Of God and Change

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I dedicate this to my husband, my eternal partner; for giving me the idea and the inspiration in the first place! I love you. Thank you for believing in me.

My Dad & Mom – Thank you, for all that endured. Love to both of you. So proud of you Dad.

My sister and brother, what can I say – you’d definitely be in my top 10 if I could pick my own siblings; kidding. You guys are the best, love you!

My grandmother – It was the best time visiting you, especially when wrestling was on, you rock grandma!

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Author’s Note

I wasn’t blessed with an angelic voice as I’ve so often wished.  A voice to sing praises to my Heavenly Father, a voice to express my soul and how much I love him; how much I appreciate and thank him for all he’s done.  A voice to reach out to others. to give them the same hope I hold in my soul.  To show them that there is another path and it’s a path of love and hope, one that was paved by our Father in Heaven.

I’ve heard talk about gifts and how each of us is blessed with one, maybe even multiple ones. How each gift is unique to us as people and how we are to use them and embrace them. How we are to strive to serve each other and our father by these gifts.

I used to think I was gift-less until a specific gift was revealed to me in a blessing. This gift was one of hope. A hope in my Heavenly Father that he will and does keep his promises.

If this gift is my only gift, I cannot say — I also cannot say if I have other gifts — if my passion for writing is just that, a passion and not a gift perhaps, I cannot say.  I know that I enjoy it and have enjoyed it for a better part of my life. Over the years, it gave me the freedom to express myself when I was too scared to show it. It allowed the cowardly lioness to come out and unafraid.

My dream or rather, passion has been to touch just one person — one person I can help, through my experience and inspiration given to me by my Father.  I do not have the gift of song, but what I do have are in these pages.  I hope for the chance to be heard with an angelic voice in my writing.

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Of God and Change

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Introduction

This isn’t your normal story – but I suppose that depends on what you define as “normal”. Then I have to ask, what is normal? Of course there are many definitions and interpretations – all different, as defined by the person with the presumption that the reader is in fact human and being human myself, I understand that we are all unique – we aren’t formed from an assembly line or made with the same cookie cutter and packaged. We feel, act and react differently. Emotionally and spiritually different – or unique; so then, I have to ask, is there really a normal? Our physical appearances aren’t the same – short, tall, round, skinny, eye and hair color – the combinations seem endless. So, how can you define normality in a world full of differences and diverse uniqueness?  In saying all this, I need to revise my first statement – This is a unique story – Of God and Change.

Heavenly Father has given each of us a spirit or soul, and with this comes the ability to choose or free will. This is the one factor that truly makes each of us unique. No one has your soul; there is only one of you. Let us consider identical twins (or triples, etc.) for a moment, their physical appearance are the same, but don’t let looks fool you. Look the same, but the spiritual and emotional characteristics are unique. As with any person, they have different likes and dislikes. They have their very own personal beliefs and standards, their own moral character or immoral character, whichever path they choose.

Our free will is the tool that allows us to make choices, to decide for ourselves where we go, what we believe and what we do. If there is one thing we are in complete control of – that is ourselves and our ability to choose – to change or not to change. Not all experiences or choices are the same. We feel and act differently, even if the situation is the same, the person’s reaction or action is completely different. Our choices are just that, ours. They are unique to us.

We all have choices and with each choice, come a consequence. Either good or bad. Sometimes it only affects us — someone else or both. Sometimes it doesn’t even affect us at all. Let there be no mistake though, it does affect someone at some point. When trying to understand choice(s), I perceive that it is our own free will that brings about consequence or change, maybe. If you continue to make the same bad or good choice; or just a choice in general, you create a habit or a method that you continue to fall back on. I do realize that there is a progression. It can start by being a small and simple thing to becoming a monster; one that you’ve lost control over.

Now — in order to change the consequences it only makes sense to change the action(s) or the choice(s)? I think that one must realize or just acknowledge that something isn’t right. I’m not saying that all consequence(s) are things caused by our own selves, because sometimes others do things that affect us, but the choice is still in our court; the choice being how we choose to act or react; either good and bad. Once you make that realization — it is up to you, what you decide to do with it. We are granted more power than we allow ourselves to believe.

This sounds insensitive, but I do think that a lot of our issues or problems, if you will are self-made or a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some of them come with time and repetition — telling yourself something over and over, inevitably the outcome won’t disappoint, it’s the outcome you’ve expected rather, let yourself come to believe. We can create results by our actions or by not doing anything at all (being idle) or throwing your hands up and running away. 3o days make a habit. We have behaviors that we’ve perfected with time, but even then as I sort of already said, we are in more control than we think. We affect more than we think. Satan uses lies and deception to make us think otherwise, because that keeps him in control. It’s a false sense of hopeless and helplessness; making you a slave to your own self. The truth is — that isn’t true.

The ultimate joy and peace is when we can let go — to not being bound by anything negative or any untruth. When we let go, that is the path to God and to pure joy. He gives us permission.

Before I can begin; you must first become acquainted with the idea of change and secondly, where this begins or rather where this takes place – The Mountain State.

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Change

If there is one thing I know – one thing I have experience – it would be change. A scary thought this one is. In so much, a few of us avoid it at all cost. Change happens; no matter how hard you try to stop it, change – and perhaps other people – will move on even if you’re not willing. It is up to you to choose to stay on the ride or get off.

The fact of the matter is, without change we would all be stuck in the same place doing the same things. Never progressing or moving forward. It is what I call “holler syndrome”. People stay in the same place their whole life, basically doing the same things their parents did before them. No one opening up or willing to learn anything new or experience anything new.  No new ideas or new faces or places.

You can’t learn and grow if you never do anything or open up to new experiences or ideas. What I mean is it’s like a dog being chained in someone’s yard or fenced in.  All the dog knows is that one single yard and all that is in it. The people and the surroundings.  When another dog comes along and tells the chained dog that there are other places and other things do exist, the chained dog refuses to hear of such non-sense.  The chained dog is comfortable in what it already knows.  It isn’t free to learn and grow; it is bound by chains.

The real freedom is getting rid of those chains, the ones that hold you back. Heavenly Father has given us special gifts.  One of them is the freedom of choice or freewill.  We have a brain and the Holy Spirit to help guide and teach us.  We need to exercise what was given so we can make decisions. We aren’t always going to know who is right and isn’t, what idea is right and what isn’t, but we are given a map and the tools.  It is up to each of us to use them.  Our life experiences is the blueprint, it is the ingredients that makes you, you.  It is the change we make, the progression toward something greater.

Change opens the door to more than we could ever imagine, more than we thought could ever be possible.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we must ask for Heavenly Fathers help.  He doesn’t expect us to do things on our own, he doesn’t want us to.  Change builds Faith. You can see it working, literally.  You realize that there is something that needs work in your life. You seek guidance.  You exercise a Faith, maybe you knew existed, maybe you didn’t.  You know what is right and you make that change.  Right before your eyes you see the difference, you feel the difference and you know in your Heart and you feel it. It is that moment you fall on your knees and thank Heavenly father for his love and his guidance. It is that moment that you know without a doubt that he exists and he loves you.  Is it that moment you grew, just a little more than the day before.

I think about the Apostles. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) in particular. What if he decided that he wouldn’t change, what if he decided that what he had always known was right and true?  It was his change that made him who he was.  Christ knew who Paul could be if he chose to do so, it was up to him to see he needed change and then to make that change.  You can read throughout the scriptures and you will see all the changes made – changes people chose.  You will see the differences each change made.  You can see the building of Faith. Without this wonderful thing called Change, we cannot know of Heavenly Father and the blessings he has for us.

Change can be used as a chance to grow or regress. One thing is for sure, one or the other will happen. Attitude is important, it governs the change and Faith shapes the change. Good Faith turns all change into progressive growth and learning. Good Faith shapes ones attitude into a strong humility and patience. You become very observant and level-headed which in turn makes decisions more toward the “long-term” benefits from being patient. This is in contradiction to “panic” or over emotional spontaneous decisions that are usually regretted later as one had more time to think about it. Finally good Faith invites the Holy Spirit in your life to inspire decisions that are parallel to the will of our Father that is in Heaven, that looks upon us from a bigger picture than we can see from our narrow view of life, helping us into new directions that we could never find on our own.

Change is opportunity.

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The Mountain State

West Virginia is an interesting State. Imagine mountains on both sides of everywhere you go. When you travel – in any direction – it takes about an hour before you arrive at the sought after destination, usually a bigger city or town. There is no such thing as “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”. There are no straight lines.

Now, these Mountains aren’t your typical, what you imagine Mountains would look like. So, get that idea out of your head – these aren’t the Rockies or any other. These are the unique Appalachians.  They divide the two States: Virginia and West Virginia. If know your history, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t, West Virginia is the 35th State founded on June 20, 1863, completely different and separate from Virginia. I won’t elaborate anymore on this detail, because it isn’t important. My only suggestion is, if you really want to know – look it up!

The Mountain State consists of 4 different seasons, each one having a beauty all its own and because of this I feel, you develop an appreciation for what they have to offer individually. Each season you could say, is the remission after a long movie, the joy of a new experience or a new scene. With each season brings new sensations, sights and even smells. It truly is spectacular.

Fall is when the Mountains are filled with the magnificent oranges, reds, yellows and browns. The falling of leaves like rain when the wind blows. The critters are preparing for the coming winter; the beautiful Black Bear are starting their hibernation.  Perfect time of year for a hike in the woods (the creepy crawlies aren’t crawling) or down by the river or even at one of our many brilliant waterfalls. The time of year most West Virginian’s look forward too; Yes, its huntin’ season. Fall comes town’s festivals and celebrations. Fall is time for Golden Delicious apples and the harvest. Time for School to begin – to the sadness of the children, but perhaps to the joy of the parents, I will leave that one for you, reader to determine.

Winter is the peaceful slumber of the Mountain and its critters, the blossoms and the trees. It is the shrinking of the Mountain; the revealing of itself, through the once lush greenness now replaced by the naked trees; the sad grayness. The winter has a beauty all its own. The snow falls and brings with it a dusting of glimmering white; it transforms the Mountain into something picturesque.

Spring is the awakening after a winter’s nap, with a beauty all of its own.  Spring comes with the greening and growing of the Mountain. A literal rainbow of color: reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues and purples – all variations of each color in full bloom and the dreaded pollen that follows for the allergy sufferers. The apple and cherry blossoms and the dogwood, right down to the succulent honey suckle and their divine smell! And one cannot forget the beautiful and colorful Rhododendron, our beloved state flower. The Mountain once again comes to life, a joyous abandon. Spring is a time for all critters to become twitter pated – eloquently said by the beloved Thumper.

Summer is picnics at the lake or boating on the many rivers. It is the white water rafting and the fishing. It is the camping and the lazy afternoons underneath a shade tree with a glass of fresh lemonade. Summer is the time for vacation; to let your hair down and forget your worries, to spend time with family now that the kids are out of school. The smell of fresh cut grass and burgers grillin’, it’s the time for teenagers and adults alike to enjoy sport shootin’ and four wheelin’ or even muddin’. Ice-cream and watermelon!

At first glance, these Mountains don’t seem like much. They don’t have the menacing look like the Rockies – with the tall and sharp edges – these are soft and gentle, almost rolling, but not like the rolling hills of the plains, they are taller with thick trees and brush – but not too thick – they aren’t the Amazon Rain Forest either. Closer observation, you will find that the Mountain is rather steep. So steep in fact, if you lean back just a smidge, you’ll fall backwards, rolling down to the very bottom that is if a tree doesn’t catch your fall first!

They aren’t snow-capped like the Andes either. You can see the top of each Mountain. Each just as green – depending on the season, however. Fall and winter give these Mountains a sad, naked look. You can see right through to the very being of the Mountain – in its birthday suit, if you will. Spring and summer bring the covering. The Mountain seems to grow – almost double or even triple in size! No looking at what is underneath that’s for sure! These Mountains are full of life – critters like rabbit, squirrel, birds, bear, deer, coyote; even creepy crawlies! All manner of wildlife – it’s wonderful!

Nope, there is no looking beyond this Mountain. It’s like this great wall, blocking your view – no way of seeing what is on the other side; the sky and then this wall. The Mountain tells you where to travel, in other words, roads are mapped according to where the Mountain will allow. Imagine if you will, a long winding curvy pavement and concrete snake making its trail between each Mountain – up and down, left and right – some curves so sharp, you have to slow down or risk going over the edge or slamming into this great wall beside you! Straightness is almost non-existent. The roads and paths are cut according to not the design of man, but the design of the Mountain. One might say because of this, it’s “land-locked”. You build where the Mountain will allow; then you must ask the River.

This same rule applies to the towns and cities. Sometimes there is only room enough for one road – one way in and one way out, unless you detour quite a distance around this great wall. Bridges succumb to this as well. If one bridge were to become impassable, people would become stranded on which side of the river they happened to be on at the time. Unless of course you were fortunate enough to own a boat and it was on the same side as you – or you could travel in the direction toward the next bridge, if one exists. Either way you choose, there will be a great deal of travel if such an event were to occur.

The Mountain State does have cities, along with the amenities that come with it. We also have many wonderful State Parks and wilderness areas, campgrounds and waterfalls; along with a scenic railroad. We have rural areas too. Unlike city folks though, there isn’t the city water or sewer system (at least not in the majority of them anyway). Nope, you have to drill your own well, yes, that’s right! Water pumped right out of the ground. As for the sewer, well, you dig yourself a nice deep hole and put a septic tank in and bury it, then run the sewer line directly into the septic tank. So, that dispels the notion that people in West Virginia still use outhouses, which just isn’t true. We do have indoor plumbing, believe it or not. Even in the backyard of backyards! This includes electricity, television and yes the World Wide Web! West Virginian’s aren’t as Stone Age as some might think. What a silly notion.

Now, I recognize I have spent a lot of time describing the State itself, but not much about the people. What can I say really, except to clear up one thing that’s always bothered me: They are not what has been portrayed by some movies and as far as I know, books even. They are not the inbred hillbilly hick type. The majority of them work in coal mines or some other means to support their family. They are hardworking people, who most certainly cling to their guns; huntin’ and sport shootin’ go right along with muddin’ and 4-wheelin’, that’s for sure!

Most folks are just like anyone else, down-home-good natured people. Living each day the best they can, while providing the best life and home for their families. Like anywhere else you go, it’s a mixed bag of nuts, but they aren’t the crazy barbwire-club-carrying-monsters! I can assure you, dear reader that no one of that nature exists – not in these Mountains! These folks, well the majority of them are church goin’, god fearin’ people. They appreciate the simple things in life and family.

In the midst of these Mountains, there’s a small town – the type of town you read about in books. Everyone knows everyone, all the gossip you could ever imagine. Even the towns Apple Festivals right down to the town drunk; all of this and more, each detail included from a down-home story book, almost Mayberry. The story begins about a 30 minutes’ drive south of this town to a road that leads to, what country folk like to say a “holler” – or what city folk call it a “hollow”; and then 5 more miles up that holler until you reach the head of the creek. The backyard of backyards!

You’ll find a blue house perched on a hill-side, with a relatively steep and rocky drive way and only 4 neighbors. All on the other side of the road – in the valley (an area between two or more mountains) – one road in and one road out with a creek to the right side, then the neighbor’s houses stretched along the creek bank and then another Mountain. The closest neighbors to this set are about one half mile in each direction; only three others up the creek, then a dead-end.

This blue house wasn’t your fancy type, but comfortable and cozy. One that you’d be proud to grow up in. A nice yard with honeysuckle and trees and flowers of all sorts! As with most country yards, a yard isn’t a yard without two or three bird feeders and yard critters! The whirly gigs and the bird baths. Needless to say, being in the Mountain State, this yard wouldn’t be complete without a natural mountain spring, nothing like taking a sip of fresh mountain water in the summer time or making some fresh home-made lemonade.

As you can imagine, this place was rather quiet and peaceful. At least until one of the neighbors across the way acquired a dog – with this condition to bark, at anything and everything non-stop. One would think that it’s “barker” would grow tired or just quit working, something – nope not this dog, it just barked and barked.

Sorry, I’m off on a bunny trail. No, the dog isn’t the story or even the house. It’s about God and Change. It’s about the Faith it takes to make change, the hope in believing that God does keep his promises and he does make things right, good and true. It’s not a typical story by any means, but I have to ask, how you tell a story though. How do you begin? How do you write the life of a person – to convey the emotion and bring her to life in these upcoming pages? I presume you would start as all life does, A Journey.

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A Journey

A Journey – the realization or rather the birth of a deep wound that follows her and even torments her, the monster ready to rear its ugly head, the struggle or path that leads – into the Beginning.

Her life started the same as other babies, her mother giving birth, the doctors doing their routine on newborns. Nothing unusual, she was fussy and cried a great deal, but again nothing that uncommon where babies are concerned, until one day – a tender age of 13 months – her mother was changing her diaper. She discovered little red grape looking things, of course she had no idea what it was, she thought maybe her daughter fell down and hurt herself. This continued for a few days, not getting better. So, her mom and dad made an appointment with the pediatrician to find out what was wrong, if anything. They asked her dad many questions, questions that angered him. He’d NEVER do anything to his little girl! EVER! How dare they even think such a thing, what is wrong with these people?!

The process in figuring out the problem was rather long and tedious. Asking this question and that question, what her sleeping and eating habits were. If they noticed anything else unusual and if so, when and for how long, question after question. Exam after exam, the hardest part started when they needed several vials of blood to run this test or that test. It wasn’t exactly pleasant for the child or parents when the nurse used one of the smallest needles to take blood from this tiny child.  Nope, she didn’t like or appreciate that one bit and she let them know!

The hospital kept them overnight. In the morning they would have the results. The night came and went; finally they’d have an answer, something. Right on schedule and to their relief, the results gave him his innocence and an apology, over and over again – and something far worse.

“We have the results of each test. Several were negative, which is good, however, she did test positive for what we believe to be Cancer.”

The doctors were unsure of the location or even what type or if it was Cancer; only that her blood test was positive. An exploratory (basically to find the source of the red grape looking things) and biopsy (when or if a tumor was found) were scheduled for the next morning, so a two or three night stay was required. Once the procedures were performed the next morning, the doctors had their consultation discussing the results of their findings. Once again, more news – not what the parents wanted to hear

“We have discovered a tumor and its location. The biopsy of this tumor has further proven that it is malignant. Your daughter does have cancer”, the doctor said and then apologized and then continued explaining to the devastated parents

 “It is a rare Yolk Sac tumor, typically found on the ovaries or testes. Only 5 others, which we know of at this time, have this type and your daughter is the youngest by far. Typically, children before the ages of one or two have this type and of course she does fall within this range, but again it is rare. The placement of this tumor is even more unusual, at least in your daughter’s case.”

Of course other details were given, but basically doctor jargon. You know the kind where they tell you that there is nothing they can do, etc. Give her treatment and see what that does. Her parents were distraught. The thought of losing their youngest baby was more than they could take. Her mother was angry, to the point she was ready to smack the doctor right in the mouth. Obviously his bedside manner or lack thereof was less than appreciated.

“…with this rare type of cancer and her age; we’re only giving her a 5% chance of survival. You have to face the reality that you are going to lose your daughter, I’m so sorry”.

Yes, her mother was beyond angry. With that one statement, he sentenced her daughter to Death. No chance, no hope. Just Death.

The family and community stood by them, stood by her. Churches prayed for this young life.  She spent her childhood in a hospital; needles drawing her blood for tests and more needles giving her Chemotherapy. Doctors and nurses a daily routine for her. She learned to ignore the needles and the medicine. She had to have several blood transfusions. The hospital was her home; she loved the Ronald McDonald characters on the walls.  Her sickness became her daily routine; when I say sickness I don’t mean the cancer, you would never know someone had cancer until Chemotherapy starts. Until you lose all of your hair, until you become so weak and frail, until you become so sick for days after your treatment; so sick you cannot hold food down, you run a fever and your body aches. Dark circles under your eyes and pale complexion.

This is the sickness; it is the treatment of cancer, the chemo.  The treatment kills living tissue inside the body. Imagine burning down a forest just to kill one type of tree or even a weed. Chemo breaks down the immune system and you become weak and vulnerable to any type of virus or infection.  Family and other visitors must wear a mask when visiting the cancer treatment wing of the hospital; not for their protection, but for the protection of the cancer patients – so they don’t end up with your germs and become even sicker. Cancer patients can become so deadly ill with a simple germ or infection; it could actually kill them.  That is the real sickness, the battling of simple things with an almost non-existent immune system.

The beginning treatments were rough; being so young she was scared and would cry. She needed her mother to hold her. To tell her everything is okay; to give her the little yellow blankie. She soon became used to it, but never the sickness. It was always awful and heart wrenching. Not just for the mother, but the child as well. I can’t imagine being a mother, watching my precious, innocent child’s hand, arm, foot – head – whatever vein wasn’t destroyed by the chemotherapy – be assaulted by a needle or watching her vomit over and over – trying desperately to keep her hydrated – knowing that she couldn’t hold it down. Her little body would shudder at the intensity of the vomiting and she’d have a fever. I can’t imagine being a little child – knowing something was wrong – feeling so sick and feverish – watching nurses and doctors inspect you and assault you with a needle and give you medicine in IV’s, which kept you at the hospital for hours at a time until all the medicine was given. 

Sometimes, the nurse would miss the vein and when this happened, it would burn the skin. Her mother saw the little forearm starting to turn red. She told the nurse she missed the vein, but the nurse dismissed her and sure enough, the tender skin on the little girls forearm was burned. Once again, that fierce anger of her mother’s returned. She was so familiar with the chemo routine, she knew when the nurse did it correctly or incorrectly and she was tired of them dismissing her. This would stop. She asked that, no she told them that nurse wasn’t giving her daughter chemo again. It was so.

One night after her second surgery, which was really an exploratory making sure the cancer didn’t spread any further; this sick, precious little girl woke up screaming.

“MOMMY!”, she screamed

“No, make them stop”, she cried MOMMY!!”

“Ssshhhh calm down, Ssshhhh, What is it, what’s wrong”, I’m here.” her mother said, holding her and trying to comfort her

“The allidators are back, “she said while crying, “and, she sniffed, “and they are eating my peet”, I’m scoued mommy”, she cried

Her mother calmed her, “It’s okay; I’m here, mommies here. The alligators aren’t real honey. It’s just a bad dream, remember. The medicine makes your feet go numb, but it will leave soon“, she said as she gave her the little yellow blankie and squeezed her tight

“Let me see if I can find Tom & Jerry, would you like that”? She asked

“Yesh, I loves tom and jewwie”, she replied while hugging her little yellow blankie, “I love you mommy”, she told her

Her mother smiled and kissed her on the cheek, “I love you too”.

Her mother turned on the television, tuned into Tom & Jerry and started to rub her little girls feet until she was sound asleep, little yellow blankie snug in her arms. As tears filled her eyes, she gave her little baby a kiss on the head and watched her sleep until she couldn’t hold her eyes open anymore. As uncomfortable as the hospital was and the chair she found herself sleeping on, she never left her side. She couldn’t bear the thought of her youngest baby alone in a hospital, she couldn’t leave her.

She was her little girl’s protection against the alligators. She held her as needles assaulted her; she comforted her every time the chemo made her so violently ill. She rubbed her feet and combed her hair and cried every time strand upon strand of her beautiful brown hair fell out, until her head was bald. She was there when her teeth had to be capped because the chemo decayed them. She laughed and played with her, trying so hard to make this childhood the best she could make it! After all, no one is promised a tomorrow, but we can at least live for the day and have the hope for tomorrow, as for her daughter, death was inevitable. There was no hope for the future, where the doctors were concerned anyway.  This little girl’s family prayed and hoped that Heavenly Father would heal her and not take her from them. Even through the prayer, there was still an unrelenting fear of losing her. You could say they did all they could, spoiled her even, but can you really blame them? I can say that if this little girl were mine, I would have done the same thing. I would have given her all I could to make her last days the very best.

There were some tender moments amidst the tragedy of this illness, as I recall.  One such time was during a routine treatment. It was so natural for her now, she didn’t cry or fuss. She just sat on her mother’s lap and held out her arm, all on her own.  She’d sit there, wiggling her feet or looking around the room. She was so used to it, when the needle was being inserted into her arm or hand; she looked at it, almost in fascination.  It was her weekly routine and to take her mind off the strange sensation of chemo being injected into her vein – she started to sing and her singing was rather cute.

“jesus wuvs me dis i know, for da bible tells me so. wittle ones to him belongs, they are weak but he is strong, yesh jesus wuvs me…”

The nurse – I have to stop here for a second reader to describe this nurse. She was with this little girl from day one. This nurse drew the first blood and gave the first treatment. This nurse was this little girl’s favorite and her mother liked her as well. She was so compassionate and caring; she comforted her and was patient with her. She’d smile and talk to her while she was taking blood or giving her chemo, doing everything she could to help her forget about the needle and medicine. She did her job so well, this little girl wasn’t afraid anymore. She’d sit there and hold out her arm, sometimes even ask which one the nurse wanted. After each treatment or blood work, she would give this little girl a hug and put some of the cutest band aids on her “boo boo” as she called it. This nurse would tell her how precious she was or how she was proud of her. She would even comfort her mother. Now that you’ve became acquainted with her, I shall finish.

This nurse, as hard as she tried, could no longer hold back her tears as this precious little child sang, this child she walked the path with, time and time again, had to step out and let another nurse finish.

Age 3 – 3 long years of treatments and doctor visits; the tumor was shrinking. It looked like all of their efforts would save it – would save her, rather. She was a girl; a girl of only 3 years old. Her cancer was rare. At the time of her diagnosis, only 5 others had it; she was the youngest by far. The others didn’t survive, not nearly as long as she has. I’m sure you are asking yourself, how did this little one seem to beat to the odds? Was it all the prayer? Could be. The doctors did everything they could to save her, but they wanted to save – her ovaries were just fine – the placement was unusual. You see, dear reader; the cancer was confined inside her Uterus, preventing this cancer from spreading throughout her body like a wildfire. The Uterus had it tucked away, safe and sound; that my dear reader is what saved her life, the unusual placement of this rare cancer. Her parents and the doctors knew how important this organ was to the female gender. That is why they fought so hard and waited as long as they could. The shrinking of this tumor was a good sign, a very good sign. Treatment ceased.

Age 3 ½ – 6 months after treatments stopped, the cancer started to grow back, more rapidly this time. The sad news – an operation was inevitable. It could not be saved – but a precious life could. Her life would be changed, she wouldn’t grow up as other girls do – on the outside perhaps, but deep down she would hold this pain, this wound she wouldn’t be able to fix, at least not by herself. This wound would haunt her and it would become a monster, rearing its ugly head. A path to self-destruction and even, self-discovery or perhaps Change.

I’m not saying that it’s anyone’s fault, no, not at all. Neither her parents nor the doctors did anything wrong. All I know, bad things happen. The reason or reasons why may never be answered, but sometimes they are. In our little girl’s situation, the why wasn’t discovered until much, much later.  She made her choices, the best she could with what knowledge she had. Her struggle was a path paved for her, now when I say struggle I mean the loss of her gift – You, my dear reader must understand how precious this gift is – a woman’s gift – in order to truly understand or rather become acquainted; Yes acquainted fits better here because I recognize that a person cannot truly understand someone else unless they walk a mile in their shoes and since we cannot wear someone’s shoes and walk their path, we can only become acquainted with them and their path or rather their struggle.

So, become acquainted with the struggle then you, my dear reader may appreciate her and her lifelong struggle and questing why.  Now, as for our little girl, unfortunate as it was, she could not possibly understand, not at her young age. No one at that age can be expected to understand – even those of us, who are more aged, cannot understand or appreciate the struggle.

Age 4 – She beat the odds; she made it – the last of her treatment. She was their little miracle. Heavenly Father had his own plan, his own path for this precious child; he saved her for his purpose. Throughout her life she knew, but didn’t really know just how deep this wound would be and how much it would affect her; emotionally, physically and spiritually.

This girl’s childhood was pretty normal – once you overlook the first 4 years. She had an older brother, Josh and an older sister, Beth with two loving parents, Lynne and Dalen. She grew up in the Mountain state in a small town – the type of town you read about in books. Everyone knows everyone, all the gossip you could ever imagine. She attended a small Elementary, Middle and High school. Ate glue and play-doh, even mud pies, but what kid doesn’t? She laughed and cried, played Cowboys and Indians with her brother and sister. She had her left arm broken when she was just 4 ½ years old, as a result of playing with her sister in the kitchen. An accident though, her sister lost grip of her while swinging her around in a circle while holding onto one right arm and one right leg. She played in the rain and even made shapes out of the clouds. She decorated her grandfather’s hair with bows and hair clasps; she painted his toes and nails and even went as far as putting some rouge on his cheeks!

Ah yes, her Grandfather.

This certainly brings back memories. He was the glue that held the family together. They would have summer picnic/swimming trips to the lake and blackberry picking and swimming in the many streams. They would have family dinners and birthday parties. He taught her how to whistle with a piece of grass. Peel apples and share them. The grandkids would spend the night and then eat breakfast; biscuits and fried potatoes with gravy or homemade pancakes with scrambled eggs! He would let them climb all over him, as if he were a tree. The first real sad memory in her life was the day he passed away. As a child, you don’t quite understand life and death, but you do understand when something isn’t right. That was the first funeral she attended, later on in her life, she decided that she never wanted to go to another one. The memory of seeing her grandfather, lifeless and cold inside a box was not the last memory she wanted of him. She wanted to remember the rouge on his cheeks and the nail polish. The hair bows. She wanted to remember the life.

She played with Legos and gi-joe; she played Barbie’s with her sister and brother. She went to the town’s Apple Festival every year and played clarinet in her High School’s Marching Band. She was made fun of by other kids, due to her “German” nose, which other kids said was like “Pinocchio” and other such names. The problem being, her face wasn’t big enough to hold such a nose. Making it larger than it really was, had her face been a little fuller it would have fit just fine.

Her hair was a lovely shade of brown, when it finally grew back and it was thin. Her face a fair complexion with hazel eyes, not the brown hazel, but a combination of green, blue and gray and would actually change color depending on what color she wore and sometimes even her mood. Her heritage was that of German, Irish, some English and Cherokee Indian. She was a rather petite girl – a small frame.  Doctors would tell her parents that she should eat more peanut butter – because her head was small. As she grew up into a young lady, she kept her small frame and even baby teeth. You could say she had a stunted growth because of her cancer treatments at such a young age. She was 5 feet and 3 inches tall weighing about 99 pounds or so. She was full of life and dreams; living day by day and enjoying each moment as they came.

She had a memorable instance of cutting hair in kindergarten, involving her and another girl named Sally. She had pigtails that day. Her hair was finally long enough (after chemo it takes a while for your hair to grow back) to make really cute pig tails. Sally decided she was going to cut one of them. Well of course in retaliation, she cut Sally’s hair and vice versa. Until both pig tails were gone. When she arrived home that afternoon her mother wasn’t exactly thrilled. They made a special visit to her grandmother’s house. The reason for this visit, her grandmother could fix her hair. Which she did, it was a cute Dorothy Hamill (yes, this is a real hair style).

She made her mistakes, growing from them, but of course not realizing this until years later.  She loved the smell of rain and fresh cut grass. She would write poems and other such things in a journal or diary, she knew how to express herself with words. Naturally, English would be her favorite subject, Math, not so much. One of her teachers, her junior year introduced her to a book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. She loved that book so much it became her favorite book throughout her life, with this one book she gained a love for the classics: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte’, Charles Dickens. Etc., especially love stories, not “love” stories. A romantic, the very heart of her, she dreamed of her Prince Charming on a white horse to carry her off to her happily ever after, but then again, what girl doesn’t?

When she was a teenager, she was made fun of by a girl named Kristy. The entire conversation isn’t important, but the end result is. Kristy decided to tell her that “She is only half a woman”, in regard to her inability to have children. The knowledge of her inability came from none other than family. Her first cousin, Sarah felt obliged to tell Kristy. Now Sarah told Kristy because of a family quarrel between her own father and her cousin’s dad. As soon as those words left Kristy’s mouth, a fierce anger bubbled inside her – uncontrollably, almost out of instinct – she slammed Kristy’s head against the bus window

“Who is the half a woman now!” she screamed while Kristy was holding her head and crying

“Go ahead, keep talking, I DARE you, just one more word!” she continued, her anger boiling, she had enough. Kristy never said a word to her from that day on, even avoided her.

As soon as she got home, she broke down into tears. Her anger got the best of her, but she refused to let anyone see her cry. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt. Not for her, words hurt more than any broken bone. Words would last a lifetime. She would carry those words with her, but not once did she give in to how much it hurt – at least no one would ever know. She wouldn’t allow anyone to see how vulnerable she was and how much they hurt her.

She drew pictures of this perfect life she imagined herself having one day. You could assume she had it all figured out. Living her life one day at a time and just enjoying what each day brought. As with most kids her age, dreams range from being a teacher or an astronaut. Maybe even a nurse or doctor – or a policeman. For this girl, her dream was to be the Chief Surgeon in a Montana Hospital. Along with a Victorian two-story home with the white picket fence. A golden retriever named Molly and a 2,000 acre horse ranch (specifically Appaloosa) and you can’t forget the prince charming husband and the 10 kids at her feet. This was her perfect life. No regrets. Fulfilling her dream of travel – her husband right along with her and then to inevitable settling down.

Sometimes you fulfill one or two of them, sometimes if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll fulfill all of them – sometimes, you don’t fulfill them at all. Dreams change – you forget about them or they mature with you and they become something different. Not her, the dreams stayed with her – as is. She KNEW what she wanted. Deep down in her heart and even deeper into her soul, this dream seemed to be engrained into her very being.

This girl, not you’re popular and well-liked girl, but your average, barely noticed girl; nothing really special or spectacular about her, just another girl – in her own eyes not even very pretty – stumbling her way through life, trying not to concern herself with such trivial things; she just wanted to make the best of what she had. She had a small group of friends; of course she was the entertainment with her sense of humor and ability to take center stage. She tried to fit in, but never quite got it. Sort of like having a bigger foot than the shoe and trying to cram your foot into it. It sort of fits, but never quite fitting, either a little too loose or a little too tight. Never fitting “just right”, looking for the perfect fit in an off the rack world. Steadfast and fiercely loyal – not only to those close to her, but what she felt in heart to be right – didn’t allow her to fit. She never showed how much it hurt; oh no, no one would see her cry. She’d hide behind sarcasm or humor before anyone would see her pain. Many times she would cry at night – something someone said or how they treated her – then when the morning came, she tucked it in.

She was born on the crossover or “cusp”, as it were, between Cancer and Leo. Cancer being dominant, for now – but deep down, Leo got the best of her: she was Leo. She craved attention, a lioness deep inside but sleeping until that one day she could truly become who she was meant to be. She would become her weakness, craving attention – any attention, to feed her overwhelming need to be something more and something great. Her strong-will and stubborn pride – could be the fall of her or it could be the greatest strength – this all would depend on the direction she was headed. If misguided, it would be her ultimate downfall – her German temper and fierce emotions worked against her. She thought more with her heart than mind. Her heart controlled her very being. This lioness was fierce and strong, but oh on the inside, she was a coward, she ran away and licked her wounds – alone and in secret. Her heart worn on her sleeve, very easily hurt – but she would NEVER show it. Her pride wouldn’t allow it – only her writing was allowed to see her, the real her. Her suffering, her loneliness and her need for attention and affection. Her anger on the other hand, when provoked was a force to be reckoned with.

She saw life through the eyes of a child, nothing to worry about – not a care in the world. She remained sheltered for the better part of her life. If this was good or bad, I honestly can’t say. No life experiences – like Eve. She was sheltered in her Garden of Eden. She was naive and innocent. She didn’t grow up – or become something other than a child – until the summer of her 18th birthday. I can’t say that this growing up was good – but once you make that step into adulthood, there is no going back. That innocence is gone. We all make that first step, but one thing is different though, the way we make that first step or rather how we choose to step.

This is where the story truly begins – that first step – life without that child-like innocence. In a way, it’s unusual that someone’s life would really begin at this point – but then again – I have to wonder if her life truly began or if only the journey?  Then I ask when does a life begin? Is it the moment of conception – or does life begin with your first lessons, your first learning experience’s? The more I ponder this question; I have decided that you begin your journey, after physical birth – so for her, the life journey began at this moment. I suppose that some begin this journey earlier on and maybe, even some begin later. Regardless of when she began or others begin, isn’t of much consequence – or is it? I will leave that up to you to decide. Every one of us walks a different path, a different journey. One that is unique and paved just for us. No one walks an exact path of another person.

Now, when I say her beginning life journey, I mean this moment – this first decision that shaped her, her very being. This was the beginning, the first realization, the first stepping stone or the first corner-stone of her foundation; the critical moment of this young girl’s life journey – one decision. The opening up of a wound – a wound from birth. This journey began with her first real relationship, at age 17. She wasn’t interested in dating or boys. Her dreams were all she needed, she was complete being herself. Her imagination and books, expressing herself in writing, no one caught her attention or distracted her from being a free spirit – until she received attention, an attention that was new to her. Attention from a boy, someone showing an interest in her – for the first time, hearing the words

 “I think you’re very pretty and I love your eyes, especially how they change color, that’s really cool!”

I.

“How long have you been dating” Sarah asked while taking a bite of sandwich.

“About 6 months I guess”, was her reply

“Wow, that’s a long time”.

She thought about it for a minute, took a drink of her soda “Not really, we’re basically getting to know each other – that kind of thing”.

“It sounds serious though, when you talk about him”, Sarah finally said after finishing the rest of sandwich.

“I guess so, I mean I really like him.” She said

Sarah laughed again and asked “So, how far have you gone”?

She wrinkled her brow, unsure of what Sarah was asking “What do you mean how far have I gone?”

Sarah nudged her arm and winked at her “You know, 1st base, 2nd base ..? Jennifer and Natalie just giggled.

She blushed when she finally understood what was being asked; she blushed because she was naive and inexperienced in the ways of intimacy. She knew what it was; she knew you were supposed to wait until you were married, but not really knowing why.

She shyly responded, being afraid of not fitting in  ”We’re waiting a while before we do anything more than kiss that is until we’re more comfortable with each other.” There, that did it she thought to herself, what a perfectly thought out answer.

They just giggled at her and Jennifer responded with her own thought on the matter “Gosh girl, why are you waiting? You can’t possibly know anything about someone until you’re that intimate with them. You have to figure out if they have that “spark”, you know what I mean? Especially if it’s serious and you might wanna marry them, you can’t have a dud in the bedroom if you know what I mean!

Natalie and Sarah both chimed in with their agreement.

Lunches similar to this went on for a few weeks. All four girls were working during the summer at their High School for a work program. She never had a story to tell, she just listened. Throughout her high school career, she never had any close friends. Time, she felt was almost up. Her high school graduation in May, her first real boyfriend and her 18th birthday coming up in just a few days (July 24), with all this pressure, she felt an urgency to make her story. A story she could share and become closer friends. This summer was it, before she left for college. The plan was set, at the end of August, off to Medical School – to fulfill her dream – Chief Surgeon.

Her birthday came and went.

August.

The conversations at lunch became more and more detailed; even with picture details from a magazine, which she thought was vulgar – but she would never say that. Honestly, that was really the first time she knew what things looked like on the male gender, but again, she’d never tell anyone.

Sarah interrupted her thoughts “So, what about you? What do you think?”

“What do I think about what?” she asked – having no idea what was said because she wasn’t paying that much attention.

Being annoyed Sarah pointed at the picture once more and said “What do you think about this one?”

She thought about how to get out of this one, she came up with the perfect idea. “I’m not feeling good; I have a terrible headache and sick to my stomach. I think I got too hot earlier painting the school sign. I need to go lie down for a while.”

Her lie must have worked because as she was walking away, the girls were commenting on how they thought she didn’t look very good either and that lying down was a good idea. That night when she got home, she had a lot on her mind. Her friends had tons of stories. They seemed so happy and their lives seemed fulfilled. She kept thinking that maybe she was missing out on something. That maybe she needed life experiences and such. She made her decision – this weekend. She’ll have her story.

Saturday they went out to dinner and a movie. She had so much fun. They talked and laughed. Later on that evening, the conversation because serious. Marriage, kids, etc.

She asked him “Would you want kids?”

He thought about it and “Not right away I guess, why”?

Would it bother you if the person you married or were going to marry couldn’t have kids”? She asked

He told her that he wasn’t sure how to answer or even why she was asking.

She explained, “When I was 13 months old, I had cancer. I had chemotherapy until I was about 3, the doctors stopped the treatment when the cancer started to shrink, but 6 months later it started go grow again, but more rapidly this time. That is when they realized they had to operate to remove the cancer. So, when I was 3 ½”, she hesitated to give this important detail, this wound she held. She continued, “They operated and had to remove my uterus. So, I can’t have kids and I don’t have the monthly PMS thingy either – I never will. The doctors did all they could to save it, but couldn’t and I’ve been cancer free ever since.”

He lovingly smiled at her and gave her a hug “it’s okay. I’m completely okay with that. Kids aren’t everything you know. There’s always adoption or whatever. Don’t worry about it, okay?”

Satisfied with his answer. She never mentioned it again, she tucked it further down. She made her decision – tonight, she’d have her story.

Sunday night – 2 a.m.

Nightmare – she felt awful. Crying and so alone. She dialed his number for the third time.

“What?!”

Choking back tears “I need to talk you, please don’t hang up on me again”.

He responded tiredly and annoyed “I’m tired, what do you want!” He yelled at her.

She burst into tears again “I don’t know – I don’t feel good. I’m … I don’t know!”

“Look, I’m tired okay! Please don’t call this late anymore. We can talk later.”

 “Plea – click!

She jumped at the sound of his hanging up on her again. She desperately dialed his number. Once … twice … five times. No answer.

She lay in the kitchen floor until about 5 am then finally got up and went into her bedroom. Took her little yellow blankie, cuddled it as tight as she could. Wishing she could get rid of this ache – this ache that was building inside her – a hole in heart. She needed something, someone to take the pain away. To hold her and to tell her it’s okay – she was alone, but she had her story.

She kept asking herself “what is wrong”, “why do I feel this way”? She didn’t feel anything like her friends told her she’d feel. It wasn’t magical or special. It wasn’t anything like that at all. It was miserable. She blamed herself. It was her fault, certainly. It had to be. Was it just that they didn’t have that “spark”? That maybe he wasn’t the “one”? Or was it, she was just too nervous and it would get better with time? All of these questions tormented her. She felt this deep ache, this coldness – a new sensation. Not a pleasant sensation, likened to your taste buds when you take your first bite of a strawberry or other sweet fruit, but an unpleasant sensation like taking your first bite into a lemon – bitter and distasteful.

The pain she felt that night was only the beginning – of something deeper and something far worse. Emotional and needing; her little yellow blankie was her comforter; her little yellow blankie was there for her, even as a child. She would have nightmares of alligators eating her feet. Her mother was right by her side; she’d give her the little yellow blankie and turn on Tom & Jerry. All was well. That night was her childhood nightmare. The alligators were eating her feet and she had no one. No one to turn too – no one to comfort her and tell her it was okay. To hug her tightly, like her mother did. To give her little yellow blankie. To turn on Tom & Jerry. She was alone. Cold and alone.

How could she tell anyone what she had done? How could she tell her mother? She felt, ashamed – was this how it was supposed to feel? The stories from her friends were nothing like this. Had she done it wrong? Had he done it wrong? She couldn’t understand what was going on.

Monday.

She talked with her friends. Told them her story – It wasn’t received like she thought it would have been. They weren’t that interested in her, in fact they dismissed her.

Another rejection.

Something was missing. She had her story, a boyfriend and she was going to be a successful college student. There was a distance between them though. Some days it felt like they were just going through the motions, not really connecting in that special way. It felt empty. She was sure that it was something she was doing or rather, something she wasn’t doing. She tried different things, most of which failed. The only thing that seemed to be absolute was intimacy. That worked 9 times out of 10. She never said no; I mean, she didn’t have to worry about anything and it made her feel a little better. She’d read magazine articles and look things up online. “How to spice things up” or the “10 ways to” such and such, anything to keep things interesting and to keep that “spark” going. Over time though, sparks fade. Then it’s time to move onto something else, another trick or two.

The summer progressed into fall. Her plans changed. She wanted to be closer to him. She changed her dream – her plan. She went to his college instead. No real major in mind, just him. He became her world – her living, her breathing. She just wanted to feel loved and needed. She learned that love was intimacy. She learned that to be needed and wanted was intimacy. That is when and only when she felt, when that ache ceased, for a while. As long as she was with him, by his side she was happy or at least content.

When for any reason, he wasn’t interested in her, she felt rejected and depressed, this horrible unwanted and unloved feeling haunted her. She became suspicious and clingy; she needed this hole in heart filled and this unrelenting ache to cease.  The cowardly lioness she was, needed to be held and cherished, someone to take the fear away, to give her little yellow blankie. 

She held onto him so tightly that maybe she was pushing him away.  She feared him leaving her so much that, in her fear she became a self-fulfilling prophecy; she couldn’t even think it! She wouldn’t. Her focus was this coming fall, a brand hew college student and this worried her. But it would be okay; she graduated with honors (3.8 GPA), a boyfriend and her story.

College life was different from High School, no bells or set lunch period. You could come and go as you please, attend class or not. You had to walk, what seemed like 10 miles for your next class. It wasn’t consolidated in one building, but stretched all over campus in different buildings! It was a good thing her boyfriend showed her around campus that summer. She wasn’t totally lost like most of her fellow students – even stopping to help a few of them on her way to the 8 a.m. World Civilization Class.

What a terrible class, she thought to herself. History wasn’t exactly her favorite class, but it was required.  She was determined to excel, so she sat front and center, diligently taking notes. Not only to be a good student, but to keep from falling asleep.

“Who schedules a lecture class at 8 a.m. anyway?” she asked Jenny, a girl who sat beside her.

Jenny laughed “Especially a History class, yuck!  I’m not sure which is worse this one or our College Algebra class!”

“Yea I know, I hate math!” she replied “but at least the teacher isn’t as boring as this one, I have such a hard time trying to stay awake.”

“I totally agree, this one is the worst, total snooze time”, replied Jenny and they both laughed

This professor gave a new meaning to the word boring. To make this worse, he had a total Ben-Stein-mono-tone voice, it was awful.

“…This was the end of the first dynasty”,

After a long pause and writing down the names of the first dynasty, without turning around he continued

“And the beginning of a new era”,

            As he started to write the name, he was interrupted by the sound of a loud thump, followed by the sound of a desk tipping over and the inevitable books to follow and then a loud

“OUCH!” my head, that hurt – ah, stupid books.”

She fell asleep. The entire class erupted with laughter. She, as gracefully as she could, picked herself up and then the desk, followed by the books. While holding her head and trying to hide the beat red face from embarrassment, the professor turned around and without so much a smile or even an expression, with that same mono-tone voice said

“Did I miss something …?”

Again, laughter erupted for the second time and without missing a beat, he turned back around and continued with his lecture on the Chinese Dynasties. She was then known as “the girl that fell asleep” or “sleepy girl”, or other variations. Some students never learned her real name, but that’s okay at least she was noticed, right?

After class and her embarrassing moment, she walked down to his office for lunch, but of course he was still in class. Since he wasn’t there at the moment, she sat at his desk and opened up a web browser and began to check her e-mail. She got an e-mail from her sister wanting to know if she could send her some pictures that were taken last weekend. Her boyfriend had uploaded the pictures to his computer, so she’d have to find them. He moved the start bar to the top of his screen, so instead of clicking the start she hit the minimize button on the browser and of course the page minimizes and there are about a million other things there, a habit of his that irritated her. He never closes a single thing, EVER! Very annoying. So this made it impossible for her to know which e-mail was hers because they use the same e-mail provider. So, unsure of which one was hers, she clicked one. Expecting to see the email from her sister instead she finds anther e-mail instead. It wasn’t the one from her sister, but her boyfriend responding to someone; she reads the e-mail. Curiosity got the best of her. I mean, he had nothing to hide from her, right?

Hey stranger,

I just wanted to send you a quick note before I leave for work. This weekend meant the world to me. It was so good to see you. I never realized just how much I missed you and how much you meant to me. I wish that you would stop seeing that girl; I know that you don’t want to hurt her, but from what you’ve been telling me about her the past few months. She does seem a bit over needy and clingy – almost nutty even. You deserve better than that – honestly you deserve me! 😉

I know that it’s hard for you because you’re sweet. I’m having a hard time being in love with you and knowing that you are with someone. I don’t mean to rehash all this again. We’ve been talking for a while and it breaks my heart knowing how you feel and you knowing how I feel, but yet not being together. I know that we broke up before you started seeing her, but I guess you don’t realize what you had until it’s gone.  Until then, I will be here.

Love always,

Melissa

As she read those words – her eyes filled with tears. Her mind went blank. What to do? What to say? She was so scared to read his response, should she? Should she find out what he says to her? Her heart ached – she went numb and stared blankly at the screen. She wondered if this was even real, was this some sort of April fool’s prank? No wait, it couldn’t be, this was February 14 – Valentine’s Day wasn’t it? No, that was last weekend. Yes, that right. He had to be out-of-town for Valentine’s Day, but – he saw her on their day? He spent that day or rather that weekend with her, with this Melissa? He left her in tears that Friday, told her he was sorry but he couldn’t get out of it because it was for his job. He loved her and would make it up to her? That weekend? She felt a strange heat rise from her toes and then bubbling over the top of head. She was angry – she was hurting and very, very angry. She slammed her fists on the keyboard and cried. After she gained some sort of composure, she angrily read his response

My sweet Melissa,

I am sorry, that’s all I know to say at the moment. This weekend was so special to me. I’m glad I got to spend it with you.

I am torn between my love for you and feeling sorry for her…

She stopped reading. Stared at the screen, “feeling sorry for her”? That phrase, that one awful and horrible phrase would haunt her. She got up and walked out, just as he was walking in. She never said a word, just walked right by him into the bathroom. She sat down in the floor and just stared at it. Her anger boiling, she had her hands balled up into a fist, on either side of her and her knees were bent almost touching her chin and just as she started to cry, she heard a knock on the door

“Are you okay”?

She straightened, took a deep breathe holding back her tears, “Yea, I’m fine. I think I’m allergic to something in your office. Be out in a minute, okay?”

He just laughed and said “Okay, but don’t take too long we got a movie tonight remember, you silly girl.”

As she sat in the bathroom she kept thinking over and over that one awful, dreadful phrase, “feeling sorry for her? The longer she sat there, the angrier she got. What does he mean, feeling sorry? She thought to herself, am I that bad? Is everyone else so much better than me that someone has to feel sorry for me? Someone has to step down from their ivory tower and feel sorry for the peasant girl? What is wrong with me?! Do I need to be felt sorry for? Did I do something wrong? “Feel sorry for her? What does that mean anyway? I know I’m not tall and blonde with blue eyes or a fiery red head; I’m just me, petite and brunette; I mean my eyes do change color, that’s something isn’t it? Or does the nose take away from that? I’m clingy, so what? Isn’t that normal, but feeling sorry for me? Why?

She finally stood up and walked out of the bathroom and back into his office. She immediately confronted him

“Who is Melissa?” she asked

 “Melissa”, he laughed and said, “Melissa who, I know several Melissa’s, got a particular one in mind?”

She told him about the e-mail and how she accidentally found it. She was met by his denial – it was an old e-mail and other non-sense – and his anger. She moved quickly to the right as his fist hit the door right beside her head.

Scared, hurt – angry and lonely – so many emotions went through her as she ran back into the safest placed she could find, the bathroom. She sunk into the floor, hoping and praying that it would somehow swallow her up. Somehow her little yellow blankie would appear and everything would be okay. Never did she expect to find an e-mail like that, especially his anger – this was new to her. She never had anyone try to hit her or get that angry with her.  If someone loves you they wouldn’t do that, would they? She reasoned with herself, that maybe it was her fault – as he said, for snooping and spying on him – that maybe he had every reason to be angry with her. She certainly didn’t want to lose him over something so silly, because after all, couples do fight? He was all she had. She had nothing else to offer – she already gave it to him – if he didn’t want her, no one else would. She could not lose him.

“Hey sweetie, he said as he knocked on the door

“I’m sorry I lost my temper and got angry with you.  Please come out and let’s see our movie, okay?”

“He did apologize right? Maybe I should forgive him and everything will be okay”, she thought to herself. “It’s just one small thing. I can forgive him, can’t I? We shared something special, I gave him all I had to give and he said he loved me and nothing would change that. That means something doesn’t it? I mean, you can’t just throw something away over one thing can you? You’re supposed to work it out and compromise and forgive, right? I mean, he said he’d marry me one day – her thoughts were interrupted

He knocked again, “Honey? Are you okay”?

Yes, she reasoned again, I can forgive him.

“Yes, she said as she cleared her throat, “I’m fine” and opening the door – walking out with her head down trying to hide her face and tears.

He gave her a hug and then made it up to her – then afterward left for their movie – commenting that “After all, making up is the best part right?”

Without looking at him, she just nodded.

As the days progressed, her loneliness became deeper and the distance between them grew, nevertheless she went to class like every other student. She complained about her classes and her professors. She seemed like other college students, but somehow so different from everyone else. She wasn’t really happy, but not really unhappy. Seeming to be stuck in the middle, something seemed to be hovering around her.

endofchapter

II.

She tried to let it go, but could never fully forget his e-mail. She knew he lied. She knew something was going on for a while, but couldn’t put her finger on it. The e-mail was just the confirmation of what she already knew, but couldn’t accept; couldn’t even think it. She kept trying to over-look or make excuses. Somehow blame herself – it was her fault – anything to keep from facing the truth. Long before the e-mail she knew. You can’t hide behind deceit and a lie. She had a deep regret, for things she wished with all her heart she could take back. She wanted to feel that innocence again. She wanted to feel what she had before her transgression, but knew that there was no going back. No way to turn back time and fix it. Her heart was aching, her heart was broken. Deep down in her soul, she felt a hole; a deep, dark hole. She was slowly dying. There was an unrelenting loneliness and – something that was strange and new to her – a coldness, a feeling she couldn’t shake – the beginning of her journey – The journey to finding something, someone – anything to fill that hole; to take this ache away. This was A journey of change into the beginning.

There is a certain truth – once you break that trust – it’s never the same. Distance becomes greater and somehow you just know. Somehow you can’t feel the intimacy or the closeness, it becomes an act and she felt that cold, distance from him.  So afraid to lose him, what little she had, she couldn’t. She refused to accept it. When you make that choice, to cross over from innocence into adulthood something happens.  I liken it to Eve, when she took that first bite, she was no longer who or what she was. Her eyes were open to new things – not necessarily good things. She knew sin – new feelings and thoughts. Her child-like innocence was gone. Some don’t appreciate or rather, aren’t ready for this transition or maybe they don’t quite understand it entirely. I cannot speak for them however, I can only speak from what I know to be true; her experiences, thoughts and feelings. Her first choice was her Eve’s apple – her child-hood nightmare even.

It was the opening of her eyes; to see without the child-like innocence and to see the ugliness and the sin; the nightmare to remind her of the mortality. The alligators eating her feet, they tormented her as a child. Now they were back and they took the innocence from her and replaced them with the same torment, night after night.

I have spoken of Eve’s apple and sin; when it comes to things of a spiritual matter, she was religious in that, she believed in God and that he sent his to Son to be our Savior. She was, as religious folk would say, saved. She opened her heart when Christ knocked and let him in. She believed in him and his death and his resurrection. Nothing to it really, when you think about it. As far as a deep understanding of religion, she was relatively ignorant of it. The irony is, deep down inside her, knew there was something more. She searched for answers with no resolution. She knew intimacy wasn’t good if you weren’t married, but never really knew or understood why. This thought never entered her mind, never gave it a moment’s thought or even considered it.

Her sin ate at her. I can imagine if this were the days of the Puritans, she would have been forced to wear a scarlet “A” as punishment for this crime of Adultery, but this wasn’t Adultery, this was Fornication – as it were. Every day, she would remember this sin. Every day she would wear the sin, just as Hester, but this wasn’t the days of the Puritans, for her sake, this was now. Sins of that nature aren’t frowned upon like they were then, so it was much easier – for some anyway – to commit that sinful act without any punishment or repercussion.

Some are able to do this act over and over again and feel nothing.  The sin means nothing to them, but I have to wonder though.  How are they feeling on the inside? Are they hiding it so well no one would ever know the pain and the hurt or have they grown so numb to the sin it doesn’t bother them anymore? I perceive that any of these statements could be true, but I cannot speak for anyone else. I cannot tell you how someone else feels or how something affects another soul. That is between them and their maker.

I can tell you about our little girl though.  She was hurting and the hurt got a little worse with each time. She never became numb, but rather, more sensitive. The wound became one left to fester until it seemed hopeless, nothing but the inevitable death. No reader, not her; she was hurting and slowly dying. She was afraid of being tossed out like an old shoe (not by society, no, but much worse – thrown away by him), once the wearer gets tired of it, they throw it out and buy a new pair. Never caring or even thinking twice about the road they walked together. The experiences they shared together. No thought or consideration for the shoe, just that it was used.

She held onto whatever she could, she took whatever she could. One nice thing he’d say, one small gesture meant the world to her. She held onto his every word and action – sincere or not, didn’t matter to her. As long as she had something she could hold onto, something to fill this hole – if only for a moment.

She longed for the touch of someone, to feel needed and wanted. To have someone tell her they love her and she’s pretty. Her self-esteem suffered, as time went by. She became more and more depressed. She was never fascinated with pornographic material or things of that manner. Her longing was for someone, not herself or anything else, but a real person. She taught herself or rather learned that, to be close to someone isn’t a friend or just talking, etc., but intimacy. That was her only connection; that was the only action she understood. Her naivety regarding this matter progressed this notion and the new fascination with “love” stories or rather books – progressed it even further – ones she was never interested in before – and somehow reading about this “love” sort of helped soothe the loneliness she felt, but only for a while. Her love of reading enabled her false notion.

Each of us was given a special gift from the beginning when God brought Man and Woman together.  Truly, there is a literal meaning to “two become one”.  Some don’t understand it or rather ignore it perhaps. Maybe if you are ignorant to it, you won’t quite understand it and because of this, you dismiss it as being silly or not being a big deal. To some, it is a big deal. To some, it becomes a thorn. I recall one of her poems about thorns – something to torment, to show your mortality and sensitivity to pain. Although, this poem was written years later – I think that is fitting here. I believe that you can feel her pain, you can feel her sadness.

A thorn in your soul;
to prick your heart,
leave you lonely
Bright red crimson
flowing out of your body
as the thorns prick
Ones eyes are blinded
fails to see


until …


They see the blood flow,
watch as the love leaves
Face grows pale
as you begin to fade
Your soul dies
All you know is gone
everything taken away
Love laughs

 but the red rose
stays just as beautiful
evil hidden by beauty

Over time, her relationship became unbearable. The constant worrying and over-needing; the loneliness and wanting more, but never receiving; her grades dropped and her dreams began to fade into the background. She didn’t care about anything. Most of her feelings she kept bottled up or written in a poem. Through the smiles and trying so hard to be normal, she lost weight. No one noticed though, except her. She wondered why no one noticed – why no one cared. She sank into a deep, dark loneliness. New dreams formed, but never came. The battle she was fighting was within her, it wasn’t on the surface for all eyes to see. On the outside she was normal. She went to class like every other student. She complained about her classes and her professors. She seemed like other college students, but somehow so different from everyone else. She wasn’t really happy, but not really unhappy. Seeming to be stuck in the middle, something seemed to be hovering around her. Ah, but the inside, if only you could see the inside dear reader. She was in turmoil, an emotional volcano ready to erupt at any moment.

The day he left her – tore her apart. The hole in her heart grew, that cold, darkness – growing every day, into a monster that would rear its ugly head, sooner or later – but now tucked inside, fueling her wound and her anger.

“…Look, for the fifth and LAST time, I told you that I was going to my uncle’s house for the weekend and you called him? At 3am?! What is wrong with you? Are you crazy?! He asked her

That stung.

“I’m not crazy! You lied to me before about going out-of-town and you were with someone else. How do I know that isn’t what happened here? Your uncle made it clear that YOU WEREN’T there! How do you explain that??” she asked angrily, barely able to control her temper.          

“I can’t take you or this anymore. You’ve gotten way out of control. Calling my family in the middle of the night like a nut case …

She cut him off, “Don’t you dare say that to me! I’m not a nut case and that hurts every time you say things like that…” before she could finish he cut her off

“I don’t want any more excuses from you or any “oh poor-pitiful-me” crap. I’m tired of feeling sorry for you!”

That done it. Enough!

She ripped the necklace off her neck and threw it as hard as she could. Hitting him in the face, screaming at him

“How dare you! I don’t need anyone, anyone feeling sorry for me! She yelled at him, moving in front of him and blocked him between the wall and her. Not this time she thought, she wouldn’t run away and she stood her ground and looked him directly in the eyes and pushed her finger into his chest and sternly said, “Least of all you!! Who do you think you are?! You’re not prince charming or anything like it, not even close, you’re…you’re a heartless-good-for-nothing-lying-two-faced-cheating-rat and I HATE you!” she screamed, her German temper getting the best of her.

He used his large stature (he was at least twice her size and a good 3 heads taller than her) to maneuver around her and then he picked up the broken necklace off the floor, put it in the front pocket of his jeans and calmly replied,

“I don’t want to hurt you, you know that, because believe it or not, I do care, if I didn’t, do you think I would have stayed this long? He asked,

“But I have to be honest here and I can’t keep doing this to you. Yes, there is someone else and I’m in love with her, I’m so sorry … he continued,

“…you and I both know that nothing could ever come of this. I want a family of my own someday. I can’t have that with you. I know it isn’t your fault, but you can never have children, you can never give me the family I want…”

He continued, but she stopped listening and focused on that one line

“You can never have children, you can never give me the family I want” – That was the worst thing he could ever say. That tore her apart, those words were the worst pain anyone could possibly feel, an open and festering wound – it was her fault. She was incomplete – she was broken and could never be repaired, and she was only half a woman. That ripped her wound even more and that, my dear reader set the path for this journey – unaware of this journey at the moment, but to progress and eventually rear its ugly head – of self-destruction. Other thoughts overwhelmed her, she wasn’t pretty enough or good enough, or even smart enough. Her nose was too big. She was too emotional – she wasn’t enough or she was too much of this or that. She was crazy and needy, she was too clingy. She tried so hard to forget what he said, to forget that pain – that horrible, dark and cold pain. She removed it with other things, to forget and to push it back down. To make herself not care, trying too hard to not care. That somehow it would all be okay, it would all work out, somehow. She kept saying over and over again in her head “I will not cry, I will not cry!” not in front of him, please, not in front of him, she pleaded with herself.” She imagined hitting him so hard, she broke his lying jaw! Satisfied with her effort, she replied with as little emotion as she could, letting the anger overcome her

“Okay –, she cleared her throat … “well, I…, she tried to find her anger, to slam her fist into his face, to break his jaw

It didn’t work; she couldn’t hold back her tears anymore. She ran away and hid. She was so angry with herself, she couldn’t even hit him! What was wrong her? Like a coward, she ran away and cried. She cried for all the pain she’d held for so long, she cried for her innocence taken by him and lying to her, his broken promises, seeing her cry, seeing the pain he caused – she hated him, HATE, the real thing. Hate, the ugly and bitter hate, she wished he were gone, she wished his jaw was broken by her fist and this, this Melissa girl, what did she have that was so much better? What made her so special? Who does she think she is? Kids aren’t everything, are they? Just because she could have children, what difference does that make? Then it hit her, like getting hit by a train– it hits you so hard and fast, it takes your breath away – the realization that she could never be a mom sank in. The first real realization of her wound, she knew she couldn’t have children, this echoed throughout her life, this wasn’t new to her, but that she could never be a mom or the family she dreamed of – this was brand new.

She knew that she wasn’t like other girls. Tampons and other things in regard to this monthly cycle were foreign to her, she would never experience it. She even made fun of it and gave her sister a hard time about it. Never did she realize or even relate these things together, this idea of being a mother, this monthly cycle and physically giving birth, were all connected until that day. She never thought that the only way you can be a mother is this special bond given only to those who can physically carry the child and then the birth. This mother hood only comes through this, almost magical thing. This thing that was taken from her?! This thing she could never have? This made no sense, she loved kids. Always have. From her childhood and into her adult hood, she dreamed of having kids. She picked out names and outfits and wrote in her journal the plans for her future home and nursery. She wanted to home school, because she wanted to be there for her kids and live on a farm in Montana, and take family vacations. Decorate Christmas trees and create her very own family traditions to pass down to her grandkids. Her dream of kids never changed nor did her desire, but yet it was taken from her? Why? This would become her life-long question – Why?

She sunk into the floor, hoping and praying that it would somehow swallow her up. Somehow her little yellow blankie would appear and everything would be okay. That day – that moment – she regretted the very day she met him, that first decision, her first taste of hate; a bitter, tormenting and progressive path of self-destruction; her first regret.

endofchapter

III.

Time. An interesting thing. It seems to control our lives. When we eat, when we sleep and wake. The crow of the rooster – we ask “what time is it?” Just to determine our next decision, based on this – time.  The rise and setting of the sun – the rotation of the earth, the seasons – all based on time. What month, what day and even year. Conception and birth, even when we die. We are held captive by this thing – by this time. All of our events are based and asked on a time line, when or how long. Phrases such as, just give it time and all you need is a little more time. Any wound or problem is solved – with time. One outcome or another will eventually come – in time.

There are what seem to be two personalities. The first personality is cruel, almost heartless. It doesn’t care about the circumstances or the events – not even the humans involved. It doesn’t concern itself with these trivial matters. It has one goal – 60 seconds to one minute, 60 minutes to one hour, 24 hours to one day, so on and so forth – perfect and steady is it’s counting. It must maintain this schedule, it cannot stop – it cannot rewind or speed up or even stop.  What is, is what is. What was is what was. Time stays in the present, moving at this set, constant pace. Time has no preference or bias. Human, plant, mineral even vegetable – whatever the element or critter – time affects all. I can only speak of the human element, being human myself I don’t have the understanding of other things – my understanding is limited to the human nature of time.

The human imagination can rewind and reflect on what was, even dream of what is to come or what they dream, but you cannot change time. Today is today. Noon is noon. Years stay the same. The human element can in fact, alter present and future events or out comes, but never change the time. It will continue to march on. It doesn’t care about the human emotion, why should it?

Secondly, time has a softer, healing side. When given enough of itself to the human, it can somehow heal wounds thought to end the life. This other side can help the human forget pain and help them move on.  Time, when spoken of in this personality, is almost like a gift. A tender mercy – a gentle, nurturing healing – One of growth and becoming stronger – learning from the past time, to help the present and future become easier, but not without hardships or other trials however.

For our little girl, class was next to impossible; she couldn’t concentrate and her grades suffered. Seeing him every day didn’t help the situation either, but there was no way out of it. Most of her classes were is the same building as his office, not only that but he also had a class with her. It was pure torture. She convinced herself that, if she stayed in the class that somehow, he would come back to her. He would realize just how much he missed her, how much he needed her and how much he love her. So, she dressed up for him on Monday and Wednesday. She put on her best smile. To no avail; he could care less about her. With each laugh and each living his life without her, caused more stress and anger; she quit eating and then one day, she passed out. How long she was there outside the building, who knows. Not a single person stopped, not a single person cared. She was alone wishing with all her heart that somehow her little yellow blankie would appear and everything would be okay.

Her hate tormented her – it mingled with her wound. With each site of him, each sound of his voice, this hate grew. Her mind would imagine a different life, one she long ago dreamt of. It seemed so out of reach. How could she possibly achieve it now? Was it possible?

With each day – as time went by – the pain was numbed; each day was a little easier, her smiled returned, the life inside her that once lived, slowly came back to life – with time. For her, time healed. For her, time comforted her, it was a gentle healing. To let go and forget, to find someone else to fill that hole in her heart, to find someone else to help her feel again – the hate remained, mingled with her wound; to one day come out and rear its ugly head – She was able to find peace, a peace she forgot for that one moment in time she able to forget him, she was able to move on.

endofchapter

IV.

 People come and go
Memories made, moments shared
all in a day, time goes by

One day you have all you’ve ever wanted
or ever dreamed of
Then the very next day, you find
all of it is gone
You’ve lost it all, you have to start over

You cry; your heart aches
You feel like you can’t go on,
but somehow, you do
You make that brand new start

Life is funny that way
new people, new experiences
You start over, but you never forget
your past

People come and go
Some always remain with you; in one way or another
Some just vanish, without a trace…
But soon to reappear, in some form
Maybe a memory, maybe a dream

People come and go. This is the fact of life, we are not immortal. Each person we are in contact with, shape us in some form. I do not believe in coincidence. I believe that people are brought into our lives for us to learn and grow. We attract into our lives the people who will bring us in contact with whatever pain from the past we need to heal from or overcome weakness. Hard as it is to believe, we all have weakness and sin we must overcome. We aren’t mean to learn on our own, we are meant to help each other – of course this isn’t always positive. Sometimes we attract people with a certain weakness, which satisfies our own weakness for a different reason.

Consider for a moment someone with this need to be wanted, to be loved – this need for affection, to fill this hole in her heart. Then, combine that with someone who has a weakness for intimacy. Not an intimacy that involves actually caring about the person, but intimacy in the purest of carnal-natural man. Both satisfy their own weakness, but neither learning their own lesson, but somehow the same lesson. One needing to learn that intimacy doesn’t love; it doesn’t fill a hole in your heart and the other needing to learn that, intimacy isn’t carnal; intimacy is a special bond between two people, a gift from God and to be used as such, not mistreated and misused. Both needing to learn this one simple lesson: To love someone is To love with your heart.

Now, ideally, we are to recognize this through understanding this simple lesson and how you are feeding each other’s negative. It is easy to fall into this trap when you’ve learned the wrong way and when you attract someone with a weakness that feeds yours, most importantly – when neither have a spiritual foundation to recognize the problem. That is key here, spiritual foundation.

She fell into this trap, time and time again. Felt the heartache, the pain. With each time she let herself be used just to feel something – if only for that moment. To feel that hole in her heart close, if just for a second – she allowed herself to be used. She became two people – on the outside, confident and sure of herself, but something completely different in the inside. An injured and dying spirit, screaming so loud at times, she wondered if anyone could hear her, if anyone cared. Desperately needing something, someone to fill this hole; trying so hard to find it and never succeeding. With each time she allowed herself to be used, she sank deeper into her weakness (and sorrow), finding nothing but a deeper and colder wound. Finding more nothing.

As he spoke to her, she sat with her head down and just listened. Knowing the long speech he was about to give and cringing; not wanting to hear it, not again. She was so familiar with the words; she could almost say them word for word, before he ever said it. This was the routine for her; she was prepared at least the best she could be. Nothing could take the sting, nothing could numb her. The ice that slowly formed around her heart was thicker and colder with each time, but never numbing just heightening the pain of the wound, preserving it.  She was so good at this act, this act of not caring, of feeling nothing. The cowardly lioness could never show itself.  Her pride wouldn’t allow it.

“I can’t make something out of this with you; honestly I sat behind you in class because you seemed so lonely and I just wanted to be a friend and try to help you. Of course I cared about you, but not in that way. Not the way you want it to be I guess. I sort of thought that, if I were to become friends with benefits, it would help your self-esteem …” she cut him off

“Help my self-esteem”? She asked, feeling a familiar anger swell

He replied “Well I mean, if someone like me would go out with someone like you, it would help you realize …”

She cut him off again “Someone like you dating someone like me?” She emphasizes the “someone like you and someone like me” as she spoke. “Did you really just say that?” she asked him, almost daring him to kindle her anger

“Don’t get me wrong or anything, I mean you’re a nice person and everything, but I wasn’t interested in you like that. I was upset after breaking up with Emily, it was easy to be with you and I just wanted to help, I guess.”

“Easy to be with me, wow! Thanks for that, a real boost!” she said dripping with sarcasm and anger

She continued, “Do you honestly think that you’re someone oh so better than I am, that you have to stoop down from your ivory tower to my level and mingle with the peasants?” she asked, surprisingly holding her anger at bay and took a deep breath as she continued to speak to him, “As far as I’m concerned, you know what”, she shook her head, “I don’t care, I really don’t. I’m not surprised either”, she told him

“I really am sorry, but Emily is waiting outside. I don’t have much time, she’s in my truck and we’re working things out. It was fun, I had a nice time”, he gave her a quick hug and started to walk away

She was going to rip into him, but what good would it do. They wasn’t serious, just friends with benefits for a few days so instead, she kept it simple,

“Go back to Emily and leave me alone, just … go” she said

She watched him walk out and back to Emily. She watched them embrace and kiss. Her heart screamed, the hole becoming larger and unbearable. She wanted to run out there and scream at the top of her lungs, to say what she was really feeling inside, but she didn’t. She was a coward; she ran away and licked her wounds – alone and in secret. Afraid to face the loneliness and yet again, another regret; another number on the bed post, another friend feeling sorry for her – the bane of her existence.

She was slowly dying. Her poems reflected only bitterness and this cold depth of her, what she has become. She was no longer a free spirit; she was bound by this flaxen cord, no longer free. Her longing to feel and to be needed controlled her; the dream to be Chief Surgeon in a Montana Hospital, with a Victorian two-story home with the white picket fence. A golden retriever named Molly and a 2,000 acre horse ranch (specifically Appaloosa), the prince charming husband and the 10 kids at her feet. The fulfilling her dream of travel – her husband right along with her and then to inevitable settling down – this dream was gone. It was long forgotten and replaced by the childhood nightmare. The alligators were eating her feet and she had no one. No one to turn too – no one to comfort her and tell her it was okay. To hug her tightly, like her mother did. She had no one to give her little yellow blankie, to turn on Tom & Jerry. She was alone; cold and alone. All was not well.

She was angry; she was hurting. The question “Why” tormenting her.  All she wanted was to run away, to never look back, to never remember. She wanted new memories and new dreams. She dreamed of an escape, a reset button. She wanted to run away, far away.

endofchapter

V.

College turned out to be a disaster and a nightmare. She wasn’t smart enough; she just didn’t have what it took. She couldn’t study or concentrate. The first semester was academic probation, she had one semester to raise her GPA to a 2.0. She failed the normal for her. Things were not going well for her, reader; one mistake right after another; allowing herself to be used just to feel something, anything. If only for a moment, to somehow fill that ever growing hole in her heart, of course, filling it with all the wrong things.

She decided to work until the next semester. You can’t go wrong making some cash. It was a nice little Inn and the job was easy. She lost herself in another habit to forget her weakness; she turned to cigarettes, camel lights specifically. It was interesting, the start of this habit. One night, she was feeling really low. A customer left a pack of smokes. She found them while cleaning up the dining room. As the evening progressed, they were almost beckoning her. She eventually gave in, why she continued to smoke after trying those, I may never know; the type was full flavor Newport’s. Probably and most importantly this habit helped her forget, they helped her find a new set of friends and a new self-image, but of course nothing lasts forever. She didn’t keep smoking that brand, she turned to Camel Lights.

The summer was over and she was ready to try college again, but to no avail. She had to sit out one semester for academic suspension. This would have been nice to know before she quit her job. It didn’t matter though; she was tired of this place of these people. She had to get out of here – far away. Her self-esteem was almost non-existent; she was smoking to forget – her past and the pain – regret after regret.

Her decision to join the military was probably the best one, if not only good decision she’d made in a very long time. The Air Force could offer her so much, yes, it was a very good decision. She was met with the recruiter at 11 a.m.; things went very well until he asked her what her ASVAB score was.

“I took the exam my senior year of High School, would I have to take it again? She asked

“No, the score will still count. You have to retake it after 5 years, so your score it still valid. If you’re not sure what it is, I can find the records, not a problem”, the recruiter replied.

“Oh”, she nodded, “Okay. No, I remember my score it was either a 78 or 79, not too bad, right?

He laughed and nodded, “Yea, not too bad. Pretty good score, considering you’re only a female! He grinned again.

She wasn’t laughing, so not amused. Who did this guy think he was anyway?

I have to stop here reader, because I feel a need to explain our little girl and her attitude. Over the past 3 years, she made so many wrong decisions. Decisions that left her scarred and angry on the inside though, she wouldn’t allow herself to show this outwardly. She mainly used writing to express herself, how much hurt she felt. Time and time again, she would find someone to loose herself in, but only to find more regret and a deepening of this wound and a darker, blacker hole in her heart. She had many people feel sorry for her, tell her she wasn’t good enough or smart enough, or rather, she didn’t have what it took to succeed. Her dreams were too much or too big for her. She failed out of college; twice, academic probation and then the inevitable suspension. So when this recruiter – this male recruiter made this demeaning comment about her, it angered her. She let it get the best of her and stormed out of the meeting with him and immediately called the Army. Forget the Air Force! The guy was a total JERK!

There. It was done. Papers were signed and she was ready; she would be leaving in less than a month! She was counting the days. Finally, she’d be away from here and all these people. She’d make a brand life and a brand new start. Things were finally starting to work out for her and for the better. She couldn’t wait to leave. Time seemed to fly, it was time. She was so excited. Her family was with her, they visited for a while before she piled into the van with 5 others to make the 8 hour trip.

She smoked her last pack of cigarettes before they arrived. It was a very long trip, but no sleeping yet. They got out of the van and headed right over the receiving station; tons of paper work and then a trip to their designated area; still no sleep. This was going to suck.

When you first arrive, you aren’t immediately in Basic Training or BCT (Basic Combat Training). You arrive at the [i]Reception Battalion (RECBN). It typically lasts 4 to 10 days and is where initial preparations for training are performed. Which include: haircuts, physical exams, inoculations, distribution of uniforms and personal gear, such as duffel bag and mouth guard, instruction in basic marching and standing, as well as upkeep of barracks and the Initial physical assessment test:

17 Sit-ups within one minute.
13 push-ups within one minute.
Men: one-mile run in 8½ minutes.
Women: one-mile run in 10½ minutes.

It was an everyday routing; hurry up and stand there. Reception SUCKED! She could not wait until it was time to leave, as did everyone else. It was by far the worst part of the experience.

The day finally came for them to leave. Everything they received from Reception was packed in their duffel bags. They also had the duffel bag they brought with them. Her bags were heavy and she was a small girl, this wasn’t going to be good. As they loaded the buses, they were instructed to keep their heads down and no talking. The ride seemed to take forever. Turning from one street to another and then turning again and going straight and turning again, seeming to be going in circles! It was worse with all the tension, no one knowing what was going to happen. Finally, the bus stopped. They sat there. For a good 10 – 15 minutes. No one saying a word or moving; no one dared to even look up! They just sat there. Then all of a sudden a Drill Sergeant (DS)[ii] ran onto the bus yelling, along with some obscenities I won’t write, however. Use your imagination and replace some of my words with your own, you’ll get the idea.

“Get off MY BUS! Who the crap do you think you are, you little snots! GET OFF, NOW!

Everyone started moving at the same time, running into each other, dropping stuff, it was crazy and apparently they weren’t fast enough for this guy, he started yelling even louder

“Go ahead; take your time I got all day! He screamed

“I’m not telling you again, I said MOVE like you mean it, you’re pissing me off! You do speak English, I said GET OFF MY BUS!! MOVE, MOVE you little snots! He yelled even louder

It was pure chaos. As soon as you got off the bus, you had to run down a steep hill and pray you didn’t fall. The entire time running down the hill, you had several DS yelling, what they were saying who knows. I’m not sure how many buses there was exactly, it was hard to think with all this chaos. People were running everywhere, like a bunch of scattered ants.

Once you arrived at the bottom of the hill, if you were lucky enough to have gotten down it without falling, you had more DS yelling at you to toe the line. There were four areas marked off, directly in front of you with the buses and hill behind you; First Platoon up front and to left, then Second Platoon right beside it to the right, then Third Platoon behind Two, and Fourth Platoon directly behind First. When she ran down the hill, Number Four was the closest, so she toed the line and put her bags down as instructed and stood at parade rest. Awaiting the next yelled instruction.

As soon as the buses were empty and everyone was toeing the line as instructed, all the DS made their way to the front with first and fourth together and second and third together. Unsure of what to expect, and of course they keep everyone in suspense. They stood there; no one saying a word, unless a recruit failed to keep their position and was corrected by a myriad of yelling. They were waiting for all the Officers and Commander to arrive. For their arrival, the recruits were welcomed with one phrase that would be the theme of BCT

“Front leaning rest position, MOVE! I said move, you little snots! The Drill Sergeant yelled, “MOVE, get on your faces! He yelled again

Reader, I’m sure you have no idea what this means, so allow me to explain. Front leaning rest is the position you enter right before you do a push-up. It is not the pushup itself. You simply hold this position until you instructed to begin. This is the most important part, you hold until you are instructed – this could take minutes or even seconds; however long the DS feel like making you hold it and you better hold it.

To further explain, the Soldier assumes the front leaning rest position by performing two movements. First, the Soldier moves from the position of attention to the squat position, then thrusts the feet backward to the front leaning rest position. If he has trouble with the squat thrust, he can step back with his left leg—then with his right leg—to get into the front leaning rest position. In the front leaning rest position, maintain straight body alignment from his head to his heels. He supports his body weight on his hands (shoulder width) and on the balls of his feet. He keeps his feet and legs together.[iii]

The recruits held this position for a long time or what seemed to be a long time, before instructed push out (however many the DS decides to give you). Once instructed, you push out until they say stop or you finish the amount, once they say stop you hold the front leaning rest, until they tell you to go again or they tell you to get up and parade rest or attention. This can continue for as long as the DS feel like it. If they are in a bad mood, you’re in trouble, but if they’re in a good mood, you’re still in trouble! The moral of the story is, you don’t do stop or go until they tell you. Finally, once this pushup onslaught was over they were finally told to move out; one platoon at a time. First Platoon on the first floor, Second on the second floor and so on, until all four floors were occupied. Lovely, she thought, four flights of stairs, this won’t be good!

The first and second floors went without a hitch, until she reached the area between the second and third. She didn’t exactly have the best coordination; she was a klutz to be honest. She slipped and down she went, her bags dragging her as she went, finally stopping at the first platform leading to the second floor.

“OUCH! She exclaimed and tried to get up as quickly as she could

Before she could find her way up, she was met by three DS and all three of them screaming in unison; mostly telling her to get her butt up and keep moving and asking why she is stopping their line and falling down their stairs, etc. Yes, this wasn’t good. Out of 4 platoons, she was the first one noticed and they knew her name; which coincidently was a first name. I would ask that, you dear reader, remember this because it is of high importance.

Finally, she reached the 4th floor and into the bay area; Females entered from the right side and the males entered on the other side; separate from each other. They all piled in and toed the line in front of a bunk. Which of course the DS rearranged them, according to their last name, which is their name, the name they will forever be known by. As each soldier was placed, somehow she was overlooked. This put her last instead of first; not to complain though, she got a bunk all to herself. So that worked out, but her locker that was designated to her bunk was broken. Which was fixed by the DS; he gave her the locker right next to it, but without a good tongue lashing and 75 pushups, because he felt like it and another 75 because he didn’t like her answer.

“What is your name soldier and where are you from? (He already knew her name, he was actually the first DS on the scene when she fell down the stairs and noticed her name. This would haunt her the entire time – 75 pushups for having a first name as a last name and getting noticed first thing!)? He yelled

She told him her name and said she was from West Virginia.

“I said your LAST NAME hillbilly! Get down on your face and push out 75, MOVE!

As she got down and started her push-ups he continued to yell at her, “First you fall down MY stairs and then whine about your locker and can’t even give me your name correctly, I tell you hillbilly, you’re one sorry excuse for a soldier! He yelled at her

As soon as she pushed out 75 push-ups, he yelled at her again, “Now get your butt up, I’m tired of looking at you!

She stood up and then he glanced at her name on her uniform and laughed

“That is your last name?! Well color me blue and call me a freaking smurf!!! What kind of name is that anyway? He laughed again, “Doesn’t matter PT is free! Now get your butt back over there and toe my line! He yelled again

She stood up and toed line and stood at parade rest. This is the position you stand the majority of the time. She listened to the DS yell and give orders to everyone. There were three of them for each platoon. She had the privilege of getting DS Grayson, DS Andrews and DS Price.

DS Price was an interesting character; she was a firecracker and scared of nothing or no one. She made her look tall, which is saying a lot considering she was only 5 foot 3 inches or rather 63 inches tall.  Over time, she and the rest of the female soldiers developed a deep respect for her.

As everyone settled and their duties were assigned, she fell asleep rather quickly, until she woken up, rudely she thought, by another recruit informing her that it was her turn for duty.

Every night, at least two recruits must be awake at any given time, patrolling their barracks (bay) area, watching for fires, cleaning, and watching for recruits attempting to leave the barracks area. They wake the next pair of recruits at the end of their two-hour shift[iv], which is called Fireguard. It wasn’t too bad actually, it gave you some alone time to write home or read a book – or just relax some. You sat at a desk in front of the bay area and you did not, I repeat DID NOT open the door for anyone.  Not even the DS (another solider or an officer); if they wanted in, they could get in.  This means even if they are standing at the door screaming and threatening you, even ordering you to open it; you DO NOT open the door. Trust me; this is far better than opening the door.  Unfortunately a recruit made this mistake and learned the hard way.  Long story short, no one opened the door for any reason. Period.

Each soldier was assigned a battle buddy[v], this person would go everywhere with you, yes, even to the latrine, they are your shadow. In other words, you better not be seen without this buddy, not for any reason. This also includes duties, whether you or your buddy was directly assigned, it was done together.  For the instance of Fireguard, the one directly assigned would set at the desk in front of the bay area, while the other performed light cleaning and other tasks. You DID NOT leave your post for any reason unless your battle buddy could relieve you.

Subsequently these buddies are assigned to you, so here are some words of advice.  If there is a soldier you don’t particularly like or don’t exactly get along with. Don’t let it be known, cause guess who will be your shadow for the rest of the training? Get along with everyone.  At least, make everyone think you like them and then when you have alone time you can write home about how you despise whomever.

Finally, it was the end of her shift; a few hours’ sleep and it was time for day two to begin.

The daily routine[vi] for a lovely 10 weeks (the last week is graduation) went something like this:

0500   First Call      Wake up and perform personal morning tasks. For males, shaving is mandatory every morning.

0530   Physical Training (PT)      Line up in company area, perform morning physical training (calisthenics and running).

0630   Breakfast      Each platoon gets only 30 min to eat.

0830   Training        Begin the day’s scheduled training exercises.

1200   Lunch

1300   Training        Continue the day’s scheduled training exercises.

1700   Dinner

1800   Drill Sergeant Time           Time for Drill Sergeants to talk to the recruits about any subject they may think requires attention.

2030   Personal Time         Time for recruits to engage in personal activities, such as writing letters, doing laundry, showering, or simply relaxing. Recruits may also catch up on platoon duties during this time, such as barracks cleaning or wall locker organization.

2130   Lights-out

The 9 weeks are broken up into 3 Phases for 3 weeks each:

Red[vii] or Patriot Phase

White[viii] or Gunfighter Phase

Blue[ix] or Warrior Phase

endofchapter

VI.

Morning. You are woken up by the sound of reveille and all 3 DS banging trash cans and yelling at you to get up and toe the line.  Half asleep or fully awake, doesn’t matter; you better get your butt up and toe the line, too sweet! Once you’ve toed the line and everyone is up. It’s time to sing. Once that routine is over, then it’s time to get your PT Uniform on, brush your teeth, use the latrine and make your bed. You have 15 minutes – no more and no less – to get your butt down to the company area toeing the line, ready to rock and roll! Physical Training first and then FOOD! Trust me, after PT, you want food.

Not for her though, she skipped PT because she was given CQ duty and then after that, KP and then she could eat. After the duty last night and these two this morning, she must have done something really wrong. Luck was not with her at all. If, you believe in such a thing as luck, which I don’t. CQ is kind of like Fireguard, except you go to the company headquarters, the majority of the time. CQ shifts rotate throughout the entire company, with just two recruits from the company staying awake per shift. The actual Charge of Quarters is the drill sergeant, and the pair of recruits staying awake is the “runners”, meaning that they perform tasks for the CQ. They perform some of the same duties as the fire guard shift. Only the CQ on duty is permitted to open the barracks doors, and the runners must alert the CQ if someone else attempts to enter or leave the barracks.[x]

Once her shift over, it was time for KP and I’m sure by now, her battle buddy wasn’t exactly happy with following her around for HER assigned duties. I guess that’s the way it rolls sometimes, right? I’m sure you have no idea what KP is, allow me to explain. KP is known as “kitchen patrol” or “kitchen police”. It can be assigned as a punishment or assigned because extra help is needed. KP duties can include any tedious chores in the military mess at an installation or in the field, such as food preparation, although not cooking, or the more obvious dish washing and pot scrubbing, sweeping and mopping floors, wiping tables, serving food on the chow line, or anything else the kitchen staff sees fit to assign to its KP crew. KP duty can be particularly onerous because it is on top of all regular duties, as institutional kitchens often open before and close after regular duty hours, and generate large volumes of unpleasant food wastes. [xi]

The reason I went into all this detail, it is to understand this next event. Typically, the second day while in the company area before PT, recruits are given basic instructions; what they are allowed to eat in the mess hall, etc. During PT, the recruits are given instruction on what exercises and how to do them. All of this is very important. All of this instruction she and her battle buddy missed. Now, it wasn’t a big deal for her battle buddy because she already knew what to expect.  Her entire family was military.  Remember this for later.

Breakfast went well and the food was actually pretty good.  She was finally able to train with her platoon. The first training day was rough, but she hung in there and was enjoying herself actually.  Save for the pushups for her last name, smiling and or laughing.  The DS were not intimating to her and she couldn’t help but laugh when they came up with some silly saying or silly insult. It’s okay though, as her DS says “PT is free”.  It only gives her more practice. 

Another interesting thing, recruits do not say “yes” or “okay”. Each platoon in each company has their very own saying.  So when your DS asks you a question or asks for your acknowledgment, you respond with, “Always Forward, Drill Sergeant” or whatever you’re assigned acknowledgment is.  This is different than the companies, so when someone else other than your DS asks for a yes or acknowledgment, you respond with the companies motto.  Which I’m sorry to say, I cannot recall.

Lunch was great as well, her first Meal Ready to Eat (MRE).  Those things aren’t too bad.

It was finally Dinner time.  She went through the line, got her food and stopped to grab a piece of delicious chocolate cake.  The perfect ending to her day – she thought.  As soon as you finish eating, you clean up area and run back – you do not walk anywhere – to the company area.  On the way back though, there is a sort of PT training area.  You are required to stop and do a set up pushups and setups before you toe the line.

She stood there, parade rest with everyone else.  All three DS came in and stood up front for DS time.  DS Grayson seemed to be in a particular good mood, as far as DS goes.  He stood up front and smiled asking 4th platoon how their day went. Satisfied with their answer, he yelled, grinning from ear to ear

“Hillbilly, front and center!

Great, she thought as she moved to the front. What is this about? As she walked to the front of her platoon, she could feel the stares from everyone. She approached the DS and stood at attention until he told her at ease, then she stood at parade rest waiting for him to say something. He told her to relax and chill with him.

“Did you enjoy your dinner private? He asked while grinning from ear to ear at her.

“Always forward, Drill Sergeant”, she replied and wondering what in the world was going on, he was acting funny, even for Grayson.

He nodded, “Really? Hmm”, He said as he put his arms behind his back and looked down at the ground, shifted his feet then looked back up at her. The grin left. “How about that chocolate cake? Was that good too? He asked

She said, “Always forward, Drill Sergeant”, and immediately regretted her answer at the look he gave her, she knew she’d messed up, big time

“Are you sure about that, Private? Let me ask you again”, he said more sternly, “Did you enjoy that chocolate cake?

She stood there, trying so hard to figure out what to say or do and finally said, “No, Drill Sergeant I, he cut her off

“What! You mean you lied to me? You didn’t enjoy it now. What our food isn’t good enough for you? Boy, I tell you what Hillbilly you need to get your story straight! He yelled

Then he turned to the platoon and yelled

“Front leaning rest position, MOVE! Yea, we’re gonna have some fun now!

She got down with everyone else and he said the worst thing he could have possibly said

“Oh no, not you, get up! You’re gonna chill with me today”, he told her as he smacked her on the back like they were best buddies, “They’re gonna work off your cake for you! Oh no, you’re chillin’ with me this round”, he said grinning from ear to ear.

This pushup session lasted a grueling 45 minutes; a combination of 50 pushups following a 5 minute front leaning rest and then more pushups.  All this while she chilled with the DS the entire time – being his best buddy while everyone else was moaning and grunting. This was not good.

Now, do you remember the details and what I said to remember?  The entire platoon knew the rules, but yet no one told her.  They saw her get the cake, they saw her eat it and no one said a word.  Not even her battle buddy.  In all honesty, they are as much to blame as she was – if not all the blame because they knew what she didn’t.

As soon as they were dismissed for their personal time, all she could hear was the complaints and moaning from everyone else.  She was already sick of it – but what angered her the most – the complaints from her battle buddy.

“You know what; I don’t want to hear it. You knew the rules and never told me! You’re an army brat of all things, but yet you kept your mouth shut, so just stop, I don’t want to hear it”, she told her as they walked up the stairs to their bay area

“I figured you’d have some common sense and”, she cut her off

“Like I said, hush! Newsflash, not everyone knows the rules. That is the best argument you can come up with? She shook her head in disgust and walked away, not letting her “buddy” respond.

She let the rest of the platoon know how she felt about it.  They were just as accountable as she was.  This was an Army of One; they were to work together and become united as ONE, which means looking out for each other.  Something they failed to do.

I don’t want to go into all the details regarding her training and experience in the military.  There is just too much to write, I do however want to focus on a few important details.  She trained hard and she was motivated. She wanted to be there, she wanted to prove to everyone she could do it, that she wasn’t too small. 

She motivated and encouraged other soldiers when they were struggling. She could do this and most importantly, she was having the time of her life!  The DS saw this; they saw her motivation and drive to be there.  That the key to success, the attitude and the drive – both of which she had.  Now, she was injured the third week.  She pulled her Achilles tendon.  This happened during one of their getting “smoked”, which mean they were being disciplined for someone’s mistake, which was quite normal.  The bay area was wet from the previous night’s rain and when concrete is wet, it’s like ice. So, as she was getting down her foot slid.

She knew something was wrong, but she refused to go to sick call.  Her battle made a makeshift ace bandage for her from an unused sheet which worked for the most part anyway and others got some awesome pain killers for her on their trips to sick call.  Despite the injury, she kept moving. Now, the entire bay area knew she was hurt, which is something you need to remember.

It wasn’t until the 5th week, during the obstacle course she re-injured her healing tendon and hurt her knee. Even though she injured herself the first time (the practice run), she passed; injury and all.  At the finish line, she broke down into tears, out of pain yes, but mostly thankful that she made it. Despite the injury, she pushed herself and did it.  Her first feeling of real accomplishment, but ironically, her first feeling of defeat.  She didn’t go to sick call until that night when they returned.  Her battle buddy was helping her remove her boot. It was stuck.  Obviously swollen from the injury.

The theory was, have her sit down in a chair, pull on the boot while she held onto one of the bunks to keep from being pulled out of the chair. It was quite funny actually, that is until the DS came in.

What is going in my barracks! It sounds like a bunch of cackling geese in here, somebody better talk to me! DS Grayson yelled

Her battle buddy spoke up,” Drill Sergeant, I was helping her remove her boot”, she lifted up hillbillies foot and showed it to him, “its stuck, Drill Sergeant”

He knelt down and said, “Is that so? Then he took her foot and said “Let me see what you’ve got going on here Hillbilly.”

He tugged on it himself and concluded that it was indeed stuck; he stood up and reached into one of his pockets, retrieved his knife and proceeded to “unstuck” her foot. No, he didn’t chop off her foot, only the boot.

After he “unstuck” her foot, they saw how swollen her ankle was; she was in bad shape. He told hillbilly’s battle buddy to pack an overnight bag because he was taking her to the hospital. It was her first time going and she hated it.

I suppose the training – freezing mornings and intense heat at noon – and the injury took its toll on her. She had a fever, bronchitis and some dehydration – or as her DS so eloquently said, “You’ve jacked yourself up pretty good hillbilly.” That she did.  However, neither one of them knew just how badly – not even the doctors knew, not until her 2nd visit.

endofchapter

VII.

A night in the hospital was just what she needed.  She was able to rest and the next morning, she did feel better.  A pulled Achilles tendon and a knee that concerned the doctor, but nothing that serious; at least not at the moment anyway, crutches were necessary for a few days.  It was a precaution and with the hope that it would clear itself with some rest.  This meant, no training.  That was the worst.

The first couple days of her 6th week were crutches; she rode on the back of a truck while everyone else marched.  She didn’t train, she just helped reload the M16 magazines and handed them out. She helped set up lunch, this wasn’t the reason she was here. It was a miserable, useless existence.

Finally, the crutches were gone.  Just in time for an 8 mile road march followed by intense training and proper use of your “weapon”.  Anyone who used the word “gun” was given a lecture about how this was not the streets of New York and they weren’t members of some gang in Chicago; this was the United States Army and they were Soldiers.  It is not your gun Soldier, it is your life and it is your best friend.  This Soldier (the DS says while holding the weapon in front of you) is your weapon, followed by the order to push out 100, while holding your “weapon” (very difficult to do) and repeating, “This is my life and best friend, this is my weapon”.

The day turned out to be pretty good, that is until the march back.  Her ankle was hurting something awful, all the way up to her knee.  She wouldn’t quit, she pushed herself as hard as she needed to finish this march.  Boots, full pack and weapon marching in sand do not mix.  It was brutal. She made it though, barely.

7th week.  She was feeling good, great actually.  This would dramatically change.  It was her mandatory follow up on her injury.  The doctor wanted to make sure it was healed.  The results were less than ideal.

“Your ankle isn’t completely healed, but that is the least of our concern. The MRI on your knee wasn’t good.  You have some water on your knee and a torn tendon. This needs to be taken care of soon.  It is up to you, but we highly suggest that you stop training and allow us to schedule surgery.”

“Stop training? I have 3 weeks left, why can’t I just keep taking pain killers and finish. Then have it fixed? She asked

“The longer you wait, the worse it’s going to get.  If you get it taken care of now you’ll have a higher chance of it healing completely.  Any time that you spend here is time served.  It takes about a week to schedule the surgery.  Once that is done, it takes about four to six weeks for it to heal enough for a medical evaluation.  If you pass, you can start right where you left off.  If you fail, then you can be discharged with a Medical.   I know this isn’t what you want to hear, I’ll give you a couple days to think about it.  Don’t decide now, okay? Just rest and try to take it easy.  Your knee is a big concern”, he told her.

“Okay, I’ll think about it.  I appreciate all you’ve done though, thanks”, she told him

She had a lot on her mind and couldn’t sleep very well.  She couldn’t help but be angry with herself, for being a klutz and getting herself injured.  She had to prove she could do it, she had to.

The next morning was Sunday.  Breakfast was the best.  After church and food, it was time for the weekly routine of cleaning the barracks.  This Sunday was different though, after the cleaning the DS wanted to meet with their respected platoons.  A day to talk and go over things learned, etc.  It was fun actually.

The 3rd and 4th platoons meet in the 4th platoon female bay area – both male and female.  The DS were really nice, they started to lighten up and show the “real” them.  It was refreshing, but the soldiers also knew not to get to cozy with their relaxed side though.

Each soldier was asked to write down the name of one solider they felt was the worst and why; and one they felt was the best and why.  This should be interesting, she thought.  As they finished writing, they were instructed to bring them up front and place them into DS Grayson’s hat.  Once everyone finished DS Grayson pulled then out one by one and read them out loud, for everyone to hear.

When she heard her name, not once, twice or even three times, but several times that she cared to mention, along with the reason why – and yet again he said her name with the same reason

“And the winner is – once again, Hillbilly! Congratulations! I think we have our worst soldier here.  Apparently you stay injured too much”, he said looking directly at her, but with a sort of “I’m so sorry”, an almost compassionate look.  She bit her lip and looked away and just nodded with this recognition.

She sat there, shocked.  Why?  That one question echoed in her mind.  Her face started to burn and she felt a knot in her throat and a sick feeling to her stomach.

endofchapter

VIII.

They met while he was a student work study for Ms. Kelley. The first time they met or even spoke to each other, she was working on a bulletin board in the hallway, 5th floor and he offered to help. He was sweet and friendly, he made her laugh – he helped her feel good about herself, but most importantly he didn’t feel sorry for her, something she needed for a very long time.

“Hey, do you need help? It looks like you’re having a hard time there, he asked, “I have two hands that aren’t doing anything and they are all yours, if you want them.”

She looked over at him and then smiled, “Yea, I’d love some help actually, I can’t hold this and staple it in place at the same, it keeps falling back down”, she groaned, “It would be great to have some extra hands, thanks!”

“Yea, I know. I was watching you struggle with it for a while and decided to offer you my help”, he said, while holding the border in place for her, while she stapled it into place.

 “Shoot! I don’t have enough to finish this, how irritating”! She said as she climbed down from the ladder.

“Well, he said, “would you want me to get more for you?”

“That’s the problem, she said, “I have to get it from the bookstore and quite honestly, I’m not in the mood to walk all the way up there, I’ve been working on this stupid thing, for what seems like all day and I’m sick of looking at it!”

He thought about that for a second and then grinned at her, “Well, I tell you what. I’m not doing anything this afternoon and I’d love to help you finish this and I’ll even walk up there with you, how’d that do?”

She returned his smile, “I tell you what, let me tell Ms. Kelley what’s going on and I’ll be right with you, okay”?

“Okay, but why do you have to tell Ms. Kelley, I’m sure she won’t say anything

She interrupted him to explain herself, “Oh no, it’s not a problem. It’s just I don’t want to pay for it! You see, this is for PBL and we get our supplies directly from the bookstore, so I have to let Ms. Kelley know what I need so she can let the bookstore know and that I’m on my way up there, that’s all, she laughed, “I’ll be right back”.

“Oh, okay, I’ll wait right here then, he said”, by the way, I’m Tony”

She turned around and laughed as she walked down the hall, “Okay then, I’ll be right back, Tony,” winking at him as she said his name, “Don’t run off!”

As she walked down the hall, he yelled back at her, “Oh I won’t, trust me.” Grinning from ear to ear!

She just laughed again and walked into Ms. Kelley’s office, shaking her head and grinning. “He’s such a big flirt”, she thought to herself, but so sweet at the same time. She finished speaking with Ms. Kelley and left her office.

He was waiting patiently right where she left him, reading the bulletin board flyer she just put up announcing the winners of the latest PBL competition.

“So, are you ready?” She asked

“Only if you are,” he replied

She grinned at him, “Well then, Mr. Tony, Let’s Go!”

They talked about classes, ones they liked and disliked. What their majors were, the basic and simple small talk. As they walked, he pulled out a cigarette and lit it. She looked over at him; she must have given him a look that confused him

Do you mind?” he asked and help up his lit cigarette

“No, I don’t mind, I was just noticing that you smoke the same kind I do, that’s all,” she said

“Oh, okay. I thought you were either disgusted by it or offended that I didn’t offer you one or something,” he replied

“No, it was nothing like that,” she answered

“Well, since you smoke and this is “our” brand, care to join me,” he asked and offered her one of his

“Oh my gosh, I’d LOVE one! After the day I’ve had, she paused to take the cigarette and light it, “thought you’d never ask!”

They both laughed and continued their journey to the book store.

During her short time in the military, she quit smoking. As soon as she was on her way home, she bought a pack of her favorite cigarettes and a coke. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing in the world to start a habit that causes cancer, since she was herself, a cancer survivor. It was for her, a means to escape herself – anything she could do to forget, it was her stress relief. It helped her with fitting in; a lot of people would stand outside and talk while they smoked. It gave a connection to someone and for her that meant everything.

They finally reached the bookstore and got the material needed to finish. He helped her just as he said he would. Even helped her clean up and put everything away. The day actually turned out to be a good day after all.

It was Valentine’s Day. She loathed Valentine’s Day. It was the one reminder – the one day that brought back regret and unwanted memories. The one day she realized her loneliness and her bitterness. Each time she saw a couple or someone with the ugly-over-rated flowers or the candy – even the frilly cards – she cringed. She thought, “What a stupid holiday and everyone that likes it!” She hated it so much, she wanted do go back in time and smack the person who invented it – along with the color pink. For some reason, she hated pink. Even growing up, pink was the worst color. She refused to have any association with that color, but yet she loved red, which was the older sister of pink and a few shades of orange and yellow. Non-sense this love, it didn’t exist, a useless waste of time; the inevitable end and the heartbreak that follows. She had given up long ago, her dream of Prince Charming and happily ever, now just a frog in a lonely, desolate pond. I recall yet another poem in regard to her very feeling and thought on the matter

I love to watch the rain
listen to the pitter patter on the roof
the sound of distant thunder
a sure sign of the storm to come;
an echo seems to linger

A broken heart and a shattered dream
fits a perfect scene;
the part of the play where your heart
cries tears of its own
matching the slow gentle
rain coming down outside

A depressing; lonesome cabin
no signs of an outside world
you, the storm, and this dark emptiness
nothing or no one can fill this canyon like void

No way to mend this broken fence
no amount of wood or rope would
ever be enough; the wind is just too strong

This storm, no end in sight
a sky is growing darker still
lightning steaks across a broken sky
the sun forever gone; a mood dark as
a black kettle; brews an evil spell
a broken fairy tale; a good love gone sour

An evil witch; the ruler of this world
everything you have for just one sweet
breath of life
living under a wicked spell

No prince charming’s kiss to wake you up;
the glass slipper doesn’t fit; no fairy godmother
to turn a pumpkin into something wonderful;
no midnight clock to tick tock;

There are no good witches to lead you down
the yellow brick road; emerald city doesn’t exist;
a spell to forever be a swan at the turn of dawn;
just a thorn to prick your finger;
a poisoned apple to a forever sleep; never, no fairytales.

Men were nothing more than a heartless wonder; to her they were all the same. Taking only what they wanted, once they get it – they leave. Not a single thought or care. They’ve worn that shoe; now, it was time to toss it out and find an unused, unworn – shiny and unbroken pair. Absolutely no thought of the journey together, what they shared – Yea, it was bull – Now I’m not willing to write the vulgarity of her thoughts, I will tell you though, reader about this girl and her mouth. Oh, the language she developed by her bitterness and anger!

If ever there were a sailor, I do believe without a doubt, that this girl dear reader could in fact make even the most rough and battle worn sailor blush with that mouth of hers!  So, I do not feel obliged to write such vulgarity, I will leave that to your own imagination. Yes, she has in fact dropped many F Bombs in her time, without so much a seconds thought – not a single ounce of remorse nor a single care – that such language was unbecoming a lady, in every way, shape and size! This behavior was not chaste nor was it virtuous. This once sweet and innocent girl was no longer – she was gone.

As they finished cleaning up, he took her hand in his, pulled her closer to him and looked her directly in the eyes –

“Happy Valentine’s Day”, he said softly,

“The day has sucked for me because I hate being single, but especially on this day. It’s a reminder of that fact and I hate it. I was getting ready to go home and then I saw you, and I changed my mind; I was compelled to ask if you needed my help and despite my day sucking earlier”, he paused for a minute but never looking away from her eyes, “I had a very nice time with you. Thanks, you made it bearable”,

He leaned over and gave her a soft kiss, still holding her hand,

“And if you’ve got a boyfriend”, he grinned, “he’s one lucky guy and I’m totally jealous of him and would gladly take a butt whopping, I just couldn’t help myself, I’ve wanted to do that all day!”

The one day she loathed, turned out to be a great day after all!

endofchapter

IX.

She and Tony had a good relationship. It wasn’t at all like her first one, years ago. This one was different, it wasn’t based on intimacy, and they were friends and enjoyed each other’s company. They walked to class together, studied and hung out.

Intimacy just happened – it wasn’t planned or even sought after, from either person – it just, happened. That was the only difference. She still felt guilty and this cold loneliness. This ache in her heart, this hole she could not fill. Over the years though, she perfected pushing it away, trying to forget. She ran away and hid, she was a coward. Much like the cowardly lion or lioness as it were.

Ferocious on the outside, bold and strong – daring it to hurt her – all sarcasm and humor, she didn’t care, it was bull anyway. All bluff, no action. She was this scared little girl, with the alligators eating her feet. She needed her little yellow blankie, someone to hold her and tell its okay, to turn on Tom & Jerry.

They had a strong relationship; it was nothing like the first one. She would visit his family after class and for holidays. She was accepted, a part of their family. They helped her with the need to feel accepted. She appeared to be like everyone else, but somehow so different. She wasn’t really happy, but not really unhappy. Seeming to be stuck in the middle, something seemed to be hovering around her.

In the summer, they would swim at his dad’s house. He would cook dinner for her and they’d watch movies, talk and laugh. She never mentioned her affliction. Now this term affliction, she acquired with time. It was no longer her wound or any such thing; it became her affliction, something to torment her, a thorn in her side; a memory to cause her grief and pain. An affliction reminds her of what she’d never have or never become. A wound understands that it can be healed – something that has a means to an end. An affliction is terminal. It’s something taken away from you, it cannot be restored or fixed. Once it is lost, it’s lost – gone.

They ate his perfectly grilled burgers while talking about the day and what movie they’d see that afternoon, but he was curious about something and wasn’t sure how to ask her or if he even should. He’d been wondering about it for quite some time, they’d been dating for almost a year and curiosity got the best of him.

“Babe, forgive me, but I’ve gotta ask you something”?

She looked up at him and smiled, “You know you can ask me anything, I’ve always been honest with you, what makes you think I won’t be now, what’s on your mind hun?”

“We’ve been together for almost a year. I didn’t want to bring this up because honestly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know – or if it was something too personal and that’s why it was never mentioned, but I need to know something, why

She closed her eyes as he spoke, and then stopped him with her hand. She felt a strange, coldness. She felt – she wasn’t sure – she felt like she was sinking into the floor, “please don’t cry”, she whispered inside her head. She dreaded this conversation, she – was tormented by it.

So many people left her because of this affliction – the loneliness of it tormented her. She was half a woman; she was broken and could not be repaired. It was not a wound. No one could give her back what was taken, no one could take that pain away, the knowing she was different, she was less than. The memories or rather, the night mare that haunted her, day after day. She blamed – I find myself hesitating to write further – her blame.

I know what it could mean for her and for me. This blame was so, filled with anger; her bitterness was so strong in her; it pains me to acknowledge where she put the blame or rather, to whom she put the blame. All of this on the inside, never on the surface oh no – this was deep inside her. This volcano of emotion ready to erupt; she was angry. In her world, this was taken from her. This affliction was given to her, on purpose only to torment her, to make her suffer. This suffering likened to the old adage of this evil child with a magnifying glass, tormenting these poor, helpless ants with the suns intense heat. Burning them to a crisp, and then laughing! Rather enjoying the scene of torment!

A wound would be healed – in that, either what was taken would be given back or this desire would be taken so that she may indeed heal. No, that wasn’t the way of it. The way of it, was affliction. To take away and never return, but the real sick and twisted notion of it, to allow her to keep the desire! Yes, to torment her and to cause her pain. A thorn to remind of her of what she isn’t or will ever become.

When I say desire, I do not say it in the desire of the body or the natural man, no. I say desire in reference to her long forgotten, maybe even lost dream. Her dreams or rather desire to be the Chief Surgeon in a Montana Hospital. Along with a Victorian two-story home with the white picket fence. A golden retriever named Molly and a 2,000 acre horse ranch (specifically Appaloosa) and you can’t forget the prince charming husband and the 10 kids at her feet. This was her perfect life. No regrets. Fulfilling her dream of travel – her husband right along with her and then to inevitable settling down.

Her dream to be a mother was taken; stripped from her! Her affliction held it, with its death grip and then to torment her further, allowed to keep that desire. Allowed it to dwell inside her, knowing that she’d never fulfill it, knowing that could not shield herself from its magnifying glass! And her sense of hearing was perfect, she could hear the laughter, the tormenting laughter inside her heart, she blamed God. He took it from her and allowed her to keep her desire, how could he do that to her? He was love wasn’t he? How is that love? How do you show someone you love them and then torment them? Why? – Her life-long question – Why?

Worried about her and her silence for so long he touched her hand

“Babe”, when she didn’t respond he asked again, “Honey, are you okay?”

She opened her eyes, “Are you sure you want to know?”

He wasn’t sure anymore, “I’m not sure, I don’t want you to talk about something that you’re not comfortable with, either way, it’s not going to make any difference, I was just curious.”

“I know what you’re getting ready to ask, and quite honestly I’m surprised that it’s taken you this long to even bring it up! Usually it’s mentioned within the first two weeks or so! It’s not exactly normal is it? She scoffed, “In a lot of ways, I’m glad it was never brought up, but then again”, she trailed off and looked away

“If you don’t want to talk about it, I won’t push you”, sensing that something was deeply upsetting her, “because you seem really upset

She didn’t let him finish, “I’m not upset”, she rolled her eyes, “It’s just hard to talk about – and I don’t like – gosh okay, fine you know what, here it is!” almost yelling at him

“I can’t have kids, okay? Cancer, 13 months old, no Uterus – my ability was TAKEN from me, okay? So there, that’s your answer! That’s why no tampons, no PMS! I’ll NEVER have it, EVER!  Why can’t people just leave me alone about it, why can’t I just forget it?” She screamed as tears were streaming down her face – she started to hyperventilate – a panic attack.

“Hey Ssshhhh, Ssshhhh, its okay, its okay”, he told her as he helped her to the floor.

She sunk into the floor, hoping and praying that it would somehow swallow her up. Somehow her little yellow blankie would appear and everything would be okay. For now, he would have to do – he was there, at least. That was something, he held her as she cried.

The pain was so deep in her; her tears could never dry up the ocean inside her. The hurt and the past; tormented her. She was so alone, the hole in her heart getting deeper and stronger. Almost consuming her; her soul was dying. He was there, yes. Physically, but not emotionally or even spiritually; he couldn’t understand how much she hurt, how she was dying inside. He couldn’t fill that hole in heart. He loved her, yes. He truly, cared deeply for her – but it couldn’t be what she needed or what he needed.

“Hey, he said as he lifted her chin up with his finger and softly spoke to her, “its okay sweetie. Please don’t cry. I had no idea it would hurt you if I asked. I don’t even care about all that. I’ve never wanted kids anyway, they are nothing but a HUGE waste of time and energy, a pain really, I love you. As is.”

“I’ve heard all that before”, she spoke so softly to the floor,” why should you or this be any different. If you want to leave me, go ahead and do it now. I won’t stop you. I can’t do it again, not again”, she started to cry; she stopped caring long ago. She let her heart be shown; she let her pain be shown. She stopped holding back; she allowed her thoughts and feelings to manifest in the physical. She allowed her volcano to erupt freely. She was tired.

“I just want someone to love me, to need me – to stop leaving me, mostly, to stop feeling sorry for me, I don’t need that”, her voice trailed off as tears filled her eyes again

He kissed on her the cheek, “I don’t feel sorry for you at all, quite honestly if anyone needs to be felt sorry for it’s me, because you got my brand new t-shirt covered in snot and tears!, he whined as he caressed her cheek, “but mostly snot – goodness I’ve never seen so much snot come out of one person, a cute person granted, even with puffy eyes and snot comin’ out their nose and then all over me, gross!”

That did it; she smiled and playfully smacked him on the arm, “you’re crazy you know that! I’m having a panic attack and you’re worried about boogers!

He grinned, “It’s my favorite t-shirt!”, now get that cute butt off the floor and give me a hug, snot-booger! He teased

She laughed, “oh poo on your new t-shirt”

“No, not poo – boogers! He teased as he gave her a great big hug

They both fell to the floor laughing. He was there; he helped her come through her eruption. He listened to her and he cared – never feeling sorry for her.

He stayed with her, their relationship was different. They were different. He truly cared deeply about her. Earlier, I spoke of Spiritual-ness. She believed in God she was what Christian folk like to say “saved”.  All her life, she knew there was more. She knew there had to be, but couldn’t find the answers. She never fully embraced Religion, as it were. As for him, he used to be “saved”, but made the decision that Religion was nothing more than a form of control. If God was truly the creator and love – then why would he allow bad things to happen? Why would he allow people to suffer? Why would he take something away from you and not allow it to heal – no this wasn’t a God of Love. God didn’t exist. She knew differently – even though she blamed God for her affliction – she knew there was a God, as she said so eloquently, “I’m not that religious”, as he teased her about smoking in a church parking lot.

She had a sense of Spirituality about her, she knew there was something more. This unseen and unknown aura around her – made him uncomfortable. Somehow, she made him feel guilty – somehow she was too good for him. He smoked – not just camel lights – he also drank, along with other habits. Habits she couldn’t accept – except for the camel lights – she was allergic to the other stuff. Alcohol, well she couldn’t hold it and preferred not to. The taste was worse than the smell, how could anyone drink that stuff? Honestly!

endofchapter

X.

They dated for another year or so – the exact time is of no consequence, only if to measure the length of time it took for another relationship to become strained – for one of them to give up, because of guilt. She wasn’t un-wise to his habits, oh no, she knew, but she could accept it – he was sweet and funny, truly a good person. After all, who was she to judge, besides she might be able to help him change one day. No, she cared too much to allow that to become an issue.

He felt differently. When he would indulge his “smoking”, or other habit, she wouldn’t participate. Then he felt bad – guilty – this really bothered him, so much he would find himself hiding it from her, trying to hide the guilt. As if he did it privately the guilt would be buried, to no avail. He still felt guilty – this had to stop. Of course, this is only my perception, from what I know about his actions but more from his words. I cannot tell the exact nature of his thoughts nor feelings.

“Hey! He yelled to get her attention as he ran toward her, “you’re dating Tony aren’t you? He asked her

Puzzled by this, she answered, “Yea, we’ve been dating awhile, why?”

“I need to talk you about something, but I’m not sure if I should tell you”, he began, “but after what I just saw a few minutes ago, you have the right to know.”

Of course, she thought as she stood there and folded her arms waiting to hear what she already knew, “Well, what is it?”

“I’ve seen him in his car quite a few times this week and with some girl, not you; but that isn’t what really bothered me. At first I didn’t think much about it, until today. I figured out what was going on. He’s been getting high with this girl and, they were – friendly.”

She didn’t say a word, just listened and shook her head.

“If you already knew he smoked weed or even if you didn’t know, that’s one thing, but I’ve been cheated on before and it hurts like hell! It’s even worse when all of your friends know, but none of them have the guts to tell you and then you’ve been made a fool of. From that day on, I decided that I would never allow someone to be made a fool if I could help it,” he shuffled his feet in the grass and looked down, speaking more quietly, almost bashful,

“I know that we aren’t close friends or anything, just lab partners in one class. You’re sweet and funny and you make the class enjoyable. So when I saw how “friendly” they were, I couldn’t keep quiet, I’m sorry. As soon as I saw you, I had to tell you.”

She got a cigarette out of purse and offered him one – lit hers and then his, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath before she spoke

“No, don’t apologize. You’re fine. I really do appreciate someone willing to tell me. I’ve been cheated on before as well and yea, it does hurt. The real stink of it, all my friends – even family knew, so yea I get that. I totally understand why you’re telling me.”

He looked up at her, “I also know Tony quite well. We grew up together, neighbors. He’s been a pot head for as long as I’ve known him – it wasn’t until a few years ago he started the “heavy” stuff, selling it even. When I realized you were dating him, I couldn’t understand how someone like him could date someone like you!”

endofchapter

XI.

They stood there talking for a few minutes when he drove up and they watched him park his car and then walk across the train tracks to where they were standing.

“Do you have any more of those”, he asked pointing at her lit cigarette as he gave her a kiss on the cheek and small hug, “I’m out and dying for one!”

“Yea, I just bought a brand new pack”, she stated as a-matter-of- factly.

“Well, hand one over woman! He teased, but she wasn’t in the mood.

“No, buy your own! You seem to enjoy having other people, of the female gender in your car and from what I hear “overly friendly”. You’re not getting jack from me! She told him sternly

Sensing the ensuing argument brewing, her lab partner excused himself, with a “See you in class”, directed to her and then smacking Tony on the back with a “Good luck man! And quickly rushed inside.

So, go away”, as she turned to walk into the building he took her hand to stop her

“Hey, what are you talking about? What is going on, talk to me please, don’t walk away”, he begged her

“What! She screamed at him, “What do you want from me!

Now, as I stated before. She had the mouth of a sailor, No, much worse. What followed was a flood of such vulgarity that no human should ever utter, from any mouth, for any reason!

“What?! Don’t act so surprised! What did you expect? I know the routine by heart sweetie and let me tell you something, I’m better at than you! I’ve had A LOT of experience, which of course you already knew that. So get that shocked, pathetic look off your face! Go ahead and start your denying and lying. This ought to be good! You’re in MY play now!

Now, although the poem I will allow you to read was written a few years before she met Tony, it will you give the understanding reader, what she means by “you’re in MY play now” and the wound – the one she received at birth, mingled with her hatred and bitterness – she still holds, now so much a part of her.

I saw you when you saw me
I thought about the sweet prospect of seeing you again
this time caressing your lips
holding you close and feeling you breathe.

But as I began to dream, you were just starting to play,
I smiled and you wanted to “finish the game”
I reached out to hold you and you turned your back
I yearned to hold you and you walked away, “taking what you want”

You left ME alone;
alone with darkness and tears. So easily you try to flip the script
so easily you persevere.

And yet my heart is black as ink for you; have drained it of all life
My eyes are dark; my thoughts are dark
And all that I have left is this stain across my chest and
the memory of you blowing me a kiss. It fades

I finished your game, the one you started with your smile, your laugh, your kiss
You left me when I needed your touch to keep my fears at bay
You laughed at me with your eyes as you walked away
My face haunts you and you came back

I played your game, now I play my own
Revenge, a sweet scent
I smile as I see your pain, the very same I once held in mine own heart

I said “don’t walk away, and leave me.”
You left without leaving, painted memories remain,
I see your face once more and now, it’s time to play my game
The finish, the end of your beginning

Impulsively, she took another cigarette and angrily lit it, crossing her arms waiting for him to speak. Only this time, offering him one – as if she was getting ready to interrogate him – make him comfortable and wait for one slip up – then she’d pounce!

“There is no winning here, is there? He asked, as he lit his cigarette, “No matter what I say to you, it won’t make a difference. I can tell you what was going on until I’m blue in the face and it won’t mean anything to you will it? He asked her

She grinned, almost menacing, then took a hit from the cigarette and shook her head, “Nope and it ain’t lookin’ good, if you’ve got something to say, I’d suggest you say it now”, she dared him

She was good. All lioness on the outside – but oh, the inside – a cowardly lion.

“Yea, I was in my car with someone. One of my neighbors, she’s been like a sister for as long as I can remember. We get high, so? You’re allergic remember? I can’t exactly do it with you can I? As far as this friendly thing goes, I gave her a hug. The reason she was with me, she had a fight with her boyfriend and to forget, she wanted to get high and come on, I don’t turn down a free joint – you know me – I’d never hurt you – never cheated and never gonna start now, not when I got you!  Please look at me; I don’t care about your past or anyone else. I’ve tried to convince you time and time again, I’m NOT them or anyone else, I’m me.”

She sighed; okay he had a good point. “I know you AREN’T them. I don’t like people telling me”, he cut her off

“You don’t have to believe everything you hear, why can’t you just trust me and give me the benefit of the doubt? He asked

Again, he had a good point, “I don’t know. I guess I still have a hard time letting go of the past and I get angry and then, when you do things with other people, things I wish you didn’t do because you’re better than that. You’re so talented – I’ve never heard anyone sing and play guitar the way you do! It’s amazing, you could do so much more, and you could be so much more if you just let yourself!

“There you go again. Look, we’ve talked about this before. I think that is the one thing that – I hate when you make me feel guilty, why can’t you just accept I enjoy weed! It’s not any worse than that crap you’re standing there smoking right now; at least it doesn’t give you lung cancer! He was getting aggravate with her.

“I’ve told you over and over again, do what you want. You’re going to do it anyway. I’m just pointing out that, you’re so talented – you could really be somebody one day, that’s all. I’d like more one day”, she said

He knew exactly what she was talking about it.

“Look”, he told her as gently as he could for the millionth time, “I don’t want to get married. It’s pointless. Why can’t you just be with someone without the Government or anything else being involved? Why do you have to have that stupid paper? My parents were married for 30 years and they divorced. Why? Almost everyone I know breaks up – my fiancé’ left, remember?  I don’t want it and stop looking at me like that!

She just shook her head. Boy, she knew how to pick them. First no kids, fine. Now, no marriage either, EVER! She couldn’t win for losing!

He continued, “I’ve asked you I don’t know how many times to move in with me, but no you want a ring. So, I told you fine, I’d buy you a ring and you could wear it every day until you die if that’s all you wanted, but No. You keep wanting more and more. It’s never enough. And on top of that, you make me feel so guilty all the time. I can’t even enjoy a beer or a joint when I feel like, without the sting of your, what I feel is judgment! You’re allergic, whatever. You don’t like the taste of beer, FINE! But goodness, could you at least let me enjoy myself? Man, I don’t even want to do this anymore! I think we need a break. He yelled at her.

“Wow, I make you feel guilty? Have I ever once said “Please don’t do that or this? Have I asked you not to hang out with your friends? Did I say a word to you when I spent New Year’s alone? Not a single phone call, nothing. While you partied with all your buddies and got so drunk, you ended up on the couch with a person of the opposite gender? Did I say anything? NO! I didn’t, not one word. Did it hurt, maybe”, she was so good at suffering alone, she made darn sure he never knew, until now, “The truth is, since you’re started all this. It hurt like hell! All I’ve wanted was for someone to love ME, don’t you get that?! Can you even conceive of the idea of how much it hurt!?  Do you even care? Do you know how much it hurts to feel like you’ve been tossed out and not a single person cares if you’re there or not? To feel like they have a better time without you and you might as well go away or disappear? Are you honestly going to stand there and throw me out like everyone else!

What followed was yet another merciless attack with her mouth. She tore him down – she didn’t hold back – A flood of angry tears amid a flurry of vulgarity.

“There, are you happy? Are you satisfied that I’ve stood here and make a complete fool of myself? She yelled

He’d had enough, “You’re out of control. I’m not sure what your deal is today, but you need to calm down. I was almost ready to rethink my decision, but after that are you kidding me, I can’t do this. I can’t get anywhere with you.”

She didn’t care – but, she did care. “Fine, If that’s what you want, walk away,” with that, she threw her cigarette down and walked back inside – she didn’t look back, he couldn’t see her eyes filling with tears. He couldn’t see the pain and the hurt. If she looked at him –

That’s when it hit her. Not again – please not again. She ran, like a coward and hid in the bathroom. She’d never let him see her cry. Never. Time away didn’t erase the past or her habit. It was still there and it was haunting her. It was nothing more than one more regret to an ever growing list, one more thing; one more time she quit. One more time she ran away like a coward, why should this be different?

Over the years she developed her habit of quitting. When the going got tough, so did she, right behind it! It was easy to quit, it was useless to keep trying. When things got scary or overwhelming, she would throw her hands up and quit living. She’d run away like a coward, she would allow things and other people make decisions for her, she didn’t use logic, she let her emotions to decide for her. Inevitably leaving her with a life full of disappointment and regret, to later haunt her – The hole in her heart grew, that cold, darkness – growing every day, into a monster that would rear its ugly head, sooner or later – but now tucked inside, fueling her wound and her anger

She sunk into the floor, hoping and praying that it would somehow swallow her up. Somehow her little yellow blankie would appear and everything would be okay.

endofchapter

XII.

After the military, she went back to school. Unsure of herself and what she wanted, she decided to obtain the same degree as her Mom. It was really neat to be in class with her. Her mom was an excellent student and other students would ask her for help so much in fact, that she should have been teaching the class! Once her mom graduated, she got a great job working for the Town’s Prosecuting Attorney. This worked out great because she was able to work with her mother for the required Internship and Michael worked across the hall, which is where she met him. They were friends and talked. Both of them were dating someone at the time.

Her attitude changed. Even though she ran away and quit, the military did change her – in a lot of ways for the better. She no longer kept her feelings to herself. If she was angry, she let it show. If she was sad, she cried. This was only the beginning of her emotional roller coaster and her moodiness. I spoke of her spirituality briefly. During her short time in the military, she turned to God – more than she ever did in the past. She would read scriptures and attend service on Sunday. She had a list of questions she needed answered, but never found. I would imagine she was trying to figure her life out and her purpose; that is, if she had one. She was trying so desperately to figure out the answer to her life-long question, why?

When she and Tony broke up, coincidently Michael and his girl called it quits. One day while eating lunch with him, she decided to give Michael a chance. They talked about their past relationship, their likes and dislikes, the basic chit chat. She didn’t want to be alone again, because quite frankly, it wasn’t exactly her favorite thing. It was only about a week later, she got a call from Tony

“Hello? She answered

“Hey, don’t hang up on me, please. I really need to talk to you”, he said

“What do you want”, no doubt in her mind who it was, “I don’t have anything to say to you”, she said with irritation and didn’t bother hide it

“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I got angry when I shouldn’t have and you don’t realize what you had until it’s gone”, his voice cracked

No sympathy or compassion as she responded, “And it took you a week to realize this and finally call me did it?

“I made a huge mistake; I realized that you were right

Frustrated with how the conversation was going and the inevitable direction it was headed, she quickly cut him off

“Look, I don’t know what you want me to say. You walked away, did you not? You decided that you’d be much better off without me and whatever else, I don’t remember what you said exactly and quite frankly, I don’t care. The truth is, I’m in a relationship with someone else, someone I’ve known for a while, and I’m happier than I ever was”, she lied.

In fact, Michael was the most annoying person she’d ever met – yes, even after just one week – he was that frustrating to her. Her heart was as cold as stone. She wouldn’t let him or anyone else make a fool of her. Even though she missed him and she wished for days that he’d call. Now that he did, she lied.

“You’re with someone else? Already? Did I mean that much too you? Wow, that really puts me in my place”, he said.

She could hear the hurt in his voice and that pained her. This wasn’t her, this person. She wasn’t mean or vengeful. Somehow, she turned stone cold. No emotion or feeling; No, this was not her.

“I’m sorry. This person isn’t me and I think you of all people should know that. Truthfully Tony, it hurt when you allowed me to walk away, but I swore that I’d never show you. You need to know how much you meant to me. For the first after I got back from the military, you gave me hope. It was shattered that day. I knew that I wouldn’t have children and I was okay with that, but when you told me that I’d never have my other dream, it shattered me. What else did I have? What else could I or anyone else offer? She said, tears filling her eyes, “I’m broken, remember?

“That is what I wanted to talk to you about. I’ve thought about it over the past week and decided that I would at least consider it, instead of a firm no. I understand how important that is to you, for reasons I don’t exactly understand, but I don’t need to understand it,” he replied, “Please don’t say that about yourself, you’re not broken. You’re perfect the way you are.”

“I need you to try to understand. I need you to realize why it’s so important to me. I’ve never had a single person make any type of commitment or show me in any way that, they cared that much, that they loved me and needed me. It was nothing but broken promise after broken promise. I needed; I wanted something more. Something solid that, I could rely on, something that,” she hesitated, “Could fill this hole in my heart”, she finally said

“You hold onto your past; it’s like a Ghost following you around. Sometimes, it’s hard to compete with that; like no matter what I do, it will never be enough, don’t get me wrong. I know how much it hurts, cause I haven’t had much luck in that department myself”, he tried to sympathize with her

“All I know, last week and today”, she said, “I’ve realized that, you can’t fill this hole in my heart. I’m not sure if anyone can, I’m not sure I want to keep trying honestly. I don’t want to be alone anymore and I guess that why I am giving Michael a chance, who knows it may turn out or maybe it won’t. I am having a time convincing myself that if I give us another chance, it won’t turn out the same way,” she said with tears rolling down her face, “I can’t do that again. It hurts too much. Please understand that”, she pleaded.

“I don’t want to let you go, but I’ve already made that mistake didn’t I? He asked

She whispered, “Yes.”

“Can you do something for me anyway or rather promise me something? He asked

“I can do my best”, she answered

“I want you to remember one thing. I will always love you. You were the best thing that ever happened to me and I let you go. Please”, he paused.

She could hear in his voice he was upset and crying.

“Just remember that one thing for me”, he paused again, “I know it’s said with time all things are forgotten. Not this, I will always love you.”

He didn’t give her a chance to respond. She heard a click and he was gone.

Once the internship was over, it was back to class for another full year.

endofchapter

XIII.

Her day was horrible, one of professors infuriated her and she stood outside smoking, trying to find her happy place. Not only that, her boyfriend, Michael was driving her crazy, he annoyed her like no other. Why she was with him? I’m not exactly sure, but I would assume that after her breakup with Tony, he was her rebound. Another lesson she learned, if you’ve been used nothing wrong with being a user right? It passes the time and helps the loneliness. Not with him though, he was just irritating and tried her patience.

One instance was during a conversation, after about 4 or 5 months of dating. She went to his house to help with a fence. She worked really hard, harder than she ever worked. As they were fixing the fence, he fell and hurt his ankle. She rushed to his side to make sure he was okay. He blew her off and got angry with her.

“My goodness! Stop making everything such a big deal! I’m fine, now would you please move and let me finish this, you’re kinda in the way! He harshly told her

“You know, you don’t have to be such a jerk about it! I was just trying to help. It startled me when I saw you fall like that, gosh. You don’t have to be so rude,” she yelled

Another instance was on the way back after yet another visit to his house. She has allergies, so while she was helping with the hay and other things, she had an allergic reaction, to what I’m not sure, but she needed to take a Benadryl and lay down. Everything was fine until he took her home and they were in the drive way talking.

“I don’t why you think getting hurt is a big deal. Just like when I fell down and the time I told you about my eye. My family doesn’t get all flustered with injury, we patch it up and move on”, he laughed

“I don’t think getting injured in anyway is funny”, she said, “People get seriously injured all the time, it’s not a joke.”

“You’re a perfect example. You have one small allergic reaction and need Benadryl then you lie down and want me to take care of you, when you’re perfectly fine, that’s irritating”, he told her

“Why does taking care of someone irritate you? She asked

“Half the time, the person doesn’t need taken care of. The problem isn’t that big of deal honestly”, he answered her

“Let me ask you something, are you planning on getting married and having kids someday? She asked

“Yea, I’d like to get married and have a few kids one day, why? He said

“Let me enlighten you then, sweetie! How in the world are you going to take care of a wife, one that’s pregnant mind you and needs your help? You do realize how much attention and nurturing a pregnant woman needs? That’s just the tip of the ice berg, eventually a kid comes into the picture and that brings even more “irritation” as you put it. Kids get sick and you’ll have to take care of them! I got news for you, if one little allergic reaction angers you that much, heaven forbid you have a wife, let alone kids! She said angrily

“Oh come on, really? He said

“Go home. I’m sick of looking at you,” she said while she got out of his truck, then slammed his door and stormed into her parent’s house.

The recollection just two of many past incidents frustrated her even more. She shook her head, finished off yet another cigarette and tried to forget her horrible day and the fact Michael hasn’t bothered to answer her yet. He’s so annoying. She looked up and saw him. In that one moment, he changed her life – she wasn’t aware of this at the time, however, just that her day was horrible.

He was walking toward the building from across the street with a friend and their lunch. She looked over and saw him. As she stood there, she kept looking at him as he moved closer to the front of the building where she was. She wondered about him. Her thoughts were interrupted by a text message from Michael. It’s about time, she thought. Took him all day to respond, I mean how hard is that? It’s not like he worked today, it was his day off and he couldn’t even tell me if we still had plans for the evening and now, he finally says he can’t and it’s too late to tell my lab partner I can work on our project that is due in just 4 days! Lovely, what a jerk, she thought as she shoved her phone back into her pocket angrily. Shaking her head, she lit another cigarette – and her eyes meet the cutest smile she had ever seen. He was adorable, but somehow looked so sad.

In her anger from the day’s events, she must have given him a “How dare you smile at me” look – his smile quickly faded and was replaced by what I can only describe as the saddest, but cutest, puppy dog faces. He walked inside with his friend. She watched them walk up the stairs and then disappear through door way. She had hurt his feelings. She could kick herself! Stupid German temper! She felt so bad, truly she didn’t meant to hurt his feelings, but yet she did. Maybe she didn’t hurt his feelings at all and it was just her own guilt? Either way, she had to find him and apologize to him, nonetheless. He was too cute, an adorable teddy bear you just wanted to hug the stuffing out of, then stuff it back in and squeeze some more.

endofchapter

XIV.

Oh, her poor husband! He inherited a volcano, or rather the eruption.  He endured the wrath of her fury and spontaneous eruptions and emotional meltdowns and neediness.  Her words and actions that stung at times, she hurt him.  He loved her regardless, with a love that could only be given by Heavenly Father.  This man was brought to her, to help her heal, and to show her a new path and a new beginning.  God granted him the wisdom and the patience to endure, not endure her, but endure with her, by her side.  His love was a tender mercy.

When the world stood against them, they kept walking.  When the world said divorce, your needs aren’t being met, they stood strong and never gave up.  Of course, they could have walked away.  It was easy.  The world has perfected that path, the easy way out.

Their path was not easy, not understood even.  It was so different, only those who walked it could understand.  They still loved, maybe in spite of it, I can’t stay.  I do know that God was with them; walking the same path.  The closer they became to him, the easier the path seemed.  Not a new path, oh no, the struggle was still there, but it seemed smaller somehow. 

Their loved seemed to grow then the previous day, but as soon as they forgot Heavenly Father, the path became almost impassable.  A truth that would continue to follow them.  God’s truth never changes; he is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I agree that her husband married the wrong woman, by this world’s standards. But, by Heavenly Father’s standards they were exactly what was needed for each other (and Heavenly Father already knew this). The patience her husband had can only be given by the hand of Heavenly Father himself.

I don’t believe in the Hollywood fairytale romance. Real life isn’t like that, not even close. They give us the idea that its intimacy and chemistry that make a great relationship.  That is exactly why they don’t last. You cannot base it on intimacy (or the idea of great chemistry) because honestly, when you get tired of the same old thing, you start looking for something else. You have to have a strong foundation, but also the willingness to make it work.

Relationships last with first and foremost the Hand of Heavenly Father (picture a triangle; Heavenly Father at the top and husband and wife on either side). You have to center your relationship around Heavenly Father because he is the foundation, he is love. You have to center it on the idea of giving 100% of yourself. I don’t believe in 50/50 there is no such thing. Either you’re all in or you aren’t. Love is selfless; love is patient and long suffering. That is real love. Someone willing to ride that roller coaster with you, Come hell or high water they are still right by your side! They still love you. Is it easy? Not hardly, but this life wasn’t meant to be easy. With Heavenly Father though, all things are possible.

Soul mate? I don’t agree with the world’s idea of that word. I think it’s more like a person who is your best friend, a person that Heavenly Father brought into your life for you to cherish and to love. This fantasy of soul mate and finding the perfect person is just that, a fantasy. Any two people can be together and make it work if they have God’s foundation. It takes both people, not just one! Both people giving all of them self to the other person. Forgiveness is another very important factor and letting go.

It wasn’t until she quit looking that she found what was waiting for her. She got so caught up in that fantasy; she couldn’t see what Heavenly Father had for her. Heavenly Father gave her the experience real love. He loved her so much, he wanted to give her someone who would love her and that would guide and teach.

endofchapter

into the Beginning

As she waited, she felt a familiar pain – a familiar feeling, it seemed her childhood nightmare returned – only this time her little yellow blankie was there, to comfort her and to tell her it was okay. Someone was there to hold her and to turn on Tom & Jerry.

Her husband and Heavenly Father were there, by her side. Little yellow blankie was her comforter; it was her Heavenly Father, even as a child. She was never alone. Her husband held her and he loved her. He took her hand in his and assured her that no matter the outcome, he would be there – for eternity.

She had nothing to fear. Death was already overcome, not by her; but her savior. Death is only the beginning, the awakening into a new life. This is the promise he made. Her hope was in him, she had nothing to fear. Her dear, sweet husband was her eternal companion; they wouldn’t be apart for very long.

“The test results”, the doctor said, “I’m afraid it’s positive. It is a malignant tumor. We will start treatment right away.”

She didn’t want to go through the pain of Chemotherapy again – she couldn’t bear the idea of her husband watching her go through the torment, she loved him too much. She was given several options; treatment would only delay the inevitable. She opted out. Not to spare herself, but her precious husband. She could take the pain; No, not him. She couldn’t put him through that. She thought of her parents and how much they loved her, how much they endured when she was young. No, she wouldn’t put him through that. She would be fine, God was with her. She did it once, she could do it again.

Her husband squeezed her hand as the doctor spoke. She looked over at him and met his eyes; they slowly smiled at each other. The bond they had was so strong – no man could ever take it or Death separate. Their love was God’s love; manifested in each other. A bond so powerful, nothing could ever break it. She squeezed his hand and they spoke, one word. The word that was their bond, the foundation – God’s promise of forever; the journey they would walk forever more –

“Together”

He pulled her to his chest. Held her under his arm, to protect her, to love her. His wife. Not from his head to rule over him nor his feet to be trodden down by him, but his rib. Close to his heart – his equal. His protection and his love. This promise he made. Today, Tomorrow until Forever. They would share an eternity. By no means was this verdict one of Death. No, but one of life, an everlasting life. There is no Death – Christ overcame so we didn’t have too. He took the sting, the pain of Death for us. No, this was only the beginning. The journey Together. Through God, they would overcome any obstacle, any doubt. They would walk together.

Neither would be alone. They became united – two became one, through God. Let no man put asunder what God has bound. Not even Death.

She wasn’t afraid. It was okay. Her life was complete. Her tender, loving Heavenly Father blessed her; he made all things right, good and true. He healed her and he loved her. She found what she as looking for; he filled the hole in her heart. He changed her into something beautiful; as her husband told her many times, she bloomed into the prettiest flower and most precious of all! She was a daughter in her father’s kingdom. Through is his love and tender mercies, she was made new and given a new life and a new hope. Her father knew the desires of her and he made it so.

She was the only member of her faith in her family. Her wish, that one day they would come to the same knowledge. They would become members and sealed together. Over the years with God, she was given her wish; she was to be sealed with her dad, mom, brother and sister. She loved them with all heart. They performed temple work together. Strange her journey began this way and her beginning – Yes, she was ready. Her life was complete. She was ready to waken and to live with her Father in heaven once again. Her husband and her family with her. This was the promise he made.

Time seemed to fly by. It was quick. She spent her last few months with her precious family. She could sense the time was close, so she asked her husband to let these moments be private. She wanted her family to remember life, not this. To remember how much she loved them, how she would always love them, to remember what will be again, not this earthly awakening.

He stayed with her and they talk about their new beginning. They laughed and they loved. He held her hand, whispered how much he loved her and how he was proud of her – to call her his wife – how she was the most amazing critter he had ever seen, his lil bunny – the petite brunette with green eyes. He loved her nose, it suited her perfectly. He told her many times throughout their marriage, that he was glad she didn’t ruin it with surgery because any other nose couldn’t nuzzle like hers – any other nose wouldn’t be as sweet. A tear rolled down his cheek, he would miss her, but it was okay. Seeing his tear, she touched it with her finger and kissed it, then pressed her finger to his lips, speaking very softly she told him,

“I love you, so very much,” she took a deep breath and a tear fell from her eyes, “I have thanked Heavenly Father every day for you and your love. I am so proud to be your wife. The patience and understanding; how you never gave up on me. With all my faults, you loved me anyway. Even when I didn’t deserve it”, she gently touched his face and smiled”, you better not find another woman; I’ll come back and haunt you! She teased and they both laughed.

“Only you lil bunny, only you,” he gently nuzzled her nose with his.

This simple gesture was theirs. It spoke volumes. It told the love they felt in their hearts, it told their story. Their life journey together and their beginning; it wasn’t easy for them. By the world’s standards, they should have never made it; their walked should have ended long ago. I agree; he probably married the wrong woman, by this standard. But, by Heavenly Father’s standard they were exactly what they needed for each other (and Heavenly Father already knew this). The patience he had for her – the unwavering love – could only be given by the hand of Heavenly Father himself. Taurus and Leo just don’t match, but they beat the odds. They could do anything – the triangle of God. They loved more deeply, they cared so strongly – nothing could take that from them – nothing. Heavenly Father let them experience real love. He loved them so much, he wanted to give each of them someone who would love and would guide and teach.

He sent her husband, but Heavenly Father also knew that he needed her just as much. They learned from each other and they complemented each other. Most of all they have this unwavering trust and honesty. The real beauty is — their marriage is forever and it was given by Heavenly Father.

He held her for a few moments more and softly kissed her, somehow knowing she didn’t have much time. She took his hand and said,

“You have taught me so much, you stood by me – gave me strength I didn’t know I had; All Through Our Father love. You’re a wonderful teacher. You let me be as clingy as I needed, you let me lean on you – you’re my best friend. You have shown me what it was meant to be, how love really is. You have my heart always. When I said “I will, I meant forever,” she closed her and whispered, “I’ll be waiting for you. I love you.” – She was gone.

Her last moments were peaceful. Full of love and Heavenly Father’s tender mercies. Death isn’t easy, to watch the person you loved more deeply than anyone else passes on, but Death is not an end, by no means just a new beginning. They understood that, it wasn’t goodbye, just “see you later”, or “We’ll see each other soon”. He knew that he would see her again, maybe for what seems like a long time for him, but for her it would only be a matter of minutes until they were reunited. Yes, this is the promise he made. Their father could never break a promise.

He sat there with her, tears rolling down his face. He loved her so much; he would miss her smile and her laugh. He would miss their late night talks about anything and everything – about nothing, just talking – dreams and hopes – she listened to him, she supported him. Those moments of nothing, meant more to him than so many something’s. With all his crazy ideas and building projects, she listened to him and she supported him. She let him lean on her, let him share his heart. Something he never had until her. She completed his very being. He held her hand, touched her face and nuzzled her nose – that, he would miss the most. Her bunny nose – her defining feature and he loved it.

His precious wife; they walked this path together. They came through the hardships and the trials, never – not once giving up on each other. As he sat there, he remembered their walk. From the first day until now; he watched her as she bloomed in the prettiest flower he’d ever seen. Out of all the flowers, she was by far the most special. She gave him strength and the courage.

The funeral arrangements were made rather quickly. Her wish was to be buried underneath a cherry blossom tree with white lilies, but most importantly, she wanted to be buried in her own back yard. He made sure her wish was carried out. Her family and friends were there, it was a celebration of life, not death.

As his time soon approached, age 72, just 5 years later; he couldn’t wait to see her – to nuzzle her nose – to see her smile. He loved her more deeply than one man should be allowed. It should have always been her, but then again, it always was.

Two flowers were placed, one white lily and one marigold; their favorite flowers. He joined his lil bunny; back to where it began.

Man was created by the dust of the earth and woman by the rib of man –

Not his head to rule over him

Nor his feet to be trodden down by him

But his rib; close to his heart and at his side – his arm to wrap around her with his love and protection.

She was there waiting for him – her bunny nose and her smile – She warmed his heart, as only she could. To him, she was his everything and he missed her so much. Now, he would never be without her again. He couldn’t wait to hold her, to nuzzle her nose – he met her embrace and they loved, as promised.

– A Journey into the Beginning –

Together.

endofchapter


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