And I’m the one to blame
I caused all the pain
He gave Himself
The day He wore my crown
The last time I went to church with my dad was Easter Sunday.
A soloist sang, “The Day He Wore My Crown,” which I’d never heard before, and as I understood the words, I cried.
Because that song illuminated for me the idea that I was a sinner. I mean, I knew that, but that song fillustrated my faith journey like no other.
Growing up in a Christian home with a great father was in some respects a handicap when it came to faith and seeing myself as a sinner in need of forgiveness and salvation.
I was just always immersed in that belief system so it was hard for me to see a dividing point of when I believed, and when I didn’t.
I knew I believed, I just couldn’t pinpoint when I did. And it bothered me.
When I was about seven I walked down an aisle at a Christmas candlelight service when the pastor invited anyone who wanted to receive Jesus. He assured us by doing so we would avoid Hell.
That sounded like a deal to me, because I fully believed in Hell and did not want to go there.
But to be perfectly honest, if the pastor had said, “You can avoid Hell by asking Bambi into your heart,” I probably would have done the same thing.
I tripped through life, making normal high school and college mistakes. I didn’t think I was so bad, but deep down, I knew I wasn’t so good.
Then I met Kevin. He was different from any guy I’d ever known before and had such a vibrant faith and love of God. (He still does.)
I told him once, early in our friendship, (all the years later and I still can’t say if we were in a relationship or not), that I didn’t regret anything I’d done before because I felt like everything that had ever happened made me who I was.
He challenged me on that and said, “If you don’t regret the sinful things you’ve done, you need to pray and ask God if you are really saved.”
So I did.
The very next Wednesday night I went to church and the youth pastor preached, which was unusual.
He walked out and simply pointed at all three sections of the church and said, “Repent. Repent. Repent.”
I remember thinking, “what does that even mean?”
I was soon to find out. And before that sermon was over I saw myself as I was, a sinner in dire need of a Savior.
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
As I understood, I prayed and asked Jesus to please forgive me and save me.
I didn’t struggle one bit with belief in Jesus Christ being who he said He was.
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
John 6:35 King James Version (KJV)
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Or who John the Baptist said He was.
John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
I realized my problem had been believing who God said I was.
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Now, years later, I still believe. And I’m like Paul:
Mr. Sam called me Monday about noon. “Are you around?”
I wasn’t. I’d been sick all weekend and was even at that moment in bed and awaiting a call from my doctor about antibiotics.
“I’m sorry Sam, I’m not. But what can I do for you?”
I knew what he wanted though. A progress report on some documents I’m trying to lay out for him.
“I’m so sorry they aren’t ready, I’ve been sick, blah, blah.”
He laughs at me.
“It’s completely fine, I actually have a new project to add the first project. Come see me Wednesday morning at 8:30.”
Oh snap. What have I gotten myself into? I know that is not going to happen. Way too early for me to comprehend his complex projects.
“Can we meet Thursday at 1:00 after the director’s meeting in Neighboring City?” (A mandatory thing I have to attend.)
“Sure Angel, I’ll see you then.”
He’s so good to pull me in on his projects in order to replace the slight reduction in pay rate I took a few months ago, so our facility could stay open four full days.
(I’m not a martyr or a do-gooder in general, I just like to do one thing for a longer period of time. I don’t want to mess with a half-day.)
Sam’s actual plan is to place me one full day at town hall, which I would love. In fact, I’d love to work for him full time because we are a lot alike. “Just be quite and work.”
Everyone says I’m a people person, but I know I’m not. Deep down I’m more like, “Shut up, just listen, let’s get this work done and no, we don’t have to chat while we do it.”
He really does need help on his projects but he has a degree of misplaced faith in me. Because he thinks I can do things I can’t, if I just set my mind to it. He is very much like Adam in that regard.
When I arrive he’s on the phone reading someone from the Department of Environmental Management the riot act and I know I’m out of my league already.
He soon turns his attention to assigning me another really hard project. And stares me down when he does it.
He’s just daring me to say, “I can’t.” I can see his hand ready to fly off his desk and into the universal sign for stop at the slightest hint of an excuse from me.
I fidget and take a deep breath and his fingers are already an inch into the air.
“Ok Sam, I’ll try.”
His weather-worn face breaks into a smile. “You’ve got this.”
A few seconds later the woman who complained about my pay rate steps into Sam’s office and his smile fades away. He doesn’t pretend to like her, but he isn’t rude.
“Angel will be turning in about 4-6 hours extra every week and she’s going to be doing the work Mondays, from home. Let me know what type of requisition you need from me.”
Her. Face. Fell.
Now that was a shot of redemption I never saw coming!
Mr. Sam starts to gather his laptop even though I’m still trying to question him on on the exact perimeters his needs.
“I’ve got to run to Neighboring City Angel, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Sam! You should have texted me if I can run an errand for you, or pick anything up while I’m there.”
I live in that metropolitan area, 30 miles from the rural city we work for and he lives in another smaller rural city, 30 miles in the other direction.
His smile is back, this time rueful and he tries to make a joke. “I would Angel, but they won’t let anyone else take my radiation.”
He leaves me sitting in his office, bewildered.
I knew he’d had surgery in January and had taken a leave, but I had no idea about this.
I wish I didn’t know.
A man walks down the street
He says, “Why am I soft in the middle, now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard
I need a photo-opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Don’t want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard”
Dogs in the moonlight
Far away in my well-lit door
Mr. Beerbelly, Beerbelly
Get these mutts away from me
You know, I don’t find this stuff amusing anymore
If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al
A man walks down the street
He says, “Why am I short of attention?
Got a short little span of attention
And, whoa, my nights are so long
Where’s my wife and family?
What if I die here?
Who’ll be my role model
Now that my role model is gone, gone?”
He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along, along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations
A man walks down the street
It’s a street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the third world
Maybe it’s his first time around
Doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound, the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity He says, “Amen and Hallelujah!”
You’re no bunny until some bunny…Sends you a bunny video on his way to work.
I have realized that the most recent post I wrote about my friend *Adam makes it sound like I do so much for him, when that isn’t the case at all.
He’s always done more for me, especially time wise, because his schedule is way more full than mine.
Yet he still finds the time to include me in his life.
And he always does fun things like the bunny video, and interesting things he enjoys teaching me about, or showing me.
He expands me.
He’s also very forgiving towards me.
He’s been telling me about his new girlfriend, or maybe better said, a girl in his city that he’s taken out several times and spent some good quality time with.
I’ve been so happy about this, because even if she isn’t “the one,” I thought that meeting young people like Sandy and her peer group would expand his horizons.
There are so many positives about her. She’s a tiny bit older than Adam, but that’s no biggie. She’s very smart and is about to get her masters. She’s also very talented and involved in an artistic endeavor in her limited spare time. She also works full-time in a helping career and has her own place.
So I had great hopes for this situation for Adam.
However, she told him recently that she thinks things are moving too fast. And I know he does that, but he moves fast in an “I care” way, not a sexually forward way.
This weekend Sandy told him she was sick, and she was, but then she went out with friends.
She did not invite Adam.
When Adam told me, I cried. He doesn’t know this because we were messaging instead of on the phone.
And I was furious with her. How dare she?
She knows he’s 7000 miles from home.
She knows he hasn’t been in the city long and is trying to make friends.
She knows he is fighting loneliness.
In my anger I told him that her actions showed a lack of basic human decency.
I mean, I don’t even live there and I went out of my way to put him in contact with a dear friend of mine that lives in that city!
But then, then, I took everything he has told me about her and said some very mean things.
I turned his descriptions of her, which weren’t negative, into negatives.
He mentioned she wasn’t thin. I turned that into overweight.
She’s older than he is. I turned that into “spinster.”
They went out for drinks. He paid, he always does.
I turned that into “likes to get drunk on your dime.”
As soon as I hit send I hated myself for saying it.
He stopped talking and so did I. I knew the reason.
I was so ashamed and really, I still am. I know Adam well enough to know that he won’t put up with mistreatment and he’ll know if he needs to end things.
He doesn’t need me telling him that, especially the way I did!
So silence ensues for many hours until he texts me the next day, about the snow.
I jump at the chance to apologize, but I shouldn’t have waited for a message from him to do so.
But I was afraid and ashamed.
So Adam starts talking:
And that’s how he is.
(*Adam=A*a. I’m changing his name, religion, home country, present city and army he served in.
I’ve started getting lots of hits on the blog for several different countries that hate his country.)
He just kept saying stupid things that made no sense.
I was so very tired. My job is hard, I also have a big event coming up this weekend for a non-profit I volunteer with. I did all the PR for the event and it was a lot. Scored a radio interview which lasted almost an hour and two TV interviews.
All of which I loved and am happy to contribute, but my brain was fried.
“Adam, stop being cryptic.”
[When we first met I was very curious about his army career and his country and honestly, he was wary and circumspect with me about those topics then.
I would ask a simple generic question and he would reply “CIA.”
Now me, being a conspiracy theorist ever since Craig J. Spence suicided himself after being caught settling up higher ups in the Bush administration with teen boy prostitutes, I had no problem respecting those boundaries Asa erected.
It wasn’t until we had known each other a while that he talked about his army time, and even so it never became a huge topic.]
The disconnected phrases felt like disrespect also. For no reason.
I’m the kind of person who can accept a valid criticism.
But yeah, you definitely need a reason to start any crap with me and I was firmly convinced I’d given no reason.
I know, this sounds like I’m patting myself on the back, and I will admit to doing that with him, (“I’m so good to you”), but his nonsensical messages were getting on my last nerve because I swear, I am absolutely ALWAYS there for him.
I’m not kidding or exaggerating. If you ever meet him, ask him.
And I am proud of that. I love being that friend. I’m, 100% down for him and he knows that like he knows his name.
Call me? I’ll always answer. (And be sincerely glad you called every single time. I’ll put whatever it is I am doing aside and focus completely on on you. And it will bring me joy to do so.)
Message me? I’ll always reply. Usually instantly. And I’ll try and be thoughtful.
Video chat while you eat a sandwich or go to Walmart? I’m your girl.
Keep you company while you scramble eggs or work your second job? Dang straight.
One, because I love him almost like he’s my child.
Two, he’s so much fun to talk to and we talk about the most interesting things. He is a conversationalist of unrivaled excellence.
Three, because after my failed but later restored friendship with Doug, Adam became in a sense my do-over with the universe. I mean, how many people get that kind of a second chance?
He was my opportunity to prove to God and myself that I could be a good friend. That I could be a help to someone and not a stumbling block. I didn’t know it at the time, in the beginning, but Adam was my proving ground, the place where my dignity and peace were restored.
Plus, y’all know the story by now. When I was deeply depressed over my mental sins, Adam was such a beautiful friend to me. He knew the worst thing about me and still decided to befriend me. Then he spent so much time talking me through the valley.
For about six weeks in the beginning of our friendship he was a lifeline to me in every sense of the word.
If I was upset and messaged him at 2:00 a.m. he would reply.
If he was for some reason awake at 3:00 a.m. and sensed I needed him, he would message me.
He told me jokes to cheer me up. He lifted my spirits and made me laugh.
He was there for me and for no other reason than the fact that kindness is his default setting.
But was he ever making me mad Wednesday night! Senseless strings of words that he was taking the time to tap out in What’s App, but yet, they made no sense.
Even when I tried to reply, just more words.
So I told him he wasn’t obligated. To talk to me.
It hurt my feelings because I had no idea what he was talking about by throwing out the seemingly random phrases.
Apropos of nothing, Adam said to me, “Honey Trap,” and then said nothing else for a long while.
To be continued.
You can’t stop us on the road to freedom You can’t stop us ’cause our eyes can see Men with insight, men in granite Knights in armor intent on chivalry She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey She’s an angel of the first degree She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey Just like honey, baby, from the bee You know she’s alright, oh she’s alright with me You know, you know, you know she’s alright, she alright with me You know, you know, you know you know You know she’s alright, alright with me She’s alright, she’s alright She’s alright with me She’s alright She’s alright with me She’s alright
She’s alright with me
The Book Groupie, aka Doug’s mistress, is coming back to my town this weekend.
Her travel is paid for as part of a grant she won, when he was still alive.
The first stage of the grant brought her here from 2700 miles away and I certainly could have lived without that stress!
The facility I now direct houses a historical archive of the publishing event person that was Doug’s friend. The mistress was a huge fan of publishing event subject, which is how she met Doug.
She and Doug planned to use our mutual friend’s home as a place to be together under the nose of his unsuspecting wife, but his condition worsened and he was lifeflighted to another larger city while she was forced to remain in classes at a nearby university to fulfill the requirements of the grant.
Our mutual friend lives near my office and the mistress stayed with Mutual Friend for a few days.
I prayed and fasted over that situation and begged God, “Lord, please, I absolutely can’t deal with this. Please protect me and make it so that I never have to see the mistress.”
At the time, I didn’t think that was even possible. I thought I was foolish for even asking God for that favor.
Adam called Friday on his way home from work, before his date with his newest girlfriend.
I had been happy about the last new girlfriend (now the ex) because she was smart AND had kept herself pure.
I know it’s old fashioned, but if I’m picking a girl, I don’t want one that’s been around the block a lot.
If at all possible, the mother of your future children should not be promiscuous.
So she (let’s call her Deena) checked that particular box in my mind.
However, friends don’t get a vote and that’s a good thing because what I liked about her was just a small part of what Asa needed.
There were some things about her that he realized he wasn’t interested in and one biggie he couldn’t respect.
(When he told me, I completely agreed and flashed back to a hesitation I’d had about her early on. I’d agreed with Adam’s mom about something in the relationship that we (unbeknownst to each other) thought Deena should have done more of. Asa doesn’t get mad at me often, but he was furious that night!)
To his credit, Adam did end things with Deena for a very good reason. I thought he did the right thing by breaking up with her and wished for his sake he’d done it earlier.
That entire experience reinforced something I’d pretty much already been convinced of: in matters of the heart, be a listener friend, not a, “You ought to do this,” type friend.
Wait!!! How did I get here!?!?
I started this post to talk about my young gay friend Derick and the road-rage shooting, and how telling Asa about Derick made me finally realize something:
Well, not in person, but vicariously I guess you could say.
Saturday morning, Adam messaged me his 13 point to-do list and I instantly texted him back, “14. Be sweet to Angel.”
Right as I hit send, the next message popped up.
He made my day by telling me I was a source of power for him, so I felt bad for adding number 14.
I told him a few weeks ago that I was like that puppy with the wet nose that always nudges your hand for a pat on the head.
He laughed and said, “Yes, you are. But at least you know it.”
But I also know that gets on his nerves at times. So I don’t know why I do it.
Maybe it’s because I’m subconsciously always looking for a reason for him to have an out?
I don’t know. I don’t like thinking about it. I don’t even know why I’m writing about it.
I really receive nothing but joy in my friendship with Adam. Maybe I think I don’t deserve it?
That guy though, he is great about putting up with me. He gives me so much of his time and puts a lot of effort into nurturing our friendship.
When I felt worthless, he reached for me. To help me. He was a friend to me.
Sometimes however, I do forget his steadfastness and I hold myself to a worryingly and weirdly high standard that no one could meet in reality.
Our Saturday conversation continues with a phone call and he says, “I did want to video chat but I know you won’t. You hate that.”
I have been selfish about those type of calls. Adam loves them and I really do to. But I’m always afraid.
I face my fear of them in that instant and I know full well it’s only because I’m vain.
I think to myself, “It’s Saturday morning! I don’t think I’ve brushed my hair since 8:00 a.m. and I know I don’t have on lipstick!”
That pricked my heart. I’m so self-centered.
I know him well enough to know that he never asks for anything.
And I know he’s grown. I know he served 4 years in one of the best armies in the world. I know he’s a brilliant man who recently graduated with honors from college and landed a great job in a highly competitive field.
I also know that he’s some mother’s son, that he’s 7000 miles from his family and he hasn’t been home in four years.
“No, I want to, I do!!! Adam, send the video chat request, I’ll accept it. But give me a second to at least brush my hair.”
So he did.
(And these videos calls really are different, they make you seem more “there.”)
It sounds like I’m patting myself on the back. I’m not. I love talking to him and he’s always a huge blessing to me, every time we talk.
But a really happy thing happened during this hour long video call: I visually saw our friendship all over his apartment!
Just little things I’d sent him over the past year. The butterfly on the window that I’d sent months ago, because it reminded me of one of our first conversations about God’s creation.
A red kitchen towel that I’d already forgotten about.
The off-brand Tupperware with the red lids.
A little foldable basket.
The teddy bear I sent for his firstborn. (I’m older than Asa. I might not be around then.)
Seeing everything made me feel like a part of him, like family. Like I am equal part of this friendship and I can stop worrying about being good enough, or witty enough, or smart enough, to earn it.
It felt like I was there.
When you’re down and troubled
and you need a helping hand,
and nothing, whoa nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.
You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby
to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
all you got to do is call
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You’ve got a friend.
If the sky above you
should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud now
and soon I’ll be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
all you got to do is call
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hey, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They’ll hurt you and desert you.
Well they’ll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don’t you let them.
You just call out my name and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Oh babe, don’t you know that,
Winter spring summer or fall,
Hey now, all you’ve got to do is call.
Lord, I’ll be there, yes I will.
You’ve got a friend.
You’ve got a friend.
I don’t deserve the life I have, I’ll tell you that upfront.
My beloved Mr. Conrad Acorn celebrated his 83rd birthday with me Tuesday. He’s the volunteer art teacher at the facility I direct and he is truly one of my life’s most interesting and endearing characters.
I went all out for him, for this birthday.
I can often be oblivious to the needs of others but somehow I knew in my heart that recognizing his special day would mean the world to him.
And it did.
I’d managed to keep the party a secret and find the most elaborate chocolate cake you can imagine.
I came in early to decorate and everything looked so festive.
So he of course cried. Then I did too, because I just love him so much.
After the party wound down he asked me to grab a bag he’d stored in his locker.
I noticed him walking in with with a Chico’s bag but I didn’t pay too much attention. He’s always shuffling supplies back and forth.
My intern Destiny grabbed the bag and handed it to me.
“To Angel: Thank you for everything.”
Inside was a beautiful leather purse to which he’d attached three charms.
I was shocked.
1. I adore leather purses but I never purchase them because I always think the money could be better spent on someone else.
2. I love charms. I just do. Of course, I never buy any and in fact don’t own a single one. Until now.
He took one look at the expression on my face and rolled his eyes. I started to protest and he gave me his fiercest stare.
“Don’t even start. I had no ideal you were throwing me a party. This isn’t because of that. You need a good leather purse for your trip.”
(I’m speaking at a conference in a neighboring city in April.)
He continued, “If you’re going to represent us, I want you to look nice.”
I thanked him over and over again. Until he gave me “that look” and said, “If you don’t stop I’m going to take it back.”
I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek and whispered one last thank you.
“You’re welcome my dear.”
It’s very hard for me to accept gifts. I’ve hardened everyone in my life to this and it’s been that way for years. I very rarely ever receive a gift.
That’s one thing my late friend Doug always fussed at me about. I have a hard time ever thinking I deserve anything at all, especially gifts.
I don’t think I deserve the gift I received from Mr. Acorn.
But for some reason this is different. It made me happy instead of guilty.
It wasn’t because it’s an expensive leather purse.
I’m the one who said no. I did care about him though.
Part of that care found me leaving his house Wednesday and stopping at the Walgreens on the corner to try and contact the other woman.
Yes he is married. I’m not defending what they did. I didn’t like her one bit and she was truly (mostly) bad for him.
But he asked me to “tell her.”
I knew what he meant.
I also knew (but hated to admit) that she brought him joy in those weeks between his cancer treatments.
He buried his reality and traveled through several states and into Canada with her. They stopped at every river they crossed and took selfies, lighting up their individual Instagrams like the 4th of July.
She was young and alive with love for him. He was staring down both barrels of death.
It was probably easy to rationalize their affair by believing that what the wife didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
Well you really got me this time
And the hardest part is knowing I’ll survive
I’ve come to listen for the sound
Of the trucks as they move down
Out on 95
And pretend that it’s the ocean
Coming down to wash me clean, to wash me clean
Baby, do you know what I mean?
I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham
I would hold my life in his saving grace
I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham
If I thought I could see, I could see your face
If I thought I could see, I could see your face
I thought for years that I loved this book because my father read it out loud to me when I was a child, and I adored him.
After he died and we moved his library to my house, I re-read “The Old Man and the Boy.”
I picked it up one afternoon when the grief was drowning me, just for the memories.
I quickly fell in love with the book on its own merits.
It took me away from everything and transported me to a hilly beach in North Carolina, to the sounds of birds and buoys knocking against a wooden boat.
The next day I found myself in a cold pine forest waiting for a covey of gently cooing quail.
As my son slept that night I went back to North Carolina and the smell of a good fire, a wet dog and gun oil.
Grief began to be replaced with memories of the outdoors with my dad. I started healing in the pages of “The Old Man and the Boy.”
I’ve re-read it several times since then and I still love it.
Each chapter stands alone and brilliantly tells of the Southern outdoor life while being woven around the relationship between a boy and his grandfather, and the Boy growing to manhood.
Mistakes are made, lessons are learned, and character is forged in the crucible of love, and eventually, a death.
It strikes me that what the world calls “toxic” is actually something this day and age could use more of, men teaching boys how to be men.
“The Old Man and the Boy” is a book in the key of my life.
In my mind I’m gone to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind?
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind
Karin, she’s a silver sun
You best walk her way and watch it shine
And watch her watch the morning come
A silver tear appearing now
I’m cryin’, ain’t I?
Gone to Carolina in my mind
There ain’t no doubt in no ones mind
That love’s the finest thing around
Whisper something soft and kind
And hey babe, the sky’s on fire
I’m dying, ain’t I?
Gone to Carolina in my mind
In my mind I’m gone to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
And, ain’t it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind?
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind
Dark and silent, late last night,
I think I might have heard the highway call
And geese in flight and dogs that bite
The signs that might be omens say
I’m goin’, I’m goin’
I’m gone to Carolina in my mind
With a holy host of others standin’ around me
Still I’m on the dark side of the moon
And it seems like it goes on like this forever
You must forgive me, if I’m up and gone to
Carolina in my mind
In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t is just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind
Gone to Carolina in my mind
And I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind
Goin’ to Carolina in my mind
Gone, I’m gone, I’m gone
Say nice things about me ’cause I’m gone south now
Got to carry on without me, I’m gone
All the pain of the past year crashed over me today and tonight. I realized that Doug didn’t really want to be friends again, no matter what he said. He was just manipulating me to insure I delivered on the professional services I’ve provided the past two weeks.
Around 1:00 pm I just couldn’t deal with knowing that any longer, so I went to bed and stayed there until after 7:00 pm. Any work I had to do, I did from my phone. (Thank you Steve Jobs.) Lights off, curtains drawn. Pretending to be asleep.
I felt so sorry for myself. I cried off an on all day. Boo hoo. I hate myself for doing that.
IF I WOULD LEARN TO KEEP THE WALLS UP WHERE DOUG IS CONCERNED HE WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO HURT ME OVER AND OVER AGAIN. But yeah, I’m a slow learner.
What a pity party. And I don’t like self-pity. Why am I living there then?
But I know what he means. He means he’s glad now that I said no.
He means he’s glad we can talk to each other without shame.
He means he’s glad to have me back in his life as the rock-solid friend I always was.
He ties up a few loose ends about the publishing event we were involved with and asks my advice about a final interview with a national reporter.
“I’m not sure if I should do it. I’m afraid of leaving too much on the table.”
I know that he wants me to interview him. I’ll be much softer on him than the national guy would.
I volunteer (again) and he says he’ll think about it.
“Not for publication, but would you write the questions and come interview me for a DVD for my family? I know I could use my IPad and tape myself, but I don’t know what to say.”
“Of course I will buddy. Let’s plan on Saturday.”
“Ok Angel, I’ll call you.”
But I know he won’t call, not about that.
I can tell he’s getting tired so I make up an excuse to log off.
“Wait, don’t go Angel.”
“What is it Doug?”
“You know a few months ago, and a few weeks ago, and all the other times you offered to bring food?”
“Yes, and the offer still stands.”
“Would you make me some fresh banana bread, from the recipe my mom gave you in October?”
“Yes buddy, I will. I’ll bring it tomorrow.”
“I was sipping on a Whiskeywhen I got the call
Yeah my friend Lex was lying in the hospital
She’d been pretty sick for about half a year
But it seems liked this time the end was drawing near
So dropped my plans andjumped the next London train
I found her laid up and in a lot of pain
Her eyes met mine and then I understood
That her weather forecast wasn’t looking too good
So I sat and spun her stories for a little while
Tried to raise her mood and tried to raise a smile
But she silenced all my rambling with a shake of her head Drew me close and listen this is what she said
“You’ll live to dance another day,
It’s just now you’ll have to dance,
For the two of us, so stop looking so damn depressed
And sing with all your heart that the Queen is dead”
He’s still little, Aidan is. Six years old and only started kindergarten in September.
We bonded over the summer when I introduced butcher paper and bright markers into his world.
He drew towns and cities and worlds for hours on end. Cars, ships and houses.
“Draw your house here Midth Angel.”
He didn’t talk much then, and still has a hard time with words. But he can draw, and tells complex stories with his drawings.
“Dith is me and MidulAngelo. He prodects me at home. We met on de Ditantic and daved people.
[Met on the Titanic.]
Aidan loves me. I know that he does and I don’t know why. I love him right back.
When his family of five arrives at my facility he he’s always the first in the door. I see him before he sees me and I don’t deserve the look on his face as he scans the room to find me.
He runs to me like a whirling dervish, yelling “Hey, Hey!”
Heads turn at the noise of him, but I don’t shush him. Not this golden child.
Hands out for a happy high-five, I say, “hey buddy, how are you?”
As is with most kids, the niceties are lost on him and he launches right into what he wants to talk about.
“Somethingsomething, we saw it! Indiscernible and dis is Baby Groot.”
Brushing dark hair out of his big brown eyes, he looks up at me with complete trust. Plastic Baby Groot is offered with outstretched hands.
Oh sweet little one. Did you know that I can’t always understand what you say? Is that why you started bringing the Target ads, to show me your favorite super heroes?
“Dis is de Iwon Man Wego but Twny Start is not weally in dere-a-uh.”
(In Aidan’s vocabulary, some words at the end of a sentence have two and often three sing-song syllables.)
You funny little fella. You roll your eyes at me when I tell you I’ve never seen the movies you bring and place in my lap.
The Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain America. Thor.
“My sons have seen them though,” I say.
“Ou can’t have doose boys. I’m woure boy,” he proclaims, pointing at his chest.
“Wake the deal-uh,” Aidan insists, holding out his hand to shake on it.
“Ok buddy, you can be my boy while you’re here today.”
Then for the briefest of moments I allow myself to remember another boy who was mine for a day. The newborn son who lies in a cold grave near his grandparents, his birth and death dates the same.
It seems forever ago, but it wasn’t. It’s just that the girl I used to be was also buried that day.
“Would my son have been like Aidan? Overjoyed with the smallest of attentions? Elated with a big empty piece of paper onto which he could draw his own universe?”
“Is he mad at me that he died? Does he think it was my fault? Does he love me?”
“Does he know that I was so young and afraid? That I thought the doctors knew best when they sent me home that night?”
“Who would he be now?”
I still ask those things, the questions without answers. This side of Heaven, I’ll never know.
I do know this though, grief paralyzed me after he died. Then shame strangled me.
“Her baby died. I’m not sure what happened. But she’s not even taking care of her two-year old. Her younger sister comes every day and stays there most nights.”
The gossip was right. I didn’t take care of anyone then, not even myself.
All I did was lay in bed and relive over and over not fighting back when the doctor said, “Oh you aren’t in labor. It’s too early. Go home and rest.”
I relived giving birth with just my husband in the room, him screaming for help when I told him what was happening.
Relived how peaceful it felt when the baby moved against my legs and I thought for a few seconds that he might not die.
The flashbacks of holding him never stopped. He struggled to breathe, before they took him to “see if there was anything that could be done for him.”
“He’s little though. Don’t expect a miracle.”
But the worst thing was constantly reliving my sister entering the room 45 minutes later, holding the baby.
“I found him next to the sink, on the counter. They said he died and nothing could be done. They were waiting for the doctor to finish stitching you up before they brought him back. But he’s moving. He’s not dead.”
I relived reaching out for the baby. His chest slowly rising and falling. Then faster frantic breaths, his tiny fingers jerkily grasping, his head moving from side to side as he fought for air.
My husband screaming again at the call button speaker.
Then, the baby just didn’t take another breath. I relived the deathly silence. Over and over again.
For months afterward I stayed in my dark bedroom clutching the blanket he was wrapped in, my wet tears mingling with tiny drops of dried blood. (My blood, not his. He was perfect.)
One day my two-year old son came in and patted me on the cheek. Silently, he touched my face. Sweet little fingers tried to gently pry open my eyes.
“Mommy get up. Mommy come back. Mommy come play.”
So I did.
The empty shell of me tried to live a semblance of a life. I mostly failed. But I was up walking around and to everyone in my life, that seemed to be a huge improvement.
I prayed for months after my son died, that God would give me a dream of the baby.
I so desperately needed to see him somewhere besides that tiny casket. Somewhere besides being lowered into the hard red dirt.
Over a year later God answered that prayer.
I dreamed I was in church when a laughing toddler with wavy dark hair and big brown eyes peaked over the pew in front of me. His chubby little arms stretched towards me, smiles wreathing his face.
I reached for him but before I could hold him, the dream ended. I awoke with full knowledge and memory of my baby as I saw him, his soul alive.
I started the long journey of healing at that moment in time. Bitterness of soul lingered, but my wavering faith was completely replaced with sure knowledge that I will hold my son again one day.
פיראטים קדומים, כן הם שדדו אותי
מכרו אותי לספינות הסוחר
דקות לאחר שלקחו אותי
מן הבור חסר התחתית
אך ידי נעשתה חזקה
בעזרת ידו של הכל-יכול
התקדמנו בדור הזה
האם לא תעזרו לשיר
את שירי החירות האלה
כי כל מה שיש לי הם
Won’t you help to sing
This songs of freedom-
‘Cause all I ever have:
I’ve been trying to write this since last Friday, when Doug came tripping back into my life.
There are several posts in draft form that will probably never see the light of day. I think I tried too much to write about what happened and all the drafts all sounded like I was trying way too hard.
And I was.
So now I’m trying to not try too hard.
Here’s what happened: Last Friday at work, Doug came to see me, to ask me to forgive him. I’d not seen him since last December and never expected to see him again, until his funeral.
But there he was.
I heard him call my name before I saw him. I jumped up from my desk and flew into his arms, instantly in tears.
Beside my name, the only words he said in those first few moments were, “I’m so sorry for how I treated you, please forgive me.” He kept repeating those words.
“I’m not mad Doug, it’s ok, it’s ok.” And I wasn’t mad. I forgave him a long time ago, and had asked him to forgive me.
Until now, he’d never said the same words to me. He never said he was sorry for any of it.
I flashed back to all those days I’d felt so put out about that, and how I thought if he’d just say he was a little bit sorry, how it would fix me.
But he never did, until Friday. And the fact that he drove all the way out there to do that? Y’all, that was a miracle in and of itself.
As he apologized I felt redeemed in a way, but it didn’t have the huge impact on me that I always imagined it would. Isn’t that strange?
I felt his crying and shaking. So I held him, just like I did at the lake when he cried about being so young to die.
We then sat down at a small table to talk. He continued to be very emotional and broke into tears often. He had so much to tell me and while he talked, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I felt nothing troublesome, no wrong emotions. I felt what I did about him originally, just a friend, someone that I cared about, but nothing else.
Just peace. Just love. Just pity.
He looked so young, so sweet, almost angelic in a way, I can’t explain it. All his hair had fallen out and he’s lost so much weight. He talked about trying to make it to his March birthday. I can’t see that happening.
We talked about God, he’s still struggling with the why of everything. I would probably do the same.
As our conversation wound down he said, “My wife and I reconciled, she’s asleep in the car. I want you to meet her.” It instantly felt like the most right thing in the world.
We walked out and he tapped on the window. She was still asleep and I hated that we had to approach her like that. But Doug insisted and so we did.
Her eyes fluttered open and she saw me and smiled. “You must be Angel. Doug’s told me so much about you.”
She reached out to hug me. And I loved her. Just like that. And THAT made me feel like God had really forgiven me.
Who am I,
That the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I,
That the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
Not because of who I am
But because of what you’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who you are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I’m calling
Lord, you catch me when I’m falling
And you’ve told me who I am
I am yours
Who am I,
That the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again?
Who am I,
That the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?
Not because of who I am
But because of what you’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who you are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I’m calling
Lord, you catch me when I’m falling
And you’ve told me who I am
I am yours
Since I started writing again, I’ve also started listening to music again, so the lyrics challenge is right up my alley. (It seems strange today, to think that for several years I didn’t do either. Depression, ugh.)
I also wrote a poem today, and one of Stevie Nicks songs seemed to fit the mood of the poem, so “Has Anyone Every Written Anything for You” is featured.
I know I can’t get to all three days of the challenge, but I am going to nominate the very musical blogger ArtisanX at Proscenium.Me.
I know he thinks of me at times, my ex-friend Doug. Or he has in the past few weeks anyway.
He started messaging me the day his Book Groupie went back to Vermont.
(God Himself must have intervened in that situation for not only did the Book Groupie never show up at my facility, her ability to get to Doug was severely limited by his emergency hospitalizations. I’m sorry he’s not feeling better, but I am so glad she stayed away from me. That is an answered prayer and one I am so very grateful for.)
When I saw the first new message from Doug, there was this narrow sense of surprise and a feeling of, “that’s nice of him.”
But as quick as it bubbles up, it swirls away. And I fight with myself after every single message from him, over what I really want to say.
Not sure which part of me wins, but I have yet to say what I’m thinking.
I wonder, at this point, what purpose would my speaking up serve though? All I originally wanted to do is defend myself. I wanted him to stop acting crazy and go back to Good Doug.
I’m definitely not trying to make him feel better about anything he did to hurt me. But now, it’s all so far in the rear-view mirror. Besides his messages and calls, there isn’t even any evidence in my life that I ever even knew Doug, except for my friendship with Asa. And that friendship has evolved so very far from it’s beginning that I bear no resemblance to the person I was.
Doug sent me several photos, but I’ve not seen him since December. I don’t suppose I will see him again, except in his casket.
I suspect that it doesn’t really matter now. I think I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever be resolved. And maybe “not resolved” is how it is resolved. At one point I desperately wanted to say goodbye, but now?
I knew this about him, how mean he could be, how he never ever apologizes for anything.
But it’s still extremely weird to have walked through being one of the people he was mean to. I was like his child, his pet, his project. I saw him erupt at others but we just had this very solid friendship for so long. So that all still feels so strange.
Almost like it was in a parallel universe.
So, the first message from him, in quite a while:
He asked me if I was in the loop with our Mutual Friend about his health.
I told him, “Doug, first of all, I’m never going to ask Mutual Friend about you out of respect for your privacy and second, I’m never going to put either one of us in the bizarre position of explaining why in the world I would need a health update on you, from her.” Because that is the absolute truth.
I’m never in a million years going to ask her anything about him. She might mention something in passing, very rarely, but as long as all three of us still live, he’ll never hear her say, “I saw Angel yesterday, she asked about you.”
So he proceeds with a horrible horrible health update. Things are about in the end of the second stage of “worst,” if “worst” was divided into three categories.
The update made me cry, but I didn’t tell him. I just said, “I’m going to need a moment to absorb all this.”
He instantly and snarkishly replied, “I wish I had the leisure of time that you have, for absorbing this, that must be nice.”
YOU HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO ABSORB THIS. You choose the experimental treatment instead of having the tumor removed so you could get away from your wife and go spend three months with the Book Groupie.
And he did have three months to absorb all of this. He gave me about 30 seconds! At the time he informed me, I was driving down the interstate and sorry, but I just couldn’t reply how he obviously wanted me to.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
I also wondered if he’d now say keeping that tumor and watching it grow for three months was the wisest course of action. ( I tried to get him to have it removed within a few days of finding it. I could barely feel it through his shirt, it was so small. Like a hard pea.) But he kept the tumor in, so he could get into a three month drug trial near the Book Groupie. Within just a month or two of the decision to let it grow until the trial opened, it had gotten about 10 times bigger.
That ran through my mind, but I didn’t say it.
When I arrived at my destination I wrote, “Sorry I couldn’t drive down the interstate doing 80 and properly respond to your message.” And I proceeded to write this really long and what I thought was sweet and sympathetic message. When really, I had no idea at all what to say to him.
Part of me is thinking, “Doug, you hurt me, you hated me, you manipulated me. WHY are you reaching out to me, of all people?”
He treated my unfairly, cruelly and beyond harsh. He manipulated me into providing him with $3000 worth of professional services. He tried to frighten me by coming by my house dropping location pings. That’s the short list.
I mean, I could go on and on about the hateful things he did, including saying I was insane, (when I asked him why he was mad at me,) and his backhanded slams at me when I asked his advice on going for the new job.
Why is he looking to me now? Why does he want to talk to me? Why is he messaging me so often? Now, after everything? I’m not equal to the task, even if we didn’t have the history we have.
Yes, we were friends. I do actually miss him as a friend. I just do not know how to walk back down the path of him.
I do, in some respects, I do want to be his friend, and be there for him, if he needs me. I pray for him. I know he’s suffering. I wish I could do something to help.
But why does he think treating me like hell for more than a few months means he can drop bad news on me at any time and expect something meaningful in return, in 30 seconds? He is mad that I can’t instantly comfort him?
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Since that first longer conversation, he’ll tell me updates every few days. He’s called a few times, but I’ve missed his calls.
I don’t know why I don’t call him back.
So he messages me: His hair is finally falling out. He’s out of the hospital. He might have 6 months if the chemo works. He’s sick from it most of the time. His right arm is twice as big as the left due to lymph nodes being damaged.
I reply that I’m praying for him, because I am.
Then he’s sent an ongoing series of notices of events or articles he thinks I might be interested in.
Just like anything you’d drop a note to a friend about. Not even anything that requires an answer or follow up from me.
So I plant one of those big thumbs-up thingies on it and go about my life. I don’t know what else to do.
When I look back I’ll be able to say
You didn’t mean to be cruel
Somebody hurt you too”
Post Script: He came to my workplace in September 2018 and apologized, and asked me to forgive him.
So much life, and so too, so many hard things. And good things. And blessed things.
Isn’t that just like me though? In a sea of blessings, I’m logging in to write about a fear. Here it is:
I’m afraid when I realize that I’m so fallible. I’m afraid when I sometimes give you my honest opinion. I don’t think I’m wrong about what I believe on that subject. But when it’s all said and done, I don’t think what I believe really matters, as far as your situation goes, and I deeply regret offering my thoughts on that issue. I regretted it before the conversation was over and I know you could tell that.
Destiny pulled a fast one and dropped out of her scheduled cosmetology classes and came to me asking if she could start as my intern for school credit THAT DAY. I was anticipating January and thought I had plenty of time to get a plan together. BUT NO.
There she is in tears needing a place, and even though she’s caused massive problems for me in the past, I can’t say no. I do honestly love her and have felt massively guilty that I didn’t try working things out with her before. Seriously, God plagued my heart with so much guilt over that situation.
So I said yes and it looks like we’ll both be getting a second chance with each other.
Right out of the gate, she confided in me about a HUGE relationship issue she. She met a 28 year old guy in a Furry Fandom (I think that’s what it’s called?) and he was all about her, buying art supplies and clothes for her. She’s 18, sort of a big age gap, but I could see it working if they made it through a couple of years. I’m traditional, I think marriages work better if the guy is the leader and an age gap lends itself to that.
But then she informs me that he admitted he is formally dating a nurse, but wants to stay friends with her because she’s the only one who knows and is accepting of his furry penchant.
“He likes furry she-males Miss Angel.”
WHAT THE EVER LOVING….. No No No. Just no a million times. I’m not qualified for any part of this discussion.
Then I remember, yes, I am qualified. So I sat her down and told her about my friend Todd. I cried all the way through it. I think because, while I’ve written here about his being secretly gay and giving others AIDS before he committed suicide, I’ve never verbally, face to face, told the story.
I summed it up with this, still shooting for delicacy. “Destiny, when it comes down to it, if what makes him happy is seeing male equipment instead of female equipment, you’ll always be a disappointment to him and you deserve better than that.”
I guess time will tell if she listens to me or not.
Mr. Williams returns!
I was so worried that he had died, my client with cancer. I searched the local papers for obituaries and set a Google alert for his name. It’s been about three weeks since he’s been in and I could set my watch by him previously.
He came in Wednesday and went directly to the two chairs that face each other. Usually he hem-haws around before he ends up there so I knew he wanted to talk when he went directly there.
Things are not looking good for him. His situation is about as dire as dire can be. In every way that can be, this man is in what looks like the very worst of places.
This is a jumpy post. I’m sort of just here to write, to take my mind off something hard I’m supposed to be thinking about. I just don’t want to deal with it though, so I’m avoiding it.
On a completely different note….
I just realized I spend most of my week with three guys who have autism or Aspergers.
Ask me if I have any training or education in that field.
Jake, my 68 year old volunteer with Aspergers, has started to slightly confide in me. He’s also doing a lot of physical tasks for me. That’s new.
I don’t ask him to do the tasks. I’ll just catch him out of the corner of my eye emptying the garbage, or putting caps back on markers. Little things, but things that definitely help me.
He’s also stopping by now every afternoon except Wednesday. And if he doesn’t have a doctors appointment, he’ll stop by Wednesday.
When I say stop by, what I mean is that he comes in after lunch and stays until end of business.
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
When everyone leaves and it’s just he and I, he will open up.
I asked him what his biggest complaint is about me and he said, “Your playlist needs improving.”
So he tells me all this old head-banging music he wants me to play. Cream. Deep Purple.
Then he switches to early Ray Charles and tries to explain time signatures to me.
“Jake, stop, stop. I have no idea what that even means.”
He proceeds to illustrate it on his knee.
“Jake, it’s 4:45. I skipped lunch. I’m out of coffee. I just want to brush my teeth. I’m not getting it.”
He stops and rolls his eyes at me, saying, “Oh please, you could comprehend it if you’d just try.”
He can be very sarcastic and unsympathetic to my complaints.
Like a bratty kid sister, I play something I know he’s not crazy about and turn it up loud.
“When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain
You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright
People keep talking
they can say what they like
But all I know is everything’s going to be alright”
I feel like I’m in a tug of war for my attention between Jake, Josh (14, high-functioning autism), and Danny, 18.
I’m not quite sure how to describe Danny. He has autism and some other problems. He’s personable and reads extremely well, but about 9 mentally. But that’s only sometimes. He can tell a great story, he’s funny.
Danny is very jealous though. I need to find a way to overcome that. No matter how much attention I give him (and I give him a LOT), it’s not enough.
Josh, I know he has stolen from me. But I still love him. I just keep the cabinet key in my pocket at all times.
Josh and I had a very deep conversation today. He’s the biggest kid, but so very brilliant on many levels.
He’s angry at God because his mother died. He also wants to argue me insane about how this country should not have borders.
Poor kid. He just wants to prove he is compassionate and cares more about humanity than God does.
Still no sign of the Book Groupie (in person) but she did sign up for Twitter and follow my work account and personal account. Like being a freak on Facebook wasn’t enough.
I almost feel sorry for her. She came all this way to see and spend time with Doug, but he’s out of her reach.
Unexpectedly hospitalized last week and taken by air-ambulance this week, to a city 200 miles away.
He made a public Facebook post a few days ago. I missed it because I never look at his social media now, but our Mutual Friend told me about it.
I felt a little guilty that I didn’t care more. And that I almost felt nothing at all.
Maybe some sadness for him, because he’s dying, whether he’s ready to see it or not.
More sadness for his wife and stepchildren. They love him a lot.
I felt nothing for myself, except I did wonder for a few minutes if maybe he was so extremely manipulative and hateful to me because the cancer had affected him mentally.
He was a solid, decent guy for a long time. Until he wasn’t.
My volunteer Destiny has taken a nosedive in attitude and cleanliness so I’ve had to keep my small auxiliary office closed and locked since last week.
After cleaning up after her for what seems like the 100th time, it hit me, “I’m through cleaning up behind you Destiny.”
She’d also gotten to the point where she did nothing but play online.
None of her volunteer tasks were completed last week. She just sat and sat and sat.
She’s insulted that she doesn’t have that office any longer and didn’t come in today.
I’m ok with that.
Her older sister came in yesterday and set her 3 year old loose. “He has ADD, I can’t control him.”
Excuse me? You’re a grown woman. Get up off your rear end and corral that child!
The kid started being very destructive and throwing items at other children, so I had to ask Destiny’s sister to go and stop her child. I asked nicely and quietly.
Instead of doing that, and walking the 6 feet to him, she just started screaming at him. Full throated screaming.
So he started throwing cr*p at her.
I reached out and touched her hand and whispered, “Mandy, no screaming please.”
It was not the tea party I envisioned when I took the job.
Ok, I’ve thought about it, I don’t feel guilty.
But I have realized that I’m uncomfortable being the one to have to tell grown people how to act.
After things calmed down and Jake and I were the only ones there, Asa called me.
I saw his name pop up on my phone and I was so happy I almost cried. It was such a hard day yesterday and Asa just gives me peace in my heart.
I’m also all stressed out over the Book Groupie maybe walking in the door of my facility. She hasn’t shown up yet but she sent a (used!) facility gift through our mutual friend.
(Insert eye roll: it’s not really a gift if you used it first is it?)
Bless Jake for taking over for that last hour so I could get on the phone.
I try and whine about having to deal with the crazy of married ex-friend Doug and his married girlfriend here from Vermont. Asa is having none of that from me.
“Angel, what will you do in Heaven when you have to see people you didn’t like on Earth? Let it go.”
He’s right, I know. I just don’t want to have to deal with it.
(On the Doug front, he was taken by air-ambulance yesterday to a larger city about 200 miles from here. He has been in the hospital since last Monday. His wife is with him and the Book Groupie has to show up for the classes in this city to get reimbursed with the grant. It’s interesting how that worked out for them. Going to such lengths to be together under his wife’s nose, but his worsening condition prohibited them from being together at all so far.)
Asa tells me jokes and makes me smile. He tells me stories of what’s going on in his life, his trip to Walmart, cookies that irritated him, his new laptop, new apartment, and his job interview in Chicago next Wednesday.
We talk about rum and he correctly guesses that I worry about that. He hardly ever drinks but you know, I’m always a “what if” person.
He reminds me of how easily he is able to walk away from anything or anyone that he thinks he’s over-indulging in. Ha, I can verify that yes, he has the ability to up and walk away….
I forget my problems and stress, while we talk, happily falling out of my life for a bit, and falling into his.
This post really isn’t about Jake, (or is it?) but since he was there and he’s an adult, I’ll make him the focus.
Wait, no, that won’t work.
Here’s what happened. Josh, 14, high functioning autistic, was sitting across the table from me for the second day of Jake’s (68, Aspergers) photo albums. And Josh had a major freak out.
(These albums were not interesting like the day before. Just long dead family members. But I feel like Jake does a lot to help me, and just like the younger group, he needs me too, in some ways. So we looked at old photos all afternoon.)
I felt like I was going to pass out from boredom. Then my brother called.
I took the call at the table since I knew it was going to be just a quick update on whether or not he could get his adopted son into a therapeutic boarding school. (Son has been on a rampage of theft, assault and battery and running away since January.)
Josh overheard “boarding school” and lost it. He started fist clenching and doing it very obviously. (He’s a little bit of a Drama Queen when he feels like it.)
When the calls ends, Jake starts back with narrating the albums and seems as usual, oblivious to the rising tension in the room.
“Josh, what’s wrong buddy?” I asked.
He blurts out all his objections to boarding schools and how it’s not fair to the kid, and how it makes him furious.
Josh is shaking all over now and his face is bright red. He takes of his glasses and rubs his eyes vigorously to disguise his tears.
Jake points at a faded photo and drones on about his great-aunt Mildred being a champion roller skater, without missing a beat.
I have no idea how to handle Josh. This is not my field, I’m not trained in any aspect of handling things of this nature but I can tell Josh is about to blow. He has started banging his knees against the underside of the table.
I give God a quick mental prayer. “Lord please help.”
Then Jake whispers to me, “Touch base.”
I look at him quizzically and he nods his head towards Josh and repeats, “Touch base.”
I slid my hand across the table and held it out to Josh.
“Josh, touch base buddy, give me your hand.”
“No, it’s not right, you can’t just throw kids away. That’s what they threatened me with when my mother m died. Nobody wanted me. I know what happens to kids there.”
Josh is full on crying now and I know he’s not hearing me. He is someplace else, and I’m not Miss Angel to Josh, right at this moment.
Fear is taking hold because this is not something I know how to deal with AT ALL.
Jake looks at me, then Josh. He clears his throat and says firmly, “Josh, come back son. Come back and touch base.”
The sound of Jake’s voice knocks Josh out of his reverie of pain. It shocks all of us actually.
Jake never speaks to the teen volunteers. He’ll say hello, maybe, on a good day. Usually he just acknowledges them with a nod.
Josh reaches out and grabs my hand and puts his head down on the table. His shoulders visibly un-tense, his eyes close and his breathing comes back to a slow regular pattern.
Jake says, “This photo was taken in Hawaii. It’s after my parents left China, but before Pearl Harbor. I think they were happy then.”
Then he turned the page.
*Featured photo courtesy of Jake’s photo album.
*Before he broke his elbow, Josh was a star pitcher on a travel ball baseball team. “Touch base.”
So today the secretary for my favorite alderman called.
“Hi Angel, hate to bother you, but our ISP emailed us this morning to say that someone is searching for “gay furries, gay furries free action videos, and the such like. It’s all taking place on terminal seven. And whoever it is, the videos are being watched.”
Terminal seven, the computer Destiny exclusively uses, in the very small adjacent office.
My day to this point was not going swimmingly, to say the least.
I had just finished a phone call with our board chair. A last minute discovery about the grant I’m applying for meant that I needed him to stop by and take a document to be notarized before 3:00 pm, bring it back to me, pick up a larger packet of materials I was in the process of printing, and get it all in the mail before 4:00.
He’s recovering from surgery.
I had no choice but to ask him.
I couldn’t leave, the boys home group of 11 was scheduled for today.
Even if the boys were not scheduled, I didn’t have a car there.
Last night, on the way to an interview, my car started acting crazy again. In the car with me were two board members. We had to turn around, leave my car at work and take Mrs. Junkins car.
She handed me the keys and said, “Do you mind driving dear?”
YES I MIND!!! I want you drive yourself and let me call my husband to come get me, and my car now instead of him having to get out of bed to come get me when this event is over!!!!
But I didn’t say that. I just got in the car and drove.
On the bright side it was an Escalade….
So back to today:
Danny, in full blown special needs mode, is walking around muttering about Steve Irwin being dead while he pantomimes a jab at his chest.
In his normal voice he repeats over and over, “A stingray, right in the heart!” and interjects, “Crikey, Mate!” in his best (loud) Steve Irwin voice.
Danny is a great mimic and sounds just like Steve.
A child visiting our facility tugs on his mother’s sleeve. “Make him stop mommy.”
She raised her eyebrows and cocked her head in Danny’s direction.
I covered the phone and said, “I can’t make him stop, he just has to get it out of his system.”
She rolls her eyes the way I used to do when people didn’t control their unruly children.
I sat down and buried my head in my arms, pushing the phone tighter to my ear.
“Mrs. Funderburk, gay furry action videos, is that porn?” I asked.
“Yes dear, it’s pornography, I just don’t like using that word.”
I heard the door open and knew the boys home had arrived. They call out to Destiny as they thunder down the hall past the open door.
“Hey girl, you lookin’ hot today.”
“Come over here and let me see you girl.”
I can’t address the gay furries porn problem today. I just can’t deal with it.
I reach over and unplug the server. Groans erupt from several different areas. Someone calls out, “Hey, we just got knocked offline!”
“So sorry!” I say cheerily.
“Must be residual effects from yesterday’s storm.”
I’ve gone on and on about how great my 14 year old volunteer Josh is.
That sentence seems clunky but I’m tired.
Here’s what happened. He came in today with a speech to make about how much he loves us, (Destiny, Danny and I) and how for the first time since his mom died he feels at home, and accepted.
I believe he was completely sincere. I sent him a card Friday with $20 in it to say thanks, and he spent every bit of it to buy pizza, cokes, and hot wings today.
He was very precious this morning, walking in so proud, loaded down with the makings of a party. He walked in like he knew he is loved. And he is. We love him.
Danny, my special needs volunteer/trainee was over the moon. He said, “Josh, you the best, man. We gonna have us a party up in this joint!”
Destiny, she was probably the happiest of all, because: food.
But, (why does there always have to be a but?) later in the day he kept getting my keys to look in the cabinets where I now lock my purse.
And it was weird. He would make a proclamation about getting the key, then he’d come right back out with nothing in his hands.
I felt like he was conditioning me to give him my key. So my radar was up.
Then in the late afternoon he just went in and rummaged around so I quietly stood up to see what was up. Sweet Danny asked me where I was going and got up to follow me so Josh had some warning I was coming.
He stepped out right as we came around the corner and said (without being asked,) “If you want to know what I’m looking for, I’m looking for markers.”
There are markers all over the place, I keep them out on almost every table.
Meanwhile Danny is saying, “What are you and me going to do Miss Angel?”
I thought on my feet and said, “I’m just grabbing my purse to take some aspirin, I have a headache.”
I reached for my purse and found it had been unzipped.
After my wallet was stolen the first week, (before Josh was even a thought,) I should know better I guess, than to even bring it in.
Thanks to my years in media work, I happen to know that it’s Forgiveness Day. I still get those handy dandy calendar update emails that I never got around to unsubscribing to.
When it popped in my inbox yesterday. I immediately rolled my eyes.
“Oh please. That’s ridiculous. People have ever right to stay mad at someone who hurt them.”
But I’ve been reconsidering that, thanks to the memory of my grandfather.
He was always an angry man. Angry at life, angry at “freeloaders,” angry with the government, angry at The Depression, angry at his father, you name it, he was mad.
(That having been said, he and I had a very close and warm relationship. I loved him dearly and still miss him. For some reason he liked me, maybe because I was his first girl grandchild.)
But for my grandfather, life was one big opportunity to stay mad.
For some things, he had very valid reasons. His own father was a rounder. He always held jobs, and what would be considered good jobs during the time period, (fixer at the mill, owned his own small restaurants in two popular locations in the 40’s.)
But gambling, night life and the ladies owned my great-grandfather. And it was his eight children who paid the price. He took the oldest three boys out of school and put them to work in the cotton mills, signing affidavits that they were old enough to be employed. Age 12. Those documents still exist in the archive of that city.
His wife was often ill, she was diabetic before synthetic insulin was widely available. Her young daughters had to take turns staying home from school to care for her and the newest baby. She died not long after her youngest son Boykin died at age 11 of a ruptured appendix.
My grandfather said Boykin was sick for days and days before he died. (Every male child of my grandfather carries Boykin’s middle name as their middle name and my uncle continued that tradition with his five boys.)
“The old man was out on a month-long bender. We couldn’t find him. He came home the night Boykin died.”
Their lives were very hard, much harder than they had to be. And my own grandfather never forgot or forgave his father.
I’m thinking of my grandfather today, and how the memory of his father could still make him cry at the age of 70. How we could not mention our great-grandfather in his presence or tell anyone that we had been to see him.
It was never directed at me, but I well remember my grandfather’s rage at the mention of his father’s name. Once he and his two younger sisters almost came to blows arguing about how sorry the old man was.
The younger sisters don’t remember the bad times during the Depression as well as their older brother did, when the days were not infrequent they didn’t eat, and when they did eat, it wasn’t much.
The sisters more resent their mother since they were the ones tasked with her responsibilities, including caring for her babies.
I’m just thinking about all that. I don’t know that there is even anything here except some memories.
I just know I want to live different.
But the hardest person to forgive I find, is myself.
After the awful kerfuffle with my teen girl volunteers, I think I mentioned that Destiny came back.
They have all come back, but it’s Destiny that shines the brightest, of that group anyway.
(Josh, 14, is far and away the very best volunteer ever.)
It took Destiny and I a few weeks to somewhat trust each other again. I’m not sure that’s all the way fixed. But she comes every day and sets herself up in a smaller auxiliary office.
At first, I wanted her in the main part of the facility, but then it just seemed so needful to her, to have her own space. I told her to stay there, unless Jake comes in. Then, his seniority dictates that she abdicate what she seems to view as her throne.
However now that Jake feels more comfortable around me (as long as I’m at least a foot or two away), he will stay in the main room most of the time. I increased the font on my computer and showed him how to do a needful admin task, so Destiny more often that not keeps her space in the private office.
I however lose my space and computer access during those times and operate solely from my phone. Thank you Steve Jobs.
Back to Destiny…
She is a very talented artist who has never had any instruction past what her rural school provided.
The supplies and tuition for art lessons are out of her family’s reach.
Her father is disabled with a brain injury (he functions but has very little short term memory) and her mom works to support the family which includes her brother, who is bipolar, and his three children.
So she has a few strikes against her on the home front.
And the personal front:
The one day I brought a sandwich she asked if she could eat it, instead of fixing her own.
(I started purchasing food for my teen volunteers once I realized they were hungry. I usually don’t eat very much during the day and just constantly drink coffee. I’m no paragon of virtue in buying the food. I just realized that they all got very moody when they didn’t eat lunch, which was EVERY DAY. So yeah, took my self right over to the Walmart across the street and loaded up on whole wheat bread, sandwich meat, milk and fruit.)
I gave her gas money to pick up another teen volunteer and she kept the money and never gave the other girl a ride. Destiny says the girl wasn’t home. The girl said she was.
She uses my headphones without asking.
She does not bathe that often.
She takes off her shoes in the office, with attendant odor problems.
She likes to eat pretty much constantly and leaves crumbs everywhere.
She never cleans up behind herself.
I introduced her to the chairman of our board last week and she hardly looked up at him. She just kept cutting her huge sandwich in half. Which was strange in and of itself, because I know she is going to eat the whole thing and will fix another one for the road before she leaves.
She dresses inappropriately for our setting. When the boys from the local boys home come in, I have to close the door to the small office she stays in.
I’ve tried to kindly explain to her that shorts shouldn’t be short enough to show the world your panties.
She pouts about that, and a lot of other things.
But I love her. She honestly makes my heart swell ten times bigger. For the past two weeks, I can tell she is opening the doors again, to me, to trust.
She’s started coming into the main room more frequently, seeking me out to show me something. Her dress from Comicon. The boots she is saving to buy. Her new false eyelashes. A makeup tutorial she is doing in between answering the phone and doing filing tasks in the small office.
She’s pulled away from the drama and gossipy activities of the younger three teen girl volunteers. (YAY, so much.)
Last week she told me that she broke up with her boyfriend in Atlanta. She’s not ready for where he wanted to take things. I’m glad to hear that.
But most of all, I’m so glad the trust is returning. I don’t think I have something magical to offer her, just a safe place where she is accepted and encouraged (I need to do more of that). And a place where she can feel like she’s needed.
I introduced her to Josh’s grandmother a few weeks ago. Grandma is retired from a local college and immediately saw in Destiny what I saw. She bought Destiny an ACT study book and spends some time with her about once a week, talking about college and making it real to her, making it seem possible that she can climb out.
We hired a part time art teacher last week (really part-time, one class a week), named Conrad Acorn. He’s working for an obscenely low amount. He has one caveat, NO KIDS. And he’s serious. 21 years old or older.
“I’m just too old to have to put up with that sh*t,” he told me.
He’s right, he is old, 82 to be exact.
However, he’s the youngest 82 year old you will ever meet. He carries a fantastic Grateful Dead “Truckin'” tattoo on his right arm, which he waves around for emphasis. If you are within ten feet of him you’ll instantly know that he wears that patchouli stuff that Dead Heads used to douse themselves in.
I had to strongly stop myself from reaching out to touch the Dead tattoo, which is still very bright and colorful.
“I didn’t get it until I was 68, after my mother died.” But that’s another post.
“Mr. Acorn, before you go may I show you something?”
I pulled Destiny’s work portfolio out of my files and handed it to Mr. Acorn.
(I started a folder for all my volunteers to get them in the habit of saving their work, with an eye towards college and future employment. Destiny brought in her art notebook from the past few years and asked me to copy and print some of her better drawings to add to her portfolio. She is so good I ended up copying almost the entire notebook.)
Mr. Acorn pores over the folder and after about 2 minutes says, “Whose work is this, I must have this angel in my class.”
I explain to him that the drawings are by Destiny, my intern and she’s only 18 years old but I would love it if he could make an exception for her. “Please don’t feel obligated though.”
He grinned broadly and said, “Honey, I make the rules, I can break the rules. Tell her I’ll supply the supplies, she just needs to show up.”
He’s 19, but about 11 mentally. (Very small for his age too.) He absolutely can not deal with anyone else (male) having my attention for any length of time.
What I foresaw as a role for him has not come to fruition. I thought I could train him in a few basic tasks that he could perform two days a week with my supervision. (In the same large room, with me getting him started.)
But no, that is not to be.
Now that he’s attached to me, he balks and pretends that he can’t remember how to do the task and calls out for me repeatedly until I come over to his area and do the task with him.
It would be fair to say that unless Josh, my autistic volunteer, is there, I spend most of my time with Danny no more that ten or twenty inches from me at all times.
(Precious Josh will take time with Danny and often perceives just the right time to shift Danny’s attention from me to something like Lego’s or drawing for a few minutes.)
Sadly, Josh didn’t come in today.
I had penned Jake (68 years old, has Aspergers, high functioning) in for this afternoon, to scan some old photo albums and show him around Photoshop.
Danny, special needs guy, goes crazy in his own little way.
He paces behind Jake and I as we pore over these photo albums muttering about John Cena. Then he interrupts us constantly to ask, “Are you proud of me Miss Angel?”
(Jake’s father was stationed in China before the fall of Beijing and then later in Indochine, aka Vietnam. These albums are so fascinating.)
Fascinating to me, fascinating to Jake to show them to someone else after all these years, but, not one bit interesting to Danny.
Then Destiny comes to tell me I have a call, and that others are waiting for me. Jake now wants to show me his family albums.
No, I don’t want to sit here and see 200 pictures of people that Jake doesn’t even remember the names of.
I’m just about to start crying, right there in front of everyone. I still haven’t finished my grant proposal. Everything, everything, everything, is closing in on me.
Then Danny starts stimming. He’s stressed out and he picks up on my stress also.
Jake, ha ha, remains oblivious.
Then Danny starts humming. I recognize the tune and reach over and touch Jake’s arm (which he absolutely hates) and motion towards Danny.
I give Jake the death stare and whisper emphatically, “Sing with him.”
Finally Jake gets the message and starts singing the tune Danny is humming.
Jake sings the melody and Danny sings the lower harmony part. I closed my eyes.
When they finished, everything was all better. For all of us.
I‘d heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don’t really care for music, do you? Well, it goes like this The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Well, your faith was strong but you needed proof You saw her bathing on the roof Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya She tied you to the kitchen chair She broke your throne and she cut your hair And from your lips, she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Well baby, I’ve been here before I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor I used to live alone before I knew ya And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch And love is not a victory march It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Well, maybe there’s a God above But all I’ve ever learned from love Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya And it’s not a cry that you hear at night It’s not somebody who’s seen the light It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
I’m worried about my posts here, some of them anyway. So I unpublished them.
My life was in flux on the pages of this blog. I was devastated emotionally when I started it. Then Asa befriended me, I started getting over Doug, I was invited to apply for a new career very unexpectedly (and got the job) and then had so much more to write about, so I did. Probably without thinking it through.
Part of me was so grateful my depression started to lift and I found out I could still write so I just wrote and wrote and wrote. (I have over 1000 posts in draft.)
But now I’m reconsidering: do I have the right to convey the stories of others?
The volunteers I’m training, I love them all, they bless me so much.
Even when the girls get on my last nerve, I’m still learning and growing through my interactions with them.
But telling the stories, even though I change details for privacy, do I have the right to do that?
I’m not sure anymore.
Some of them are over 18, three of them are not.
Josh for example. He’s only 14. He lost his mom last year, and now, he wants to spend every day with me.
I get that. I lost my mom when she was 38 years old. It’s a despairing loneliness when you are a motherless child.
I want to write about him because he is so fantastic, such a blessing, so gifted and yet so very heartbroken.
But should I?
I don’t think I should.
It hit me last night, this thought: what if my son’s teacher started a blog and wrote about the kids in her class? She sees them at their best, and their worst.
Would I appreciate my child being the subject of a blog? Even if she had good intentions and changed the names?
I’m don’t think I would.
I’m also unsure of this blog now, because of the publicity it could bring if it was discovered.
“Woman involved with XYZ writes scathing blog posts about clients!”
You can’t just write about the population you serve and expect them to like it, especially if it isn’t flattering, right?
The post I wrote about Corinna, it was every word true, except for her name and my interns name.
(I still want to know why she is obsessed with Sling Blade….)
I realize the post about her was a little catty, but she ticked me off by being rude to Destiny.
She also ticked me off by saying that Jake has a boring personality and that he reminds her of a wet paper bag.
When Corinna said that about Jake, I thought to myself, “any guy that has a 45 minute conversation with me about the poetry of Rudyard Kipling is not one bit boring!”
So see? I’m realizing my tendency to write about people when 1. They make me angry and 2. When they amaze me.
I’ve got no middle ground.
Asa knows I write about him sometimes and besides Josh, he is my easiest subject to write about.
He is disguised via name change and physical location, so I feel it’s ok to continue to write about him, unless he tells me differently. He doesn’t mind so far and I doubt he ever has time to read here, so I’m leaving most of the Asa posts.
Doug has no idea that I write here. He’d hate me if he knew. But he seems to already hate me, most of the time anyway. So many of the posts about him are staying put.
He’s an adult and the things I wrote were things I went through with him. So it’s my story too. I feel I can write that. [Doug died in Feb. 2019.]
I took great pains to disguise geography and names with Doug, so I’m probably ok there. If he ever found this blog and read it, he would know it was about him, but no one else would.
I guess that’s it. It feels like goodbye to something I loved, but all things considered, I think it’s for the best.
Mrs. Rebekah Pallingsworth* sailed into my office today, as if she were the Queen of England.
I gasped and fought the temptation to curtsy. I’m still not sure if I did the right thing in foregoing it.
This was our first meeting and it was totally unexpected, which was wonderful.
If I had known she was coming I would have been a nervous wreck.
And why you ask?
Not only did she almost single-handedly start and fund the center I now direct, she’s also the most wonderful 90 year old woman in the world.
She dresses in an old-school Jackie O’ fabulous fashion, including tastefully huge diamonds studs. Her cane matched the adorable kitten-heels she tottered in on, and the bangly jangley enamel & gold Criosillon bracelets she wears.
And I can’t forget that she was wearing White Shoulders. As she came near and announced herself, I was enveloped in her cloud of perfume.
I asked my ex-friend Doug if I could bring him lunch, and dinner for he and his wife. He read the message, but never replied.
I don’t regret asking.
It didn’t hurt too much that he read it and didn’t reply. He knows Monday is my half-day at work, so he knew that would be the only day I could come. But it did hurt a tiny bit.
Is “Thank you, but no, I’m not feeling well,” too much to ask?
Or do I suck for even wondering that?
This is the man who told me that being in a bookstore with me was the only joy and peace he’d known in the past three years. So… yeah, it hurts a tiny bit.
But it is what it is, right?
I’m at peace in a way, far more than I was.
His reaching out last week and me being able to tell him that I was thankful to him, for everything he did for me, that in and of itself gave me a lot of peace and healing.
Parts of it all feel unfinished, but they don’t feel as painful as they did.
I knew that he was withholding his words and updates to punish me for what he views as my wrong towards him. So in a way I expected him to say no. But not saying anything, ok, that’s a punishment from him.
I think now I’m really realizing that I won’t see him again before he dies. That’s the ultimate punishment he can give me. But is it really a punishment?
If it is, OK. I can’t change anything that happened to cause this, and I can’t do one single thing to change his position.
(His view is that I was wrong for not agreeing with his dictum that we not be friends for a while yet keep our professional relationship.)
I told him I was closing the door on all of our avenues of contact and involvement, when in reality I said I was doing that, but wasn’t able to actually do that.
All he ever had to do was reach out to me and I always answered him.
But still, it made him furious that I wouldn’t agree to abide by his dictum that we not be personal friends for a while but remain in contact professionally.
Like I was his child and was supposed to obey everything he said. But to be fair, I did do that sometimes. He told me to get my hair cut once, and I did.
But he did not ever deal well with being told no. In any area of his life.
His mother told him he couldn’t bring an older divorcee and her four children to a cocktail party the mother already had planned. (Adults only.) So he skipped the cocktail party and married the woman. She was much older than he was.
He wanted to pursue a physically intimate relationship with me, I said “no.” So he had a physical affair with a Book Groupie. And I wasn’t even his wife!
Good night, what was he thinking? He took such utter delight in his open flaunt of that situation. Sending me the link to his Instagram pics, knowing that he was having the Groupie post her IG selfies of the same place, same time, same day.
(And it took me a while to realize that not only did he visit her city, she traveled with him to Canada. That’s the only reason he invited me to re-follow him on IG.
Seriously, I was so happy he asked me to refollow him. “See, he misses me. He’s not as hateful as I thought…”
The joke was on me though.
That’s a lot of trouble to go to just to hurt someone or make them mad. (He failed at that, because all those pics did was make me nauseated.)
But he did crazy things like that. I always put on blinders to that side of him.
He wanted to see me one evening and I said no. So he drove all the way from Atlanta that afternoon to sit in a parking lot with me for 30 minutes.
He wanted to see my house. I said no. He drove past anyway and sent a location ping. (More than once.)
He wanted to buy me jewelry and I said no. So he sent me gift cards to Tim Horton’s every week for two months.
He wanted to talk to me after work one night but the traffic was heavy and I didn’t answer. So he sent me a message every five minutes on the dot asking me to call him asap. “It’s very important.”
When I finally called him he said, “I just wanted to hear your voice.” And he hung up.
I guess I’m just venting. He wasn’t all bad was he?
What was bad was being in that pseudo-relationship when it never ever could be fulfilled. I know that messed with my head for quite a while. Maybe it did his also.
Maybe he wants to just forget that he ever knew me, forget that we were ever friends and march into whatever God has him without remembering the past year.
Doug’s situation got a lot worse after he messaged me from the waiting room of the oncologist a few days ago.
He hadn’t seen the oncologist when he messaged me, and I didn’t see his Facebook update until Saturday, when he made it public.
But it’s bad. Bad, bad, bad.
He’s much sicker now, even in just the space of a few days. And the hope for further chemo is ended. I know he didn’t expect that, not for months and months.
When we were in the bubble of just we two, when he was on his first trip, he really believed he had years left.
I never believed that. In fact, the last two times I saw him, I knew he was getting worse. He was oblivious to the signs and refused to discuss them, rolling his eyes at me when I said, “please call your doctor.”
I wish I could go back to that last Tuesday at Tim Horton’s and beg him not to drive to Canada. And beg him to have his leg scanned. He was so uncomfortable that day. “I pulled a muscle, it’s nothing.”
As it turns out, it was something. Something horrible that now can not be excised. He can’t tolerate any more chemo without being poisoned.
So here I am. Fighting and arguing with myself: should I reach out? Should I wait to hear from him?
I thought about it all day long yesterday.
Things were so bad between us that quite frankly I considered it a miracle that he messaged me about my new job a few days ago. It had been a while since I’d heard anything from him except his invitation to follow him on Instagram again.
Now that he’s received this horrible horrible news, shouldn’t I take the initiative to reach out to him? Why should the ball always be in his court and the burden of making contact be on him?
But here’s the thing about me: I can’t imagine that anyone would ever want to hear from me, for any reason ever. I hardly ever message anyone first. If I have something to tell them, I log in whatever app it is, send it, and log right back out so they won’t think I’m presuming they want to talk.
Some of that is Southern, but yeah, I’m never thinking anyone would want to chat/talk to me.
And with our history, oh my word, all the past, all the pain, all the anguish. Can I even navigate these waters?
Does he even want to hear from me?
I decided it’s worth taking a risk. Maybe he’ll say no. Maybe he’ll say yes.
Ok, if you read this, I’m just venting. But I’m mad. And this should be a happy day.
The board of aldermen have spoken. They’ve approved the new position, salary and benefits package. I’m in like Flynn, as they used to say.
I’ve submitted a schedule of continuing education classes in order to firm up my inexperience in one area. The board approved and they seem to think I’ll do just fine.
As I drove to the meeting this morning, I felt hopeful, like things are going good. That has not always been the case in my life.
Then BAM. I happened to see the mutual friend that Doug and I share. She’s very fond of him and he wows her. It’s not hard. She’s easily flattered and he’s a very big flatter. Ok, he’s a good manipulator.
I wonder, if I was faced with a soon and certain death, would I make the same choices Doug did, or even similar ones? Would I have sex with someone besides my spouse?
(He had a short affair with a book groupie. He says it was mostly sex, but I think he fell in love with her, he just don’t want to admit it because he knows everyone in our circle/profession knows she’ promiscuous.. He said the same about her before she started supplying him with edibles and parking lot romps.)
For what ever reasons, his marriage has been unhappy for the past 7 or so years and even before then, when he fell for a younger co-worker. Supposedly nothing happened except emotions, but still, it’s just been an unstable marriage. (Ha, or maybe he’s an unstable man….)
I’m not judging either one of them, Doug or his wife. I understand that things change in a marriage. I do however have more sympathy, in this situation, for Doug’s wife.
That has changed. I used to resent her for rejecting him. But who knows what really happened there?
I do believe his wife loves him. He told me he hadn’t been in love with her for quite sometime and feels he made a mistake marrying a woman so much older than he was, who had small children.
Is he a cur for thinking that now? I don’t know. Part of me says yes, part of me sympathizes with him.
But here they are. She’s 7 years older than he is and went through early menopause. Take this with a grain of salt, but he says that severely impacted their sex life.
My personal opinion is that if you can’t deal with that, then get a divorce. Don’t just be a cheater and try to have it both ways. [Yes, I’m a hypocrite.]
And the wife who withholds sex? You better believe there is someone else out there who will gladly take a chance on your lonely husband.
But to the things I’m pondering: Now that I know for certain about the Book Groupie affair, (I knew in my heart, but just now saw the photo evidence,) I’m wondering, would I do the same in the same set of circumstances?
The Groupie is about ten years younger than Doug is. Her face and teeth are horrible, but she’s slender. His wife isn’t. The wife also had a very serious illness that effected her looks, and their sex life, even before menopause.
But what if it was I dying of cancer? And I was still in that state of deep infatuation with Doug. Would I sleep with him? Thinking perhaps, “I’m dying soon, so be it.”
What if I was under the influence of drugs? Strong pain killing drugs. Edibles supplied. Would I be making the right decisions? If I were in another country and could assuage my guilt by saying, “no one will ever know?”
Or what if I was lonely for companionship, lonely for someone to talk to, who was interested in me, my life? That deep kind of soul disturbing loneliness.
Would I take the comfort? Temporary though it may be? Wrong though it certainly is?
I don’t know. The more I think about it, the more I think I might. But I’m honestly not completely sure. I don’t like the part of me that even considers the question.
But am I just as guilty, as if I had already done that?
I think I am.
I never slept with him, but I loved him. He wasn’t mine to love. He wasn’t mine to think about or spend time with. He wasn’t mine to adore.
But yet, I did.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
I logged into Facebook just a few moments ago and everything changed in the blink of an eye. The Messenger icon showed that I had a messages. It shocked me a tiny bit, because Doug was usually the only person who messaged me there. (I deleted Facebook and Messenger from my phone a few weeks back.)
I clicked it open and I was shocked again, this time even more so. It was from Doug. I instantly started crying before I even read the message.
So very much is unresolved between us, no matter what I say, or hope or think or write when I’m mad at him. I still care about him and I want peace between us, forgiveness and closure.
“Dear Angel,” he wrote, “Since you unfriended me on Facebook, you won’t be able to see the update I just posted. I hope you’ll forgive me for sending you this unsolicited message, but I owe you this update.”
Enclosed was an MRI scan of his leg and a somewhat elaborate explanation of his current situation. After 6 or so years of fighting the cancer, and going in and out of remission, it’s finally spread to his bones. In the leg for sure, possibly other areas. And that’s not good.
In fact, it’s very, very bad.
I have not replied yet. I don’t quite know what to say.
Today and every day forward I must take steps to murder my hope.
See, I’ve just admitted to myself that deep down I harbor this hope, this wish, this deep desire that Doug will contact me. That he would reach out to me, just as a friend. And most of all, that he would apologize. I wanted a pretty bow of closure.
But I have to stop. I have to put the memories of him and every bit of our friendship/relationship in the grave. I must bury the wish, even if I am burying it alive. I must not listen to its cries and screams to be rescued. It is only a sirens song.
I can’t keep that tiny little sliver of belief, or hope, alive any longer. Because I’ve lived on something that might not happen. Telling myself that when enough time passes, when he isn’t as mad, “he’ll reach out to me! I know he will!”
He might, he might not. But even if he did, he wouldn’t acknowledge any of the things I need closure on. He will never ever go there.
In fact, he’ll may die and I won’t even know about it. And now I have to admit and accept that there will never be the kind of closure I think I need. There will never be a proper goodbye. There will never be an apology.
So I know what I have to do. I need to Andrea Yates his memories. I must Susan Smith the false hope.
The hopes, the dreams, the memories. They all must die, if only that I may move forward and live.