoming an adult, in my opinion, in taking what you’ve been dealt with your folks and life around you and deciding at some point what you will carry on to live by and then teach your children. For me, I’ve never been the one to just accept what’s been handed to me as the unquestionable ‘truth’. I needed to question, for my own reasons, and come to terms with whatever stuck to the emotional / spiritual wall. If I’m going to be accountable for all of this once ‘judgement day’ arrives, I had better take a serious look at what I was taking for truth. That approach applied to everything in my life including my career. In fact, my career has been founded on “you probably can’t do that” with my response being: “watch me.” Unanswerable questions are just answers you haven’t found yet, or haven’t come to terms with. It takes work and a lot of aggrivation at times. Persistance usually pays off… and big time.

I did question, as I still do. I explored some fascinating realms of beliefs and conciousness that led to a far greater understanding than I ever would have expected.

I also had the best friend a person could ever ask for to share it with. Christina and I explored on our own and came back to share what we found. We had mildly different variations but our understanding, on the whole, was synchronized. We understood each other in this area and agreed – as we did in almost everything – that while we didn’t know enough to say we had the Holy Truth, we knew enough to be able to act and stand accountable for what we believed in. We also knew what we wished to share with our children. That’s what life, secretly between the two of us, was about. What we did today was for tomorrow and tomorrow meant our kids and each other.

It meant busting our asses in our careers, sacrificing time with each other for tomorrow’s reward. It meant asking some serious questions that needed answers and making changes when necessary to make it all happen.

Sure, we talked about never getting married and never wanting kids.

We were lying because it wasn’t time yet and we were growing really tired of explaining that once again.

When it did, it was the only thing important to us. Everything else fell to the wayside as it should have.

Jobs? Screw ’em. Lifestyles? What the hell is that?

When it came down to it, I walked out of work with apologies because my pregnant wife needed me and I wouldn’t be around for anyone or anything but her. This, my dear friends and families, is what is important above all else.

If we had the opportunity to live in a refrigerator box on some corner so long as Christina and our kids were okay, I’d take that option without a second guess. Any box can be upgraded. A wife and children cannot.

That’s just the way its been. If my wife walked through the door today and said, “We need to go”, I’d be gone in a heartbeat. That’s just the way it works. Regardless of who or what I’d leave behind. That’s it. There’s no decision to make. If I had a moment to wish you all the best, I’d try to do it. If not, remember the image of Christina and I walking out the door as one of the happiest moments in my life. Wish us godspeed.

I’ll never get that option. There’s not a damned thing I can do about it. Which leads me to the whole “god” thing that I started out with.

I read something about a year ago that hit me like a brick wall: “God’s only excuse is that he does not exist.” That said a lot for me at that time. I couldn’t blame god for anything, hold him accountable for such attrocities, if he wasn’t there to begin with. If he was, damnit, he had better have some serious explaining to do once I arrived on his doorstep because what happend and how is beyond acceptable in even the most remote of terms.

Something didn’t sit right, though, with that statement. It may have been due to my particulary strong religious upbringing. I’m still not sure.

Somehow I found it far easier to rage at god, curse him and call him down to face me than it was to absolutely deny its existence. Yeah, I’m owed some explanations, despite what we’ve been taught about not questioning his ways. Sorry folks – and excuse my foul language – but fuck that.

Sure, you can thank god for that healthy raise or for the big score on the next apartment to rent, but when REAL life happens, when the woman you love more than life itself dies in your arms and you’re left with the nightmares, the insanity and a lifetime of chaos from those few hours, damnit, you deserve some concrete answers. Take your holy mysteries, your divine intervention and profound parables and shove them so far up that the wounds in his hands, feet and side bleed all over again.

Yeah, welcome to blasphemy.

Welcome to a brief moment in my world.

Because, when it means everything, when all that you worked, sweat and bled for is on the line and all you’re left with is placing flowers and scrubbing a 12″ x 24″ slab of granite every week, the very least you are owed out of decency and basic compassion are some damned answers.

I didn’t get any answers that I didn’t forge for myself. And forging is what us widows do best, second only to curling up in agony and crying ourselves to sleep. If we get tired of the latter, its our problem to do the former.

Forge I did.

Deny yourself love? Nope. Deny yourself friends? Nope. Deny yourself tenderness? Nope. Run from fear? Nope. Pull the trigger? Nope. Choke back laughter? Nope. Hide your smile? Nope.

Every action listed above took months of work. Each answer started with, “okay” but eventually ended with a heartly “hell no.” This is serious work: confronting agonizing pain and guilt and a series of assaults that I will not attempt to describe here. I’m not done yet, either. I need all the strength I can gather, even today… particularly today.

While I don’t have the faith I once did, you do. Those silent thoughts and prayers that you offered in Christina’s and my name, they made a difference. I desperately wish that I could tell you how. Please understand that. Every “let them find peace, let them find comfort, let them find happiness” has been answered. Granted, not in massive doses but in tiny moments, each building upon the prior. I found sleep when there was none, I found solace when I thought it should not have been found, I found tenderness and compassion while I fought against it. Over the last six or seven weeks, I have begun to find something else, something just as wonderful and comforting: myself. I haven’t done that alone. You’ve helped with your words, your cards, your prayers, your ears and even your silence. Don’t ever forget that.

I was chastised more than once for not being able to just “be”. Bad news for you, hon, but it still takes far more work than you will ever be able to imagine to simply “breathe”.

Breathe I will. Thankfully, it doesn’t take as much work as it used to. I’m glad to be able to say that now. Forget “time heals all wounds.” That’s crap. We heal our own wounds. Sometimes we pick at scabs until they bleed all over again. Other times, they catch on something random – like a loose thread against a exposed nail – and remind us that we’re still vulnerable. Still others are allowed to heal on their own time, leaving us with scars like medals of honor worthy of a story over low music while the stars roll across the sky outside.

But, the scars are wounds first. Some of us have a lot of wounds.

As horrible as sacrificing our home was, it was the best thing I could have done at that moment.

Regrets? Hell yes. No turning back now, though. Nope. Once again, not a damned thing I can do about it. Now its just me to figure out what in the world I’m supposed to do with what lies before me.

Going to Ireland was exactly what I needed. It reminded me of a self-reliance I once had and lost for a while. It reminded me of what it means to really care about someone and have that returned in ways that make sense. It reminded me that, wow…, someone out there really does want to spend time with me and maybe … just maybe … I have something to offer. It taught me that I want more out of this life than boredom and atrophy. Damnit, I want to set the world on fire by taking each moment and making it worth something.

I will make that happen. I’m doing that now, I’ve been doing that for a long time. Its far more actualized now than before. It still takes an enormous amount of work but not in the ways that I was once used to. Every fire begins with a spark, some smoldering tinder and (hopefully) your work will pay off in the result of a massive bonfire that warms the entire tribe. I’m seeing flames now. That’s pretty exciting. I’ve seen cold ash and I’m not going to let that happen again if I can avoid it. I’ve felt the warmth and I’m not giving up on it yet.

Someday, according to various faiths, I will stand before “someone” and will be asked, “What did you do with the life handed to you?”

I intend to answer with, “I took every ounce of heartache you handed to me, everyone spectacular moment crushed by cruel perversity beyond my control and I DID NOT GIVE UP. I took every opportunity and made it work as best I could. I took every question I had and came to my own conclusions. I took your silence, your obscurity, and made it MINE. With my conclusions, I did what I could and made the most of it. I cared for people, continued to show love and support, continued to answer to my actions and decisions. I made the best of what I could with whatever resources I thought were available. I forced myself to love and learn when all my heart wanted to do was bleed. I experienced every texture of being human: every low, every high and everything inbetween. I did what I thought was best whenever I could. Now, if you don’t mind, I have a date with my wife and daughter to walk along the beach collecting sea shells.”