To go gentle into that good night.

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas

 

This poem has resonated with me since that of a young man. I have had it stuck in my head for months now trying my hardest to determine what it means to me.

It brings about stirred emotions of an unwavering inner strength, tormenting whispers of the unknown, and an inner fight that arises much like a demon awaiting a moment to reign terror upon those who doubt its power. For there are those who will challenge your age, your wisdom and use the word to chip away at all that you are, have accomplished in life, or look to become. They don’t understand this poem speaks to everyone, not just those who proudly wear the wrinkles of time.

And so with that said I write..

The assumed stands before demise.

So expected and anticipated according to annals of time that my brain is washed by hollowed expectation.

Waiting and waiting to crumble so frail. My strength gone from age’s elastration.

But I refuse to go gentle into that good night

I have too much to lose by allowing forked tongues in shaping my destiny

To live, to breathe, to gather life in a bottle and sip upon its soulful nourishment

A man whose wrinkles should bring about empathy while disparaging apathy

I am strong, I am whole, I am man, I shall move forward no matter life’s dreadful weight

A second half of life laden with baggage and yet its burden bears no consequence 

I cry for those entrapped, ones who are youthfully pointed towards, a folly of jokes and insults fall upon this wasteland created through a wrinkle of time. Burdening a man’s soul it does, with stereotypes of ancient freight.

For they too shall bare ages haunting truth and most likely through inner weakness go gently into that good night

Sickle in hand, cloaked from light.

But not I, for quiet has never been my right.

 

It feels as though lately people are dying all around me, I can no longer ignore this truth. I am starting to feel the pressure to survive at all costs. Every time I turn around another child has gone, another mother is ill, another father has crossed over to the other side. Some I learn from phone calls or social media and others because I was there, my hands unable to help. It has brought me to fully understand that I can longer hide behind disbelief, a realization rings solid that yes we all really do have an expiration date.

For years we have known this to be true; but we never think it could possibly happen to us. It can and yes it does. In the blink of an eye, this glorious gift given us from God can be taken away. Our hearts beat loudly, our minds work endlessly and yet it is all for nothing once our bodies have vanished.

Every day driving into town, there is always something that reminds me how much I love life. Our world is very complex and filled with so many wonderful things, I just find it hard to fathom that at some point in time I will no longer be here to enjoy the majesty that continually surrounds me.

I have seen and felt so many things in this short life, more than some less than others. I have cried until there were no tears left to give, laughed until my stomach felt like one giant cramp, put my fist through a solid door and thrown a wrench through a wall in shame and or anger. I have hugged another, held out a welcoming open hand and used those same hands to bring pain upon another’s wrongful deeds.  I have screamed towards the sky, lied to appease emotions, and mumbled quietly at the voices in my head, begging them to leave me alone. I have not only felt my pain, but your pain as well because of a sworn life choice. I have sat befuddled by life’s obstacles, gazing upon an open field wondering, praying, and yearning for answers to so many questions. Some days the answers come, most days they do not, and then there are days I believe obstacles have been placed in my way to keep me from myself.

In my humble opinion.

This life it was not meant to be easy, it was meant to be experienced.

You may not currently like the experience, you may not enjoy the outcome at any moment in time. But know this; this life, it is yours. It is not someone else’s, it belongs to you and you alone. It is up to you in determining how you see life’s obstacles, how you react when life’s ugliness knocks upon your door. Do you stand tall, find the answers and move forward? Do you strive to provide positivity, a ray of light and hope or do you bury your head in the sand ignoring the life around you?

Do you simply become that who goes gentle into that good night?

I have and always will choose to fight.

It’s in my nature, it is who I am..

Who are you?

 

 

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I dreamed a dream about a dream until I realized I had been dreaming all along.

As a child I would lay awake at night gazing upon a ceiling of white, not knowing what darkness or light of a new day may bring. Excitement, happiness, sadness, confusion or worry were commonplace in those silent moments before slumber. This single moment of nightly reflection was a time I dreaded for I neither knew nor had the ability to process each and every thought or feeling rapidly infiltrating my developing brain. So I did my best to create an alternate reality (you know the dreaming before you actually dream) about the future and what it may hold. This was done with a gentle rocking back forth as if I was a baby clutched within my mother’s arms.

Eventually I would contort until finding I was flat on my back. My eyes cast toward the sky, head laid upon a pillow for which I would trust with my slumber until well into adulthood. Then and only then after dreaming about dreams would I drift off to sleep and eventually dream. It’s funny how things can become so very important when we are children and yet nominal as we grow older. That pillow was a lifeline to some nominal form of sanity. It was a trusted object for which I looked forward to after a long day. A moment of pure bliss as my head met its tattered misshapen form. It smelled good, it formed to my head just right and it meant that hopefully after a little blank moment or enlightened thought process the best was yet to come.

To dream

What is it to dream? We dream with eyes wide open about our futures and what they may hold. We dream about what we want to become as we grow older or where we wish to be within a certain designated time frame. We dream about that perfect human match, a soul mate who mirrors our better selves forming a solid foundation for which life and dreams can be achieved. We also dream as we sleep. The subconscious collecting data from deep within our cerebral cortex, correlating it into a one night only performance. Hyper-infusing our confidences and fears into a woven tale of wonderment, confusion or terror.

As a child I recall dreams were abundant. They would come and go, filled with mystery and wonder. Our subconscious mind working overtime filling our thoughts with the impossible, the amazing and at times the downright frightening! But as a child, I can remember the importance of dreams. How some mornings they left me mesmerized or flat out invigorated! I can remember getting dressed before school thinking today anything is possible! All from a dream that boosted my confidence or left me wondering whether or not it was in fact a dream.

During those very early years it was mostly dreams of playing baseball, swimming, learning to ride a bike, or flying! Flying like a superhero, swooping long and low over rooftops with the speed of lightening. My dreams always had a happy undertone that I was popular, or famous and life was licking my fingertips waiting for me to grab onto it and hold it tight!

Into the age of teen wonderment, nightly I would drift off with rock music playing in the background much to my parent’s dismay. My dreams consisted of cars, high school and girls. Real cars would fill my head, not the plastic ones rolling around our streets today! A 1957 Chevy or a 1966 Chevelle! Yes hardened steel and abundant horsepower!!! My 1964 Chevy truck became my world and before sleep I would dream about having the money to one day fix it up so that it would shine, making the cover of Hot Rod Magazine.

During this time I was particularly fond of writing (shocker huh?) and would pencil my dreams in the morning upon waking. I dreamed of being a writer one day, I also dreamed of being a cowboy, or a movie actor. This of course led to desk bound daydreaming where in class my thoughts would wander off and I would be dreaming about the day I would have enough courage to leave home to chase those exciting dreams. An actor, on stage or in the movies I didn’t care! Imagining myself in a full scale western movie, riding, shooting and doing my own stunts! Sometimes I would dream about being a doctor, going to school for a really long time just to prove to my parents that even though school was incredibly hard for me I was in fact smart after all.. It was certified Walter Mitty syndrome!

I never did have the guts to leave, head out on my own. Terrified of the unknown and worried about rejection along with where I would sleep or eat, those dreams became nothing more than lost hopes. I regret those decisions to this day.

Early adulthood and my dreams began to wane. Sleep becomes more of a necessity as life treats you a little harder and exhaustion gives way to reality. The reality being there is no longer time for dreaming about any future while lying in bed. Work became my outlet and I ran at times to the beat of two or three jobs at once. My cherished pillow, the one I longed for at the end of the day no longer mattered as resting my head anywhere warm and dry was more important than comfort or security. Life has picked up speed and there no longer remains time for my silly dreams.

Marriage and not long after children come, days are filled with responsibilities beyond comprehension. My thoughts range from love and pride with this life we are building as a team to worry and fear for what the future holds for us both and this family we have created. Today’s moments are about these people who are now the backbone/foundation of your life. Your dreams for the future are no longer your own but those of a collective whose agreeance is mandatory. These moments of life you will cherish forever, they will create a better and stronger you, you will achieve more than you imagined but those achievements may not be part of what you initially dreamed life would become. You will smile at how quickly life expands, grows and evolves with the continued addition of all who come into your life. I believe these years are the years which leave you with a smile upon your face when your time has come to an end on this earth. You are now following a path and new hopes and dreams will emerge, but you must not forget who YOU are and begin to allow those day dreams to come back. You need to listen to your heart and follow the right path. You long for the nights when deep sleep brings about happy dreams about life, love and family.

There for to quit dreaming is to quit living and hopefully your dreams continue on through the latter portions of your adult years. For me, life and my dreams are much different. I now dream for the thought processes of a child, returning to the innocence of adolescence with all its narrow minded wonder. My head hurts every day, my body is so tired, it’s as though I have drug a truck uphill for miles. When I lay my head down at night I no longer have a single trusted pillow, hell any pillow that is thicker than a postage stamp will do. I can no longer stare upon the ceiling to dream about any kind of future and what it may hold for sleep apnea has its evil grip upon my body. When sleep does come it is at the hands of my wife’s oxygen machine running, the sound of dogs barking, a television squawking hoping to ease my wife’s nervous mind and sheer exhaustion overtaking me while I struggle to breathe through the mask of a CPAP machine.

To dream a lovely dream would in fact be a delightful dream.

Many times I fear sleep depending on the day, the stress level over Jacy’s health or what may have transpired during a shift at work. These dreams do come and with them sometimes death, tragedy, harm and images to disturbing to mention. Often times awaking in panic or fear, drenched in sweat while ripping CPAP mask from my face! This will lead to walking the halls until I can calm down. Many times I awaken feeling as though I am having a full blown heart attack complete with chest pain, sweat and difficulty breathing! It is scary, and tiresome at the same time. Most nights I can no longer fall asleep until I know all my children are safe at home, in their beds. Sleep comes with a price as my worries surpasses any expectations of deep slumber. Listening to Jacy’s labored breathing, coughing and doing my best to stay out of her way as she tosses and turns for fear of waking her from a much needed rest. When I do get the chance to fall into a drop dead slumber my dreams lead to a land I wish not to visit and these places only lead to eventually being awake. Once there I daydream about a life once lived, a love inspired by the continual thought of a new day where my wife is healthy, happy and free from all this torment.

I wonder why life can’t be like the movies. A story with all its problems neatly wrapped up in 90 minutes. Where a young boy can dream while gazing at an arcade machine about being BIG and it happens. Or a girl dreams about running her own clothing company and she does. Or a rat believes it can be a chef in Paris and voila! He is..

What would we be without dreams?

You see things and you say why? But I dream things that never were; and say, “Why not?”

~George Bernard Shaw~

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

~C.S. Lewis~

Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.

~James Dean~

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

~Oscar Wilde~

And my personal favorite

A man is not old until regrets take place of dreams

~John Barrymore~

And with John Barrymore’s quote I say this.

You are born with the ability to dream and with the very same skill set you shall perish. What you do with it in between falls squarely upon you.

Whether asleep or awake, dream, dream big and never let anyone detour you from those dreams.

When a mullet is more than a mullet.

2

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…

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.

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Oh? One of those calls….

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Why must you ring? Why?

One of “those” calls, the phone call we all dread.

We all know the story, have heard it recounted a million times whether through a friend or family, on television or in the movies. This haunting recollection is always recounted like an old wives tale and for some strange reason it chills even more so simply through its timing. Midnight to 5am.

The phone rings, its 4am. Nothing good comes from a phone call at 4am. No one I know lives on the other side of this big round world just waiting to chat my night away, no one I know has been counting down the minutes to converse with me during what would be considered to any other normal human being, bedtime? No one. Not one, single, solitary person.

So that means when the phone rings at 4am it is without a doubt bad news, it always means at 4am that it is bad news. Right? Publishers Clearing house is not calling to inform me I just won 10 million dollars at 4am! Although they could, seriously PCH call anytime, PLEASE!!!!!

It rings, I don’t hear it. Sound asleep, weary from a long emotionally charged week my body is in deep REM sleep. Somewhere in my dream there is an apparition yelling at me to arise, screaming to wake up, something is not right! I wearily crack an eye to a very dark bedroom only to recognize the sound of a voicemail populating my electronic gadget of life.

Heart rate doubles instantly like an electric shock, as though the bell has just gone off at the fire station and I hear the words “Structure Fire”. Bam! I am awake! Searching fumbling for the phone, fear instantly grips me, thoughts, horrible thoughts of what may be; enter my brain! They keep coming as my fingers can’t quite grasp this stupid phone! Nothing is working! Squinting hard, no recognition is working and I can’t find my damn glasses to see since my fear induced jolt knocked them off the nightstand. Like Ralphy from a Christmas story I carefully search the floor praying I don’t take a misstep thus hearing the cracking of a shattering lens.

I have them! I can see, hitting voicemail a somber, I am guessing through dialect Asian gentlemen calmly explains Jacy has been moved to ICU. Her O2 saturation is poor, her breathing is labored, her red cells are down and she is in need of one on one care. If I have any questions to call.

Thank God! She is still ok!

I lay down for a moment to stare at the ceiling.

Once the emotions are out of my system, my heart rate has returned to normal and I’m done being scared, a thought crosses my mind. Why? Why does a late night call always bring the worst instantaneously from our subconscious? I know history, tales of woe and an assumed perception of the worst has everything to do with it. But I just wish there was a way I could shake that thought process from my mind. Anywhoo, this is how my week was to begin, with a single, heightened, middle of the early morning phone call.

After arriving to the hospital, doctors announce she had contracted a form of pneumonia giving her grief which explained why her breathing had been so labored. Her doctors said the GVHD was still responding well to the experimental drug Jakafi and their hopes remained positive as far as continuing to slowly wean her from all steroids which would help with her continued muscle deterioration. She has recently developed diabetes which is being treated accordingly and is also one piece of the picture in regards to her continued loss of vision. On Wednesday she participated in a bronchoscopy which did not make our girl happy at all, having a camera shoved down your throat when you have no strength to fight left her feeling a bit more helpless. By Thursday for some reason she had reverted completely and was back to feeling a failure in her recovery. She needed all our love and care to snap her back into her super woman fighting spirit!

I contracted some form of a cold and have not been able to see her which has been difficult to say the least. It is hard when the woman you love wants you with her more than anything and there is nothing you can do but stay on top of your medications and pray this stupid cold goes away quickly.

She wants to come home, it is all she thinks about! She wants to see her children, to hold them to watch them, to simply sit down and do homework, participate in their lives. On days she feels like quitting all it takes is reminding her what’s waiting for her at home and we can usually snap her out of a funk.

As of today Jacy is doing much better. This incident happened on Tuesday morning and although there have been a few bumps in the road for the most part she has held her own. The tests came back from the bronchoscopy and she has HVV6 a herpes virus we all carry to some extent, it masks itself in a few ways including pneumonia. Good news is she was already being treated with the appropriate medications so a minor adjustment and we shall see in a week. Jacy can no longer walk as her muscles have finally weakened. She still has limited use of her eyes which has been the hardest on her. She works very hard at staying mentally strong which after 67 days can be a bit daunting for a person who is used to doing everything for herself. Thanks to the help of her family she can sit in a chair for about 45 minutes without assistance, she is participating in physical therapy daily which includes the use of bands giving her muscles some resistance. She recently was placed on a special air mattress to help with her bed sores. She is seriously one tough cookie and my hero.

Our family thanks everyone who continues to pray, help, and care. She is the light of our lives, the toughest woman I know and she will come home. It just may be a while..

Hopefully I don’t get another one of “those” calls…

12:11 Sunday: Just in as I place the final touches on this latest edition!! HVV6 responding well, her lungs are clearing up! She is off oxygen and finally saturating in the high 90’s on her own. She has also been moved from liquids restrictions and will be able to consume fluids which means solid foods are not far behind!

Keep those prayers coming, she needs prayers of strength to help her mentally feel like she is improving, keeping her spirits high!

And away they go!

I have spent the better part of the evening reading each and every emotionally charged snippet about children heading off to college. I went back and re-read what I wrote about Cody leaving last year on my blog and found myself choked up all over again.
To every one of you feeling the pain of having to say goodbye tomorrow or the next day or next week understand this; yes it hurts, it is going to hurt, there is no way around the pain of watching your child walk out the door alone. Yes it is a good thing, you have done your job it is time for them to shine! No you don’t have to be happy about it, no matter what anyone says to you, this is your child, your emotions, let those emotions flow freely, you have earned it!  Yes you are going to miss them terribly along with their dirty laundry, snarky comments, goof ball friends and most importantly you are going to miss just sitting with them sometimes not saying anything at all. It is hard not knowing what they are doing or how they are feeling along with  constantly wondering if they are safe,  after all that has been part of your existence for the last 18 years! But in the back of your mind you know you have done your job, so trust me it will be ok. These children or now young adults no matter how we may perceive them are the very best part of us heading out to make their marks upon this world and that is a good thing. They will come home and they will leave again, but know this, each time they come home they will be a little different, a little wiser, a little more educated, and a little more like the adult you always hoped and dreamed they would become. So while you are grabbing for tissue to sop up the misery, take your free hand and pat yourself on the back for the best my friends is yet to come! I promise!

Buckle up Buttercup!

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Timidly pullIng down the strap, buckling in tight, yes my nerves are raw, emotions high but with a feeling of optimism coursing through my veins. I knew this was going to be a hell of a ride, after all I had done my homework, read the memo’s and calculated all risks associated with this procedure. Life is filled with the unexplained, the where’s and whys, but life can also be explained through formulas, numbers, and equations the basis of fact.

In my world I live on a combination of hard facts and grey areas derived through trial and error, or accumulated experiences. Some days bring solid steadfast results, other days bring gloom and despair but mostly we consistently work within that grey area of operations, teetering between facts and gut reactions. There is something to be said about going with your gut! While floating in the cranial membrane of greyish indecision it has always worked well for me.

So today whilst arriving at Stanford to meet with Jacy’s primary doctor, I really had no questions as through many days and nights absorbing information, regurgitating said information for consumption and pondering the wealth of answers in regards to my wife’s previous, current and future care I felt fairly certain I was right where I wanted to be mentally. Oh but how doctors love hard facts….

Buckle up buttercup this is going to be one hell of a ride!

That’s all that kept running through my head..

Sitting in a room specially designed for such occasions I actually began to feel a bit nervous. I have been here before and I never really like these meetings. It is probably the basis for my need to overload on information, know everything that is happening so as to never be caught off guard. The room was filled with Jacy’s dad, step-mom and myself seated across a table from the doc, his assistant and a social worker. Jacy’s primary nurse joined us a few moment later quietly standing over my right shoulder. For the next 20-25 minutes this room reverberated with every question a father could think of in regards to his daughters care. In return every explanation the doctor felt needed to be tossed onto the table and a few that were beyond what I expected were pitched as well. Once the percentages began flying around my nerves just went numb! 20% here, 70% there, combined with scary words like mortality, fragile state, and the ever popular response of “we just don’t know”. There were also positive words such as, fighter, strong, stubborn and holding her own. Many detailed analysis I already understood; some analysis I was vaguely aware of and had appropriately deduced an outcome, while every now and again something would be said that just blindsided me. But I suppose that was to be expected for no matter how much you prepare you cannot possibly know everything. As we concluded it felt as though we all walked away understanding a little more about the who, what, where and the why of it all. I also walked away with the utmost respect for her doctor and every ounce of care she was receiving.

Now I have long said that statistics are to a mathematician what a lamp-post is to a drunk; just something to lean on.

But driving home after weeks of feeling super positive (well except for our girls little outburst last Friday that sent me into a tailspin) and feeling as though my understanding of everything was solid; driving home I felt, well, I felt heartbroken. A feeling I had no inclination of participating in, yet there it was, like my chest was going to break open! Just plain old heart-broken. Part of me wishes I had never gone to that meeting, part of me wishes I didn’t understand all that I do, part of me wishes I was just a stupid, sheep of a husband, one who nods his head yes and no whenever questions are asked. All of me wishes I could tap in for my wife, trade places with her, send her home. I have known this was going to be a long rough road, I have known that from the start. It just got longer and rougher. I have always known my wife was a fighter, she is the toughest woman I know, but she is going to have to get tougher. We are no longer talking in weeks, we are talking in months. She misses her home, her life, her ranch, her children, heck even her husband! I miss her terribly at home and all of this is breaking my heart.

The good news is these doctors know she is a fighter, everyone loves her, and the nurses all look forward to working with her. Jacy’s spirits are soaring and she knows deep inside her soul she is going to win! GVHD is no joke it is life threatening, but her toughness, her tenacity to continually do the opposite of what is expected through statistics, that will power is what keeps her going strong.

To date; Jacy cannot see due to deteriorating optical nerves in conjunction with sloughing of inner eyelid tissue, so today they tried several experimental procedures hoping to alleviate some of her visual discomfort including placing an amniotic sac over the open eyeball. Do you think that stopped her from getting out of bed and walking with me this evening? Hell no! Her eyes burn, her skin burns, she has broken blisters and peeling over her entire body! You think she whimpered once about how uncomfortable it was or used it as an excuse to get out of physical therapy? Hell no! Her stomach is upset, she cannot eat solid food because the GVHD has extended to her intestines leaving her only induced nutrition arriving through an IV. Do you think that has kept her from downing chicken soup whenever possible? Hell no! Jacy’s all over body pain is so intense she is attached to a pump delivering morphine every 15 minutes just to get through the day. Do you think that stopped her from greeting every nurse, janitor, doctor or visitor with a beaming smile, telling them what a good job they are doing, or talking about television shows, laughing together like old friends? Hell no! She can barely talk at times due to severe dry mouth and lesions inside her throat. Do think that has stopped her from happily conversing with each and every person who crosses her path? Ok I know you know the answer to this by now!

Her enduring strength, positive attitude and indelible spirit are what’s keeping this mother of four, teacher, daughter and friend going strong. I also believe some faith is in there as well. Please keep her in your heart, she believes in all of you and says she can feel the power of prayer working every day.

We have a hill to climb, it is going to be long, sometimes really hard, bumpy and frustrating, but when you feel those helping hands of spirit and faith pushing you from behind you can’t help but make that final push over the top. Then buckled up, straps down tight we can finally let go of the bar, place our hand up high and enjoy the ride together.

stay positiive

A Mystery is afoot!

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Two days ago while speed shopping through our local grocery store, my eyes cruised the ever dreaded ice cream isle. Now being one that doesn’t particularly follow any diet fad, weight loss program or calorie counting insanity. It has come to my attention that this particular body no longer holds that stealthy shape once honed through hard work and persistence previously acquired prior to Leukemia invading our household.  Although my weight does fluctuate pre and post beer consumption the true curse ensnaring my ever rising muffin top is ice cream! MMMMMMMM Ice cream! That frozen tasty, melty goodness oozing with everything from strawberries (a fools trick towards health) to salt, caramel and chocolate! If it wasnt a frozen item I would believe the devil conjured its ingredient infusion himself.

Staring at a thousand or so manufactures of ice cream, much like micro brews these days it seems everyone is an ice cream perfectionist and or connoisseur. This steely glare caught a reflection of something different, something attractive and suave. Its packaging reeking of taste and elegance. Gelato!

Oh yes, I have heard of you gelato! Many a times while strolling some special event or walking through the inner workings of our local college town this confectionary dream buzzword arises! Gelato! Have you had some? Oh my goodness I just paid $5.50 for a teaspoon sized scoop but it is soooo worth it!!! Gelato; Its Italian obviously, so therefore anything Italian must be good right? No wait, anything Italian must be GREAT! Italians are the true inventors of exceptional culinary delights much to the chagrin of all Frenchman everywhere! Of course being an Italian creation, backed by the mass consumption of anyone either in college or living superbly, comfortably inside a tax bracket that none of us will ever see, well then Gelato must be that river of gold we should all heartily dip our cups into while the dippin’s good!

Oh by the way before I go any further, Gelato is just Italian for Ice cream, so drop all the pretentiousness while eating it in front of your friends. It was and is pure marketing genious but from an Italians standpoint (uh me) it just makes you look really dumb. Although amusing, dumb none the less..

Gelato it is; my wife is craving some ice-cold sweet goodness for her throat which remains sore from having a breathing tube inserted during her operation. It is also just the excuse I need to purchase me some fat building frozen calories! Hey its bulking season and that waistline isn’t going to grow itself!!

Two tubs purchased, one for me and one for her. Both lovingly cradled and carefully placed inside our freezer on the top shelf for all to see. That is right little Timmy we dont have ice cream here at our house we have Gelato!!! Hee hee..

A few days go by, my wifes tub of caramel and sea salt goes unmolested. Placed neatly below her popsicles it is very clear this tub belongs to her and no one else. On the other hand my tub of strawberry (yes I fell for the health trick thing) chocolate truffle is decimated. Empty container lying in the trash, there is no hiding the fact you can probably hear my fat cells expanding, bursting as I walk through the kitchen.

Then comes yesterday. A text, just like the thousands of texts I receive on a weekly basis pops onto my phone. Casually glancing my phones direction, its (the texts) words confuse me, as though I am four years old trying to learn the alphabet my eyes blink rapidly working overtime at shape recognition!

Jacy: Did both ice creams get eaten?? I’m craving some and its gone??

Ok no time to panic, you got this, a simple answer, I mean it was there last night right? RIGHT? Oh yes I remember, My middle son grabbed it and asked for some, seeing it was unopened he was asked to put it back and remember that particular bucket of Gelato (said with a snobby undertone) was for mom!

Betty: No the other one was there last night unopened.

Phew, maybe she just didn’t see it.

Jacy: Its gone!!! I can’t find it!!

There is no way its gone! What the hell is she talking about!! Maybe Leukemia or Benadryl has her seeing things, maybe the freezer has become like the Mojave desert and she is only seeing a frozen mirage!! It was there, unopened, sealed tighter than fort Knox, at eleven o’clock last night!!!! Crap what do I say?

Betty: Ah second shelf? It was under the popsicle??? (Three ??? means sheepishly asking)

Jacy: GONE!

And so the mystery began! First order of business was find where the ice cream went or at least where the remnants (the body if you will) of the ice cream was disposed of. The body was found sometime later in the downstairs freezer, the top portion of Gelato mercilessly scraped away leaving nothing but the soft underbelly exposed for consumption. I now had something to go on.

After throughly questioning myself without a lawyer present because I hold no guilt and really I am not much of an interrogator anyways, it became clear we had two main suspects.

Middle son and youngest son.

Now the daughter was off at science camp but I was fairly certain somehow her name would arise as a suspect regardless. Both boys when questioned held to their stories.

Youngest son: uh, I was asleep? Plus I am scared of the dark so there is no way I am going downstairs into the dark kitchen to eat ice cream. No way!!

Middle son: why would I steal it? I would just tell you I ate it and take my consequences!

Both held compelling arguments.

The youngest had opportunity but no real motive as fear restricted his very movement. The middle child had motive and opportunity yet the whole owning up to it portion threw us for a loop! Could it be a ploy? A distraction keeping us from the truth?

We threw every tactic we knew the middle boys direction; from good parent bad parent, mom sweet and innocent; you wont get in trouble honey, honest, just tell mommy the truth, with me scowling in the background, arms crossed ready to slam my fist on the table at any moment! (I KNOW IT WAS YOU!!!!) To confused Jimmy Stewart parents; Well, well gosh little buddy none of this is making sense; shucks you got us in a real pickle here; maybe, just maybe you could help a feller out with a decent explanation? We even resorted to consequence parents; Just tell us you took the ice cream, oops I am sorry, the Gelato and we will just chalk it up to poor judgement on your part. If you dont tell us you took it, you can’t go to State for rodeo. NOTHING!!!!!

None of it worked! Nothing worked on either of them!!! Holy crap, either we live in a house with the very best liars in the world (seriously we couldn’t get a read on either one) Or a ghost ate it, then levitated the Gelato to the freezer downstairs where it was carefully placed to look like it had been there nestled amongst the Ego’s all along! These boys should work for the CIA!!!

Of course the best explanation offered came from the youngest. Maybe just maybe the middle child was sleep walking, (yes he does sleep walk to the amusement of the youngest and myself) his sleep walking self finally figured out how to get downstairs where he opened the freezer door, took out the ice cream (we are calling it what it is now) opened it, found a spoon, then took it downstairs to eat it amongst the laundry in the basement where no on would find him sleeping and eating. When he was finished he placed it back into the freezer so he could sleep walk to it later? Yep that sounds plausible. All I could picture was the sleep walking scene from Stepbrothers and sorrow for the future wife of said middle child. images-5

In the end the investigation hit a dead-end.  We determined someone ate it, someone moved it, someone tried to hide it, and Gelato is really just dumb old ice cream.

Rubbing my head the case is placed into the unsolved files.

Maybe somehow my daughter teleported her ice cream eating skills from 200 miles away really did do it!!! Stranger things have happened right?

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My Words of Wisdom for the Day

When making a decision of infinite proportion the term “sleep on it” is used as advice for the leery. Yet “sleep” never comes, your mind stays “on it” and before long you wish someone else would tell you what to do even though you’ve known the answer all along.
Seems like a waste of a good nights sleep.
Carry on that is all…

My Words of Wisdom for the Day

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Those who say you will never amount to anything are really just projecting their own fallacies.  Its bullying through intimidation.  Hold your head high, be proud of who you are and thrive.  Carry on that is all..

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