On Love and Life

Another sleepless night as I sit here poking through the ashes of thoughts in my skull, wanting it to go out, but finding these ambers that kindle the thoughts burning again and again.This whole weekend was like that. I would just put one burning thought aside when another when burn.

It started with a comment. One that could conveniently be written off as a joke and drunkeness had it not been so painfully  true. A comment from a “friend”. The friend who always has drunken things to say to me that they can write off as drunken. The problem was that this comment wasn’t of the usual drunken context.  It left a horrible taste in my mouth. 

It was about Jer and it was a betrayal. It hurt me for him. It made me angry to know that I would bear this laden truth forever, that it would haunt me and that it was delivered so carelessly that no accountability would ever be taken for it. Deniability. Cowardice. Whatever you want to call it, it made me sick. 

This is the person Jer often emulates and here was the proof that it was never necessary, that Jer is better than every other man in his life has ever been and he never gives himself credit for it. He weighs himself down with the burden of not being good enough, not worthy, never realizing he always was … at least to me. 

But now, armed with this truth, it suddenly became clear that it was never about him being enough for me, it was about me, the kids and I, us … not being enough for him. He always needed more and he always sought it from the likes of these people who would never love him the way we could, but this was his choice.  That was the truth and there’s nothing to do with the truth but accept it. It hurts. There’s going to be a grieving process. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fall out of love with that guy, wherever he is. 

Then as I sat amongst our mutual friends Friday evening at a birthday party with the kids, I looked over at one point and saw Gino’s Dad staring at Jedi. I was instantly horrified by my carelessness. Here, I am sitting with my son, alive and well, the same age his own son should be now had cancer not cast its long shadow into their lives and as he gripped his wife’s hand, I felt like a giant asshole because I taken this precious commodity, life, for granted. Yes, we have an obscene amount of issues presently, but we also have our children alive and available to us daily and if that in and of itself doesn’t make us feel profoundly blessed, well, we’re assholes.
(Note to Self: Stop being an asshole.)

I wanted to text Jer and tell him to stop being an sshole too, to wake up and take a look around at all the blessings he’s been given in his life that he’s taking a giant shit on, but having arrived at the aforementioned realization that Jer’s perspective is not something I can change and still being perplexed by his passing up this time, I just allowed myself to be present in the moment. I left my phone in my pocket, put my arm around my son, pulled his head towards my lips and kissed the top of his head. He’s a teenager and he let me … I count this another blessing.   

We arrived home to the news out of Paris. I was instantly horrified by what I heard and saw and with my daughter within ear shot, I instantly thought about how scary this could be for her and how to handle it. I thought about Mr. Rogers advice to “look for the helpers” in these situations, the people that run in despite their fear, the humanity. It wasn’t long before I found the #PorteOuverte (translation: #OpenDoor) that Parisians were using to offer shelter those seeking such after the attacks. That’s what moved me to tears. That’s the story I told my daughter to take away from the situation.

She asked me “Why?” and I didn’t know. We heard some theoritical chatter regarding radical Islam when she turned and asked me why any religion would believe that their God would have them kill other human beings, mothers, fathers, children, siblings. I talked to her about rhetoric and how it can be taken out of context when it suddently occured to me, that even our military falls into Christian rhetoric during acts of war. Praying in the fighting bunkers? Have they never shouted to God during a battle? Could Muslims exposure to this be their entire view of Westerners? These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with goodbyes. Not “see ya later” types, but last words you ever get to say to someone type goodbyes. Saturday, I received word that my Uncle was in the final stages of dying. As I grappled with the idea of getting in my car and making a pilgrimage to his side, I stopped and closed my eyes and thought of our last conversation. It was Labor Day weekend. The night before my world blew up. But, we had laughed together and smiled, talked and hugged. His last words with me were: “I love you very much”. I decided I was ok with that. That’s how I want to remember him. 

Sunday, I found out that a woman who shares a scleroderma diagnosis with me and whom I have come to greatly admire, was also in her final stages of life. She asked for my mailing address and told me that she wanted to send something, that it would be a goodbye but it wouldn’t arrive until after she’s “flown away”. I got to tell her that I loved her and that she had reminded me of my worth as a human, whether I was sick or not and that I would always be grateful for that. I promised to stay involved in her precious granddaughter’s life. It was bittersweet in that Im glad I got to say those things to her, but it was goodbye.

With all of this sentiment about the preciousness of life and gratefulness abundant in my heart, I told Jer that this weekend’s events had brought about a realization of the ridiculousness of our situation. I told him how blessed we had been to be given this life, together, with the kids and just how much it grieved me that we had taken it all for granted, but worse still, that there was absolutely nothing more I could do to change his perspective, to make him love me, us, the way only he can and it was time that I stop beating my head against the wall and tearing my heart out of my chest offering it up to him with vulnerability, trying to bring about an absolution that may never come. It was time for acceptance of all the things he had said and done proving who he is now and to grieve the loss of the love of my life.

My love asked me if this meant I was done, but there’s nothing for me to be done with. It was never my choice. I gave  everything, was his best lover, his greatest friend and biggest fan. I helped all his dreams come true, stood by his side through it all and the first time I faltered, he could not bear the weight on his own. It was not enough.

The truth is, I wish that he could materialize from my dreams and live them out with me for the rest of our days.  I don’t know if I’ll ever stop dreaming of him  making it right or taking up the fight for our marriage and family. It is my heart’s greatest desire, but I regress and accept, as I must.

No Child

I have tears streaming down my face and can barely see as I type but I have to take a minute to say this…
As someone who lives with a painful, incurable disease everyday, I can tell you it’s physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s all consuming sometimes. But I am an adult. When I think I can’t take anymore, when I’m dreading the next test or needle, I think of Gino. Then I suck it up and get it on with it.
Tonight, another family has lost a child to cancer. Her brave fight is over and she rests…at peace. As a parent this breaks me. This HAS to stop.
Without a doubt, everyone who reads this has lost a loved one to cancer or at the very least knows someone who has. Just stop and think of that fight. The appointments, the tests, the treatments, the pain…now imagine a child going through that…if you can even bear the THOUGHT imagine it’s your own child.
We all have diseases or causes that touch our lives for different reasons but childhood cancer, not one type, but ALL of them, is something we ALL need to stand up and fight about NOW. These are kids, babies even, fighting cancer. I implore you to get involved. Become aware. Demand pharmaceutical companies stop looking at bottom lines and turning away because it’s not profitable and look at the value of the lives lost, the potential of these children who have their whole lives ahead of them. Donate to Children’s Oncology Group Foundation who are tirelessly working towards a cure. If you go pink this month, for God’s sake GO GOLD the month before. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Ask a local business to go gold too. Commit to every year. DO SOMETHING. Stop these numbers from rising. Don’t wait until it’s your child.
ANY child with cancer deserves the world to stand behind them, NO, we should go before them. We should fight to the end that no child has to.

I hope you know

I’m sad but I’ve been told I shouldn’t be.

Your family tells me I shouldn’t be. That’s what they say.

My family tells me they understand because I once had a close relationship with you or they tell me I shouldn’t let it get to me because you were mean to me. I’ve never really cared much what people say.

Except for you…I did care what you said and it hurt…a lot.

More than anything I wanted to reconcile all of this and while I tried so hard to accomplish that while you were still here, I can never be sure how things were actually left between us. I hate that.

I believe that once you get to heaven all the details of everything that went on behind the scenes unbeknownst to you is revealed. You get to see how the great magician did it all I guess. I think you know the truth now and that had you known then what you do now, things would’ve been much different between us. The way we wanted them to be.

I hope you know that I greatly admired you and learned so much from you as a mother. You raised your brothers, your own children and were a lovely, doting grandmother.

I wish we could have celebrated with you. Not just today, but the days we missed and so desperately wanted to be included in.

We miss you. We love you.

I hope you know.

Antifreeze

I’ll never understand why he did it.

I’ll never understand how he went out and bought an anniversary card for his wife. Went home and underlined all the sentimental parts that spoke to his heart most – especially the ones about spending the rest of their lives together. Planning an anniversary dinner that would never come.

I’ll never understand what on Earth could possess him to pour himself a cup of antifreeze the following day and write that note. I don’t know how he ever reasoned in his mind that the best gift he could give his wife, after 28 years of marriage, was to take his own life.

I’ll never know how she felt when she awoke in the middle of the night to that thud on the floor and to find him frothing at the mouth in a full seizure, but I can imagine that ambulance ride seemed to take hours. Those 12 hours of not knowing what was happening, almost losing him, watching the doctors revive him…only to be told that he had meant for this to happen…that there was antifreeze in his system and that it wasn’t accidental.

I’ll never forget walking into the waiting room and the way she looked the first time I saw her or walking down the corridor to ICU and seeing him for the first time. His body was completely swollen. He looked like he had been in boxing match. His body was being ravaged. The dialysis machine was exceptionally quiet for the task it was attempting to perform – ridding his body of a poison that would constantly crystalize and expand in his system. His kidneys were failing. He was in a coma. When I heard them say what  he was going  through and what we would experience as his family watching him over the next few days would be horrible… I understood the words, but horrible soon became an understatement. We all took turns sitting with her, sleeping in the waiting room, walking down to the room, holding his hand, talking to him, begging him to fight, trying to stir him to wake up. Eventually, his eyes would open but there was nothing behind the eyes. Then he started to move his entire body with his eyes open, but nobody was home. It was literally like watching the living dead.

I have never felt so many emotions at once in my entire life. Sorrow, hope, anger, confusion, love. I know she felt that way too. I’ll never forget her telling me that she didn’t know how to handle the outcomes. She didn’t know how to handle if he died and she didn’t know how to handle if he lived – because he didn’t want to. He had promised her he wouldn’t ever do this to her after her sister-in-law committed suicide six months ago. He would never put her thorough this pain, but now he had.

We all just couldn’t comprehend it. There just had to be another explanation. It just didn’t make any sense. But all that denial would wash away when she found the note – the explaination that would answer none of the questions we will all have for the rest of our lives. Like how can a man whose whole life was about family and love possibly end with such a contradiction of selfishness and pain? How could he do this to her? Theirs was a love story for the ages – and this – this was the ending? It’s beyond cruel. I know it happened but I still can’t fathom it all – for her.

The doctors explained about as gracefully as one can that the antifreeze has damaged his brain and would continue to damage his brain. The front part of your brain controls your motor functions so that was why he was still moving around and his eyes were open, but his CT scan should considerable dark mass and fluid on the brain. He most likely was blind. He would only further decline. If he did survive he would likely be in a nursing home for the rest of his life. And so it came to this cruel moment…after all of this, she ultimately had to decide whether to discontinue his medical treatment. When dialysis stopped…the antifreeze would further crystalize and his organs would begin to fail. She said she couldn’t hold on to him just to be able to kiss him on the cheek and so…it was time to learn to let go.

He was discharged from the hospital 11 days later to hospice. On his last day, his only granddaughter came to see him and told him that he could let go. His wife crawled into his hospital bed with him and fell asleep with her husband one last time. She woke up in the early morning hours and the nurses told her that he had passed away. This was the most peace she had experienced since this unbelievable nightmare began 17 days ago…the day before their 28th wedding anniversary. It wouldn’t last long.

The coroner arrived and went into investigation mode. This is what happens with a crime and suicide is a crime. Now, this newly widowed woman is being told that her deceased husband’s body is evidence and will be autopsied. She doesn’t have a choice. They need the original suicide note – his last words to her are now evidence. The police show up, there is questioning, she’s exhausted…mentally, physically…emotionally, this is all too much. And then the coroner tells her that the “official toxicology report” will not be complete for six weeks and so the county will not issue a death certificate until that time. This means that any funds she may have been entitled to, after being disqualified for much because of the suicide, as a widow are now in limbo and she has no idea how to pay for the funeral, how she is going to pay her mortgage or other bills. After all – she has been by his side for over two weeks, without pay. And it goes on….

Preparing for the funeral, going through pictures of my Uncle as a little boy with my grandmother, sister and aunt, just broke my heart. As a mother, I could only imagine the pain of losing a child. The thought that I could someday be pouring over pictures for one of my son’s funeral was too much for me to bear. I had to retire for the night. I cried myself to sleep thinking of my grandmother’s loss as a mother and for my Aunt, because as a wife of only 2 years of marriage to my husband – I could not imagine her pain.

The funeral home was filled. Again, the questions…how could a man so beloved arrive at this? Why didn’t he call any one of these people? What was he thinking? When they asked people to stand up and speak you almost wanted to stand up and scream: “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!”

I’ll never understand. It’s been a month since his funeral and I still think about it everyday. I can’t stop wondering…what if he had gone one more day?

My Uncle had had some medical problems and thus, difficulty working and financial implications. His boss was not an understanding fellow. He had made things increasingly difficult for my Uncle. The day that  my Uncle committed suicide, he was to attend a manager’s meeting with this boss but he couldn’t bear to go. His boss was fired at that meeting, which literally changed A LOT. So, if he had held on one more day …

The only thing I have taken away from this is that you never know what tomorrow will bring. You’re going to have peaks and see valleys in life, but the thing that could change everything could literally be a day away. You have to hold on for one more day – everyday. Keep the faith.

However my Uncle had worked this out in his head – I assure you he would not have wanted it to turn out like this. But that’s how darkness works. It lies and depression is darkness’ greatest tool and when you’re at your darkest place it dangles what seems like the solution in front of you and it turns out to be the biggest departure from who you are and what you wanted to be to your family. My Uncle was a proud man and there was no way he wanted to be in the condition he was in and for my Aunt to suffer the way she is now. He couldn’t know that she would blame herself and wonder if she had done this or if she had done that would there have been a different outcome. Absolutely, never would my Uncle want that. If his note was any indication, he did this to spare her any more hardship – and it had the exact opposite effect.

Somewhere in the midst of all this I realized that this means that I have now seen every possible way to commit suicide attempted and gone completely awry.

It is not the answer. It is just a permanent solution to a temporary problem which just means – don’t do it.

The last time I saw my Uncle he hugged me hello and when I went to pull away to quickly … he pulled me back and he said,

“No, stay here, just let me love you.”

I assure you that whoever you are and wherever you’re at in life – someone loves you enough to meet you there and help you live.

You just have to stay here and let people love you.

REAL friends

We had to go shopping for funeral clothes tonight. I don’t care what anybody says… buying new heels, not only raises your height, but also your spirits. I know it’s stupid, but really, I think it made us feel better. We also went to dinner afterwards and I got her to not only smile, a real genuine smile, but I also got a good laugh out of her. That was a welcome thing.

When I finally got home last night and crawled in bed, I lost it. I just sobbed. As I was laying there, it struck me how absolutely bizarre it is at how accustomed I have become in dealing with things, like pain and grief, on my own. I really wish I could say that I missed him and that if he had been here he would’ve held me and comforted me… but I doubt it. There were so many time he wasn’t. In fact, more times than he ever was. I also realized that my girlfriend is in the same boat.

She was talking to me today about how sad it is that now is when her ex husband was actually able to genuinely open up to her. All of this happening has only strengthened my belief that family and friends, I mean REAL friends, is all you really can depend on in life. You just never know when your time will be up, so you should make the most of it by investing in these things. Your children, your family, your friends, is what carries little pieces of you on forever. I just hope he gets that before it’s too late. It’s already too late for us, but you know, the kids. It’s just all so obviously pathetic how all the things that he has put before his family…really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Just think about it…. if you died tomorrow…your money would be depleted, your accounts closed, your job would find a replacement, your things would all be boxed away somewhere, all your “fair-weathered” friends, the people you can only share good times with, would MAYBE shed a tear and move on…. but your family…..your REAL friends…your kids….would be devastated and changed forever.

Just something to think about.

“All men and women are born, live and die.
What distinguishes us one from another is our dreams, whether they be dreams about worldly or unworldly things, and what we do to make them come about…
We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death.
But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live.”

Ravennan shot in Windham Allegedly shot in head with rifle

Marci Piltz
22 hours ago
Record-Courier staff writer

A Ravenna man was shot and killed Monday at an apartment in Windham, and another Ravenna man is in custody, charged with the shooting.
Jesse Frazier, 18, of 470 S. Prospect St., was pronounced dead Monday night at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna following the shooting.
Brandon Fisher, 20, of 531 Coolman Ave., was arrested and charged with reckless homicide, a third-degree felony, in connection with the shooting.
Fisher was arraigned Tuesday in Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna, where Judge Barbara Oswick set bond at $500,000 cash. A preliminary hearing has been set for Friday in the same courtroom.
According to Portage County Sheriff Duane Kaley, a 911 call was received around 5:30 p.m. regarding a shooting at 9145 Maple Grove Road, Apt. C. The call was transferred to Windham police, who requested assistance from the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, Kaley said.
Kaley said officers found Frazier had been shot in the head, and he was transported by the Windham Fire Department to Robinson Memorial. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, Kaley said.
In addition to the charge of reckless homicide, Kaley said Fisher also could be facing additional charges of tampering with evidence for allegedly attempting to hide the gun, a .22 caliber semiautomatic rifle, used in the shooting.
Both Kaley and Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci declined to elaborate on the circumstances of the shooting.
“All I can say right now is that this individual apparently pointed the firearm at two other individuals, then pointed it at the victim, at which time the weapon discharged,” Kaley said.
Kaley would not comment on whether the shooting was accidental.
The rifle was taken from the scene, along with other items Kaley said were being considered as evidence.
Kaley said the sheriff’s office is working with the Windham Police Department and its acting chief, Dale Korman, during the investigation.