September (Therapy-In-Progress)

 

Fall is at its peak here in North Dakota.  In fact, I think it may have actually skipped the autumnal season with temps only in the mid 40s with a snowflake here and there.  Harvest’s been in full swing since end of August. Farmers are currently working on potatoes and corn; next will be sugar beet. By the end of October, harvest season will close, and then we’ll settle in for the winter months.

Living in a farming community, there’s always activity going on all around you.  I love the open, rural countryside here as well with the seemingly endless dirt roads to walk and explore.  My house (a small farmstead of 14 acres) is literally surrounded by farming fields. This year, the east, south and west fields grew wheat; while the northeast/northwest fields had potatoes.  Farmers just completed harvesting the potatoes earlier this week which meant we could go hunting!

Not for animals, but for potatoes (left behind).

My son and I each grabbed a bucket and headed out to the northeast field and walked the many rows mining for undamaged potatoes.  We ended up filling those buckets. Potatoes will be our meal staple for the next several months.

September.  One of my favorite months of the year.

A local town have put up a huge corn maze at its recreational park which we plan to check out over the weekend.  While there, I might even pick up a few pumpkins to carve.

Football. I love football whether it’s high school, college or professional. Another reason to love September. My son plays the six-man style football at his school (he’s a sophomore), and has a game tomorrow afternoon.  And it’s Homecoming to boot.

All of these are therapy for the soul. Especially for mine.

Advertisements

Monday Memoir: The Loser

 

Those of us who have been in long-term relationships and/or marriages know well the ups and downs that occur.  Some are more challenging than others.  My marriage to Jay is no different.

Jay comes from a dysfunctional family.  His Dad, a Vietnam vet (served in the 101st Airborne) who came back a changed man, became an alcoholic and abuser of his Mom (of which he witnessed several times).  They divorced by the time he was six (his younger sister Marcy was a year old); but then became mired in vicious child snatching schemes (before it was ruled illegal) that went on for a few years.  His father remarried, and Jay and Marcy went to live with him in another state, and Jay wouldn’t see his mother again for many years.

Jay’s step-mother was a drug-addict (addicted to pain meds) who was physically abusive to his sister, and vindictive towards him (at times she tried to have him arrested for stealing his own stuff).  His half-brother, Walter, was born during this time.

By the time I first met him in college, his father and step-mother was in the midst of a nasty divorce.  He wanted to help and protect his little brother, Walter, but in the end would lose and never see the kid again for a number of years when the step-mother split with more than half of his father’s earnings.

Right from the start, Jay and I had a connection even though at that time I didn’t quite understand it.  He had a girlfriend, Heather and I was dating his best friend, Shaun.  But, he and I became close friends.  When Heather suddenly broadsided him with vicious lies when he refused to sleep with her, he became depressed and well, lost.  I tried to be there for him, but in the end, he left college at the close of our freshman year to join the Navy.

The year was 1990.

I returned for my Sophomore (and final) year at that college for the fall semester.  It was either late November or early December, Jay came to the campus to visit his friends.  He stopped at my dormitory and we visited for a few minutes.  He had on his Naval uniform under a dark gray long coat.  I can remember thinking how handsome he looked.  At this time, there were rumors circulating of a possible war in the Persian Gulf, and they were anticipating high casualty counts. Knowing this, Jay wanted to see as many people as he could before heading overseas.

I wouldn’t hear from him again for the next eight years.

The training he chose while in the Navy was in the Meteorology and Oceanography field, and he was placed on an aviation crew on board a battleship. Since he also had combat training (was in the Army Reserve prior), once he reached the Gulf, he was assigned to a Marine unit that headed to land (to participate in the land assault called Operation Desert Shield/Sabre) after a period of air assaults. To this day, Jay doesn’t talk in detail about what went on during these days.  All I know was that he was with the Marines on Highway 80 (aka Highway of Death), and was responsible for calling in airstrikes on the trapped Iraqis on that road.  I also know that he went with the Marines after the airstrikes on a reconnaissance mission, and saw first hand of the carnage he had a hand in creating.

He was only 19.  Still just a kid.

 

Not too long after the end of the Persian Gulf War, Jay was sent to a Naval base on the Philippine Islands. As “luck” would have it, he experienced the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991. He and along with others participated in the search and rescue efforts, and then in the recovery.  From there he went on to Guam, and then to Alaska.

In Alaska he found solace in the rugged landscape of the Aleutian Islands where the base was once located.  Now fully entrenched in his military career as a Meteorologist for the aviation crews, he felt he’d found his true calling.

In October 1993, all that changed when his sister, Marcy (at 17 years of age) was involved in a serious single car accident where she sustained major brain injury, and was in a coma near death.  For this reason, he left behind his blossoming military career and went home to help his family and to be there for his sister.

Between 1995 and 1999, he came close several times to re-enlisting in the military (Navy and Army), but certain life events always interceded.

In June of 1999, we reunited, and then in September, we were married.

I encouraged him to return to the military; but he felt that I would not be happy living a military life. So, he decided against it.

Marcy survived, but has permanent brain damage, and must live in a group home setting.

I’ve always regretted not pushing him to go back to the military as he has never truly re-acclimated to the civilian life. He was also a different man than I knew when we were freshmen in college.

More serious. Cautious

It’s no wonder though given what he’s gone through.

Also given his family background, he was always considered by certain family members (as well as old high school and college mates) as the “loser” who would never amount to anything.

Instead of allowing this and all the past dark experiences break him, he fought back.

One of the things he did was to go back to the same college where we first met, and finished what he began in 1989.  He graduated with double degrees in Psychology and Therapeutic Recreation with a GPA over 3.0 in December 1998.

He worked in the Therapeutic Rec field the first years we were married, but being a relatively young field that no one took seriously, he decided to get out of it.  After working odd jobs for a few years, he went in to the Banking industry which he hated (Corporation ideology).  From there, he was a middle school teacher teaching all things Science which he absolutely enjoyed in the beginning.  Then everything became so bureaucratic where the teachers ended up spending more time working paper works than actual teaching, plus the salary went no where, so he opted to get out.

Jay tried working at a credit union for over one year before being laid off due to the recession.

Enough was enough, he said.  He decided to go back to college, and earned another double degree in Bio-pharmaceutical and Environmental Science Technology, and graduated with high honors in 2014.

This guy never ceased to amaze me.

Everything he tried, he’d master it, and then excel.  It doesn’t matter how much he struggled, he just never gave up.  He’d had this “prove them all wrong” mentality that blows me away.  I so admired his spirit, and tenacity, and secretly wished I could be the same way.

I mean, this guy basically came from nothing, and became a someone.

He’s my inspiration to never giving up on myself.  The reason why I decided to keep trying no matter what obstacle stands in my way.

So, here we are, living up in North Dakota, on a small farmstead in a rural community full of great people.  Jay now working in the USDA, but is getting ready to make a major move to an entirely new direction that excites the heck out of me, in a direction that pulls all his past life, work, college and military experiences together in to one package.

Life works in mysterious ways.  Never count yourself out.

 

 

 

Monday Memoir: Marriage and Family Challenges

 

 

After Jay and I married, we moved to a small town near Buffalo.  There I worked in retail (cashier at a local grocery store) which was  just a short walking distance from our apartment.  I didn’t care for the job; however, I liked the fact that I could still get myself to and from work.  A year later, we moved back to the Ithaca area (in a hamlet just outside the town); the apartment we lived in was located on a bus route into Ithaca.  Handy for me 🙂   Jay worked for a short time at Cornell University, and I got a job in the banking industry (I felt I needed to get out of retail into something more “professional”).  I could have went back into the fitness/sports area, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t minimum wage or part-time.  I continued to run/bike when I could; but eventually gave up on them.  Jay kept fretting over me going out on my own and  insisted that he come and watch as I work out.  I became more and more limited to where I could go and such, so I just gave up altogether.

A few months later, Jay was laid off and couldn’t find work so he headed down to the Raleigh NC area to look for work.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea of moving out-of-state, and so far from my family; but if we couldn’t afford to make it then we needed to go to a place where we could.

The move enabled us to buy a home and some land (something we wouldn’t be able to do back in New York with taxes being so ridiculously high).  Those years here have been challenging to say the least.  I stayed in the banking industry; but Jay moved from one job to another (it seemed like he changed jobs once every three to four years).  I’ve wanted to make the move back to the fitness/sports industry, but the opportunity never came for me, or the transportation logistic was impossible for it to be feasible.  Our house was also far enough away from everything which made it not possible for me to come and go as I needed or wanted.  If I need to grocery shop, or anything, I relied on someone to get me there.  Even though I had my home, if anything were to happen to Jay, I’d be home-bound as a shut-in who’d be completely dependent on others.

I’m so fiercely independent, the mere thought of relying on others in order to meet my needs frustrated and scared me.  It seemed to grow worse the older I got.  This was a daily battle for me.  I’ve been left alone once when my first husband died.  A few years after we first moved down south, I nearly lost Jay.

 

 

Two months after we moved to our house, we learned I was expecting.  The pregnancy went without any issues…until the last two months.  I was almost 8-month pregnant when Jay began to have difficulty breathing.  He dropped me off at work one morning, and then went to see his doctor, Dr. Salerno.   It was mid-morning when I received a call from Dr. Salerno who calmly told me that Jay had been admitted to one of the local hospitals.   X-rays shown that there was fluid building up  around his heart-Pericarditis.  They couldn’t determine if it was bacterial or viral (if viral, he may fully recover; bacterial, he may need a heart transplant).  The immediate danger was that there was so much fluid around the heart, it had enlarged to at least twice its normal size.  They were in the process of prepping him for an emergency surgery to drain some of the fluid from the heart.  Before we hung up, she strongly recommended that I do not come to the ER until after the surgery because of the added stress since I was so far along with the pregnancy.  She would call me once Jay was out of surgery.  I said, okay.

I felt quite thankful to be working as it kept my mind from wandering too much to certain negative implications of Jay’s sudden illness.  I wasn’t completely alone in the city, thankfully, as I had my brother and his family nearby.  They picked me up after work (and once I received the “green light” from Dr. Salerno) and took me to the hospital.  Jay was in the recovery room, just coming out of being under anesthesia.  I was told that they managed to drain as much fluid as they could, but twice his heart stopped and they had to resuscitate him.  There was a hole left in his chest just under the sternum where a tube had been placed to continue to drain the fluid from the heart.  The doctors planned to aggressively treat him with various antibiotics in case the pericarditis was bacterial in hope to limit the damage to the heart while they ran multiple tests to determine whether this was truly bacterial or viral.

For the next week, we waited on the final result.  In the end, it was determined that Jay had the viral kind.  Thank goodness.

Jay remained in the hospital for a total of two weeks.  I spent some of the nights at the hospital (just so I could be near him), and other nights with my brother.  I worked every day throughout this ordeal just to keep myself from completely stressing out.  Finally, both he and I were able to go home.  Jay was quite weak so I had to help him dress, eat, and shower.  I was just thankful to have him back with me.

It wasn’t too long after he came home that I noticed my feet and hands were swollen.  The doctor kept tab of my blood pressure which stayed below the dangerous level; until my water broke two days past the due date.

After I was admitted to the hospital’s birthing center, the doctor quickly realized that I was showing signs of pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was all over the place (soaring high then crashing and then soaring high again).  My contractions weren’t consistent as well.  They gave me an IV to control the blood pressure as well as to force the contractions.  I was not a happy camper.  Seventeen hours in, it was time to push.  I pushed for three hours but the baby couldn’t get beyond my pelvic area.  The doctor tried both the suction cup and clamps to no avail.  Then I began to hemorrhage.  By this point, I was so exhausted and barely lucid.  I remember the doctor pushing the baby back into the birthing canal, and then they literally ran me to the ER.  After that, everything went blank.

Karl was born over twenty hours after my water broke.  A beautiful, healthy boy.  Jay was there to hear him howl as they pulled him from my belly.  He told me it was the most precious sound he’d ever heard.  I woke up two hours later and then wheeled into a recovery room where I held my son for the first time.  I’d suffered severe blood loss, but they decided not to give me a blood transfusion.  My vision for the next few days were out of sync because of the blood loss.  When I looked at anything, in one eye it looked normal while in the other eye it was grossly enlarged and distorted.   By the time I was released (four days later), my vision improved.

For the next few months, Karl had two parents recovering from their hospital experiences.  Before my maternity leave ended though I learned that I lost my job with a particular bank.   During this time, I struggled as a mother and as a wife.  I grew more and more emotional (weepy), and uncontrollable anxiety seized me.  I literally felt like I was losing it.  Jay made me go to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Jay’s mother came and spent a few months with us to help me with taking care of Karl-bless her heart.  My condition slowly improved; it was even better when I was re-hired back to the same bank that previously laid me off.  I gladly accepted the offer as by this time I was quite ready to get out of the house!

To say that I was happy to see that year come to a close was a gross understatement!

 

 

 

 

Monday Memoir: The Matriarch

 

ONE FINAL GIFT

Scatter me not to the restless winds
Nor toss my ashes to the sea.
Remember now those years gone by
When loving gifts I gave to thee.
Remember now the happy times
The family ties are shared.
Don’t leave my resting place unmarked
As though you never cared.
Deny me not one final gift
For all who came to see.
A simple lasting proof that says
I loved and you loved me.

(by D.H.Cramer)

 

 

Not many days pass that I don’t think of my grandmother. I’ve always considered her a kind of matriarch for the maternal side of my family.  Geraldine Anna May Hart Furnia was a slight woman, but her size was quite deceiving because underneath that smallish frame was tremendous strength and courage.

She was born on December 20, 1920.  Her young life was hard as I’ve been told.  She married my grandfather, Paul Furnia who was six years older, when she was sixteen. She married young so she could get out of an abusive family situation.  I never learned what went on though.   Life with my grandfather wasn’t much better,  but she loved him and the family they made together.   Early in the marriage they had four children; then World War II began and he enlisted in the Army and spent part of the war up in Alaska (Kodiak Island). She was left to care for the four children in a home that wasn’t much more than a shack. After the war, three more children were born; one of them my mother.  Grandfather became a logger which he worked till his retirement at the age 67.

They bought a house on Grove Rd next to the Ausable River.  For many years, they grew their own food and didn’t have plumbing until my mother was a girl.  They still lived in the same house while I grew up.

I spent much of my childhood with my grandmother.  I often considered her my surrogate mother as my own worked full-time.  They didn’t have daycare centers during the seventies so family members or friends were often the ones called upon to help watch me (and eventually my brother and sister).

Most of my fondest memories as a girl involved my grandmother.

She was a great storyteller and a self-taught musician.  I literally spent countless hours listening to tales of the past or to the tunes of the banjo or accordion.

She was a devout Catholic and would take me to the Saturday mass each week.

She loved spending time outdoors tending to her large garden, or filling buckets of juicy blueberries.

Most of all, she loved having her house full of family members.  No matter how scattered her children or grandchildren were, we always found our way back to her house a few times a year for huge gatherings.   Storytelling, music and games were the highlights, and each time she was the center of them all.

She was the magnet that kept drawing us back, the glue that bonded us close together, and the heart that continued to beat in all of us while we were apart.

It was heartbreaking to see her pass away on February 22, 1988.   She was only sixty-seven.  Her body gave out long before her spirit wanted to let go.  Emphysema may have claimed her life, but the memories of her will always live on.  Even though we don’t gather together as often as a family, we will always be linked no matter where we are because her heart still beats within us.

You Tube Tuesday: Glacier National Park

 

(*YouTube Tuesday idea originally came from the Martians Attack blog)

 

Last week, our family went on an adventurous vacation.  When I say “adventurous” I meant that practically everything was done on the fly.   Such is our life with my former-Navy-officer hubby 🙂

Originally we were going to spend the entire time down in the Black Hills region (South Dakota); however, the place was too mad with tourists.  We stopped very briefly at Mt. Rushmore, and then left.  We drove most of the night through the remaining sixty-plus miles of South Dakota, and most of the width of Wyoming, arriving at a truck stop just south of Billings (Montana) around 3:45am.  There, we slept for a few hours in the vehicle.

After a quick breakfast, we were back on the road heading north for Helena.  We ended up settling in at a KOA twenty miles south of the city in a nice cabin nestled close to Canyon Lake.  There we stayed  for three days before heading out for Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park is so huge, and incredibly beautiful!  You could easily spend three or four days exploring and still not see everything.  We were only there for a few hours; long enough to drive up a very scenic highway to Logan Pass which was where I took this amateurish video clip (using my Trio tablet).

I added music to it before uploading to YouTube.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, tweet about it using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

 

The Magic of Christmas

magical-cmas

 

On many level, Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.

  1. It’s magical.   The Christmas holiday always has that “magical” feel to it whether you’re a kid waiting to see what Santa will bring; or an adult who enjoys watching kids open their presents on Christmas morning.
  2. It’s inspirational.  Creativity seems to soar around this time of the year; and of course, I’m usually too busy to do anything about them right away so it’s nice to keep a notebook handy to jot ideas down.
  3. It’s a time for remembering.  The holidays, especially this year, have special connotations for me as they remind me of my Daddy.  I have so many memories of him around Christmas.  You never could tell who was the biggest kid: him, or me and my siblings.  🙂  He’s been gone for over two years now, and it still hurts to not have him here to spend it with us.

What about you?  What makes this time of the year special for you?

Fighting the Darkness

bare land

 

For a long time, I viewed my disabilities as weaknesses; and considered myself to be inferior to other able-bodied individuals.  I felt that by “accepting” my disabilities meant I was giving in to them.

So, anger settled in.

Instead of feeling propelled to do great things, I opted to feel sorry for myself and gave up on my dreams.

Years passed.  Regrets mounted.  Misery and loneliness hung on me like thick furs on a hot, muggy summer day.

Suffocating me ever so slowly.

Anxiety and depression visited intermittently until they decided to move in on a more permanent basis.  It got so bad I couldn’t step outside of my own home without having an episode.

I realized that I couldn’t go on living like this.

Something had to change.

It wasn’t too long after we moved to North Dakota when I learned there was a School for the Blind in Grand Forks (a short 45-minute drive from home); and that they offered Adult Weeks just about every quarter.  Pam, my Vision Services Specialist, encouraged me to come in March.  I had every intention of attending, but “chickened” out at the last moment.   She then encouraged me to attend one during the first week of June.

I actually went.

Finally.

 

*Will talk about my week at the School for the Blind in my next post.

 

 

Nature Intervention

Ever gone through times when you think you were starting to get ahead financially and then…ka-blamo!  Nature intervenes.

Life (and goals) interrupted.

This past Friday started out normally.  I got up at 5am to help hubby get around for work, and sent him on his way.  Work for him was nearly 1 1/2 hours commute time, one way.  My son’s on his summer break so I let him “sleep” in ’till 7am.  We’d spent the past few days cleaning the house since my Mom and young nephew were flying in later that morning to spend a week with us.  The house was the cleanest it’s been since we moved in a year earlier (pretty sad, huh?) I was in the process of fixing breakfast for us when hubby called.

“Better get to the basement.” He said.  “A bad storm’s headed your way.”

I glanced out of the window.  Dark clouds were billowing in.

“Okay.” And I hung up.

I sent my son, Karl, down the basement with one of our cats.  I finished fixing a mug of coffee and proceeded to step down in to the stairway when out of nowhere these horrific winds (macrobursts they’re called) slammed into the house.

Whooshing sounds rattled all around us.  Before I closed the door, I glanced back at one of the kitchen windows and saw nothing but a sheet of whiteness.

We sat on the sectional couch in the basement, listening to the roaring outside.  It wasn’t 10 minutes before the power went out.

Oh, great.  (Not really especially if you have a sump pump in the basement with no back up power supply)

The storm was over 10 minutes later.

Karl led me, fumbling and all, to the other side of the basement where the sump pump was, and we checked the “well” in the floor.  The water was rising rapidly.

The next twelve hours were a bit of a blur.   First part of it was spent in the pitch blackness of the basement as I frantically filled the only two buckets we could find with icy water while Karl ran them up the stairs and out the sunroom’s door and dumped their content outside.   This cycle went on for at least five hours.  By this time, hubby had returned home (worried since he hadn’t heard from us).   Karl, exhausted from all the running; and me, in shorts and sandals, up to nearly my knees in cold water, shivering.   The entire finished basement floor now under water.

Hubby declared it “lost.”  We shifted gears and began pulling everything that could be saved out of the basement, and filled the sunroom.

Then my Mom and nephew arrived.

The cavalry.

A few moments later, the power came back on which brought on another set of problems for us.

With the sump pump now running overtime pumping water out of the flooded basement, the piping system became overwhelmed and there were leaks springing in several places.  The largest of them was in the laundry room up on the main floor.  Mom, hubby, Karl and myself worked in shifts baling water until the sump pump “caught up.”  Then the leaks ebbed until they completely stopped.

The ordeal began a little before 8am and finally subsided around 8:30pm.

Then, I went outside and oh…my…gosh…

Tree carnage everywhere I looked.

20160617_155831_resized 20160617_155839_resized 20160617_155924_resized 20160617_155946_resized 20160617_160219_resized 20160617_160253_resized 20160617_160308_resized 20160617_160340_resized 20160617_160815_resized 20160617_161110_resized 20160617_161127_resized 20160617_161715_resized_1

 

I was in disbelief (still am).  I later learned that many farmers around us have sustained similar damages and worse.  Dozens and dozens of crop fields are under water.

Lost or at best, severely damaged.

I wanted to cry; but as I looked around and saw my family…

Safe.  Unharmed.

And I felt so grateful. In spite of the damages our farmstead had sustained, we were together.

And that’s all that mattered to me.

So, now the cleanup process has begun; and even with insurance, I can’t get over how expensive everything’s going to be.  It will wipe out our savings, and max the credit cards.  Hubby had promised to take Karl on a trip to see his cousins out in western New York but it’s looking like we’ll have to cancel that because everything’s being devoted to fixing the damages around the house and farmstead.  As a last ditch effort, hubby has set up a GoFundMe account to see if he could raise money to send Karl on his trip east.  We’ll see how that one works.

In the meantime, God Bless you all and have a restful and safe evening.

 

 

 

Reality Versus Writing

Ever had a time during your life when writing (or whatever your artistic passion is) has become incompatible with reality?

It sucked, didn’t it?

I hope that like anything else, this only lasted for a season and that you were able to go back to it.

I went through my “incompatible” period not too long ago.

Two years ago actually.

Hubby was unemployed but in college working towards a formal science degree.  I was the only one working full-time (in the banking industry).  My vision was deteriorating, but I somehow managed to put in over 40 hours each week while suffering from terrible eye strains and painful migraines.  I had a young son, and a house to also take care of.  Whenever I tried to sit down to write, hubby or son always needed me for something.  Or, if I spent “too much time” writing, hubby would complain that my priorities were to my family and job since I wasn’t making any money with writing.

Then, my father became ill with an aggressive lung disease.  I would allot whatever free time I had to spend time with him.

It was during this period of my life when I had to choose between “reality” and writing.

Writing had to be put away.  I felt like I’d lost a piece of myself for doing so; but, still the choice had to be made.

My Dad passed away a short time afterwards.  Hubby graduated from college with honors, and is now working full-time as a federal employee.  And I’m “retired” from the workforce, and am home full-time.

With these now behind me, I have ample time to write again.

 

tough times never last

If you’re going through an “incompatible” period, just remember this quote…

 

 

 

A Writer’s Vulnerable Heart (Part Two)

It’s difficult to open your heart when its been broken time and time again.

The first time I remember having it broken was losing my best friend and cousin, Darren.  We were born one month apart.  Playmates at a young age; but things began to change when we were about six.  He kept falling down, and needed help getting up.  Next thing I knew he was in a wheel chair.  A few years later, bed-ridden with all manner of machines hooked into him to help his body keep functioning.   Then, he was gone.  Dead just shy of our fourteenth birthdays.

He had Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.

It was at a young age when I learned that we don’t live forever; that our bodies were fragile.  Mortal.  And that death was a very real thing.

Parents are supposed to be our protectors.  Not just for our physical safety, but of our emotional well-being.  But, even parents are humans…flawed…scarred…and their own hurtful pasts can sometime hurt the ones they loved the most.   As a child, it was hard to see this though; especially when one of them continuously tore you down with damaging words, that you’re not good enough, that you were at fault for their current troubles, and that you don’t deserve anything except pain and hell.  That same parent would continue to pound and belittle until they get the desired outcome…tears.

Hence, I learned to associate tears with being weak.

When I was seventeen, our family’s true matriarch, my surrogate mother and emotional rock as a child, my Grandmother, passed away of Emphysema.

Once in college, I turned my focus to hopes and dreams of a better, brighter future; however, at the age of twenty-one, I learned I was going blind.  As a result, I gave up on my dreams.

Two years later, I met and married Aaron.  I thought that perhaps my life will start to turn for the better; I was wrong.  Less than two years later, he died as a result of a car accident.

Twenty years ago today.  And I can still remember the events of that fateful day as if they just happened.  The heart never forgets no matter how hard you try to push it away.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last of my losses.

I remarried three years later.  He was my best friend from college who knew of my emotional scars, my hopes and dreams, my anger…everything.  Over four years into our marriage, I was nearly eight months pregnant, he began to have growing issues with breathing.  He went to our family doctor who ran a series of tests on him.  Next thing we knew, he was being transported to the hospital.  His diagnosis: Pericarditis.    They admitted him, and immediately performed an emergency operation to drain the fluid that had its death grip around his heart.  But, that wasn’t the end of it.  Doctors were unsure if this was viral or bacterial.  Bacterial would require a heart transplant.  So, while they ran further tests, they pumped antibiotics into his body.  It would be days before we’d learned that it was viral, not bacterial.

Ever since this event, intimacy has been an issue with me.

Five years after our son was born, I became pregnant again; only to lose that baby.

My latest loss?  My Dad who passed away less than two years ago from an aggressive lung disease.  He was only sixty-seven.

Now, I realize that death is a normal part of living.  The same goes for pain.  But there comes a point though when one suffers so much of both that they shut down emotionally to try and protect what’s left of their heart and soul.   The problem is that I have placed such a tight lid on my emotions, I don’t know how to open it.

The real question though- Do I really want to open it?