Bubbles…

Sometimes I just don’t know what I want to write about. I have been thinking about it all week. Some random stuff here and there bubbles up, but then it goes away. I am not sure if that bubble is what I want to write about. Nothing seems right. Nothing seems relevant. Yet nothing seems wrong and everything seems relevant. 

I am pretty sure that with Tayler’s graduation post and then the Memorial Day post, and my son, I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. It is amazing how much it takes out of me when I write a super emotional post. Even when I am writing, I have to get up and walk away. It is that difficult. It is almost haunting. When I walk away, the idea and the post are never far away. I constantly think about it. It’s kind of funny that once I get it down on paper or print if you will, I usually let it go. I usually don’t think about it that much again. Not these two posts. They are all I have thought about. Filling my brain. Filling that bubble.

This time has been different for obvious reasons. I keep thinking about those boys. Their faces. Their lives. The lives they left behind. The families trying to pick up the pieces. Trying to move on. Knowing there are more and more and more and then some more. If this affects me this way, I can’t even begin to imagine the families and the guys who served with them. So, so difficult. Hard times for so many people.

I think another milestone this week was my son, Spencer, turning 30. I can still remember him as a little boy. I can still see him reading in the chair. The smirk on his face with the Kool-Aid mustache. It is so amazing watching our kids grow, yet at the same time it tells us that life marches on and that we are getting older. It’s emotional. 

The youngest granddaughter had a birthday party. She turned two (almost) a few more days. Another milestone and another life doesn’t stop moment. Time keeps going. Life keeps happening. I keep living.

Tayler went on a road trip. She went on a road trip to Denver. More specifically, to Red Rocks, to a concert. She has never done that before. She and Alex and Gracie hopped in the car and took off. By themselves. No parent supervision. First stop Rapid for the night and then today the rest of the way to Denver. I know they will be fine. This is yet another reminder that life marches on. That she is growing up. That she can handle life. That she can handle adventures and road trips. That she can handle. 

So, as I sit here and type this blog post, she checked in and said there were eating. That makes me happy to know they made it. Happy to know they can take care of themselves. Happy to know they will love this road trip and this adventure. All by themselves.

rainy days and mondays…

 

Cpl. Tyler Cone – February 22, 1988 – February 16, 2014

Cpl. Taylor Hopson – August 28, 1989 – July 19, 2011

Lcpl. Ray A. Spencer –  date of death April 16, 2009 (age 20)

I wanted to do a special Hero WOD for my email list. I asked my son, if he could give me some names of Marines he knew who were killed in action when he was in the Marines. He was in the 3/3 Marines, India Company. He served from 2006-2010. 

He told me none of the ones in his company (that he could remember) were killed in action, but many had committed suicide. He said he didn’t think that was what I was really looking for. But on the contrary, that was exactly what I was looking for. It was exactly what I expected he was going to tell me. My gut told me. I listened. I felt it. 

Veteran suicide is a problem. An epidemic you could say. I knew that was what I wanted to write about on this Memorial Day, 2018. 

A commonality with these guys is that they were super patriotic. Their dream was to become a Marine. It was the same with Spencer. I remember him always wanting to be a Marine. I can remember from the time he was little until he joined, he always talked about it. We tried to talk him out of Infantry. He was determined. He was going to be a Marine and infantry at that. I also remember how patriotic he was. He has always, always been that way. It was stressful when he went to Iraq. He went there twice. I worried all the time. I tried to not think about it. I tried to not think about what they were doing over there. I tried to just put it at the back of mind. It seemed like the time went fast so that was a plus. I’m sure the time did not go fast for any of them. 

When you put faces to those names, it makes it even harder. To think of those families who lost their people, it breaks my heart. I cannot even imagine the pain they go through. I cannot even imagine if that happened to my child. I just can’t. The war at home is a real thing. The suffering. The demons. The trying to fit back in to society when you don’t even know where to start. The wishing you were back over there because that’s the only constant you know. The coming back home and using alcohol or drugs to numb things. The turmoil. The struggle. The hard. 

Last November, I did a Facebook challenge. Every person donated $22 and we donated almost $700 to Mission22. Mission22 is an organization that is united in the war against veteran suicide. The War At Home. They bring awareness to veteran suicide. They also have memorials for veterans and veteran treatment programs. Here is the link to check out their work and donate or buy gear. http://www.mission22.com/#ourcause

If you know a veteran in trouble, help them, talk to them, listen to them, do whatever you can to help them. You will never regret doing that. 

All three were in the 3/3 Marines. Hopson was in Spencer’s platoon and Cone was in his Company. There were more than these three. May they all rest in peace. Semper Fi. 

p.s. I picked the title because the song Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters was playing when I had the idea of writing this blog. It seemed fitting…

everything i wanted and nothing i had

We played with our Pierre cousins a lot. Susan and Brenda. They belonged to my Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy. They lived on Huron Avenue, the ranch style brick house. They were constant. We lived at the Euclid House and the Central House and even the Prospect House when we spent the most time at that house. We weren’t as constant. 

These cousins weren’t matching for us. Susan was quite a bit older and Brenda was a year older than Wendy, if I recall correctly. They were always, always so nice to us. 

They had everything. The basement closet was full of board games. The floor in the basement had a shuffleboard game on it. It was super cool. The basement had a couple bedrooms, a bathroom, a bar, and the giant family room. There was cool furniture down there too. I actually have one of the end tables from their basement. Kind of modern style 50s piece. I like it. I won’t ever get rid of it. There was also a fireplace and I remember a net with starfish on it above the couch. That became a hand-me-down to the Prospect House. I think one of the dogs ate the starfish. So there’s that.

There were lots of pictures on the walls. I recall seeing some of Uncle Bob when he was in the Navy. There was also one of those chair things that you would put your feet on the bottom bar and then hang on to the top bar and then close yourself up like an ab crunch and then completely open and stretch out as far as you could. It was supposed to be good for the back and a nice ab workout. I think I spent a lot of time playing with that chair thing. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

The upstairs also had a big living room, a dining room, the kitchen, a bathroom, maybe even two, and two or three bedrooms. The upstairs was always spotless. Everything in its place and nothing out of place. 

The backyard had perfectly mowed grass and a big swing set. They had croquet and kickballs. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

They had Barbies and snow boots without bread bags. We couldn’t wait to get their hand-me-downs. We didn’t even care that the boots didn’t have any grip anymore. They had side zippers and were stylish and they were brown, not red. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

We played with the Barbies in Brenda’s room. In her closet actually. It was huge. The Barbies had tons of clothes on hangers and lots of shoes. Ken was there too. I loved playing Barbies. They had so many. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

She also had one of those jewelry boxes that had the ballerina inside when you opened it. She danced to the music. The box was full of jewelry. Bracelets and necklaces. They took dance from Mrs. Forney. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

At one point, my parents were remodeling the Prospect house and it came a point when we had to stay with Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy. We stayed in the basement. I remember using the lemon shampoo on my hair. I found it under the sink in a basket. I loved that smell. Fresh lemons. There was also the shampoo that mom would never buy us, “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.” That stuff did smell terrific. For reals. 

Aunt Sandy made us breakfast every single morning before school. It was everything I wanted and nothing I had. She treated us like we were her own kids. It was so nice of her to open up her home to us. I think at that time both Susan and Brenda were gone. It seemed like it anyway. I could be wrong. I think I was in junior high at the time. 

I could tell that Aunt Sandy loved taking care of us. It was nice to be treated like that. It was nice to have everything I wanted. 

I remembered always feeling envious. Why couldn’t I have all those Barbies? Why couldn’t I have those nice boots? Why couldn’t we have a croquet set and a nice swing set? Why couldn’t we have a bazillion board games?

When it came right down to it though, it was kind of dumb to be envious of them. They worked hard for what they had. My parents worked hard for what they had. There was no reason for me to be envious. My parents couldn’t afford that stuff at that point in their lives. If there was one thing that they taught us, it was to work hard. A good work ethic will take you far. We were taught to be happy with what we had. There will always be someone who has more than you and there will always be someone who has less than you. There will be. It’s just the way it is. 

I look back and I realize how everything I wanted and nothing I had was not really true. I had everything I needed and nothing I didn’t.

 

Tayler

My thoughts have been jumbled. My emotions have been raw. It’s been hard to concentrate. It’s been hard to think. I have been thinking and thinking and thinking some more. I have been feeling and feeling and feeling some more. 

I started and restarted this post and don’t want to make it sound ridiculous. I have been trying to put the words down, but my mind can’t get them the way I want them. I’m trying to not be mushy and embarrass you. 

I have been thinking about writing this post all week. I have struggled putting into words how much you mean to me and how proud I am of you. Parenting is tough. Being a kid is tough. Lots of times those two roles don’t mesh. We got lucky. We meshed. 

It has been an amazing journey watching you grow up. It has been heartbreaking watching you struggle at times. I wanted to take away your hurt. You always knew it was your path though. You always knew God was right there with you. Guiding you. Directing you. Your attitude and faith amaze me. I love that about you. You totally believe and you know. 

I love that you are independent and smart aleck-y. You are strong. You know your worth and you don’t back down for things you believe in. My traits.

You are compassionate and caring. You are beautiful. You are kind to everyone. You know the difference between right and wrong. You always do the right thing, even if it’s hard. John’s traits. 

You got the best of both of us. We knew you would. 

You are so funny and quick-witted. You have an amazing sense of humor. – Grandpa Gary’s traits. He would have loved you. I wish you could have known him. 

You wrote thank you cards without us having to tell you. Ever since you could write well enough, probably third or fourth grade, you started writing letters to your teachers at the end of every school year. You started writing letters to people who were important to you. You started writing letters to your friends. One of the recipients of a letter from you told me, “You done good.” He said we did a great job raising you. Ultimately, that is what a parent wants to hear. I think we did a good job too.

The time is here. Graduation. You are graduating from high school. I still remember the day you were born. The time went fast. I knew it would. You were a beautiful baby with big blue eyes. You were such a good baby. Our hearts were full.

The years have flown by, just like they say. So fast. It seems like yesterday we were taking your picture for Kindergarten. You were so excited and we were so heavy hearted.

Sunday is the day. I am filled with emotions. Bittersweet. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to do. I know you will be okay on your own, but at the same time I worry about you. 

I hope we did enough to prepare you. You are strong. You trust your instincts. You are  compassionate. You know your worth. You speak the truth. You have amazing character and morals. We got lucky with you. 

I have been trying to come up with advice or words of wisdom to share with you. But then I realized we have been advising you for 18 years. What else can we do. 

I will miss your crazy annoying laugh. Your drive-us-nuts dancing around the living room while we try to watch tv. Your using the dining room table as your depository for all coats, jackets, shoes and school paraphernalia. We will miss that. 

As I hear you downstairs cleaning out your backpack, I realize, it’s time for you to experience life. It’s time to go. It’s time to fly. It’s time to go places. It’s time to shine. We love you!

So Tayler – 

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

So…

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or

Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

you’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!”

—The Places You Will go — Dr. Seuss 

Night Visions

A few months ago I had a hard time sleeping. Sleep would just not come to me. I don’t know what was different. Nothing it seemed. It was making me anxious and annoyed and frankly, pretty damn tired in the mornings. I hated it. I didn’t know what to do to try and make it better.

One night when I couldn’t sleep and was tossing and turning and turning and tossing some more, something compelled me to pick up my phone, head into my Notes App and just write. I wrote some pretty interesting things. They are interesting to me anyway. I shared some. In looking back at the notes there was a period from October, 2017, and ending in April, 2018, where I wrote. I have not felt compelled since then to write poems. I don’t know why. In fact there was a big span from the last one on January 24th, until the April one. I don’t know why that is either. Timing is interesting and strange all at the same time. There was also a section in my Notes App where had hand-written notes and drew faces with my finger. Those were around the same time as the poems. I cannot draw. Just putting that out there, but the faces I tried to draw were super interesting to me. The expressions, or non-expressions on the faces, were just strange.

A curious thing happened though. Once I could write no more, the sleeplessness went away. The anxiety went away. The annoyance went away. The tiredness went away. Whatever made me write those notes, also took away the anxiousness and the sleeplessness. I’m not sure what it was, but I am glad I listened. I am glad I wrote. I am glad I cleared the negative energy.

My whole outlook changed. My demeanor changed. I changed. 

While re-reading these poems, they seem really dark. I promise I’m fine. Nothing to worry about. I do find the last one from April 8th pretty interesting. I know I have talked about intuition and “bad feelings” previously, and I think that poem on that day, was a sign. It was a sign about Mike. I was anxious and having that bad feeling that just hangs on for a while and then I usually find out a few days later that something bad happened. And something bad did happen a few days after that. Mike died. 

Anyway, here are the poems that I wrote and the pictures I drew. Don’t judge too harshly.

October 28, 2017

The dead of night

Shadows dance in the light

I feel lonely and sad

Feelings I hate and fight

My face is dark

The stars and sky are bright

Why is it so hard to feel alright

_____________________________________

December 26, 2018

I don’t know what to think or do

The guilt is hard

The guilt is true

How I wish things could have been different

For you, and you, and you

_____________________________________________

January 2, 2018

My mind needs to quiet down

So many thoughts running around

So many words

So many sounds

I hear the pound

The anxiety is loud

It creeps and creeps

So I can’t sleep

________________________________

January 8, 2018

I feel anxious

I don’t know why

My gut is trying to tell me

Something

Pertinent

Not a lie

I’m trying to listen

I can’t figure it out

Maybe tomorrow

It will simplify

_____________________________________

January 9, 2018

I just got a shiver of despair

A feeling of overwhelming sadness

My eyes filled with tears

My jaw got that tightness

What

Why

What does it mean

Undisclosed fears

Buried in my soul

The tears ran down my face

Releasing the control

____________________________________

January 10, 2018

This morning my mind feels clear

The fogginess is gone

Images are sharp

Images are near

I like how this feels

It is satisfying and good

I hope it stays glassy and light

And won’t get dark and murky

I want it to be right

_________________________________-

January 18, 2018

Anxiety leave me alone

I don’t like you

Get of here

Go home

You always come at night

When I’m too tired to fight

I try

I try to throw you out

But you stick around

You give me grief

You’re sneaky and sly

A good thought thief

____________________________________

January 24, 2018

HI

You’re back I see

What to you want this time

Why can’t you leave me be

I thought you left

I thought you were gone

I relaxed

And now you’re strong

__________________________________

April 8, 2018

Sleep eludes me

Stress envelopes me

Why here

Why now

I thought I had you beat

I thought you took retreat

________________________________

(two days later Mike died)

________________________________

 

 

 

Handstands for the break…

I practiced all the time. All the time. All the time. Obsessed. Obsessed. Obsessed. Handstands forever. Handstands for the win. Practice makes perfect, right? Until I broke my collarbone. Then it wasn’t so fun. Handstands for the break. 

I was 12. It was the Prospect house. The floors were hardwood and there was carpet in the living room. The giant dining room was in the middle of the house. It was kind of an odd room, now that I think about it. It was more of a family room in the middle of the house, but I think it was meant to be a formal dining room. We used it for listening to records on the cabinet record player. Simon and Garfunkel and the Carpenters. AC/DC too. My sister, Wendy, had Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. I will never understand that.

We also used that room for sleeping in the summer before the remodel. Right on the hardwood floor in front of a box fan. No air conditioning. So when it was hot, we slept in front of the fan on the floor in the dining room. 

Gymnastics was my passion. Gymnastics was my life. I wanted to be great. I wanted to be amazing. I worked hard. I always did. That day I was doing handstands all day. I would put both hands down on the ground and kick up into a handstand and try to hold it. I kept trying and kept trying and kept trying. 

I practiced for hours. It was getting late and it was about time for bed. My mom told me to stop and get ready for bed. She kept telling me I was going to get hurt. Another one of those little voices that I used to never listen to. The intuition one. You know the one. I ignored it. I was 12 for crying out loud. Since when does a 12 year old listen to the voice telling them something. Since when does a 12 year old listen to the signs their body is giving them. Since when.

I continued. It was getting close to bed time. I kept going. One more I told myself. Just one more and then go to bed. My hands were planted on the floor and I kicked one leg up and then the other. My left arm gave out. I landed right on my shoulder. Shit! That hurt! I got up and noticed my left arm was quite a bit longer than my right. I wasn’t sure what happened, but I knew it hurt. I went into the kitchen all the while saying, “Owie, owie, owie, owie.” My sister, Wendy, was there and so was mom. They thought I was laughing. Ummmm, okay. 

Off to the emergency room we went. It was so painful getting the x-rays. I wanted to die. The doctor came back and said my clavicle was broken. Clavicle sounds kind of cool, but I prefer to use the term collarbone. It was broken all the way through. I probably should have had surgery, but I came home with some kind of brace. I was to wear it for six weeks. I was devastated. How could I practice gymnastics with a broken collarbone? The brace was annoying and uncomfortable. It pulled my shoulders back and supported them and I guess that was the job of the brace.

After we got home I got to sleep in mom and dad’s bed. I don’t think I slept much at all. It hurt so bad. They only they gave us was over the counter motrin or something like that. I remember mom stayed up with me pretty much the whole night. 

I couldn’t wait for the six weeks to be up. I needed to practice. I kept thinking and wondering how weird it would feel once I got the brace off. I wondered if I would still be able to do handstands or anything else. 

The day I got the brace off was the day gymnastics practice started. I was happy again. 

My collarbone did not set right and the end of it closest to the middle of my neck, where the ends are supposed to touch the sternum, is about two inches further down than the other side and it is kind of hard to find the end of it. I also have a problem with pressing and pullups. Not that I am an expert at pullups anyway, but when I attempt them and start the pulling movement, I twist a little bit and I attribute that to my forearm problems. But that’s life and things happen that you can’t do anything about. 

I still do handstands though. I still kick up into the handstands and do them against the wall. I don’t do handstands for hours and hours though. I learned that lesson. Handstands for the break!