Monday, December 30, 2013

Lolbama Adjunct 29 December 2013

Here are a few I thought up. I have more i you'd like. Leave a comment or two to let me know.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My 4th Aneurversary

Well, today marks four years to the day since I had my close encounter with death, when an aneurysm at the base of my brain burst and landed me in intensive care for a few weeks. I'm not going to recount the whole story, but if you're interested, you can find it here.

Unfortunately, year four has not been a good one. I finished year three sliding into a depression that has never gone away. I've beaten it back for a little while at times, but it won't leave me. Medication isn't working, therapy isn't working, nothing seems to work. I'm starting to think this is the new normal. It has truly been the worst year of my life.

And I don't see any improvement on the horizon.

If I had known back in 2009 that 2013 was coming, I think I would have refused to get in the ambulance. In fact, as it stands now, if it happened again, I definitely would not go. I would say my goodbyes, swallow a handful of pain pills to take the edge off, and slip away.

When I first got out of the hospital, any headache (and they were frequent) was a cause for alarm. I wondered each time whether it was happening again. Now, with every twinge of pain comes the hope that it will finally be my time. I find myself rooting for it. Unfortunately, they mapped the blood vessels in my head, and didn't find any cause for concern.

I'm considering revoking my medical power of attorney and rewriting my living will to say not only no extreme measures, but no measures at all. I don't even want to be taken to the emergency room, because they will feel it incumbent upon them to do something, regardless of my stated wishes, as they will fear a lawsuit. I'd like to avoid that possibility/
There would be those who say there is a simple solution to the problem, which there would be, if I didn't believe in the eternal nature of the human spirit. Without that, it would be simple to just go away forever. But, knowing what I do, that would just create more suffering in the next world. If I could just will myself out of existence, I would. Just stop being. End the pain. But I can't, so on I go.

I know that God wants us to endure to the end, but is it a sin to hope the end comes soon? I'm tired and I'm hurting. I know he saved me for some reason, for some work. I hope I finish whatever I need to do soon. I feel like Han did in Star Wars: "No reward is worth this." Also, I think of Luke telling Han that the reward will be "more wealth than [he] can imagine. And Han replies: "I don't know. I can imagine quite a bit."

It's like that old Footprints poem. I know there's only one set of footprints, and I know God has been carrying me for some time now. I just don't know if I will ever be able to walk on my own again. I know, too, that he's always with me, but I still feel lost and alone. I've gone to a place where my family will not follow, and while I can't turn back, I don't know if I can continue forward.

I'm hurting.

This is year four.

I hope I don't see year five.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. Though money was a little tight this year, and the gifts fewer in number, the extra hours I've been working have meant I have no extra debt, while the kids got exactly what they asked for, and my wife got the home defense system she had been wanting.

What did I get, you ask?

Well, my son gave me a t-shirt with the school logo on it, which I will wear proudly. My daughter got me a strange keychain-like pen thingy with a flashlight-type thing on it, as well as an actual flashlight. She gave me a keychain with a light on it last year. I wonder if she sees the darkness overcoming me... She also made me a decorative plate with a Christmas Tree on it.

My mom is giving us money again this year, for our winter waterpark vacation, and my brother will have some goofy thing, probably a book or two of crazy, funny stuff that I will laugh over the rest of the year.

What's that? What did my wife get me?

Same thing she got me last year: "I thought we said we weren't getting each other anything this year." Which we didn't. But if I were to say that, she would distinctly remember that we had, so I must be mistaken. Last year, we did actually say that, but I changed my mind and surprised her. This year, we didn't. And she was still surprised.

Not that I expected anything different. I could have taken the disappointment, though.

I wonder what the truth is. Did she really think we said that? Was she erroneously remembering last year? Or does she just not care enough to make even a token effort?

I don't know.

And at this point, I'm just about beyond caring.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Bittersweet Anniversary

A year ago today I started a conversation that began the most influential friendship I have ever known. This relationship had more positive influence on my life, effected more change for the better in me as a person, than any other I have known. Sadly, it ended, and the manner in which it ended has left me in despair for months.
I'll start at the beginning.

It all started as a discussion over a movie recommendation. It was just an ordinary comment thread, but it turned into a conversation. For her part, she was amazed that I was so friendly to a complete stranger, while I was amazed by her, in general. She was intelligent, articulate and funny. Just an all around great person.

She was maybe the most beautiful person I'd ever met. Then she posted a picture. She was VERY good looking, too! Horribly pretty, in fact. And I told her so. That was a turn of phrase that tickled her imagination and sense of humor. It was kind of funny, though: I may THINK a lot of compliments, but it is not always easy for me to actually SAY them, even online. I felt a nudge to say something, almost a call, and I couldn't resist it. Even more amazing: She has no clue how beautiful she really is. Not an inkling.

Soon enough, she did a little digging and a friend request appeared on my Facebook account. In fact, I was just about to ask her to do this. Synchronicity. There was a lot of that. We often answered each others wuestions before they were even asked. Our first Facebook chat lasted maybe a couple minutes, although the clock said about three hours. But what does the clock know?

I KNEW, as surely as I know anything, that this was someone I needed to know, that I needed a friendship with. I tried to invite my wife into the friendship, with pretty disastrous consequences. She was less than amused. Violently opposed, in fact. I tried a couple of times to stop things in their tracks, but eventually, the call was too much for me to resist: I HAD to be a friend to this woman.

I have mentioned that she was intelligent, articulate and funny, but that really understates the power of her personality. She's like a lighthouse on a stormy night. Her spirit is a shining light that draws one toward her. And she was in pain. She was experiencing hard times in her personal life, and I felt like I could do something to ease the problems, if just by lending a sympathetic ear, so I did. And, as I had problems in my life, she would listen to me, giving me comfort and sympathy. Symbiosis.

Though we kept contact sparse for quite a while, communicating mostly in comment threads, my wife starting treating me as though I was diseased. There had been problems before, things that were unsaid. Our communication was not very good, for quite a long time. They got much worse. We went to marriage counseling, our last session of which ended in a shouting match. We didn't speak more than two words at a time to each other for almost six months. Meanwhile, my friend was a source of comfort and support.

In one of our sessions, I told my wife a hard truth: I had sacrificed relationships with a son (that I gave up for adoption), and my father, with whom she didn't get along, in order to build my relationship with her. It was the right thing to do when it was done. But this woman, this friend that I had just met was the one for whom I was putting my foot down: I would not give up my friendship. I had sacrificed too much to be treated like that. She was upset and went to my mom, who told her that it was absolutely true. That also upset her.

Meanwhile, my friendship was growing closer. We started calling each other brother and sister, and I felt there was truth to that, that we were family of some sort. I still do.

Soon enough, she offered to share something deeply personal with me: her religious faith. I told her not to expect me to convert, or anything, but that I was interested from a purely academic perspective. I started reading Scriptures, and reseaching, and came to the uncomfortably wonderful conclusion that she was teaching me the absolute truth. She appeared happy with each new discovery I made, and seemed both a teacher and a fellow traveller. A kindred spirit.

At one point, she asked me to write her a "bedtime story," a fairy tale, because she liked the way I wrote. So I did. I told a story about a common man, loosely based on me, who risks everything to save a beautiul princess. Entirely based on her. It grew from what was going to be a couple of pages to 10,000 words. Not great, but amusing enough, I guess. I kind of see her as a Disney Princess: She perserveres through all the hardship and gives us all hope that we might as well. Personally, I see her as Belle, not just because the name is fitting, but also because she's bright and curious. Also, there's the whole Beast thing. But that's something else, altogether.

Over the summer, we talked frequently, until maybe the beginning or middle of August. She suddenly became somewhat distant. I don't know why. She stopped responding to my emails as frequently. I knew something was troubling her, but she wouldn't share it with me, said she couldn't. I tried, maybe too hard, to cheer her up, but she just grew more distant.

Eventually, I made a move to show her how important her friendship was to me, and it all blew up in my face. You could say I acted Brashfully. Since that day, I have been miserable. I know I hurt her, that I misread a number of signs that I was digging myself deeper, but I still don't understand the vehemence of the reaction. I just wanted to show her that she was adored and appreciated. Cherished.

And then she was gone.

But that's another story, for another time.

I DID eventually convert. What I learned from her was Truth. That cannot be denied, whether she wants my friendship or not. I wish she could have been there. It would have made the night perfect. Now I have no one to share each new experience with. My wife is less than enthused and kind of actually hates my church,

In church, I heard someone say that people who see the world in black and white just don't have enough light to see everything in color. She was that shining light to me. It was like The Wizard of Oz, where everything starts out in black and white, then turns to brilliant, beautiful color. But at the end, wverything is in black and white again. My world may not have gone back to black and white, but it has slowly faded to sepia tones.

Early on in the friendship, I made an offhand remark about a time when two women were fighting over me. I said that it had made me "feel like a god." Her response was a question that threw my wife into a frenzy: "Do I make you feel like a god?" My wife interpreted it one way, I another, and it was actually meant in a third, which had theological underpinnings. My response at the time was "No." But, as I have gone on and learned more, my response would be quite different. It would not be "yes", but it would not be "no," either. In truth, she made me feel like I COULD be.

She was the friend I risked everything for. And I have lost much. I often wish I were the hero of the story I wrote for her. His sacrifice is paid in full. The final tally of mine has yet to be determined.

I have had many friendships through the years, a few have ended badly, most have just faded away. This is the first one I have ever truly mourned. I miss her so much. She showed me eternity, then went away. Now every day feels like an eternity. She cared about me, even when I didn't. She made me feel special, even though I'm not. I loved that my words could make her smile and feel better. She loves words. She always wanted someone to write about haw much they loved her and needed her. And the sad irony is that, now that someone has, she will probably never read it.

I just hope she knows that, this winter, as the temperature drops, the wind howls and the snow blows, there is someone out here thinking warm thoughts of her. I hope Santa brings her everything she wants and needs.

If I could say one thing to her, a true goodbye, it would be this:

I love you, Baby Sis. I miss you. I miss your friendship. I'm so sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me. I love you.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Question

You know the song Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?

It starts out "You know Dasher and Dancer"... and so on to "...Donner and Blitzen,"

Okay, fine to there. But then: "Do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all?"

If you assume I know those 8, lesser  known, more obscure reindeer, why wouldn't I recall the most famous of all???

These are the thing that keep me up at night,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Music Time: Tom Lehrer - So Long, Mom!

In honor of the outstanding statesmanship and hard work put in by Secretary of State John Kerry in securing a nuclear weapons agreement with Iran that the President can proudly put his name to, I present a song by Tom Lehrer from the 60s, detailing what I think is the logical outcome of their fine dimplomacy.

I think that about suns it up.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Miracle

This video is really corny and sappy, but it makes me feel a little better.

I always wished I could give someone a completely unexpected surprise of something they wanted/needed.

I tend to have bad luck along those lines...

Anyway, it's the Christmas Season. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pure Genius

These test answers are, at times, incredibly wrong, but also totally right.
Check it out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Death in the Family

In the early afternoon of December 10th, my wife's grandmother died. It was not unexpected. She was 93, and outlived her husband of 70+ years by almost a year exactly. She had a good long life, leaving 4 children, 7 grandchildren and a whole bunch of great-grandchildren, including our two.

She loved to bake, making crazy good pecan pies, and she made quilts that all of her family members love to use, because they're soft and warm.

She was a good woman, and will be missed.

If anyone out there can spare a prayer for her and for her family, I'm sure it would be appreciated.

My wife and kids will attend the calling hours on Friday and the funeral in Saturday. I have been politely invited to stay home.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Call for the Priest

I'm not sure how this happened (actually, I know exactly how it happened, I just don't really believe it), but in just over six months, I've gone from a guy with out a church, a guy who was barely even really Christian, to an ordained priest. And NO, not with the Universal Life Church. I got that YEARS ago.

It was a simple ceremony, like so much of what happens at church, but it was powerful and meaningful and left me with a feeling of Good. There was even a vote of church members as to whether I should receive the Priesthood, which was unanimous (They usually are). I really wish I felt worthy of this honor, but I still feel pretty much like an unworthy slug.

Anyway, I can't perform weddings (yet), but I CAN perform baptisms, and prepare and bless the Sacrament (That's Communion, for all you Catholics out there), as well as some other nifty things

As a former sort of Catholic, "priest" had a somewhat different connotation (NO I WASN'T AN ALTAR BOY!!), but the duties are the same: Preach the Gospel and bring people to Christ. In fact, I already have a friend in mind who might benefit from a change of church, whom I would like to bring along. She may come with me, she may not. But I will try.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Music Time - The Fray - Enough for Now

This popped up on one of my Pandora channels for some reason. It's not generally my type of music, but it really hit me just right.

Even reading the lyrics I can't really figure out what it's about, exactly, but it strikes me as indescribably sad.

And that I can identify with.