A Conflict of Emotions


Noun: a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one:

Verb: be incompatible or at variance; clash:


Noun: natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others

A conflict of emotions best describes the last 7 days. One minute jubilation for my wife’s ability to walk away from Stanford Hospital, then while walking our property, gazing upon my parents home, sadness, knowing my father will never walk out the front door again.

Seven days ago dad perished in our driveway, six days ago Jacy walked free from six months of medically induced incarceration. Seven days ago I was having one of the best shifts ever, working towards a year end that would top our best ever in regards to calls for service. Then in the blink of an eye it was over. Six days ago sadness hovered over me like a bully, pushing me, calling me names, slapping me in the face, then happiness as my eyes witness an event we all prayed would happen, but to be quite frank at times wondered if it would come to fruition. She (Jacy) stood up, untethered and walked out of the hospital a free woman to the raucous cheers of all involved.

During these last seven days I have endured the worst migraines ever, slept very little for a few days then slept and slept and slept some more! Moving about like a lost butterfly chaser, over here then over there and due to our very hectic lives have only been able to spend three days with Jacy. I have helped my mother gather up and organize her life while working on a proper way for all who knew my father to say goodbye. I have fielded more emails than ever, talked with family and friends, tried my best to let everyone know what is happening in regards to both major events and with the help of my second family (work) I have been blessed once again to have the freedom to do so!

I worry about missing someone, anyone, in regards to this constant flow of information. I have a tablet which I am constantly filling with notes to help keep me on track. It feels as though these two things just shouldn’t go together! That for some reason it is an unfair request for someone to handle this all at once. Life and death. A friend once made this statement; People die every day what are you going to do about it? She was right and my problems are so minor compared to others so I end up feeling ashamed for complaining.

But in reality, life is about turning the page.

Today, I loaded up the trailer and headed over to a friend’s house. There, my son (Jake) and I worked horses, surrounded by wonderful people. Three laps walking was all it took for every stress knot, tension spot, pain and ache I had been feeling to go away. Five laps into trotting my disorganized thoughts began to fall into line, categorized for processing. Moving into a lope a clarity overtook me, leaving me with a sensation similar to floating. Dropping into the herd to select one cow for practice I felt focused, at one with my horse. Carefully taking it from the herd and placing it into the arena to be worked a darkness lifted from within. Moving across the arena to bump, stop or turnback that cow while a young horse was being schooled and everything became right with the world. There was no conflict inside, I no longer had a headache, my body was loose and free, there were no unanswered questions, I didn’t feel alone anymore. Just me, my horse, some friends, a few cows and some good old fashioned horse work.

In that moment, I thanked my dad. Former president of Napa Valley Horsemans Association, Owner of Town and Country Western store, the man who first showed me what horses were all about and even though I ran away from them as a teenager. I came back. I felt I could continue that passion by instilling it further within my own children and hoped one day they (even the two who don’t ride) would feel thankful for it after I am gone.

In that moment I also thanked my wife, for without her constant vision of what our family could be; we would never be where we are today. She always has a way of seeing what I cannot, showing me a vision with clarity, then allowing me to pick up the ball and run. If it weren’t for her my successes would be fewer and farther between. To have been able to be by her side these last two years has been my privilege. She always tells me how proud she is of me, and then apologizes for all she says she has put us through. I see it a little differently. I am incredibly proud of her! She has accomplished a feat of great magnitude in regards to her health. She has nothing to apologize for, without her there would be no me and without me there would be no her. The way I understand it, that is what marriage is supposed to be. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her.

Later in the day my oldest Cody took me out to the refuge where we sat in a blind, decoys in front of us we waited. Sitting there gazing at the incredible young man he has become I am filled with pride and more happiness. We only got a couple ducks in the three hours we were out there, but today it really wasn’t about the hunting for me. This young man, my son, sat there and quietly explained every move, where the ducks were going to come from, how his decoy pattern is planned using patterns or duck socialization he learned while at Humboldt. He knew every breed that flew overhead, talked about how beautiful it was where we were at, and relished at the evil cloud formations forming over us as rain poured down. In other words he spoke with passion for something that makes his world turn, that brings him happiness, which makes him relax when everything is crazy. I was in heaven and all I could think about was how thankful I am for him and lucky I am to still be here to enjoy this very moment.

So we move forward. As the week draws to a close and another sun sets off in the distance we make progress. Jacy is doing well. She continues to sleep a ton, she joked with me today that she stayed awake for a whole 45 minutes! She is surrounded by family and her children as Jess and Parker have been with her every day since she arrived at her dads! There are twenty three daily meds, eye drops, 4 breathing treatments a day, an IV line connected to a portable pump and trips back to Stanford every other day or so. None of that matters as Jacy smiles that famous smile simply because she can.

My mom is also doing well, she has reorganized the house, started preparing for the future with her own personal needs and is focused on making sure dad’s memorial is exactly the way she wants it! They have been together since they were 15, I am not sure what that means to her emotionally right now, but as she put it; I am a tough Old Italian woman, at some point I will cry again, but until then there are things to be done. She checks in with me almost every day and the boys and I have been checking in on her just the same.

I have no idea what I have been worrying about, just take it one day at a time. Right?

A turning of the page…

5 thoughts on “A Conflict of Emotions

  1. This crazy roller coaster of emotions. It’s insane. I’ve been there… These moments when you can take care of you are oh-so-important in the midst of it all. Praying for endurance and continued healing for you and your family.


  2. Hi James, I just want you to know I have been praying many times for you in all areas ups and downs, joys and sorrows. I too am going through similar situations. My father is in the hospital with what my untrained self feels is the ending/advanced stages of COPD and congestive heart failure. He is one sick man. The joy I am facing is our daughter is due Jan 20 with our 4th granddaughter. She was told yesterday that baby girl is in position and could be here any day. Conflict in my head, and my heart. Our daughter was to have a c-section Jan 20. Everything is in place but it appears Amelia has other plans. Where do I go? Where should my priorities be if she goes early? She needs me. Daddy needs me I am daddy’s girl. But I find strength in you and your postings. I am reminded to keep the faith. I need to do like you one step at a time. I just wanted you to know your struggles and your strength are helping me a stranger. Thanks for the updates. God bless your family. Hugs, Debbie Duncan

    Sent from my iPad



    1. I’m sorry about your dad. Strength comes from many places, if something I have written has helped you then the reason I started this blog has paid off! Keep waking up every day to find the positive! The negatives will only slow you down and before long one foot will no longer be placed in front of the other.
      Congrats on the latest addition with your granddaughter. A sunny spot during hard times. 😃


  3. Thank you so very much James for writing and sharing with all of us about your trials, concerns, and indeed triumphs! You are such an inspiration for all of us throughout the trials, ups and downs, and multi-tasking. The Good Lord is obviously there with you, Jacy, your mother and your entire family. I am very sure our Lord is very proud of all of you! Our thoughts and prayers are with you all many times a day.
    Thank you so much for sharing! Hugs and love to you, Jacy and your family…Susan Joyce


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