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Lost, that is what I would call him.

Never to be found?

Wandering around.

Trouble, the kind he might never find a way out of.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Homeless, yet at times living in my home.

It’s too cold to be sleeping on a park bench.

Sleeping on the floor in my son’s room.

Arms wrapped around the dog at night for comfort.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Bouncing from home to home…only 17.

Skipping out of school.

No hope?

Will he even graduate?

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Numbing his mind with whatever he can find.

He could die on the streets and no one would lose sleep.

Numb, the word permanently etched on his face

under his eye with a vacant stare.

It’s been a long time since he cut his hair.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

He’s drowning and pulling others down with him.

We had to break free of his grip.

Our son, we can only help save one.

But he is not out of the water yet..

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Luke’s visit, part 9

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We didn’t spend the whole time talking when Luke came to visit. Although I must say that I didn’t talk a lot. I spent a lot of time listening, transfixed by Luke’s words. It was the first time he spoke about our childhood with any meaning.

I think that through his struggles, he has gained new insight, wisdom, and purpose to his life.

Maybe our suffering wasn’t in vain after all.

Doesn’t a brilliant rainbow first need rain?

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We invited Luke and his family to our new house and out sailing for the first time. Luke’s youngest daughter wanted to jump off the balcony into the swimming pool. Not a good sign for the upcoming teenage years. She also wanted to buy a sailboat, but said that she didn’t have any money. She is so funny that I think the carefree comedian Luke is still living on.

Paul patiently taught the kids all about sailing. I think someday he would make a wonderful grandpa. My dad spent a lot of time ridiculing us for things we didn’t know and called us stupid when we came to him with questions. But as I watched Paul and Luke with the children, I was happy to know that they are both wonderful fathers without ever having had wonderful fathers.

Sometimes our struggles can become a blessing.

 

Bashed

I thought that I would finally be able to get some sleep last night…

It was 10 PM and my son wasn’t home. It didn’t seem right given the circumstances. My husband said that I worry too much and went off to bed.

Earlier in the evening, we bought our son a car. My husband made a bet with our kids when they were very little. If you beat me at chess, I’ll buy you a car. My son ate and breathed chess, even joined the chess club just to beat his dad. Paul is great at chess and I’ve never once since we were together saw anyone beat him in real life…until the day my son did. Immediately I went out and bought him a match box car and put a little bow on it.

That’s when the arguments started. My son wanted a souped up sports car and my husband wanted something practical for him. Finally they were able to find something they could agree on, a 2001 Audi with a stick shift and turbo boost. It is a beautiful car with a sporty look.

After we bought the car, he wanted to drive it over to his friends to show them. We really didn’t have a problem with this. But several hours passed and he still wasn’t home which seemed odd to me for swinging by and showing his friends.

I texted my son and he said he got into a bit of a mess with the car. WTH!!?! CALL ME!!

Alex said he picked up his friends and was driving through the old neighborhood. He was showing off his turbo boost and squealed the tires near several older guys that were outside partying. They were drunk and this pissed them off. (Yes, apparently some people get drunk and crazy on a Monday night in Wisconsin).

One guy got on his 4-wheeler and chased Alex down. He cut Alex off on the road. Alex slammed on his breaks and hit the guy smashing up the 4-wheeler and the front end of his car. The guy climbed off the 4-wheeler onto the hood of the car and tried to smash the windshield with his arm. The whole time the guy was screaming that he was going to kill Alex and his friends.

To put things in perspective, there were around 4 very intoxicated middle aged men chasing 3 teenage boys that squealed their tires near where they were partying. What??!? Who does that?

Meanwhile, a couple other guys got into a pick up truck with a lead pipe. Alex and his friends got away from the 4-wheeler only to be followed to his friend’s house by the guys in a truck that were a part of this group.

One of the men in the truck hit Alex’s car with the lead pipe. He also threatened to kill the boys and chased them into his friend Jay’s house. Thankfully, Jay’s dad was home. He pushed the guy with the lead pipe out of his house while the other guy got in. Jay’s dad threatened to call the cops. The man in Jay’s house said that if he called the cops, Alex would get in trouble for hitting the 4-wheeler.

Jay’s dad called the police and the men fled. Thankfully, Alex knew where the guys lived. Apparently the guy with the lead pipe was a convicted felon. They are facing criminal charges. My son ended up with almost as much damage to his new car as what we paid for it.

Seriously, we just got him the car and in less than a few hours it is bashed in already!!!!! Thankfully, no one got hurt with the exception of the guy that tried to smash the windshield with his arm.

Needless to say, we didn’t end up going to bed until after midnight.

 

A child lost

She wasn’t expected to live when she was born. They took a video of her right after birth just in case. She only weighed in at a little over 2 lbs. They never thought she would walk either. But she was one of the fastest runners.

The day we said good-bye was eerie. It was a long hot drive. The sky growled and rolled ominously in the distance coming in our direction. The weather alert went off on my cell phone. Tornado warning in your area, seek shelter immediately. A swirl of dirt on the highway from a baseball field with no one playing. Lightening bolts seared the ground in front of me.

I admit, I was frightened by the tempest although I rarely worry about storms. The skies opened to a torrential downpour like the seemingly endless mother’s tears for a lost child. The path ahead of us was difficult to see clearly. Hail banged sharply like the grim reaper knocking on death’s door.

It was still raining when we arrived. We tromped through puddles of muddy water to offer our condolences. The rain a mask for our tears.

Tom greeted us with an umbrella…helping…keeping busy…comforting others. I can’t imagine the pain they must feel. Lisa was heartbroken. She was only 16. Why did she miss the curve?? She hit a tree and her car started on fire. No body, no funeral…just some remaining ashes in an urn.

I wonder, will they set it on the mantel? Or will they place it on the ground next to the graduation pictures of their other children that will be placed on the wall? As a parent, I couldn’t imagine anything worse.

I would give almost anything to bring her back to them. They both had difficult upbringings. We are kindred spirits in that way. But my life is getting better and theirs worse. I would give it all away…everything I possess of worldly value…just to have her back.

I almost expected her to walk through the door…Maybe the whole things wasn’t real. It didn’t feel right in any way.

Why would God choose to take the life of a sweet beautiful child? How can this be His plan?

God help me, I just don’t understand..

Fortune cookie wisdom #13

The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others.

 

I want you to think of the most beautiful person, the most talented athlete, the richest acquaintance, the biggest blogger you follow, and the most intelligent person that you know…Close your eyes if you must…

They are lucky, right? I mean, otherwise you would be as great as they are.

Admit it, you are jealous just like I am.

Don’t we want what makes them great?

But they have struggles too.

Maybe we just can’t see them.

The most beautiful girl has the best of luck. She can get any guy that she wants. She knows that her beauty has opened many doors that for others are closed. But she feels alone because no one seems to get past her looks and see the real beauty inside of her.

The most talented athlete has the best of luck. He is sure to win almost every game. But no one sees the pressure to perform, to continue being the best. His fans only love him when he is at the top of his game.

The richest girl in the room has the best of luck. She throws the biggest and best parties. When she goes to bed at night she wonders if the same people would be her friends if she was poor.

The biggest blogger has the best of luck. He scribbles some dribble and has over 100 likes. He spends hours every night responding to the hundreds of comments of people that he doesn’t know and not sure he would even like. He starts writing to appeal to the masses and losses part of who he is in the process.

The most intelligent girl has the best of luck. She aces every test. It comes easy to her to succeed. But she has no one to talk to because they don’t understand things at her level. She is expected to solve everyone’s problems and to do more than her fair share in group projects at school and at work because she is so much smarter. She often feels overwhelmed with the weight of her responsibilities.

All of these people have haters.

They have people that would give anything to be more like them.

So no one cares, no one listens..

There are things that are not acceptable for them to ever talk about to people who aren’t as “lucky”..

Oh, poor you…you can get any guy you want and you complain that they are only interested in your looks….I wish I was half as beautiful as you.

Poor you, you always have to perform at the top of your game and can’t handle the pressure…I wish I was coordinated enough that people would want me on their team.

Poor you, you are so rich that you can afford anything you want…Who cares if your friends are real?? I wish I could just pay my bills on time.

Poor you, you are so popular online that you have to take hours of your limited time to respond to every comment. I wish a couple of people would read what I write.

Poor intelligent successful you, you have to be surrounded by idiots all of the time…because face it, no one is as smart as you. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard for something that comes easy for you.

Even the “luckiest” people in the world have their struggles.

But why bother listening because we already know how wonderful it must be to be them…The grass is so much greener over there that I can’t even see how it blends in with the weeds..

Maybe being average is not so bad after all…

Paul’s journey, part 1

He was born on LSD.

Not really in the way you might think for the late 1960’s

He was actually born at the Cook County Hospital on Lake Shore Drive (LSD) in Chicago.

From what I remember hearing, his mother Martha faced childbirth alone. There might have been a stranger, a nun, at the momentous event. But all of this I could only surmise from snippets I’ve heard. I wasn’t even born yet. I didn’t meet him until he was 27. So forgive me if the memories of what I’ve heard are a little hazy.

All of the questions about that evening will remain unanswered forever. His mother is no longer with us.

I do remember her saying that she saw her daddy that evening. At the time, he was no longer with her.

Martha’s father passed away when she was 12. Her mother was always working to support the 6 children she was responsible to care for alone after her husband passed away. Martha was one of the youngest children and the only living daughter.

Martha lived in the inner city of Chicago. She already dropped out of high school before she got pregnant as a teenager. She wasn’t what anyone would call bright by any stretch of the term. But she was beautiful, very beautiful. I saw the grainy blurred photos.

Her child was born without a father. His name was legally omitted on the birth certificate although it did list that he was 21.

There were rumors about the father. He was said to have red hair and green eyes. He was part of a motorcycle gang. He had a very common name and wasn’t from Chicago. He wanted to steal the baby. He wanted nothing to do with the baby. He called on the phone but never said a word. He went off to Vietnam and never came back. He might have been Native American. He was a hillbilly.

Are any of those rumors even true? There is no one to ask anymore..

All he knew was that he didn’t have a dad.

After all, he was a 60’s love child born on LSD.

The long run

I have been thinking about next year’s racing season.

This past week I decided that I wanted to do the Tough Mudder and a trail marathon next summer. The trail marathon is on my birthday. What could be better than getting up at the crack of dawn and spending your birthday in complete and total agony?? Not to mention feeling sore, sick, and exhausted after the fact.

Do I really want to run another marathon?? Do I really want to torment myself on my birthday?? I could be out spending the day having fun…getting a massage…drinking champagne…sailing…

But I love the challenge..the satisfaction of completing a goal…

Successfully overcoming obstacles is more pleasurable to me than unearned self-indulgence.

So I decided to go for it.

I almost signed up..

Then I went to the gym for a run.

My ankle started to hurt. It felt like my foot bones were twisted and grinding together. It wasn’t very painful, but the pounding on my foot mile after mile…

I ran while in pain like this several times now. It wasn’t bad enough to stop. It is like running with a small pebble in your shoe versus a sharp rock.

Friday morning I ran 10 painful miles. After I got off of the treadmill, I sat in the sauna a few minutes. While I was in the sauna, a stranger sat down next to me. She said that she saw me out on the treadmill and wanted to know if I was okay.

Are you feeling okay??

A stranger coming up to me and asking if I am okay??

Could this be a problem?

What am I doing to myself?

The pain made me more determined to fight the pain. I was, in essence, fighting with myself and someone was going to lose. I berated myself for the mile I had to walk. The physical pain seemed to even trigger emotions of other painful times in my life.

I am never a gentle taskmaster to myself. I crack the whip and get it done regardless of whether I want to or not…whether I am in pain or not.

My greatest strength is my greatest weakness. Self-discipline is a great super power to have, but…and you know that a but is coming, sometimes I need to take a chill pill and relax a little.

I am not good at relaxing. I want to push it to the limit which conflicts with my desire to do this for the long run.

If I push myself too hard, end up getting seriously injured, and have to quit running…What good is my determination??

Sometimes it is easier to show you my medals than to tell you about my struggles and weaknesses. I want to make running a marathon look easy.

I took today off, but tomorrow I am thinking about running. My ankle/foot only hurts for the most part when I am running. I have been trying to solve the problem with my foot. I think the pain is coming from bad sitting habits. I like to curl my leg under my body and sit on my foot. I want to see if it helps if I stop doing this.

So far I am still planning on signing up for the races. In the meantime, I have to be smart. I have to learn to take better care of myself. I have to recognize when exercising and being too healthy is unhealthy without a few words from a stranger in the gym. Somehow I need to develop that inner voice of reason.

I want to be in this for the long run…

 

 

Survival stories

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Over this past week, we have been hit by several severe storms. There was one day that it didn’t storm. Tornadoes blew through the area.

My daughter, Arabella, was at camp all week. They had to take shelter several times due to the severe storms. For once, I didn’t worry too much. I grew up fairly close to the area that my daughter went to camp. I knew exactly where the storms hit. I knew the campers weren’t in the storms path. By the time I knew a storm was coming, it had already passed that area.

After I picked up my daughter from camp, I went to the cemetery to see if my grandparents ‘survived’ the storm. I checked on their parents and siblings too. It seemed like a strange thing to do, since they all have been dead for almost a decade or more. I don’t get out that way to visit too often.

I remember going as a child along with my grandma and Aunt Grace to check on our family at the cemetery after a storm. Now, regrettably, it felt like my turn.

I drove by my grandparents house. The new owners put up a decorative fence in the front yard. At Aunt Grace’s house, the new owners put in a new front door and constructed a flower bed where a tree used to be. It is still painful to drive by.

I stopped at my parents house, but they weren’t home. It was oddly silent. I feel a certain sadness when I go home. I can’t explain it. I feel nostalgia for what was. I feel grief for things that happened that shouldn’t have. I feel an emptiness, a sense of being alone. It is a painful feeling, but ever so slightly, an uneasiness that almost cannot be pinpointed.

I picked asparagus in my parents backyard as I saw lightening and heard the rumble of distant thunder. I felt empty, alone, and a little afraid. Afraid of being vulnerable out in the open. I felt the emptiness of it all. Soon my parents will be gone. I still regret not spending every moment with my loved ones that I could before they were gone. Guilt. But not even deserved. I spent a lot of time with my family. My mother didn’t want to let me go, so I stayed. I’m the dutiful firstborn that never went far from home. I was needed.

As I ventured out and about this week, I talked to others that faced the storm. People are drawn to tales of destruction, to view the carnage. People want to share their survival stories. I spoke to a stranger that said his family had several collector cars that were destroyed by the tornado after the shed they were in blew away. Cars that were loved, the original parts sought after. I saw pictures. How often does a stranger show you picture after picture on their phone??

I heard the story of a barn the was destroyed in the storm. The cows were lost and some blew away. Half of the cows were found down the road impaled into the ground. These are survival stories being told by people grasping for others who can relate.

I thought about the stories I heard, then realized that I am the same way. I want to tell my story. I want to feel united in life’s collective struggle. They may not be the same stories, but have the common key of surviving something difficult.

I told you this week about a couple of stories where we survived sailing under difficult circumstances that were unexpected. I tell you about my races, how grueling the last triathlon and marathon were. My struggles as a parent, spouse, business owner, and with my own personal issues. I speak of surviving a very difficult childhood. I often feel alone because I don’t hear a lot of people with a similar story.

Who else out there has a severely mentally ill sibling that threatened to kill the youngest most vulnerable family members? Beside my siblings, I know of no other person who has that story to tell. It is lonely struggling alone.

My favorite bloggers are those that have struggled too. I don’t read your stories because I like to see you in pain or your failure. Your stories motivate me to go the extra mile. They inspire me to keep telling my story.

I almost feel sorry for people that don’t have a story to tell.

Places where the past and present collide

The last few days I haven’t been feeling much like writing. I toy with the temptation of disappearing and being totally anonymous again. Strange thoughts trickle through my mind. I worry that my anonymity has been compromised when the phone rings. I get the pseudonyms crossed in my mind. Will I call someone by the wrong name in real life? Will I use their real name here? The boundaries blur…the wires cross…in my mind..

Time zigzags between the past and present…I enjoyed having Angel home over Easter break, but it blurred the adulthood with childhood in my mind. Is she still my child after childhood fades?

We had a bowling party for Matt’s birthday and a family get together for Easter. Right before the party on Saturday morning, I started feeling depressed and a tad bit angry. I didn’t want to share anything with anybody.

I always feel edgy right before family occasions. Matt’s party went great. We had a fun time. It’s just that sometimes in my head the past blends in with the present and I start feeling or thinking the way I felt or thought back then when Matt was violent.

A group of young laughing girls walked by Matt. I remembered the old Matt…the Matt that would attack them…the Matt that would pull their hair and kick them.

Fear trickled through me.

But the new Matt paid no attention as the girls walked by.

I can’t separate the past from the present. The old triggers still flip a switch in my mind that I can’t seem to turn off.

Yesterday, I pulled out another old diary from 1990. This was something I willingly decided to do in my writing process to confront my demons.

But sometimes I fear that this may trigger memories that are darkly hidden. I am afraid sometimes that I won’t be able to handle what I find…what I remember…and the feelings those memories trigger.

It seems insurmountable to me right now. Like running a marathon right up a mountain.

But once I make it to the top of the mountain, I will see things that I have never been able to see before…new insight, new understanding, a deeper knowledge…peace.

Sometimes I need to take a step back to go forward…too see where I’ve been…to notice how far I’ve already climbed.

I want to be able to put the past behind me so it doesn’t mingle with the present anymore. I think it is going to be a long and difficult hike up the mountain, but well worth the view at the top.

Maybe at the end of my climb, I can finally put my demons to rest.

Stranger then family

We had our final show this past weekend…What started out as trepidation ended with exhilaration..

I have been thinking again the last couple of days…Community theater is not that much different from running a marathon. I know that some of you may think my comment is a bit of a stretch, especially if you have done one or the other or neither..

There are commonalities… The months of training that nobody really sees… Special clothing… Anticipation…Dread…Goal setting… Setbacks…Worries… Until the months of training culminates with one big ending…the show or race with a lot of spectators.

Our common goal forces us to reach out to people that we wouldn’t talk to in our everyday ordinary lives..that person is the one we hold hands with as we limp across the finish line…It doesn’t matter if we voted for different candidates. All of the things that divide us melt away as we walk hand in hand towards a common goal.

It becomes a place where strangers become family.

It doesn’t matter if I really liked my part or not, although being cast in a great role that really fits adds so much to the experience. I can’t say my lines if no one replies with theirs. We have to work together.

It doesn’t matter if I run fast or slow. Maybe it is a good thing that I am not the fastest runner. It forces me to reach out for the hand of another running down the same road.

Long distance racing and working as a team to make a community theater show great are some of the biggest natural highs that I have experienced in life.

All of the long hours memorizing lines, practicing songs, and running long distances makes it all the more rewarding.

The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Why can’t life be like that all of the time? Why can’t we grab the hand of a fellow stranger struggling along the path? Why must we get so hung up on squabbling about our differences??