Flying home…

Southwest flight 4262 has left the runway.

Sitting in the rear of this 737, by myself, (That’s right awhole row to myself) I am pondering because well let’s face it, there really isnothing else to do but ponder unless you have a laptop or a really good book. Iam pondering the last 100 days. Pondering what my life is supposed to bewithout her here, wondering where she is and how she is doing, but most of all.

That I miss her.

I miss having her hand to hold when we fly. She always heldmy hand during takeoff and landings. Silly really to think two grown people whohave traveled together for as long as we did would still need that reassurance.But we did, and I really do.  

I know it seems strange this 205 pound 5’9 20+ year veteranof the fire service would need someone’s hand to hold while flying. That a personwho carries the ability to calmly walk towards disaster is so fearful of a hurtlingtin can in the sky filled with other similar people he needs simplereassurance! But strangely I do and it’s always been that way. You see eversince I was a little kid while others would recite the horror of classic childhooddreams where they fell, never hitting the ground, or standing naked in front oftheir classmates as everyone laughs or being submerged in water never quitegetting to the top for a desperate gasp of air. I dreamed about falling fromthe sky in a plane, corkscrewing nose first in a ball of fire and darkness.Even now as an adult those dreams still haunt me on occasion. It is why for mycomfort I always held her hand. She understood and without fail always reachedfor my hand the minute we were cleared for take-off. She also had a way ofmaking it feel like I was the one comforting her not the other way around.Letting me play the protector. I can never repay her for that except in memorywith a smile.

This week I took a little time away for myself as anexperiment.

I went to Phoenix Arizona for Barrett-Jacksons annualauction of high end automobiles. It is something I have wanted to do for manyyears. One of my very closest friends in the whole world lives near Phoenix andoffered to put me up for the week! Cheap flight purchased, no hotel costs andwell it just made sense to go far enough away that I couldn’t run home at theslightest inclination of trouble from the family.

It was time. Time to get away from the kids, away from theranch, away from my life. It was a test model for what’s to come, (hence theexperiment) for you see I go back to work on Thursday for a 72 hour shift. Istill don’t know how I feel about it. There has been plenty of time to reflect,to grow, to move past a need for seclusion. Therefore it is time. As I fly homeI am hoping this test was a complete success. (The kids being without me andall.) It will help ease my mind on Thursday as I walk through the doors ofStation 81, knowing they can handle it without dad always being therephysically. But I know deep inside my heart will be at home and those 72 hoursare going to hurt like hell while they drag on slowly.

On the flip side of things I have been sticking to my post-Christmasresolution of not complaining about Jacy being gone.  By the way for reference the previousparagraphs were not complaining they were simply observations! Ok???

No complaining, no whining and moaning the minute somethinghappens knowing that if Jacy were here things would be different. No sir! Myresolve has been strong in keeping my promise to get up every day with a smile,put both feet on the floor, be thankful I am alive and surrounded by suchwonderful people and a loving family. I go out when I can to socialize and havesurrounded myself with a few very close caring people who allow me to just beme with no expectations what so ever. I am able to talk or text them anytimeabout anything, or do nothing at all, no judgement, and that is worth itsweight in gold.

Being a planner looking towards the future is always on mymind. It is just who I am. I don’t know what that future holds and that is hardfor a planner to handle, absorb or let become a reality. I may need to changesome things about the way I choose to live my life, push some boundaries, takesome risks, all things I have never been good at doing simply to help break myplanner addiction. Either way it seems to me the only thing I can plan is thatJames (Betty) is going to find out who he is regardless of what the futureholds. I hope I like who he becomes whether I spread my wings or stay exactly thesame, because the decisions, the inner growth, the choices and experiences willall be mine. The thought of that is kind of cool.

I know what my wife would have wanted and that helps mewhenever I need to make these decisions. She was my best friend after all. Sheknew me better than I knew myself and that is something I will never take forgranted. Just at some point, and this is the hard one, it’s no longer going tobe about her, it’s going to be about me and I am ok with that regardless of thedifficulty associated because I know she would kick my ass if it were any otherway.

So at 30,000 feet, 400mph, I watch the clouds go by out mywindow, I think this is as close as I can get to heaven for now.

Huh?

Maybe she really is sitting here with me holding my hand,letting me know I am doing just fine and everything will be alright.

Just maybe..

2019 I’m ready; so lets aspire to inspire shall we?

Sitting quietly in a dark room, a flickering of light emanating from the television playing off in the distance dances across the somber mood in our living room. The Ball is about to drop ringing in a new year while saying goodbye to 2018.

I am pondering.

Life is a funny thing. Earlier in the evening I went to a friend’s house for a few hours to reconnect, feel a part of life’s tapestry and try my best to remember what life is like when lived. It worked, which is not what I expected. I laughed, hugged, lived and thought to myself on the way home about how much I missed this portion of my extended family. How many things we (Jacy and I) missed while she was sick and fighting for her life over the last five long dreadful years. And how terribly sad it was that she was not there with her million dollar smile, laughing, making new friends while smothering the old friends with love.

I came home early to be with my son.

Parker and I watched the ball drop together. We kind of chuckled at the horrendous attempt at entertainment the entire New Year’s Eve televised show had become. It was bad, really, really bad and to me showed what little value us as a society place upon ourselves or what we expect from others; but that is my opinion and for another conversation.

As expected at midnight the ball dropped, Parker stood up and said: well that was fun (sarcasm), hope 2019 is much better than 2018 for us dad!

I wanted to say; well it couldn’t get any worse!

But then I would be summoning the black cloud that seems to live over the top of us to rumble, crack and prove me wrong once again! Parker then announced he was taking shower; that he loved me and off to bed he strode.

I eventually went to bed, alone, sad, and wondering why? I knew why I was sad and alone, but why I should bother giving a shit was all I had left.

This morning while making coffee and wanting to write, I decided to look back at previous New Year’s offerings to see just what my advice or observations were for the coming years. Maybe that would help me to understand the why.

2012/13- it was all about resolutions. That’s right, I dug deep (sarcasm again) for that one and really hit it out of the park! Of course I had no idea what was instore for our family a mere 10 months later.

2013/14- I didn’t write a thing! You know why? Because I was knee deep in learning about Leukemia, treatments and how we as a family were going to tackle things head on! No mercy! It is the way this family has always handled adversity!

2014/15- New Year/New Fear. Living with the after effects of treatment, chemotherapy, and learning to live again for my wife. Understanding what it means to be in remission. It was a year filled with scares, and adventure. Jacy ran at it full bore because as I found out later, she knew deep inside but didn’t want to say it out loud that she felt Leukemia would come back.

2015/16- We focused on new beginnings, not letting this journey weigh us down, making the most of every moment because the truth is, nothing is guaranteed.  

2016/17- Handling ourselves appropriately. This journey was no longer about us, but how we could help as many people as possible by continuing forward. Both through my writings and her never saying no to any treatments. Finding joy in all the little things. Whether it be a week with some energy and no sickness to simply sitting in the sun with your children. My wife was an amazing human being and she continued to show her super powers during this dreadful year.

2017/18- This one was a little harder. I copied a portion of this former posting because I couldn’t accurately summarize my feelings.

Am I excited by the prospect of 2018 and what it has to offer?

No!!!!!

No I am fucking terrified of another year with more unexpected disappointment! Or maybe after all this time disappointment, disaster, despair should simply be expected and that’s why I am so tense! Wondering day and night as to whether or not there is more tragedy waiting for us just around the corner! I am constantly worrying about our future, her future, our children’s future and all the emotional toil our lives hold on a daily basis! I wonder if I can take on more. Is it humanly possible for me to handle another loss, another failure, another misfortune! Is there room for me to place more emotional unrest inside my soul?

I found myself mumbling; Fuck you 2018 every time I read someone’s cheery uplifting post today! I would start grinding my teeth the moment someone, anyone spoke of this dreaded New Year and it hasn’t even started yet!! That is just not me!!!

I want so badly to embrace this upcoming year, to feel hopeful, promise and opportunity! To know our future looks bright for all involved. But even as I am writing this my chest hurts, it’s hard to breath and the anxiety associated with wishing such selfish thoughts when I know there are thousands suffering in this world tonight. Struggling much harder than I. It is more than I can take right now. What the HOLY HELL!!!

Somewhere I learned the valuable lesson of keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

2018 you are not my friend, you are my enemy.

And there it is. It is like I knew or my negativity proved to be my downfall. I have had to read through the last five years while working on my book and it has been extremely hard. From 2012-2018 Heaven gained my horse Tank, Jakes Horse Twooey, Jacy’s Grandmother, and Uncle, my dad, a few friends and eventually Jacy herself.   

So what does all this mean for our family after looking through the past?

It means I am taking my own advice. Put up or shut up!!!

2019 you are not my friend, you are my enemy and the difference in regards to your arrival shall be that my tactics are changing.

I look forward to the upcoming challenges you present, my life will not be lived in sorrow or misery, it is not what my wife would have wanted for me and I know this because she made sure I understood the importance before she passed. She also knew it would take a while for me to come to terms with her passing, but she had faith I would or could carry on. She always had faith in me and that is something I cherish so very much.

After spending the evening a few weeks back with new friends, the holidays with our beloved family, and last night with old ride or die friends, it has come to my attention that now is the time. Her father sent me a video yesterday from his YouTube channel that really hit me hard. It was wise and insightful and I believe he needs to see I, his son in law, the man who loved his daughter more than I can ever show him, is taking it to heart. No more whining about her being gone. Oh that doesn’t mean I won’t miss her, or occasionally complain about it, or have terrible days for I know all too well they will come, when I least expect it, and it is 100% ok to let those emotions envelop me. Besides I don’t care who you are or think you are, a good cry now and again is good for the soul. But this family needs to look past all that and begin to live life again. We cannot besmirch her memory, her name, and her beliefs about family, life and love by wallowing in a wasted sea of tears.

Jacy Mirelle Franceschi showed me the meaning of love. She also showed me the meaning of life, living life, experiencing everything around you without slipping into the background. She showed how to make a new friend, to laugh or help someone to laugh when it’s needed, even if that means sacrificing your own dignity. She showed me the meaning of family. If you knew my wife, you knew exactly how important it was for her to have a family to call her own. She did, we loved her, and are forever grateful.

So, no, there will be no New Year’s resolutions, no pointless lists of things that couldn’t possibly be accomplished. Instead our family, my family, the family she loved and created are going to face this year head on! Not afraid of challenges, not afraid to explore, no expectations other than to walk out the door every day and live this thing called life to the fullest!

As I have said before, a mantra I have always lived by will surely be followed.

Every day you can get up, put both feet on the floor and take a step forward is a good day, a day to aspire to inspire.

So here goes.

Travel whenever you can, we will be.

Make a new friend at every opportunity, life is way too short not too!

Laugh, hard at everything, including yourself. Often!

Love with meaning, passion, and faith. To love is to be loved and I have been loved by the very best. For that I am both extremely lucky and eternally grateful. I still have so much love to share and so do you. Never forget that, ever!

Never take yourself or life to seriously. It just isn’t worth it.

Take time for yourself. Live, breathe and appreciate all this world has to offer.

And always take time for your friends and family. They are the most people in your life. Trust me after all of this, I know.

So come on 2019! Let’s do this! I am ready for whatever you have to offer. And if I am ever in question I will simply ask myself; what would Jacy do?

Wake up, put both feet on the floor and take a step forward.

The sun has risen, the sun has set, over and over and over again. For 4.543 billion years the sun has risen, the sun has set. Under its warmth or hidden in the shadows of the earths darkness lies the stories of roughly 105 billion people.

My story is no different from millions of others, I loved then lost, then loved and lost again. My heart aches as did the hearts of somany others. We all shared or carry the darkness that comes with such grief. I am not special, I am not different; I simply am.

So why can’t my brain accept this fate of mine? Why do I feel so much pain and anger inside? Why can I not understand this outcome, accept this outcome, and realize that no amount of anything is going to change this outcome; bringing her back?

Why do the people I love die? Why have they died for so many before me and continue to perish all around us or so it seems. We all know death is our fate, we as a society choose to look the other way, to ignore its significance when it comes to ourselves claiming it will never happen to me or standing by the adage of when it’s your time, it’s your time.

She (Jacy) always knew she would die young. She always knew.I hate that, because I don’t know what the hell to eat in the morning and cannot fathom knowing, I mean hand on the bible knowing that I was going to die young. It is unconscionable to me, so how does that affect your life, your meaning of life, your belief system?

Every day I do what I have always done for my whole life, I am not happy about it, some days go better than others, but during my childhood I was never good enough, at anything and was reminded of that fact regularly; yet I still do the same thing I taught myself early on, over and over again.

I get up, I put my feet on the floor, and I always take one step forward.

The pain will always be there, the loss is very real, I absolutely hate walking into my house, her house, the house we built together, for there is no warm echo of her voice, only cold walls and pictures to remind me of what was, and what never will be again.

But I move forward.

I believe you need to keep moving to lessen the impact. To understand what that person meant to you, not by staying home curled up in a ball but by trying your hardest to laugh, have a good time and remind yourself that you don’t know you’re going to die. That you don’t have even the slightest inkling what your last day on this planet may be. So keep moving, keep your head up and keep striving for that next big finish line, covering ground, climbing not sinking further into a hole of despair.

Again the pain is still there, oh it’s still there, and it hurts badly, so very bad, yet in the morning I put both feet on the floor, and took another step forward.

I said goodbye to Jacy’s car the other day. It took me two hours to clean it out. We purchased it new in 2007 to support the adoption of our daughter. We traveled all over in that car, as a family, singing 80’s rock, watching movies, laughing, so much laughing. It was a part of our family as silly as that may sound. But at 220,000 miles, a computer that was bleeding off power, one power door that no longer worked and another that only opened manually, a front transaxle that needed replacement and an owner who was no longer alive, unable to ever drive it again, I felt that maybe it had to go.

Cleaning it out, I discovered Jacy had surrounded herself with the most precious of commodities; pictures. She had pictures from all years ofevery one of her children hidden in easily accessible places.  They were everywhere and it made me cry. She loved them all, so very much to the very end. To the very bitter end….

But I cleaned it out, with tears in my eyes, a wet sleeve from drying my eyes and patience for what she left behind. When I left the car at the dealership I took one last picture. I don’t know why, it was just a car, it was Jacy’s car.

I put both feet on the floor, and took another step forward.

I felt guilty driving my new/used car. It is nice, it has 60,000 miles on it, I will be paying for it for five years, and it will start anew chapter in our lives for child transportation. But I can’t help but think how much she would have enjoyed the ride. How her ribs wouldn’t have hurt so badly going from the house to Stanford, or her dads. How I should have thrown caution into the wind and just hoped we could have paid for it so she wouldn’t have suffered so badly. I cried most of the way home carrying so much guilt asI didn’t feel I deserved such a nice ride. I gazed at the empty seat wishing she was there, singing badly at 80’s songs, butchering the words and laughing between tears of pain.

The next morning I put both feet on the floor and took another step forward.

We celebrated Christmas. We did this by going to mass on Christmas Eve. It was the first time I had been to our church since she died. It was one of her favorite places. We gathered and prayed, we sang and prayed and I prayed she was there with me. I kept my eyes closed so tightly and tried sovery hard to feel her presence, to hear her voice when we sang, I wanted so badly to know she was with us, to feel her hand slide gently into mine. But it didn’thappen. I couldn’t feel her. I tried so very hard, so very hard it hurt. I kept it together, we took a family picture by the tree. We as a family went todinner after then home. I didn’t go to bed until 2am. I couldn’t sleep becauseI was so upset that I couldn’t feel her there with me! I was sad, angry and devastated.

The next morning I put both feet on the floor and took another step forward.

We gathered in the morning. Cody made a splendid breakfast and gifts were exchanged. Very quickly we noticed mom’s absence. All the goofy gifts she would order online for each of us. Well thought out with some form of funny undertone. There was a giant hole in the morning festivities, and after allwas said and done I found myself alone for the afternoon cooking dinner for just us. It was lonely and sad and well, strange. I closed my eyes and prayed for her to talk to me, I waited, I tired and nothing happened. The house was cold inside and to me there was no warmth of Christmas. But I tried, the kids didn’t seem to notice and all of them had smiles on their faces. They all enjoyed agood Christmas dinner, there was hugs and laughter, but it just wasn’t the same.

The next morning I put both feet on the floor and took another step forward.

Jacy’s dad’s house was the place to be. It was warm, it was festivious and it was filled with love. Everyone was happy and had a good time.I see her everywhere there, and her step mom does too. It is not easy. I walked out to the cabin where Jacy stayed when she needed to be close to Stanford.Just a short 24 months ago she would have been laying there, happy to see me, smile on her face and love in her heart. 24 months, 730 days, 17,520 hours ago,she was here in this spot. 4 months, 122 days, 2,928 hours ago she was asleepon the very couch I sat on today. 2 months, 67 days, 1,608 hours ago she told me she loved me for the last time.

It’s hard to be happy, when you carry so much guilt for things you could have done better. It’s hard to be happy when the center ofyour universe is gone. It’s hard to be happy when you sit on the end of the bedat night hitting yourself in the head because you don’t know who YOU are or howto find out. It’s hard to be happy when the only person on this earth who loved you unconditionally, who you could tell everything to is no longer there to hear you, to hug you, to give you the love you so desperately need. It is sovery hard to find inspiration.

But you know what?

Tomorrow, I will get up in the morning, put my feet on the floor and take another step forward.

Not for Jacy or because it is what she would want me to do.But because this is who I am. It is who I have always been. I don’t have tolike it, I only need to learn from it, to show the way for my children, and tohopefully help just one person who doesn’t think anyone knows, or understands this pain.

My only goal in life is to aspire to inspire. It is all Ihave left, it can’t be changed by time, it cannot die and leave me, and longafter I am gone if I have affected the lives of just one person then it was all worth it.

I love you Jacy Franceschi. I miss you terribly….