She shines…

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You pass by her or someone just like her on any given day. A smile, a wave, a kind hello. Sunlight radiates from within, bringing warmth and security to all who surround her. A light, a ray of hope, a beacon in the fog, an uplifting hand when you are down. She sees everyone and everything, never letting even the smallest of details, events, emotions, or troubles pass by her watchful eye. Why? Because she genuinely cares. Her storms can rage like the mightiest of hurricanes soon settling, defusing until rest comes upon a peaceful shore. Sunbeams litter the landscape in its aftermath revealing a renewal of all surrounding her. Of course this is what she wanted all along, for she knows exactly how to get her way.

Until now.

Jacy has been tempted time and again with promises of freedom only to have her body veto. She remains in room 41, locked away from the world she knows, the family she loves, the friends she adores. Doctors come and doctors go, all with the same agenda, to heal this woman and send her home where she belongs. It is not for a lack of trying, or because they wish to keep her secluded for scientific purposes, on the contrary, like any professional athlete these doctors hate to lose. They take their jobs very seriously and it shows. To make matters worse for this crew of cranial geniuses, they just so happen to like her. There isn’t a one of them that doesn’t like my wife and do you know why? Well first of all if you do know her personally then that was a moronic question. But if you don’t, if you don’t know my wife then reference the above material. For it is all true.

The other day when I arrived her room was filled with attending doctors and students. They yammered on about good news here and not so good news there, how if one thing happens we may have other options and if another happens how options would be limited. Covering bacteria, viruses, internal bleeding, and further medications. Standing in the corner gazing upon the herd like a pie eyed cowboy it amazed me that with all this information she still smiled and said; thank you. She made jokes about the bad and quipped about the good. She never ceases to amaze me.

Her light, her inner light is always trying to shine! The internal batteries may be faltering a bit but she somehow generates enough power to smile and say thank you, to everyone or anyone that will listen! She strains to speak at times but it doesn’t stop her. She is fighting so very hard to live, to move past this episode in her life, to come home and see her children grow up! Having now been incarcerated inside E block for 127 days, she inspires me daily. I hurt all over, I can’t sleep, I am eating but not well, yet no matter how sorry for myself I begin to feel all I need to think about is the woman who gave herself to me, withered away to nothing but skin and bones still smiling, still saying thank you, still striving to make someone’s, anyone’s day with kindness and love.

Meningitis

Meningitis is a relatively rare infection that affects the delicate membranes — called meninges (men-in’-jeez) — that cover the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis can be deadly and contagious among people in close contact.

Viral meningitis tends to be less severe and most people recover completely without specific therapy.

Fungal meningitis is a rare form of meningitis and generally occurs only in people with weakened immune systems.

Yep that’s where we are right now. Meningitis, some bacteria formed upon one of her heart valves, a still bleeding bladder and now to make things more interesting she has begun having bloody stool. Today I believe she needed 5 blood transfusions. Every time this woman gets a leg up, something kicks the good leg out from under her. Two weeks ago we were laughing and counting down the days until outpatient was achieved. We are currently sliding backwards. I am not sure if we are back to square one, but it sure feels close. It has to feel like an impossible mountain to climb for my wife, yet she rarely shows it.

Monday when I arrived after listening to the where too’s and what fore’s spewed forth from the doctors with delicacy as to not upset or misinform I took a seat. Eyes heavy from a lack of sleep, brow furrowed after looking at my wife’s soft, doped up face. My shoulders slumped with the weight of it all and I did what any other rational husband would do at a time like this. I passed out. Yep that’s right! No sooner did I exchange pleasantries with everyone was I crumpled up like a used napkin left wedged into the furniture. Saliva dripping from my mouth, my body off kilter hard to starboard, barley able to stay in the chair. An hour later I awoke to see family members leave as my wife moved in and out of narcotic consciousness. Making my way over to Jacys big green auto reclining chair I rendered a hello and a kiss on her forehead. She asked how I was, I replied tired. She mumbled me too and both of us passed out again. This time for three and half hours. Somedays it’s all too much.

She contracted a fever that day and it started a ball rolling that just pushed her even further away from outpatient care. I was informed this morning she had in fact contracted meningitis as described above. What the hell? Why can’t she get a break? Why can’t her body just let this all happen so we can take her home? How long do you think her sun will continue to shine kept captive in the confines of E wing?

I worry about so much, every day about so many damn things. But of all the things I am worried about, I worry most about her ability to stay positive and keep those rays of hope alive. To shine brightly, not letting all of these repeated setbacks snuff out that light. I am so terribly worried..

I pray God knows what he is doing..

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When a mullet is more than a mullet.

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It came from my mouth like venom through a snakes bite. Over and over again I struck, not just during one opportunity but through countless encounters. My victim continually wandering into my lair, setting himself up for attack, never backing away but every now and again wincing just a little. It was cruel and at first unintentional, but intentions can change with the wind, leaving the recipient wondering what the hell. Soon every attack had intention and meaning, usually in front of others as if it made me a better person for calling out my victims perceived flaws. It didn’t. My strikes were evil, demeaning and showed that I was nothing more than a full-grown bully. Others would join in and like a pack of hungry dogs we feasted upon our victim’s distress. Gnawing, tearing away at his very fabric, and never once thinking about the consequences or where it may leave him emotionally. All in the name of the past, our perception and what we felt was humorous.

Last night, awake, staring at the ceiling, my mind raced over the last few months and how hard it’s been for me to keep mentally strong. Focusing directly on each child’s needs, where I may have succeeded and where I have failed. Wondering about the future and what it holds for this family I continue trying to plan the next step. Our children will need their father to be overly understanding as emotions are high. My game needs to be spot on as to not let them get away with things they shouldn’t all while easing up just a bit allowing them to feel whatever emotions they feel in regards to their mothers absence.

My daughter and 15-year-old son have presented the largest challenge.

Parker knows who he is and is very comfortable with himself. He tells you how he feels and makes no bones about you overreacting to any portion of his mental/physical/educational progress. His mind in some areas is a bit regressed while in others he is wise beyond his little 10 year old years. Lately though school has been a significant challenge for him. Myself, the school and a dear friend who has been assisting him at home have all come up with a solid game plan to keep him in play. We want him to rodeo badly as we think it will be a good distraction and it is after all what we do as a family. He wants nothing to do with rodeo and fights us at every corner. Frustrating to say the least.

Jessica my 11 year old daughter is coming into her own. Straight A student who always strives to please. She is currently expressing herself by being defiant, to everything, and I mean EVERYTHING! She has a problem controlling her weight, it is a giant burden for her that she takes very seriously. Since mom has gone back into the hospital and been gone for these four months I recently found she is sneaking food at night again. A sort of coping mechanism for her emotional status. She hides the food out of fear. Fear that she will get in trouble for eating after hours. There was a time when this was a huge issue in our family and we even went as far as building caged doors for our pantry to keep not just her but all our little vultures from eating us out of house and home. She is struggling hard, not just with the eating, but back talking, arguing, and picking fights like a drunken sailor with only hours left on shore leave! Somedays she marches around with her fists all balled up and you just know, like a back alley brawl it’s about to go DOWN!

Our rodeo cowboy Jake has also been “bucking” (see how I did that?) the system as well! He hits everyday toes turned out, hand locked tight ready to turn out and hit it hard. More times than not he hits the dirt hard, but the boy saddles up and just keeps trying. Jake too has been working at finding his place amongst all of this family drama. He carries a lot of responsibility when it comes to the ranch and he is such a large man sized boy I often forget he is just that; a boy. He struggles with his grades, constantly. He is also struggling to make the right decisions when it comes to friends and after school extra-curricular activities. We have all been there and I think it’s why we want better for our children. I have made no secret about my past, about my high school experience. I chose the easier way out and I need them to learn from those mistakes. Taking the easy way out put me close to ten years behind in life. Unfortunatley like his father he has this need to experience things, to learn the hard way, and it scares the shit out of me. We have been butting heads very hard over the last few weeks to a point I feel like we were going nowhere. Lately besides grades, his behavior and his decisions when presented with an opportunity to run astray with his friends have not been good. I have also been riding him pretty hard about his new, old school hairstyle. Emotionally he looks like a beat dog.

So here is where I am going with this whole thing.

Today as we are preparing for a family visit with Ms. Jacy my gander hit the fridge. There upon it is 20 or so pictures of our family from over the last two years. Do you know what I saw? Our kids, our happy well adjusted, personable children. Smiles on their faces, hugging their bald mom, laughing with each other, holding up trophy buckles, works of art, hugging the dogs, yes the dogs are family too! Our children that I spent all night worrying about how I was doing as a father all looked ok. Each one showed their own style! Their own version of who they are at the very moment a shutter froze them in time. I saw four individuals, four young people choosing their own paths regardless of anyone else’s wishes and doing it with confidence. It was an amazing moment filling my heart with joy! But you know what stuck out the most? Jakes mullet.

Jakes mullet stuck out like a white flag waving from the trenches! Telling me it was time for me to wave that flag, surrender and ask forgiveness. For you see each one of our kids has something I constantly pick at, like a good parent should! You know, a slight course adjustment or suggestion to help them understand they aren’t fitting into a classification, a social mold if you will. A couple of things dawned on me in that very moment. One, why should our children fit into any classification? Are we not supposed to allow them a certain freedom to find out who they really are? If that means some heartbreak now and again then so be it! It will teach them how to handle themselves in tough emotionally charged situations. And two, no matter the other out of the norm issues I had in fact been particularly hard on Jake and for what? A chosen hairstyle?

When Parker said no to rodeo, claimed art as his thing and took to ditching a ball cap in favor of a flat brimmed drivers cap making him appear very artsy in deed, did I scoff at the notion? Hell no! In fact it is 100 percent ok that he hates rodeo, horses and all that goes with it. That is his choice. He has tried it, given it a good go and ended up in the hospital a few times! Trust me his thought process may change at some point and if it doesn’t so be it! That’s who he is, we love him for it and by the way the kid is very creative! His art shows a caring heart, personality and great love for all things.

When Jessica started stealing food from downstairs to hide in her bedroom. Eating at all times of the night even though we spent countless hours chastising her for such behavior did I freak out? Well YES I freaked out! I freaked the hell out! Worried my daughter’s weight issues would expand, she would be uncomfortable with herself and have huge body issues as the result of bullying! But somewhere along the line I realized the problem was not all her, part of the blame was us, more importantly me. So I pulled her aside and let her know it was ok to eat. If she felt hungry, just eat, take what you want and eat it. My only rule? Let me know you are going to eat so I can approve it or find you an alternative. She looked shocked as though the words coming from my mouth were some form of cruel joke! But nothing shocked her more than when I told her as long she is comfortable with herself, as long as she can look in the mirror and love herself for who she is, then who cares what anyone else thinks. My job is to educate you, help you make the right choices and hope you come away a strong and confident woman. If that strong and confident woman is what society deems as overweight or out of the norm then tough shit! I told her I loved her and gave her a hug. She left with a huge smile.

One thing I have repeatedly told all my children is find who you are, embrace it, make the most of it, discovery is how you find yourself so that when you are an adult you can be happy with the person you have become and you will never shrug off reinventing yourself. Yet here I was tearing apart those very values by continually ridiculing, mocking, terrorizing and just plain bullying my son over a stupid haircut! Now let’s be frank, the mullet is hands down in my opinion the dumbest looking haircut around, conjuring up images of Billy Ray Cyrus in two sizes to small faded jeans jumping around like an idiot! But that’s just it, it is my “achy breaky” image of what that haircut means to me. To him it represents several of his rodeo heroes, men he looks up too, that he wishes to emulate! I am sorry that just isn’t a bad thing and if it is what defines him as a person right here, right now, then so be it! This is how he takes those words of advice and runs with them, learning, crafting and molding the person he wishes to become! Somewhere I lost that, somewhere I felt it was ok to tear him down over and over again. On the fridge there was a card with a picture of him with both long and short hair. You know what? He is the same kid! The kid I love for who he is, not what his damn hair looks like. Today I sent him this text.

“Hey, just wanted to tell you something that’s on my mind. I know things have been rough lately between us, I hope you are learning from each encounter as I am learning from them as a father. I believe you are trying your hardest in school so don’t let yourself down. Continue to strive to always be a little better for yourself, not for me. I realized today I need to lay off you about that damn mullet. I have spent my whole adult/fatherly life preaching to you kids to be your own person and yet I contradict myself by giving you crap! If that hairstyle defines you right now then so be it! I apologize for all the grief I have given you. I am proud of you for being comfortable with who you are and that is one of the most important things for any young man to achieve. Keep up the good work, have a fantastic day, I love you…”

He replied by saying thanks dad, it’s just a rodeo thing and I don’t care about the mullet grief. I am working hard on my grades and I love you too.

Maybe it was just me.

So bring back the mullet son, business in the front, party in the rear! Either way, a mullet, a few well-placed photographs, and a sleepless night all combined so I could learn when fatherhood crosses the line into parental bullying, ending with the discovery that your child, hell your children are really doing just fine…

I think I may have just gone crazy?

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They say the struggle is half the battle. The lord will present you with nothing you cannot handle. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. It is better to try and fail than to have never tried at all. To live a life without challenges is to have never lived. (Yes I was paraphrasing)

Personally I have always felt; to remain positive, even when not showing it outwardly is to shine light upon your darkest of moments. When I am down I always remember that and it helps me to realign my thought process. I am not sure who said it, if it’s a combination of a few philosophies or one day I just made it up. But it is my go too.

Today Monday 19th 2015. I am officially tired of everything. Nothing, not even my go too is working. I am sure this is a passing feeling as I have never been one to wallow in my own despair. But today I just can’t seem to get a grasp on things.

I am going to complain, something I hate, but please allow me this moment. I need to get it out, I always do better writing than talking so if you’ll forgive me this (deep breath) here goes.

I didn’t sleep last night-AGAIN! My head hurt so bad I wanted to scream and whenever I did fall asleep it was filled with horrible nightmares centered on my family and wife. My brain won’t shut off! It is going a hundred miles an hour, all the time! I lay there constantly wondering if I am doing a good enough job or if I am failing my children? If so how do I inspire them, motivate them, move them without becoming frustrated! Last night after a long weekend with two of my kids turning into complete shits, I lost it with one of them. I was two steps away from becoming my father which is a condition I fight with daily. I don’t want that for them, it just shows them the easy way out is to yell, become intimidating and that is not how I wish to raise them. I needed to walk away into the darkness of our ranch and in the same fashion as how I work a horse, ponder just what I AM DOING WRONG first before pointing the finger completely in their direction.

My life has been centered on this family and my job for 19 years. What many people don’t realize is when you are accepted into the fire service, the fire service becomes your family as well. So I carry a huge amount of guilt for being gone from work as long as I have as though I have let them down as well. Some mornings I will stop by after dropping off kids just to sit and have a cup of coffee with the crew. It is not that I have nothing to do, just the opposite it puts me hours behind an already crazy ass schedule, but it allows me one whole minute of normalcy with my other family. Even if nothing is said at all. I am very grateful for the time off allowed thanks to my second family, but I do miss them.

What am I going to do if Jacy can never work again? I know that sounds selfish as hell but hear me out! Since we moved here I have worked very hard to build this place, to not owe anyone anything, putting every spare penny into new barns, doing the work myself, not taking a single loan but waiting patiently and in some cases building things with scraps and spares from other peoples lost projects. It is why we both drive 200,000 mile paid for cars, have a 15 year old horse trailer, still live with broken flooring in the house, a 30 year old kitchen and a hole in the ceiling. We have always lived on a thin line, trying to provide our children with a life most never dream of living. The life she always wanted for her children, the life I lived to some extent as a child. We knew it was going to be a struggle but took the challenge head on and a challenge it has been. Pay cuts, overtime loss, and raising costs of living, the very same struggles many of you face on daily basis! We are not special or any different than anyone else! Since Leukemia has taken over our lives my whole process has been reorganizing, selling things we don’t need, working for any extras needed around the ranch and slimming us down to a livable amount. I have put away every spare penny possible to cover her being out for an extended period of time. But what if? Do I have what it takes to keep reinventing ourselves? I always feel like I am never going to measure up. As though I am missing that one thing that others have to make themselves successful financially. We are making it without her income, but what if? I just can’t seem to shake the “what if’s” no matter how hard I try!!!! Is that normal? Am I just overreacting, should I just trust it will all be ok, and if so I just wish God would show me the way! Maybe he already has and I just can’t see it through a clouded mind that won’t shut off! I swear it’s as though my brains on crack! I really don’t care if my wife ever works again, I just want her to come home! To have a home to come home too! I just want to take care of her and see her with her children! To see her laughing and smiling surrounded by the animals she loves! I don’t care about me, my point was, hell I don’t even know what my point was anymore. Now that I have written it all out it seems arrogant, selfish and pitiful.

Speaking of her coming home. That proposed moment just keeps getting farther away! Every time she gets a possible date something else happens! I don’t know how she does it! She keeps a smile on her face and says; well what ya gonna do? She is right of course and we usually have a good laugh, but my nerves are raw. I am scared for everything she is going through, scared every time I walk through the doors, scared at every turn there is going to be more bad news, scared our lives without her for long periods of time will continue to be the norm, scared she will one day not smile anymore and feel as though there is nothing more she can do. Listen the prognosis is still good. There will be an outpatient date for her, but the hill just feels as though it is getting larger and harder to climb when it comes to her having any resemblance of a normal life. I know the retort is instantly; well at least she will have a life! But this is my one moment of bitching so let me have it! I want her home, I want her to never have to worry about her health ever again! I just desperately miss our life!

God! I just re-read this and it sounds self-centered and contrite all in one! Shit am I going crazy?

Today Jacy is going into the O.R. for a procedure to hopefully find and resolve her bleeding bladder issue. I am praying for the simplest of outcomes. The other options for controlling this issue are not what we want for our girl. Please pray for her today, that she gets the right answers, that everything goes smoothly, that she keeps a smile on her face and soon we hear she is smiling all the way home.

Thank you all for letting me vent. Tell me I am crazy, tell me I am ok, just tell me something for today I awoke feeling as though I was going to explode! I erased nothing in this rant, changed nothing even though I hate most of what I wrote, but I needed to write it and since I am unable to speak about it out loud, you have all just become my councilors. I am sorry for that, but good job on obtaining your degree.

The wedding crasher…

Standing in the shadows of an open dimly lit arena. Sparkling white Christmas style lights strung through roofline trusses bring a serene glow to this event centered on two young people professing their love. They stand before family and peers, nervously speaking as to this union, this moment, hands twitching bodies touching for support, faces beaming as if they just won the lottery. Little do these two know they have and it will take some time before they fully understand exactly what they have won and the stakes involved.

My eyes dart back and forth, as through a microphone sounds of tears falling reverberate across this vast space. I am alone, the woman I married is not here; she lies in a hospital room far away. My heart aches. There is something about a wedding that always brings it in for me. Whenever Jacy and I attend a wedding we always hold hands, we always relive that moment 14 years ago when standing in front of family and friends we said; I do. Looking into her eyes, no matter what our lives hold outside this very moment we always know we made the right choice. The sacrifices were worth it and every day brings a new sunrise, a new reason, and another chance to fall in love all over again.

Everyone is so happy! The tables clumped into groups, families tied together reminiscing over old times while devouring food and drink. I came as a guest, a friend of the grooms’ family. I knew hardly anyone which was refreshing. It allowed me a rare chance to sit and watch unmolested. Smile at new love, chuckle at old love still trying, and witness youngsters sizing each other up from the sidelines. All I could think about was my girl and how lucky I was to have her in my life.

A few weeks ago a wonderful woman was explaining to me how my blog moved her. She could not believe one person could write about the troubles that have befallen our family. How easily I share feelings the way I do, professing my love so publicly. Sometimes when I finish writing a piece I too have a hard time understanding what has come from brain through my fingertips onto the screen. I think about the kid who hated school, who struggled with bad grades, who lived only to party and cause mayhem with his friends. I wonder about individuals who held no reservations in explaining to me on a regular basis that I would never amount to anything and what they would say now. Heck, I believed them for a very, very long time.

My writing comes from experiences, from love won, love lost and love taken away permanently. Writing was never easy for me, it was and still is hard! But over time I have found my voice, my muse, my, well my being. It is my release from the day to day tortures that haunt us. Everyone has them, they are in different and varying degree’s associated with all aspects of our lives! Without writing them down, releasing them from my cranial vault, they would in fact weigh me down to where I am certain I would not be able to rise too any occasion. The writings on my blog are a mere fraction of what is stored upon an electronic cloud.

As this woman spoke so kindly of me her husband jokingly replied: Thanks James for ruining it for the rest of us. Now I have known him for a long time and his pithy comment was intended for a good chuckle. I took it as such chuckling along but as the weeks went on, it crept into my psyche, slowly gnawing at me without remorse. It has been eating at me ever since, chewing my insides like a cancer and we all know how well versed I am on that topic as of late. How have I ruined anything for anyone? This is my story not yours; I am only sharing this journey in hopes it reaches and helps someone else, another husband, partner or longtime friend traveling down the very same road! How on Gods green earth am I ruining anything for anyone?

I mean, hey, I get it, this joking statement admonishing me for somehow pulling my “Man” card from the file of all men by showing how I really feel about the woman who swore to spend the rest of her life with me is somehow wrong! Let me reiterate, I know he didn’t mean it that way, it was purely said in jest! As idle conversation to be laughed at! It is my own brain churning that statement over and over again as if I should carry some form of guilt for sharing anything! But in the end it only proves I suppose that some words, even the simplest when spoken in jest, combined the right way can in fact hurt.

After sitting on this for a while I began to wonder, have we as men lost our ability to show how we feel or express our love for another? How many years after marriage are we supposed to quit saying I love you? At what point is our relationship just an existence? Do we simply just cohabitate, thriving off the inadequacies of our significant other, never recalling what it was like the first time we held hands or kissed. Forgotten are the hopes and dreams of a young couple in love? Our lives drug down by normalcy, children, financial responsibilities, the suffering of our friends with whom we bitch to about those we supposedly love?

Jacy and my relationship is far from perfect believe me. We have both spent more than our fair share of times upset with the other over both important and trivial matters. It would go on for a few minutes, a few hours and on rare occasions a few days! It is part of marriage! No couple is perfect! I am more scared of a couple that never fights than a couple who fights, forgives and loves. But one thing about Jacy and I remains through thick and thin. We both LOVE each other unconditionally.

We have learned over time that being in love means learning how to forgive. Sometimes even when you still think you are right. Why? Because when you look into each other’s eyes you should still see that glow, a glimmer in the corner that lets you know she loves you and the person you met all those years ago is still there waiting only for you. You should be able to answer without a doubt what it is she brings to your relationship and why you admire her for it! She should be able to respond instantaneously in the very same fashion.

Listen, if I am ruining things for everyone else, then so be it. I didn’t learn all of this the moment I was married. The person I was before my wife was someone who was angry and in pain. I trusted no one, and put walls up all around me, shoving those closest away. I was self destructive and brought a heavy toll to those who surrounded me and it has taken years of talking and listening to turn myself around.

When Jacy came into my life it was a revelation. I knew, she knew, we both couldn’t believe it. We both fought against it, but we knew. The day I married her my heart exploded with joy and in no time she took to loving me as no other had ever done. She loved me for who I was, what I was and because I was me. Since then I can without hesitation tell you that over our 14 years she has changed me from a arrogant, egocentric, self-centered man to the person I am today. ( I know, not much different right? Ha Ha) I truly disliked who I was before and without her pushing me when I didn’t want to be pushed, picking me up when I had fallen down, believing in me when I felt there was nothing left to give and showing me how to care for others. Without this woman, today I would be a miserable human being inside and out.

There is no way anyone will ever get me to feel sorry for being lucky enough to express my feelings. Jacy Franceschi is my wife, if you have ever met her then you know the instant joy she brings into your life. She is friendly, open and honest, she may say things you don’t want to hear, but they are better said than any wall or wedge being driven between two people over an inability to communicate. She will in fact give you the shirt off her back. Listen when you are down, help you to get back up and cheer you on when things are great. I have never known a person who can make friends instantly no matter where we are, and it is her smile that is her signature trademark!

What is happening to her is beyond unfair! For all she has done for so many it just isn’t fair! Not that God, or any other spiritual higher power you may believe in is keeping tabs on who deserves or doesn’t deserve to have cancer-Leukemia. But for me it doesn’t make sense. I am struggling with why this woman I love, who loves me in return should have to suffer this way. She once told me it was better that Leukemia happened to her than me, because she felt I had suffered enough in my life. That was a hard pill to swallow. But the reality is, I am still suffering, the loss of my wife for the last four months has been overwhelming to say the least! I miss her every day. Her smile, her kiss, her laugh, her down right goofiness at times. I miss watching her and Parker snuggle at night while reading, seeing her and Jake laughing over a goofy joke, I miss listening to her and Cody talk about dog training, I miss her and Jessica talking over the last softball game. I miss it all! It is my family and one person is missing leaving us very incomplete.

She is also the strongest woman I know. What she has gone through is beyond words. There is a reason I only post pictures of her from behind. Out of respect. What Leukemia and the resulting GvHD have taken away from her is more than many of us could ever handle. She is gaunt, without any fat or muscle left on her frail bones. She struggles to walk daily, cannot see most of the time and her skin is mottled red. Her hands shake and she is constantly coughing like a twenty year smoker. She needs assistance to shower, move or go to the bathroom. Yet every minute of every day she greets every person who walks in her room with a smile. She asks about their day, how they are feeling, wanting know who is dating who, who has a child on the way and shows she cares, that she is more than just a patient, she wants to be your friend. She says please and thank you without hesitation and cracks jokes to anyone who will listen. Each time the doctor talks to her about progress she believes it will be next week or the week after that she will go home. Jacy has surpassed many others who tried but haven’t made it this far and she has done it with style, class, determination and grit! She refuses to believe there is any other option but to go home. She is simply amazing, she is my hero and I love her.

Standing in the shadows of an arena, under some twinkling lights, watching two people in love start upon a journey towards an unknown future. A smile breaks across my face, for they haven’t a clue and neither do most. They know they love each other, they know they are now husband and wife and that is all that matters right now. Yet their marriage now becomes about what they don’t know, the future and that’s the way it should be, there is so much waiting ahead for them both. As they walk out of this arena tonight, I only pray they remember marriage is not a fairytale it is in fact hard work, but the payoff is worth every single struggle. I could say I wish we could go back to that day, knowing what we know now, but it wouldn’t change a thing. We still would have done all the things we have done, fought for each other’s love the way we have over the years and worked our hardest to become better human beings. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I said there is no way I will ever feel sorry for being lucky enough to express my feelings the way I do, and I don’t. I feel sorry those you don’t know how to express theirs. Don’t wait until it’s too late, because when it is, you cannot turn back the hands of time. Regret is an awful weight to bear.

Jacy I am coming for you honey, warm up those hands cause I plan on holding them for a really long time.

us

12 Angry Men…

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The summons stared me in the face like an angry, arms crossed child. Neither of us wanting to give in to the others wants and needs yet both knowing there was only going to be one winner. A summons for jury duty, reissued as a continuance had already been granted. Myself not really wanting to be there, instead only thinking of the re-arrangements to our already taxed schedule. But as 0630 rolled around and we stared at each other with contempt, I blinked first, the jury summons won thus off to The Halls of Justice we went. (Cant type it without hearing the justice league cartoon)

Standing in line with other prospective jurors it was blatantly obvious no one wanted to be positioned in front of this building. I meandered slowly towards the door, belt in one hand, anything metal in the other, doing my best to not look annoyed as I proceeded through a metal detector. Once inside I quickly found a seat and the waiting began.

Several times instructions were read. Our summons clearly states all blanks on the reverse side should be completed prior to arrival on your assigned date. Apparently only 10% of us understood the instructions or even bothered to read this nasty little note. Finally a representative arrived and began reading from a list of names. There were to be three groups. One group assigned to courtroom 207, the other assigned to 208 and the third group was to stand by as alternates. No one wants to be in the alternate group as there is no timetable assigned. Either you are released right away or kept all day long as jury selection trudges forward.

So a little known secret. I love jury duty! Seriously, I think jury duty rocks! I have been on a jury and was picked to be the foreman! It took four days total and was very interesting. You really have no solid foundation for how our justice system works until you have been on a jury! But under my current circumstances it was not appealing at all. But I was there and would perform my civic duty regardless.

As a young gal stood at a podium reading names for group one and two, I secretly wished they’d call my name. I know I needed to be at Stanford, and as confusing as it is, I also knew I wanted to be on a jury, it’s kind of like the two biggest kids on the playground picking teams! You pray you are not one of the last two kids left with two captain’s arguing over which one of you sucks less! So I sat, listening to an alphabetic order, praying F would be for me! Well I ended up in group three. Bummer, the dreaded unknown!

Then something happened, they readjusted their numbers and just like that! I was headed to courtroom 208! Five minutes later they excused all alternate jurors! DAMNIT!!! I could not win! So I resigned myself to a possibility of four or five day’s jury duty. Sitting in the courtroom trying my hardest to listen to our judge I couldn’t focus! I kept thinking about my wife, laying there wondering when I would arrive. Then it was the kids, how will I get them where they need to be all week-long? But the final straw was when I realized I had no idea what the judge was saying! I had been sitting in the courtroom for 45 minutes and the only thing I remembered was raising my right hand to be sworn in! Also I had become overly stressed out over my phone being completely shut down! One of the rules of the courtroom! What if Jacy needed to reach me, or her mom or dad? There was no way I was going to be able to survive this and still care about the defendant’s right to a fair trial!

The judge asked at 1145 for all jurors who felt they had a valid hardship in conjunction with fulfilling their obligation to serve to please form a line outside. She also asked anyone who felt they would have an issue with serving to please raise their hand. 30 people raised hands, all grumbling as they did so. I did not. No way was I going to be a slacker! Good men and women have died for our freedoms and with those freedoms come the responsibility to fulfill our obligations. We Americans have one of the best judicial systems in the world. It may be flawed but it beats the hell out of being thrown in jail to rot with no rights at all! So this guy wasn’t going to be one of those guys! That’s right! Damn proud to be an American!!

11:45- The line is long. I am third from last.

Oh shut up! I hear y’all now grumbling about all that patriotic shit I just spewed! The long and the short of it? There was no way I was even close to being able to pay attention. As conflicting as it was for once it was about me, my needs, and the needs of my family. I was sorry for the defendant, but I didn’t put him there and my wife needed me! End of story!

Walking up to the podium, lump in my throat, I really did feel guilty. The judge was really awesome, from the beginning she was funny, with great dialogue! She reminded me of Judge Harry from the TV sitcom Night court!

I placed both hands on the podium looked up at her as she said hello. I shook my head (I think she could tell I was bothered by what I was about to do) and said: I feel guilty standing here right now.

Judge: I have that effect on people!

Everyone chuckled

Judge: What is your name for the record?

Me: James Franceschi

Judge: Go ahead Mr. Franceschi

Me: I didn’t raise my hand earlier and for that I am sorry but you see my wife, well my wife had a bone marrow transplant in July. This date today was my rescheduled summons, a date I picked because she was supposed to be home by now. She is not. She has had every ailment possible and continues to struggle through setbacks at Stanford hospital. Therefor I don’t believe I would be a good pick for this jury as my mind is obviously elsewhere.

Judge: family is the most important thing and should come first.

Me: Thank you, and please understand I am who you would want on a jury. Every time I am called I look forward to being picked and the last time I was here I was not only picked but the other jurors picked me to be the jury foreman as well! I had an amazing experience serving as a juror.

Judge: Thank you for your service Mr. Franceschi and let’s just say this ones on me! Your service here is complete and thank you again. The court wishes the best to you and your wife.

Me: Thank you judge

As I walked from the podium I heard the judge say thank you again and that she wished others could have heard my testimony. Slightly embarrassed, I quietly said thank you again and after a moment with the bailiff I was on my way. I hope one day I am called again and it is in her courtroom so I can be a part of her machine. I am sure anyone who serves under this judge comes away with a smile.

Two hours later I was with my wife. When I am with her my blood pressure drops, my head stops hurting a little, my heart beats a little slower, my smile grows a little larger.

I busted Jacy out of her room for a stroll to the fountain. We found a shaded seat as she cannot be in the sun and even with a mask on her face I saw her smile through her eyes. The warm breeze upon her skin, the sound of water crashing down and a duck or two chatting away in the distance. It was amazing just being by her side, knowing it is, was and always will be where I am supposed to be.

After we had all the sun and fun we could stand, I rolled her back inside where she proceeded to walk not one, but two laps around the quad. This girl wants to go home and bad! Of course this left her exhausted and within a few minutes she was fast asleep holding my hand.

Two hours later the day was gone and I needed to say goodbye. I hate saying goodbye. I still hate walking out the door. But I do so knowing she is being taken care of by some of the best human beings I have had the privilege to meet. I love her and so do they. It shows every time I arrive and am greeted with a smile.

This week she is starting another experimental drug to help control her bleeding bladder. Please continue to pray for rapid healing as prolonged exposure to this drug can leave irreversible damage. But it is our only rational option. I say this because the other two options, the way I understand them would leave her either on dialysis for the rest of her life or incontinent.

A day that started out with possibly twelve angry men ended with one happy wife and one humbled husband who is always glad to have another opportunity to simply hold my wife’s hand..

jacys hand