“With and Without Her: My Year Alone”

          Sitting on this bench in Battery Park today, in the stifling heat; my mind flashed back to a year ago. Sharol and I trying to get some time together before her operation. Before she wouldn’t able to walk long distances and dance or sit for long periods of time. Before, months of physical therapy and Recovery. Before, internet grocery shopping. Before, waiting for me to come home and cook and clean. Before boredom creeped up on her…

   I texted her the menu from the cafeteria next door. She texted when she got there, I met her at the front desk… even though I thought the dress she had on was an ugly print, I wholeheartedly appropriated her in a dress. And it fit her form well and she looked good too. I left the house before her so I didn’t see what she was wearing. Wouldn’t you know it, we matched! That’s not the first time we did. In 19 years, it happened quite often. I sat on the very same bench today. That was a beautiful but hot day and a great night. That was on Monday, 8 days later, she was gone….

     It’s almost midnight up here at Rodgers Rock Campground , on Memorial day weekend. The kid is snoring, reminding of her mother. There’s a tiny bug crawling on my lantern casting a giant shadow along the tent wall. I forgot the blankets so we’re  a little cold. I left my book; a collection of Sherlock Holmes novels, at home so there’s nothing to do and the fire has gone out. So I decided I’ll write this…

What I’ve learned over the past year is this. Like love, you can’t hide from pain or more to the point. You can’t hide from grief nor the losing of someone. It’s something you must feel, you must go through, you must experience. If you fight it or better yet, try to fight it you will exhaust a lot of energy and eventually you’ll lose. Running away from the feeling of losing a spouse (or love one) is as futile as a hamster running in a wheel. Trust me, I’ve spent most of this time fighting one pain in particular;loneliness.  It is a hell I have never liked. We’ll talk about that later…

       My daughter and I went to visit my other daughter and her husband. They happened to be camping at the same camp ground. They, like I, were booking sites for the long weekends of the camping season.  I’d planned to be closer to home but my equipment had taken nearly 2 months to arrive (warehouse issues) so I stopped looking. When the company contacted me and worked out a deal, I begin my search again. But the season had already started. The only available campground was 5 hours away. A day before leaving my daughter texted me that they had found a place for the weekend too. It was the same place. Their site wasn’t too far from us. But it was a good walk, over steep hills!

    After our visit we went back to our homestead and found our fire buring nicely. This, after several failed attempts.  The kid went inside and I set in front of the fire. The warm glow of yellow and orange flames were beautiful. I looked over at the empty chair next to me and whispered. “You would have loved this…” my heart smiled, because I imagined Sharol sitting next to me. We had gone away once and had the opportunity to sit in front of a fireplace. It was awesome! We were eating Chinese take-out, Mongolian beef. That was the night we planned to write our autobiography. We actually started thinking and writing out themes on a legal pad. Whether it’s a fireplace or camp fire,warm dancing flames are a magical thing.

In the daylight our little homestead over looked the river surrounded by lush green mountains with nothing but open sky above us. Indeed, Sharol would have loved it. Much like Chris Stapleton’s song, “Whiskey And You” I allowed myself to feel. To feel the absence of my bride. 

“I’ve got a problem but it ain’t like what you think. I drink because I’m lonesome and I’m lonesome ’cause I drink. But if I don’t break down and bring it on myself it’ll hit out of the blue” – Whiskey And You.

     It felt good to just let it happen. Sad but good. I was able to enjoy the moment. And in that it felt as if Sharol was enjoying it with me, not because she was there but because I didn’t fight the pain that she wasn’t.  Fighting it would only serve to make me more lonely without her. The guy in Stapleton’s song,  drinks to feel… to avoid the sadness creeping up on him.  That, dear reader, is where I’m at right now. Creating the atmosphere, space or time where I can feel rather than not feel. I work all day, come home, cook and care for our youngest. Juggle appointments, bills, school events, daddy daughter date night and so on. There’s little time to mourn or reflect. So quiet moments away from the city or lunch time walks give me the time to feel. Different times bring different feelings. For example, a week ago the kid went on her school trip. It was an overnight trip… I  woke up at 5am made her breakfast and lunch then drove her to school at 6:30am. It wasn’t a particular good morning. When I got home, the stress of working at an unfulfilling job where I feel trapped, being without Sharol’s input… And! I’d be alone, hit me. I laid down and couldn’t get back up. I looked up at Sharol’s picture and “it‘s you and me…” 

     Frequency

 I grabbed a ton of snacks turned on the Xbox and TV.  I finished the series Turn and looked for something new. I couldn’t concentrate, so I mopped the kitchen floor and made some  calendar reminders… then started watching Frequency. Halfway through the first episode the tears started to flow. By the end, I begin to ask God, out loud, “Why can’t life be like life this show?” Seriously, it would awesome if I could pick up my cell, send a text and the message crosses time and eternity. Then in an instant see My Wife Sharol flash across the screen. “Where are you hon? She says. “I’m sitting in your chair, where are you?” I ask. “Umon the boardwalk waiting for you” and it hits me! “Wait. Who is this!?” I text back. “Its Sharolyour wife, silly man. Hurry up“… after some back and forth. I realize It’s  2012, she’s in Atlanta  City. We were going for a walk but I told her to go ahead downstairs. It’s 4 years before her death. After some time… I’d reveal the truth. She’d be heartbroken that I was alone and in such a state without her. Then the questions would begin. The kids…? Oh my goodness, Tyrone, Hannah..?! 
     Dear reader, it would a simpler life, if life were like a TV show. I’d be able to get advice on what to do about my job and other important decisions. But life isn’t like that, we tend to drown real life things out with whatever we can. For as long as we can… then when tragedy comes, we’re unprepared for it. We are all guilty of it on some level. I guess; the best way to look at  and live life, is as if it’s your last day every day. In real life, no matter how far you run away it will catch up. If life were like Frequency, I’d tell Sharol “You weren’t alone. You weren’t violently attacked like you always feared. I held you, breathed into you…Hannah was there…” And that, dear reader, would have started a paradox. It would have effected the future. It would have explained the last few years of married life. Where we lived each day like we wouldn’t see the other again. It would explain “always kiss good night”. It would explain my alarm, that was set at 10pm… to Kiss Sharol. And I did so, even when we were mad at each other. It would most definitely explain, her holding my face and saying “I love you, Tyrone”…

   Running…

Okay… I said I’d get back to my particular issue I’ve been fighting, this past year. If you’ve kept up, you’d see I have been on a very public, emotional roller coaster. I did so purposely because as I have stated before, as an author I am both a public and a private figure. My writing buddies urge me to write because it would have helped me deal with the loss of my wife. I didn’t believe them but being a creative type person, I know that if we do not engage in our creative abilities we go bananas. So I use that as my process over the past year… though it has seemed to be a rollercoaster ride. There has been one running theme, loneliness. I have tried everything I could think of to escape the inescapable. I continued our date night, it’s morphed into a date night with our youngest. It is now our own thing. For our weekly time, marriage Mondays, I’d  often tried watching something we watched… it didn’t work well. Our Friday night ritual Remains the Same. A movie and wine… after work,it’s  all I can do. But I still missed the companionship of a woman. It took me some months but I couldn’t take the silence of my wife’s daily text, lunchtime text, photos of her at lunch or walking… or our usual banter(*my children will be modified by the following picture I will spare you all her response).

 I joined some online dating sites just to talk to someone. Boy, was that a mistake! Just when I thought I met a pen pal… poof they were gone or nuts. Dude, one said she love Jesus, told me the church she went to then ask for my astrological sign. I’m like, what…?!  Well, apparently it wasn’t going to work out when I told her I was born in May. Lol. I wasn’t looking for it to work out. I was looking for a conversation. That was during a phone call, the first day, the first time! Nothing I did changed the empty silence. There were nights when, I skipped pass the two glasses of wine, finish the bottle, had a great night’s sleep and woke up to the void. Because you can’t hide. It took me 11 months to learn to stop running. To embrace the feeling… I  was a lone wolf most of my life. Never thinking I’d be happy much less find love. I did. It’s gone. It hurts… I didn’t think I would make it through the night a year ago. I didn’t want to either… by God’s grace, I made it through a year. Most of the sting is gone. Most of the sting. I was reminded two day ago that everything isn’t over. The kid was making salad for dinner and sliced through her thumb. The walked into the kitchen and saw blood everywhere. Why? Because she panicked. Sharol always prided me for my calmness in the midst of a disaster. It really was just on the outside, inside I was always a nervous wreck. I talked my daughter through it, “okay, run some water on it. How deep is it..? Put the paper towel on it and squeeze tight to stop the bleeding…” while she was calming down. I had to think fast! This was going to a hospital trip… “okay, pick up the pepper and whipe off the table. Good she was something to occupy her mind. I quickly changed clothes and got to the hospital. I was fine until… the realization. I was in the same ER with her mother a year ago. My daughter laid her head on. When the doctor called us in, I started to have a small panic attack, my trouble breathing turned into me crawling up the walls. I can’t do this again. This can only be seen by me. So I thought. “Dad your doing fine“… She ended up getting 5 stitches. When we were done and about to leave, the kid said “You did goodand Im alive” then stuck out her hand for a high five…

      She fell asleep on the couch. Like her mom, I couldn’t help but watch her sleep, keep watch.  Monday reminded me, dear reader, you can’t, I can’t, we can’t, run away. Things are going to happen to us… for me, the adjustment of loss and living life, like many of you, it is a process. Though tedious at times, nevertheless it is a process that must happen. 

       I leave you with(click) these encouraging words from Sharol that she spoke to our daughter who was turning 13 at he time. I won’t be writing about this again, unless perhaps it ends up in one of my books. I thank you, my dear readers, for following and reading along with this season of my life. Thank you for your encouraging comments. I pray that at the very least, one of you were encouraged, felt normal. Being the surviving spouse is no easy task but we can get to the other side of grief.

Until next time…

“Just A Thought”

    If you are easily offended by common sense analysis Or “triggered” when you hear something you don’t like. If racism or racist is the first thing that comes out your mouth for everything. Then you might want to stop reading. I am not responsible for your melt down. For the rest of you, let’s continue…
      Stop blaming outside forces for your situation. Clear your mind and think on this… you are poor and or living where you live because of your parents. For example, you grew up the Pj’s, 

trailer park,

  the wrong side of town

, you inherited that. Your parents moved there, possibly because it was all they could afford as a young couple Or a single parent. Perhaps they had little to no education. I mean, not enough education to pull them out of their situation. Raising you would make it even harder for them to save and move out. Did they give you siblings to play with while still living “there”… well, there’s no way they were getting out…

      Did they raise you to believe other ethnicities are smarter and better than you? That the deck is stacked so don’t even try? That school is okay but you need a real job? Did you have an educational opportunity but were held back, because your parents said there was no one there that look like you? Then this, is the continuation of the cycle of poverty…

     I told my kids “you don’t have to be what you are today, you can always change” We taught our children that a better education and a good career choice is their key to moving 2 or 3 maybe even 5 steps further than we did. We stressed reading at an early age, we filled our house and surrounded them with books, opening up worlds of possibilities to tbem. We set them at tables with folks in wheelchairs and with speech impediments. Japanese, Iowans, Canadiens, Ugandans, Kenyons, pastors, missionaries, prayer warriors. Our vacations were under the open sky with trees, sands of Jamaica, quiet mountains, the Amish Country and fresh air….but we live in the south Bronx. Surrounded by trucks, buses, smog, rats, roaches, gunshots, drug dealers and only two supermarkets and one fresh vegetable stand. This is where they were raised. Following blood trails into their building on the way home from school and church. Startled awake at night because we lived above the O.K Corral. Cars screeching, Sirens blaring, helicopters circling, cops swarming… Our children inherited this world because of their parent’s and grandparent’s choices.  We chose to move there but we never lived there. One of my Mantra was “there are bars on the windows not on your mine” basically telling the children, there’s no cause to act like prisoners or fools. We didn’t have, they didn’t have everything we wanted but our needs were met… and when from time to time, our needs weren’t met, we lived. There was never a thought of doing anything criminal for a loaf of bread. At one point I took my oldest son with me to stand of a long line at a local church food pantry. We brought home a massive can of beans, rice and such. We lived! With no shame! We made it through a slim year. We trained our children to be grateful for what they had but to always strive to do better…

      So how did we get here…? Mom’s and Pop’s. Mother in law, was an immigrant to the United States her daughter was a first-generation American. She assimilated well, excelled in education and was indeed a critical thinker. But she also made poor relationship choices as did I. My mother and father were born and raised in these united states. They dealt with and lived through Northern bigotry. My mother, was on her way to become a seamstress. She went to Fashion Needle trade High School which became Fashion Industry. My father, with an engineering mind, was a U.S Air force  mechanic and a Machinist. He went to Aviation High School. I inherited their mechanical and creative skills. But I also inherited poverty. The old man move to a house in lower Westchester. Mom’s raised two kids as a single mother  in the projects of the Northeast Bronx. The 60’s didn’t allow them to move too far ahead in life. As for my mother, public housing was a necessary choice on the budget she had. She was a factory worker at one point before she landed a city job. This was my starting point in life.

     I, on the other hand,

 wasted my talent and brains on drugs and alcohol during the 80’s. It took years to erase most of the damage I’d done to myself. After being homeless for about 3 years, I landed in the south Bronx and it’s where I met my wife. Both single parents raising two children. We married and had two more. She’d just finished law school, I was makimg due on public assistance. We made a plan, gained our Independence from public assistance in about 6 years. Then lived off what we made. We agreed on me finishing my own education. So, I worked hard to get my GED, BA and MS in a straight 6 year run. The plan was to move from where we were, to somewhere less noisy and congested perhaps another state. That always proved difficult because we had 6 kids. Their needs came before our savings. We didn’t have cable or anything like that because we chose to save what little we had for a yearly vacation…

    We taught the children  the value of money and the value of saving and the value in working hard. Never did we point to race, complexion or anything else for our position in life. True, had our parents known a little more, or had it a little easier or had the foresight, things may have been better. But their generation kicked down doors. Ours just had to walk through them. The excuses were over, it was/is our job to continue forward. My children would face bigotry on their own. But we refused to raise them with that sword over their heads. They saw the examples before them, parents that did not let anything stop them from succeeding in their goals. What they do with that as adults, is up to them.  But we gave them enough tools to Forge ahead… 

     Now, if any one of them want to use today’s pop culture lies and say its the government’s faults, minimum wage fault, it’s the color of their skin fault or anything else as a reason for not succeeding I would wholeheartedly slap them in the back of the head.  We are born where we are because of our parents. We live where we are because of our parents, we get out or gets stuck because of our parents. Their inability to move forward becomes our inability to live much less move forward. In the case of our parents and how we raised our children, it wasn’t about our inability to move forward but our ability to train and propel our children to move forward as did the generations of parents and our families did before us. It makes no sense at all and you shoot yourselves in the foot for generations to come, when you fail to push children to move forward. If you’re living in poverty, within at least one to two generations that could be done away with. You may not become filthy rich but that also depends on the educational level and the job choice of whatever family member that rises to become the first millionaire in the family. My bloodline is filled with creative types as well as Academia, so we may never be billionaires. But we’ll be professionals and small business owners and in the service industry. I have yet to see someone demonstrate my dad’s engineering skills but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist…

       All of the above can be said for the wealthy as well. Many had great ideas and created an empire. Some large enough to employ hundreds and thousands of people. Some inherited wealth because their parents bequeath them money through insurance or investments. That’s foresight by the way. What ever way the children received their wealth it was their parents that got them there. Unfortunately we have become an angry nation hating what we don’t understand and blaming others for our misfortune…. when the reasons are much closer than we think.

      I set across from my 14 year daughter  last Thursday when I thought to make this a fb post. I knew it was far too much. I started at home and finished in a hotel room. What sparked this thought???  We were sitting in IHOP when she said she wants to sell candy in school. 

Yes! I thought, I’ve been trying to get her older siblings to do it for years. Anyway, I agreed. We discussed profits and overhead cost and how to be competitive. One school mate only sells to his Mexican brethren. The other, a girl, sells a variety of candy for a buck. I said he cornered the niche market and told her how she can steal the other girls clients. “If you sell yours for 75 cents, not only would you build your business but you’ll gain her customers as well” Hey, what dad wouldn’t teach his kid that? So, since she’s not overly competitive at the moment( just give it time) we agreed on the $1 pricing. But I added that she should add something to her box that her competitor doesn’t have. We shook hands on a deal between us. I would front the cost of 2 to 3 boxes of candy, she’d pay me back at the end of the school. Plus I get a small share of the profits, 10 cents off of each bar sold…
     These principles that we teach or lack thereof, are for the future but the decisions are made now. Not everything is about somebody else doing something to us but about us making choices.

      Until next time….

“Without Her: 7 Months Later”

Walking home across the Willis Avenue bridge. We went to dinner at a local restaurant (Perkins)and decided to walk home. 2015

  Hello, dear readers, a lot has happened since I last wrote to you. I started a “6 Months Later” but never posted it, I didn’t feel it and thought it’s better to write honest feelings, rather than write  something I forced out. Hey, if I’m gonna write about this stuff, that I really don’t want to do publicly, it should be truthful…

  6 months later…  I was sitting at my desk at work , checking my bank statement when I noticed a deposit. I Looked at the date and suddenly felt sick, it was the 14th.! The reason for the deposit was for a the loss of another’s life. And if you have loss your spouse to death, then you know  the feeling I’m talking about. It’s NOT a happy one. Some spiral into depression. I, slipped into deep blue mood. I immediately text my youngest child and told her we would be ordering the mattress she needed…it didn’t matter what we did with that little bit of change, it still came with a sickening feeling. It’s like coming late to work and your boss says  “I understand you’re going through a lot right now”. All I (or you too) could think of is, I got a pass because my wife died. People excuse you and give you an excuse. For some, they’ll milk it forever. Me? I’m not built like that. I was raised to stand on my own feet. Sure, today I’ll take the pass but I’m smart enough to know it won’t last forever. I reached for my blue pen and started filling out the withdrawal slip…I heard my coworker talking. The tears started. I was running late and stopped for breakfast, so I was eating and fighting the tears that wanted to fall at the same time. I walked in, and my boss said we were having a meeting. She was going away for the holidays and would be gone for 2 weeks…

So, my coworker turned to me and said we’re going back to the Bronx office. “Oh,@$%#$ no!!!” I thought. That place was horrible! Sharol had to literally lift me from the bed to get me to work. I was so depressed working there. I think I was more upset about going back there than anything else. I’d just spent 3 weeks there!!! I was so downcasted and didn’t have my counterbalance to help me through it. Dear reader, it was not a good morning. Uncharacteristic, I took to Facebook to complain! Many came to my aid with words of encouragement. My co worker said there was “nothing we could do” I said “I could and would quit!”…I meant it. I think he knew it too. We’d been working 9 to 9 for 7 days a week since November 9th. I had enough and hadn’t seen my daughter. I begin to plan our escape from the city…

 I went to the bathroom and cried, then begged God not to send me back there. When I returned to my desk , I was told that I was staying in my office. But many of my other coworkers were deployed elsewhere. Some I hadn’t seen in two months, more on that later. 

Escape from NY! Our first Christmas without Sharol.

I kept to myself for the rest of the day and It was an emotional lunch! 

Dec 14, 2016

Lunchtime at the Freedom Tower. Dec 14th 2016

Dec. 14th 2016 lunch at gound zero reflective footprint.

   I took a walk down to where the World Trade Towers used to stand. It was cold!!! But I wasn’t the only one dealing with loss that day… After my Facebook post, I learned some of my kids were having the same sort of day. I called Amtrak, our travel plans were set…

   The first Christmas without my wife was odd. My older children made plans to be away with their own family. I totally understood that and didn’t force the issue of us being together for the holidays. Thanksgiving was quiet, we met for brunch then parted ways. For Christmas we basically just went our own way. Guess what,its not uncommon for families to so after such a loss. This gives everyone and the family as a whole the opportunity to create  new traditions for the holidays. As for me, I took the two youngest to Washington D.C for the long weekend. It was odd without Sharol, but not too strange because the 4 of us had been traveling together for the past 4 or 5 years. So, we were just down one. I didn’t have Sharol by my side but… I had my two running bodies. We didn’t do much but it was a good time to be away from home and relax. 

Just Because… it’s what we do now. Amtrak bathroom, Selfie. Dec. 23, 2016

 7 months later:

       One day, when I was home alone, shortly before we left for the Christmas break. I signed up for Internet dating, no I didn’t tell my kids…but they know now. In short, this is not for me, I’m far too old school to find this form of meeting people useful or endearing. Within 48 hours I ran into 3 crazies! And blocked them all! One asked me for money to get her back to the U.S., she was in Ghana taking care of her 😉sick mother. That first experience set the stage for me. I don’t trust people to begin with, so this was NOT good. The second person to contact me 24 hrs later, had the same air about her… why would a beautiful 36 year old white woman  be interested in me I thought. Yeah…about that. Next! The third was the same. One week later, I gave up!. I miss talking to and dining with a woman and hearing laughter, after talking to a coworker he told me about another website, he was right it was better. I met someone…everything was fine for a week. She was kind, at times she reminded me of my wife.She laughed easily, had a brilliant smile, easy on the eyes too. She was totally compatible! But by the second week something broke. I left the city again for New year’s. I discovered something, a coworker told me once, that “you don’t want to either ” she was right. The subject was about me being a writer and needing the time to do it… what I’ve learned, is that I live a crazy, hectic life right now. I work for the state but I’m employed by the ciry. My job at times comes with a high level of stress. My world is communications , politics to be exact. And  as much as I want to be normal or live a normal life. The truth is, I don’t want to. My wife is with Jesus and I have nothing to (pleasantly) distract me from writing. Something I really want to do and I’m also fascinated by the world I work in. I don’t have the time, nor do I wish to give the time it takes to build a relationship from the ground up. Something that requires me to spend hours on a phone or video chat. I will be far too consumed by words over the coming months. Sharol understood this,but we were also married for 19 years. It took time for us to become what we were. That means starting all over again… It would be incredibly hard for a woman to deal with my lifestyle and artist moods. 

    Yes, I long to hold hands but… there’s so much I want to do. I once wrote that I didn’t know who I was without Sharol.I know now. I am a single dad, a single man…free to do whatever my God has for me. Free to enjoy life. I enjoy hanging out with and having lunch with my coworkers. One such lunch buddy I hadn’t seen for nearly 2 months, we were deployed to different locations. On New Year’s eve morning we had breakfast together. I said “hey, you wanna have  breakfast with me to say goodbye to 2016” the answer was “yes“, we had a nice time talking and eating. Then we parted. Would I like more? Absolutely!, but it’s  all I have to give  right now. This discovery, was hard to swallow. I don’t want to be alone, but I didn’t pick Sharol, God did, I can’t trust my heart. So, for now I’m going to trust Jesus to once again open my eyes to the one he has for me. If, like her, it’s someone I already know, someone right under my nose… Someone willing to come along side of me, love me, go where I go and eventually  send me home to the Father, Sharol and all those who went before me. Then that would be awesome. 

Dec. 26, 2016 teaching the kids how to play pool. In D.C.

D.C. Metro station. 2016

Show off our rings. Dec 24, 2016 dinner at a China Town, Washington DC.

Christmas dinner at Legal Seafood. Washington DC Dec. 25, 2016

  At the moment dear reader, I’m enjoying time with my two youngest children, looking for a new place to live  and still opened to whomever the lord my have for me. But I am also going to focus on my book right now. Who knows…maybe next week I’ll change my mind. But for now, my relationship plane is a holding pattern. This widower’s  life is an odd one. Wait. I failed to mention that we who have lost our spouse, not only feel guilty for living but often feel as though we’re cheating on our spouse. It’s crazy, right? Yep. But like I said, it’s an odd life for us.

Until next time…

“Without Her: 4 Months Later”

   

       October 14th marks the fourth month… and to quote Chris Stapleton,”My life has become a country song”  How fitting too, since I’ve been listening to country music for the past month. Yes, the chocolate colored man likes a little country too…

   The last two months, dear reader,has been filled with contacting agencies, changing contact information and putting nearly everything in my name. I’ve learned that we made some pretty good choices concerning the death of one another. Now, my concerns are what happens when I die. All of my beneficiary information has to be changed. All of my password information has to be in a place for my kids to find. What happens if I get sick?! I’ve been worried about who will take care of me. But it’s greater than that, I’m the only income… if I’m out of work, this damaged ship will sank. I have lost about 30lbs now. About 15 before my wife died and more afterwards. I ordered a full week’s worth work pants and jeans( I’ll get shirts eventually), so that I can stop walking into the office with my pants hanging off my backside. What’s worse is tightening the belt. I look like I’m wearing clown clothes…

    I’m a bit grateful for weight loss, lord knows I need to get and stay fit. The kids couldn’t take loosing both of us in the same year. Will the weight loss prevent that? No, not if you believe that God ordains life and death. But it does make this old car run a bit more smoothly. And less trips in the doctor’s office. Hopefully less, to, no more diabetic medication. Basically, it’s about the quality of life. God, will extend or shorten it, himself. 

     What else has happened in the last two months? Medical insurance! Sharol’s employer was quick to drop us…but, it took forever for it to register with the rest of the city. We both work for city government, so one agency couldn’t turn on the insurance without the other shutting off. An absolute pain! However, I can finish what I started two months ago…grief counseling. I’ve survived this far without it and don’t believe I need it. But, I will go and sit and talk. See how it goes from there.

  

October 9, 2016 Wyndham Skyline in Atlantic City, NJ

     We had a mommy and daddy  weekend getaway planned, we booked it back in April. I never cancelled it…So, the 13 year old said she wanted to go. So we went. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be…I kept the same schedule Sharol and I would have. Do nothing on day one! Sunday night we went out to dinner at Kelsey and Kim’s a soul food restaurant. We ordered takeout once and spotted the restaurant last summer, when we were there on vacation.

Waiting for dinner and listening to live jazz. October 9, 2016

Imagine that, at 13,you to get to experience live jazz in it’s natural environment, with great food and lots of people enjoying themselves with pleasant conversation. My daughter said it was “loud but a good loud. People are having fun” I couldn’t agree more. A couple of weeks ago I took her to her first Rock concert. We saw the Newsboys  at the PlayStation theater

Newsboys at the PlayStation theater September 24, 2016

    Although it was a relaxing and enjoyable weekend getaway, I still found myself tearing up from time to time. Once when I was talking about the kindness of my Co workers. And when I laid in bed by myself. Out of nowhere the tears and sudden sadness… it’s all good though. I feel, because I was loved and I loved. But, dear lord! I wish there was a warning shot!

View from the balcony. Watching the rain fall. October 8, 2016

     My youngest son is away at college…freshman, so missed out. But I hear he is adjusting well and having his own fun. Which is good. I wouldn’t want the needle of his life to get stuck playing the same thing over and over again. 

    My dear reader, though I am trying to put life back together and trying to sure up holes and deal with the missing piece. Yes, that includes having a little fun. I am beginning to feel a different stage in my grieving process…guilt!! Four months later and whatever scent was left on Sharol’s clothes are gone. I spray her perfume once in awhile before bed, just so I can remember . But the memories, like a vapor, are fading quickly. In walks the new feeling, guilt. Guilt that I can’t recall her voice, guilt that I can’t remember what her hair feels like on my face or in my hands or smells like. Guilt, that I went out to eat and it wasn’t with her. Guilt, like a returning soldier, that I lived and she didn’t. Guilt, that I’m doing better than I thought I would… guilty because.. 

    Wouldn’t a husband who loves his wife, mourn her death with sackcloth and ashes!?!!  Shouldn’t I be depressed and drinking my troubles away??? Oh sure you miss her, why aren’t rolling in floor!   One thought pressed me. Why didn’t fall apart when the Trade towers fell?… I don’t know. Maybe God understands that most of my life was spent fighting depression. Maybe, he thinks that, this is my “too much to bear” moment. Survivor’s guilt, SUCKS! I struggled with purchasing the clothes I needed. A constant second guessing of myself and everything I do. I haven’t been this way since before we were married. Oh, there were times during our marriage when I did but Sharol always said “Ty, don’t worry about it, you need it just get it”  depending on the situation, but the sentiment was always still the same.

Walk on the beach. Atlantic City, NJ August 2015

If we need it then get it…and yet, you still feel the guilt. There’s nothing anyone outside of you can do. I’m certain that what soldiers go through is far worse.

    The next time we meet, dear reader, I’ll let you know if the counselor had any answers. If they gave me any tools for coping with this new stage in life…my new normal.

Until next time…

“Widower”

IMAG0282_1_1 “Life’s journey has brought me to you and we shall continue together” the pendant says on the front.

IMAG0293_1_1

“Here’s to you, Here’s to me, Here’s to us. Semper Fidelis Love, Abby” She inscribed on the back..

Island-1

Father’s Day 2013 Governor’s Island. One of our kids took this picture of me and Sharol

Sharol always said that she was not the romantic one…as she would tell the listeners “Tyrone is the romantic one”  For the most part she was right. But Sharol had her moments. Like this Christmas gift she give me a few years ago. I’ve always wanted a pendant/dogtag or something… I’d given her a heart pendant a few years earlier it reads: “My Abigail when I’m too old to remember you, Remember that I love you. SS 4:1-15 Ty”  Song of Songs 4:1-15  Of course I hoped I would never forget her but the way my brain works some times I surely did wonder.

I was reminded of this as I watched a cute romantic movie with my 18 year old son and 13 year old daughter Sunday night (8/21/2016) after dinner. While we watched “Old Fashioned” I knew my son, the 18 year old, was wondering why on earth did I forced them to watch such a corny movie. My daughter on the other hand was engulfed in the film and like a 13 yr old, the chatterbox was dismayed when things were looking like it wasn’t going to go the way she wanted it to go. But it was good for him to see the film it will linger in the back of his mind and one day it will return. They’ve heard the stories of their mom and dad, how we disliked the American idea of dating and preferred courting instead.

     Dating as a typical american idea, just leads to a horde of broken hearts and dreams. It’s so bad now, that grammar school kids are claiming  “boyfriends and girlfriends”. Who am I kidding, they don’t even use those polite words to describe the “relationship”…. We’ve already seen what TV has done to the pre-teens, oops I means Tweens, in the past 15 – 20 years. So it was refreshing to see this movie depicting a college age kid living a wild life that lead to a major decision in his life. One that change his own ideas on how to treat a lady… 

20130616_155608     One day, when I was particularly lonely and sitting at my desk at work, I started looking up dating sites…Good lord! was it depressing! Not to mention there are a lot of freaks out there. I was seriously tempted to try speed dating.  Hey, why not? It’s within my wheel house, I get bored pretty easy as Sharol knew all to well. Instead of me spending a ton of money on someone I don’t know for 2 hours and probably won’t see again, I’d spend a little money and the date last for 10 minutes then off to the next woman. There you go! I swipe my metro-card  then ride the train home alone, maybe listen to some music, but I wouldn’t have to carry on a conversation that I knew wasn’t going to lead to anything. I also checked out rent a friend. Now this is fascinating, You sign up, for a small fee of course, then you get to rent someone for a date or a wedding, an evening at the movies or a play. Or simply because you have an extra ticket…Or lonely and just want to talk face to face. The renter, gets to choose from a wide range of ages and interest. The rentee, list lots of things that one might want to do…Like, ride bikes, see a play etc. But! they also list other things that might be appealing (or appalling) Like… one woman said the usual things…then added…she was into gay men, straight men and women! Uh..NOPE!… Next! I changed the age category, lord knows; me and a 25 year old ain’t gonna work. Please, I have daughters that age and I don’t think they’re looking for play-dates… anyway, I scrolled through the pictures. I don’t think they realize that someone would actually be looking at the photos and picking them for a rent-able night out. Go grief! have you seen those really bad, dare I say, ghetto “selfies” people have up on LinkedIn?!? It’s like, folks; you are trying to get the job, right? Yeah… well, some the photos were worse then the jobless people on LinkedIn.

20130608_165308_26753   Tattoos everywhere, names like Cinnamon...and yes, one spelled with an “S!” would you believe…Tree!?  These are not the names of 21 year old girls but 40+ year old full grown women! I closed the page then thumbed through my phone’s photo gallery…

20130616_142048 I leaned back in my chair frustrated and stared at pictures of Sharol and watched videos that I have of her…

20130616_143220Dag gone it, why did you leave me! I thought. There’s no one to sit across the table anymore…who am I going to kiss? will I even kiss another women? Dude, this really sucks!!! and even the women our age, are loony birds!… 

20130616_143214       Widower.  The reality hit me, the New normal. What now…? What do I do with my life? My life was built to journey through it with my bride… I have spent 19 years in a constant routine. After work, meals together; I’d wait for Sharol to eat my food. Fridays, it was coffee,pastry and Blue Bloods. Then popcorn with a movie, then Chinese food. Later as the kids left and our youngest; Hannah, spent time with her friends it to turned into, Wine time! our feet up, a movie on and 2 glasses of wine…and one really good night’s rest. Saturdays, we tried to sleep late, but that didn’t work for two early risers. Sunday, church then time alone before dinner. Mondays were marriage building nights. Sometimes we talked, take a walk, sometimes we read a book together, sometimes we augured, sometime we played a game or did nothing…unless, there was a TV show like The Following on. Tuesday nights, were prayer meeting night…or I’d watched Sharol sleep and snore… Once a month on Mondays, was DateNight. It was the only day she didn’t have to work late, until she did then we moved it back to Saturdays then back again. Because of busy schedules and allowing our lives to become hectic we did what many couples do…schedule time to love(nothing more needs to be said).  So, as you can see, dear reader; that empty space in my life where my wife use to occupy, is really a massive void! A vacuum! I have been living a joined life then all of a sudden, a tectonic shift! It’s not just an empty bed, no more kisses and hugs, no one to talk to, no more dates, no one to appreciate  my cooking, it’s ALL of that and more. An earthquake changes everything…the landscape, the ocean level, the geography, etc.

So before you question my sanity as to why I would be looking at dating sites, think about the many routines in my life that have been yanked from under my feet and tossed to the other side of the world.

Surf & Turf

Coney Island July 30, 2014

I haven’t thought about remarrying, I mean really, it would be the 3rd time…I’m honestly thinking my luck really sucks.  I haven’t had casual sex in nearly 30 years. I’ve been a husband twice…It’s highly doubtful I can change and go back to living that kind of life. but… a 3rd time? At this point I just want to have an adult conversation with someone who understands. Understands the music, political and TV references. Understands, that when a Prince song comes on, everything stops! and we must sing it together. Oh, dear reader, there is so much more…

Recently I wrote about going without my wedding rings on…well, a couple a times a week. Now, I go the whole work week then (psst don’t tell anybody) I put them on at night to sleep. Weird right? Nope, not at all. I found this woman’s article today while riding home  on the train . It appears there is no right or wrong way to greive/move forward. It’s all about what you are comfortable with. I choose to wear Sharol’s rings and for the moment put mine’s on at home. I guess it makes me feel close to her, just last week I started sleeping with 2 pillows behind me so that there’s something there when I turn. Which is where my wife would be all the time. Tuesday night I tripped over Sharol’s sandal, why your shoes always in the way?!  I thought then I laughed. It’s what I’d usually say followed by something like this ‘You trying to kill me? I’m too old to be falling”. 

Last month in one of my blue periods I was looking up something, I can’t remember what, but I stumbled onto this Marvin Sapp talking about embracing his singleness. The freedom to do his ministry with nothing between him and God. And bringing someone into his chaotic world. That person would have to fit in it comfortably. I started thinking about my own ministry, my writing. He’s absolutely right!  Paul said he wished everybody could be single BUT if you couldn’t, get married. it was better to do that than burn with passion… and here’s the rub, a husband’s first love is Christ but he will always be divided. Because he must care for his…wait for it…Wife. Yep, I get Marvin Sapp’s idea about freedom. Though I must admit, I ain’t exactly “embracing singleness”….but the ministry focus part, without hindrance. Yeah, I could see me spending a little focus time on my craft.

Sharol may not have always been the romantic part of this duel. One thing is for sure, she’s gonna be one heck of a tough act to follow.    Until next time…

 

“With Her: 19 Years, A Great Run”

Father’s Day on Governor’s Island 2013 or 2014

Today August 8th, is our 19th wedding anniversary…

     Last time, my dear reader, I told you about the anger that I was feeling. This time… I’m overjoyed with the blessing given to me, of 19 years of marriage. Sure I feel a bit cheated out of not being in Greece or New Orleans next year for our 20th Anniversary. But! God was gracious enough to give me 19 years and 2 kids in our older years. 

Vacation in Lancaster PA. Outside the Sight and Sound theater. Judah, Sharol, Me and Hannah.

19! Go ahead, say it. Today, generations and scores of couples are fine living together. Many are opting out of marriage all together, calling it out dated and unnecessary. Even an affront to womanhood and the advancement of women’s Lib. Well…Sharol, as did I, viewed it as an honor, a privilege…a gift from God, that we had someone to walk through life with. Someone committed to Christ and the relationship enough to want to care for and make the other better. That, my dear reader, means you daily put to death selfishness and think of the other’s needs before your own. If you have trust, in that relationship, then you will find that you never have to worry that your spouse is taking advantage of you. Because you both are doing the same thing…putting the other first. It also put a smile on her face when she was called “Mrs.Bland..” “Mrs.Bland? Your husband is….”  one of my favorites “Mr. and Mrs.Bland..?”  To hear it made it official  we were a team, a married couple; we belong to an exclusive Club. We were partners…for a lifetime! Another favorite of mines was “Um…excuse me, where’s my husband?”  Or “My husband will be here in a moment”  it meant I had someone who loved me. Someone proud to be fastened to my hip. Someone willing to watch my hair turn grey then white. Someone who would nurse my cut and bleeding foot, without flinching even though she was afraid watching the blood pour. Someone who would bring the bathroom  to me because I was bedridden. Someone who would say “Ty…why is there blood in there..?”  Both of knowing full well that blood coming from your body where there hasn’t been a cut, means something is wrong.

And likewise, she could confidently walk in this relationship knowing that, I had no problem picking up her feminine products. Bathing her when she was ill or in pain. Like her personal doctor, I would examine her when she had concerns about things but wasn’t able to see the issues…I was her eyes and hands. We once heard a story from a pastor. He was talking about a relative who swallowed a bone and the man’s wife went above and beyond to search for that bone. While we may have said that, that was yucky, we knew that was love and devotion. As we were getting older and got older we found ourselves in some of those very same situations. Caring for someone like that… it’s beyond intimacy and you would have to have more than a strong stomach ; it has to be love, the love of and for Christ. It had been the key to our caring for one another in such a way. Not looking for anything in return but loving that person enough to care for them, I mean really care for them; even if they could never speak again and lay motionless in the bed. That’s the kind of love and devotion we had for one another. Even our kids don’t know half the things we did, in caring for the other. There have been so many nights when I stop breathing in my sleep or choked and Sharol was startled from her sleep. Yet she’d watched over me until I was alright. I too, would get up when her stomach was bothering her and she suddenly disappeared from the bed or needed me to pray.We spent a lot of nights rubbing each other down in Tiger Balm…. So yes, she wore Mrs.Bland  with honor and distinction. And was very honored to be my wife (she said so herself). I even gave her a Purple Heart once, because like many soldiers, she endured a great deal in life… sexual assault, ridicule for being smart, the ups and downs of marriage, parenting and Christian life. So, though she was a living warrior, I wanted to do something to let her know that I loved and appreciated her.

Valentine’s Day, weekend getaway with Sharol, Judah and Hannah. February 14, 2015

She was so happy and proud when I gave her that charm. She was also extremely broken hearted when it broke off a bracelet and she lost it. Luckily, I found the company and bought her a new not too long before her surgery. It’s sitting in her drawer now, because she wanted to have the piece welded to her bracelet so it wouldn’t fall off again. Further proof  that, that tiny little trinket meant  a lot to her. But it wasn’t really all about the gift but about the gesture…

The Bride. My rib. August 8, 1997

Daily beloved we are gathered here today… Tyrone and Sharol

It was a hot and sweaty August night in 1997. I spent the morning preparing the apartment. I bought a new bed(hadn’t slept in one since a previous failed relationship) laid it down and spread rose petals all over it. Then lined the hallway leading to the bedroom with the remaining flower petals. Then, I was in the care of my Best Man and his son. We later made our way to the church. Which was filled with choir members, a few friends, my immediate family members and Sharol’s dad. Most of her family opting out of attending.

I waited for what seem like 5 hours for Sharol to arrive…she was late. My nerves were shot! She’s not coming   I thought.  My confidence and trust was lacking after I failed the first time at marriage and the disagreement we had a few days before the wedding didn’t help me at that moment. My active imagination was doing somersaults… she changed her mind. I went on.  The tuxedo felt like an oven. I nervously shifted my weight, my heart was sinking…

“Sharol place your left hand in his, Tyrone repeat after me…”

Then the music started to play, the kids came down the aisle…the flowers sprinkled and the ring arrived on a pillow… my heart galloped.

My best man praying for God’s blessing on us and our household.

Then, she appeared! Music started and the guest were confused. They were waiting for the standard here comes the comes the bride song.  But chose “Praise You”  by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  

There she was! My rib! Coming down the aisle to take her place by my side. I met her and walked her up to the altar. The pastor said something, “blah blah blah”… I have no clue what was said. We have evidence to support that, a recording…where we both, as we listened, repeated all sorts incorrect words. We were prayed for and announced to the world for the first time, ever! as “Mr. and Mrs. Bland”.  By the way, I was praying too, I had asked God to use us as missionaries…to use our family to reach the world for Christ…

2007 our first Spirit of New York cruise

The result of that day was a wild ride. Four out the six kids went on missions trip, two to foreign countries. I served as a summer missionary to adults and children with special needs. Sharol and I for those 3 summers counselled young adults and ran prayer meetings in our summer home for them. What came out of that day was, a plunge into extreme poverty and a rise out of it. Combative and rebellious teens turn into self sufficient young adults. Two formed a band and lent their talents to others, to speak to their generation. What came out of that day, was three grandchildren. What came out of that day, were two children born in our older years. Sharol said her “Jesus babies” meaning they came after we were Christians…

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007 photos by Imani

In the past or last 7 years or so, we decided to focus our attention on the last two kids. Because we a lot older, I’m 40 older than the last child. We wanted them to have the benefits the first 4 had. The problem was, life changed. There was now two full-time working parents. I was in college from 2006-20012,then returned to the work world. But we pushed to spend time with them as well as spend more with each other.

In Jamaica. Our first trip out of the country. Beaches Resort 2010

As a couple, we also wanted to do things we’ve never done before together or as single people. Anything, but skydiving!

Breakfast with Sesame Street. Jamaica 2010

On the beach. Yes, we were standing in the water. Jamaica 2010

Private dinner on the beach. Our 13th wedding anniversary. Jamaica 2010

In 2010, after my undergrad graduation we had the chance to use our passports for the first time. Unfortunately, it was the only time. My youngest has been bugging for the past two weeks to go the London. Jamaica, dear reader, was more than a trip. It was an adventure!! I hate flying, but my fearless partner was with me. And held my hand tight. I couldn’t sleep or relax. Then….even with the promise of all that. The trip was plagued with issues. First we missed our flight, not our fault. The airport had some construction going on and the gate was waaaaaaaay on the other side. We got to gate and was directed to somewhere else… it’s a 5 hour flight to Jamaica…it took us…well, let’s see. From NY to PA 1 hour, laaaaaaaaaayover until about 11pm! Then flew to South Carolina…where we spent the night! Then boarded a plane to Jamaica.  We arrived to a sea of brown people. I’ve never seen that many black folks in one place in my life. We passed through customs without a problem. Went for our bags…they weren’t there! Noooooooooooo. Yep.

Private dinner on the beach

Sharol with Hannah after her morning water aerobic class. Jamaica 2010

It was hot, humid and we were tired. The agents assured us the bags would turn up. They did, later that day. Sooooooooo we hopped into a van and headed towards the resort. We got there, 2 hours later!!!

Preparing for our anniversary dinner. Photo by Hannah.

But! The week’s stay was well worth the trouble.

Spirit of New York boat ride. 2007

Celebrating love. Spirit of New York cruise. 2010

13 years of marriage, looks good!

In 2013 we went to Virginia Beach, Va. For a College tour with Judah. We’d hoped he could get into Regent University. While we were there we visited CBN, Regent University and The 700 Club.  We  also went to Busch Gardens and Virginia Beach.

The 700 Club. 2013

The Aquarium in Virginia. I had the camera, Sharol the video camera. The fish were swimming above our heads. 2013

Sharol “Dancing it out” with the local Regent University & YouTube celebrity Nathan Stump. Nathan often ended his videos with a silly dance. We saw him in the cafeteria this is the end result.

Wyndham Governors Green Resort Virginia 2013 on our way to play mini golf

19 years is a long time but it wasn’t long enough with my wife. We continued to do things we hadn’t, like go dancing. I know it’s unheard of for Christians but  we were grown adults who had never known each other when we were young and hadn’t had the opportunity to dance together. Nope, I ain’t justifying a thing! We had good clean, fun dancing with one another, for 6hrs! Celebrating life!

Crazy faces, before I beat them! Wyndham Governors green 2013

Resting our feet in the hallway of BB Kings on 42nd Street. At the Rhythm Revue dance party summer of 2015

What made things work so well for us, is we thought of our marriage as a partnership. No one goes into business with someone calling them their partner to lose money. You partner with someone because you see their skill and their strength and you know together you can meet the challenges and be successful at whatever your endeavor is. She was also my sister in Christ and I her brother.    We protected each other. She was my lover, enough said. She was my friend, my business and writing partner

Working on on a autobiography. 2015

My bride, my wife, my girl…my…

I’ve been spoiled for the past 19 years, I’ve only dated one woman in all those years. I remained faithful to her and she to me.

“This, man!” She yelled, because I kept taking pictures of her. Busch Gardens 2013

Sharol was not only the matriarch of the family. But she was also the standard-bearer, where could I find such a woman today..? Intelligent, funny, easy to look at, prayer warrior, confidence Builder and the list goes on and on.

Dear, reader, I know this was very long. I have much more to say, but understand my point of the title, 19 years. You can’t possibly explain or tell that story in two paragraph.

Beaches Resort 2010 Jamaica

On June 14,2016 I lost one of the greatest gifts God has given to me and from this brief tale that I’ve told, you can see why, that on my anniversary, I’m not sitting around depressed or writing a suicide note. But I am grateful for the time I had with my wife. Now, maybe when I approach the 20th anniversary next year, God willing I’m alive. Maybe I’ll feel different I don’t know but today I’m so filled with joy because I was loved and I had the opportunity to love. that, is, awesome! Listen, take care of yourself. Enjoy the love of your life, build those memories…

Until next time….

 

“Without Her: Anger”

January 2014

I have stacks and stacks of papers and letters on my bed, desk, chair and ottoman. I now nap (I don’t really sleep) with half my bed covered in bills, letter…and newspapers. Well, the newspapers I’d fully intended on reading. But in the beginning I didn’t want to read the news. Now I don’t have time to because of the constant shifting through letters and threatening bills…

Looking at her phone of course.

The other day as I sat with a letter in my hand, a thought hit me what else am I missing. One of those letters was a bill for the three cell phone lines I’m still paying for. But I said I wouldn’t turn off my wife’s (Sharol) until I had contacted everyone and changed all the billing information into my name. So I unlocked her email to check for a bill that might have been a online/direct payment. I found two…and much more. As read a few saved emails I was instantly transported back in time and became very angry. What did I find? A few old angry emails from past arguments!! I remembered them well too. I could hear Sharol’s voice, see that annoyed look in her eyes, I could hear her yelling above me, I could smell the air of that day, I could feel my heart rate raising, my glucose level as well. I remembered the look I gave her, the thoughts I was thinking about her, how I hated her in that moment… I couldn’t believe I kissed that foul disrespectful mouth! I could feel the taxing drain of hours of combat. The dry mouth and hurting feet from standing. What was it about this time…? The kids? Something I said? Something she said? Something we did? Does it really matter?! Why keep such things! And when you die, leave it behind to be read!…

I remembered one day so clearly… we were fine, in fact it was a good year for us. But something happened, we argued, didn’t talk to each other. I believe I threatened to leave. Sharol didn’t care. I was furious, I had enough of the kids, married life and arguing. I packed a bag and walked out. I found a cheap motel up by Co-Op  City in the Bronx. I’d taken my cell phone just in case she decided she loved me enough to call.  I bumped into our oldest son on the train, he was clueless. So, I handed the guy my ID and credit card. He gave me a key…I walked in the room, turned on the TV and checked my phone…no call! As the night progressed I became more and more uncomfortable be in the motel and not at home. But I crossed a threshold, I did something I’ve never done before. I can’t turn back, I left, like many of men before me…but why didn’t I feel good about it?! I went to the bathroom…stared at the TV, then suddenly dread fell on me. What if I die here? What would the headline say? What about the kids?…but if Sharol cared she’d call…  

2014 weekend getaway. Sharol liked picture.

My phone didn’t have reception…

After a sleepless and restless night I swiftly left the motel. It hit me that I had to drop the kids off to school. I didn’t know how Sharol would feel, would she answer the phone? etc. I called and said I would be there…Sharol told the kids, one of them ask where I was, that I was probably at store and would be there soon…

After the kids were gone I walked into the bedroom. No words said…we set on the edge of bed beside each other. Then she started crying, I did too…we talked about where I’d been, my horrible night and how she couldn’t sleep. We apologized to each other. Then Sharol did a strange thing. Strange because there are many “strong woman” that don’t or at least act like they don’t, need or want men in their lives. She asked me with tears streaming, not to do that again, not to leave her. I didn’t. She told me, but I could truly feel it at that moment..”I love you”

About a month or so later Sharol heard this word in church Akrogoniaios “Jesus the Cornerstone”  after the service she told me the Lord spoke to her heart. And said she was with me to help me become the man God wanted me to be. Of course I was skeptical, we’d just had major marriage crisis. But there was a paradigm shift in our relationship from that time forward. Mostly because our dependency was focused on Christ.

I have been wearing a wedding ring for 19 years, there have been times when I took it off because I didn’t want to be reminded that I was married. A few days a week I’ve gone without it (feels very odd), because eventually, now that I’m a widower, they (She gave me one an anniversary gift, I wear both) will come off. The first day I went without it, I was reminded of a horrible day. Words were said, she and I were mad…Sharol through her rings, it went out the window! Apparently,I followed with you don’t deserve to have/where them!(I didn’t remember saying that,until she mentioned it about a year ago) Later that day Sharol searched the grass and street like the woman in the Bible looking for her lost coin. She vowed never to take them off again. She didn’t. My words cut her deeply…and taking off my ring now, has been incredibly hard. Not to mention the guilt and sadness over how simple minded I had been in the past.

My dear reader, I don’t know why we humans keep such heartbreaking things. The Bible does say that Love doesn’t keep a record of right and wrong. I can see why. Things like our angry word emails can last a long time. So can the effects of them. The day I read said emails, about a week ago, I spent the entire morning bitterly crying over the loss of my Abby. I didn’t go into work because I didn’t have the mental or physical strength to get up. Then came the reading of the emails, the anger, the rage and the questioning of Sharol’s love for me. A hellish pit a woe!!…

A few days later I was reminded of Lots’s wife who was warned to flee and “not look back”, she did. She died. She turned into a “pillar of salt”. This is what happens to many of us, we get stuck in a horrible loop of grief. Unable to move forward, backwards or any direction. And our love ones suffer for it too. Some of us need help dealing with our loss. My boss/friend suggested that I go to a grief counseling service for city workers. Her assessment of me was, I haven’t had a proper time to grieve because of all the things I’ve been taking care of. I chose to make the appointment. You know, not too long ago I was talking to my sister. She was telling me story about being around a group of mostly young people. They were talking about marriage, the usual  whining and complaining. Someone posed the question “What’s the absolute worst part of marriage?”  My sister said “One of you will have to die”  She is absolutely right!!  That’s why I’ve always hated standing around a group of guys whining about their wives and it never failed, someone would turn to me and say “You know how they are,right?  My response was always the same “No I don’t, I actually love my wife”  You could usually hear a leaf drop after that…  

2015 summer vacation in Atlantic City. Picture taken at the aquarium

  I also chose to remember something very important…Sharol told me she loved me! And I have proof of that love. And it’s not in some old, out dated angry letter!! It was said to me daily and most recently in a Love letter. 

A letter from Sharol written May 20, 2016 I didn’t find it until a week after her death.

2014 Father’s Day

these are the things, dear reader, that we need and should hold on to. Be careful not to step in to the trap/pit that I did. Yeah I know, some of you have already done it…well, learn from my mistake. Don’t look back into the past, it could paralyze you. Rendering you powerless and incapable of healing and moving on.

Until next time…


“In The Apartments Next To Mine” Book Excerpt 5

The snow swallowed the city in a dome of white and grey.  Every so often you could see a faint flash of red or yellow.  If you were able to see it sharply, it was too late; the vehicle was already too close.

She was awakened by a gentle touch and whisked away to the bathroom in what could only seem like a dream to her…

His alarm startled him, sending a bolt of electricity through his heart.  “Crap!” he yelled, rising from his slumber.  He rose up on his elbow, then his hand and just sat with his feet dangling off the bed.  Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he slid slowly off the bed, easing his feet down onto the icy linoleum.  Geez, do I have to? He thoughtIt definitely was not a day for traveling.  Most people would stay home and watch television.  He sighed, and then reached over for his phone.  No messages.  “I guess we’re doing this…,” whispering to himself.  With the cold floor waking him up with every step, he entered the spotlight of the kitchen, put on a pot of water and headed for the bathroom.  Somehow the canary paint shined with the brilliance of the sun – or was it just too early in the morning?  He begrudgedly opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed a handful of vitamins, chucked them in his mouth and bobbed his head in the sink to drink some water.  Then he slipped into the shower and melted away in its warmth.

She stood in the doorway naked and dripping wet.  No movement; just still as a statute, staring at her wrist…a moment later a flicker of one finger.  “Come eat baby.  Breakfast is ready,” said the voice from the kitchen.  But it was a ploy, a white flag…a surrendering to the will of the naked statute standing in the hallway, a compromise to continue the day as planned.  But Venus did not budge.  She stood firm in all her great beauty, naked and unashamed.  The voice continued to prompt for a response.  Then, with no further words, put two blueberry waffles in the toaster…and waited.

The charcoal grey sky, gave way to a light heather grey.  The imprisoned sun was fighting to be seen but it was outmatched.  He peeked out the howling window on his way back to the kitchen to eat.  Bacon, eggs and cheese…? He thought. But the white bearded, Quaker starred at him from the cabinet. “Dag!”  Grabbing the box, he continued on with the original plan.

The blueberry scent drifted down the hallway.  Suddenly, the statute came to life.  She let out a loud screech of joy, tapped her wrist to her forehead and shot down the hallway.  The slapping of her bare feet on the floor put a smirk on her mother’s face.  She’d won this round.  The shivering, cold, purple-lipped, 70 pound, wet child leaped onto the chair.  She tilted her head, closed her eyes and smiled.  With a blank expression, she stared down at the plate…within an eye’s blink the plate soared across the room.  She screeched again, flapped her left hand and stuffed the waffle in her mouth with the right.  When her mouth was full, she commenced with the sharing of her food.  First, she smeared the waffles on the table top, though her mother protested against it.  Then, she shared her blueberry waffles with the wall, stove, refrigerator and her mother’s face…

“No, no…no!”  He shouted after looking up at the clock.  He rushed up from the table banging his hand and dropped the plate.  “Really!”  There was no time to worry about the pain.  He ran to the back to get dressed and ran his toe into the edge of the bed.  “@%#!”  Still the clock kept ticking away the time.  He tossed on his shirt, backward, tripped putting his leg into his jeans and forgot to shave…”Dang it.” He yelled running down the hallway, taking his coat he let out a long sigh, touched his face and thought, she likes fuzzy anyway.  The thought made him chuckle. He dashed out the door. “The bottle!” the yelled, shoving the door open.  Leaving the key in the door, he rushed back inside, snatched a small gift and a tiny bottle of water off the table and bolted back out the door.

 

 

In_The_Apartments_Ne_Cover_for_Kindle                                                                                                                                        Excerpt taken from “Spectrum”

“In The Apartments Next To Mine” Book Excerpt 4

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“Oh goodness, yes!” Her eyes lit up. “I have been since I was a little thing. My first…” Her sentence interrupted by the conductor. “Castle Hill Avenue next” He announced. Disappointment washed over her face as she watched him gather his bags in his hand. The talk was a delight and it just began. He pursed his lips with a sigh. “Sorry. This is my stop…” He said, sadly.

“I enjoyed our talk; you have a wonderful evening…” She stopped. She realized they never introduced themselves. “Owen…I enjoyed meeting you..?”

“Agnes…”

“Well. Agnes, I guess we’ll have to finish this some other time…bye” He waved and walked out the door. Agnes, lifted her glasses above her head, smiled and followed him down the platform with her eyes. Once the train left in station, she opened her book and continued reading.

Owen nearly ran into a pole looking back at the car where Agnes was sitting. With each step down the stairs, he smiled a little more…

Exhausted from standing on the long lines and shopping, Owen rushed down the stairs to the platform only to be met by hordes of hot, sweaty bodies.

“6 train arriving in one minute,” the automated voice rang out.  No chance of sitting today, he thought.  The train rushed into the station with a gush of steaming heat ahead of it.  A few strands of blond hair streamed across Owen’s face, like microscopic ribbons, from the woman in front of him.  When the doors opened, the herd of humans poured out of the doors stampeding all who stood in their way.  Though he stepped to the side, he couldn’t avoid the smearing of lotions, perfume, sweat and dirt he received.  Owen looked down at his shirt, took a deep breath, clutched his bag handles tight, then pressed on his pocket to crank up his music and stepped into the car, then assumed his position as the next sardine in the can.

He tried his best to ignore the tourist with their camera phones, maps, backpacks and bewildered looks…but he couldn’t.  Especially since a group of  acrobats were standing on his feet, crushing his bags, had their map in his face and elbows extended, taking pictures and all without missing a beat.  Lord, I’m about to lose my religion! he thought.

       At that very moment he looked through the window of the next car and saw…What’s her name again? Agnes!  That’s it!”  The thought calmed his heart and made him smile.  The train passed through Manhattan and entered the Bronx, he finally got a seat but when he looked through the window, the woman was gone.  Did I imagine it? he thought.

Three weeks later, while seated in the corner seat, he noticed her sitting next to him in the next car in the same seat; she was reading a book.  She ran he fingers through her hair then turned the page.  Agnes looked up briefly to see Owen in the car beside her.  She was puzzled for a moment as to why a man was staring at her.  Then she remembered…she smiled at him, and then continued reading but the warm smile remained with her for a few more stops.

Two weeks later, juggling 2 bags full of melons, pineapples and peaches, Owen shot down the subway stairs and crashed into a wave of straphangers coming up.  “Excuse me…excuse me!” he announced.  But the current was too strong.  He was struck mid-way, being pushed to and fro.  He reached the bottom just as the train left the station.  “@#@!,” he slumped back against the column and dropped his bags.

       “Uptown 6 train arriving in 1 minute,” the machine voice called.  He inhaled deeply and stepped dangerously close to the edge of the platform.  His t-shirt waved across his chest as the hot breeze entered the station before the train.  Owen closed his eyes and imagined himself standing on a beach.  When the train stopped, he opened his eyes to see Agnes sitting inside.  Stepping into the train, he immediately chuckled.  “It’s you again.”  She blushed and raised her hand to her mouth, covering her delight at his remark.  “So, are you on a lunch break?  It was noon.

“No, silly thing,” she giggled.  “I’ve long since retired.  Maybe I’m looking for you.”

A serious look fell on his face.  “Really…?”  There was a long pause.

 

Taken from “The Pelham Affair”

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“The Edges of Madness” pt. 1

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The sun eased its way into the sky, soon it would uncover the events of last night…
 
  “How about her?…She really hot!” Roland said. Excited to be invited to the night ride. Jay snatched him by the collar. “This is not some sick sexual fantasy!” He let him go. “Him, I want him…go bring the truck around. I’ll wait for you at the corner”
“The dealer, what if he has a gun or something?!”
  “I’ll take care of it, you just get to the corner” Jay pulled his sweater down over his old revolver then yanked his hood over his bald head. He dashed across street and stopped between two vans, looking to see if anyone noticed him, then casually walked up to the dealer…
  “Listen…I’m looking for something special for my party tonight. You think you could help me?” The tattooed giant sized him up. The soft bottom shoes, tan cargo pants and navy wind breaker didn’t seem threatening. He wasn’t a cop but something was off about the guy.
  Jay’s eyebrow rose when he realized the dealer was suspicious. His hand whipped across his stomach and pulled out the gun…In a flash, the brown butt of the revolver hit the behemoth between the eyes. He fell back into Roland’s arms.
  “Good timing Ro…”
   “Thanks…but couldn’t you pick someone a little lighter?!”
“Stop whining and drag this bucket of lard to the truck”
   Their bodies were drenched in sweat, but they managed to get him to truck and drove off…

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He sat at the edge of the cliff twirling the femur like a baton, earnestly thinking…
It wasn’t what to do with the body, but where to hide it until he wanted it found.