11 March 2018

At the Mouth of a Monster

I was only a girl. Maybe about six years old. My grandparents would kick me out into the mud and fresh air, only to come back when called in for dinner. I had been claimed by a mother killdeer this week. She had five healthy, happy babies, who traveled behind her as well. Up until this time my memory remains somewhat neutral as to the potential evil in the world. There was nothing that provoked ill feelings in me. Somewhat confused about the end goal of life sometimes, I was genuinely content.
 Until this day.
I was following behind my adoptive family. There was a whole forest to cover. Halfway through our trek we circled my grandfather's three ponds. He had each pond dug for a type of fish. A particular habitat for particular creatures. We were on the banks of "Trout Pond". The dry heat of summer made for thirsty babies.

Without notice, a giant head gulped out of the water and into the air.
It took one of her babies. One swallow.
Tachycardia immediately took hold in my little heart.
There was nothing I could do.
I waited and waited to see bubbles, signs of a fight, or even a way to grab that baby eating demon and yank the bird from its belly.
The surface again grew still. Momma killdeer had finally seemed to understand that her baby was gone. It felt like an eternity, but after about five minutes she seemed ready to trudge on with the surviving offspring.
In my afterthoughts, I began to wonder if grandpa could come save my friend. I then worried that he would blame me for being with the animals in the first place.
Or worse, he wouldn't even be hurt by what happened to baby bird.
That's if I could even get him to believe me that a giant mouth came out of the water and on to the bank just to eat that baby in one gulp. I was  mortified.
I spent the rest of the day on the bank of that pond, alone.
 What good was a world where the babies get eaten and the monsters are real?
To this day my developed adult brain cannot fathom the true identity of the killer. Giant trout, rouge muskie, homicidal turtle....I couldn't pick him out of a line-up. This small afternoon occurrence scarred me for life though. It's something I'll never really let go of and it was my first instance of realizing how terribly wrong things can go. 
My heart was broken and nobody understood. Best to work through it myself than babble nonsense to my elders. (They were savage. My grandpa had been in the war and traveled the world. I'm pretty sure they'd eat the dog if they had to. I can't throw a rock at a nuisance squirrel.) I wasn't upset that the bird had to die, I was upset that I could do nothing to change what happened.
A horrifying realization, but a necessary truth. Fast forward twenty or so years.

Another year has gone by and my struggle of dealing with small minds, continues to grow. Complacency makes me ill. My eternal patience grows thin.
People who see no deficiencies in themselves, are not my kind of people. I myself am fully flawed.
Regardless of your god or belief system, you must know by now that negative people and negative interactions are as toxic as drinking a self made poison.
If I do not guard my weak spots, the rot will get in. I have gotten good at this over the past few years. What I thought was a phase of life, has actually turned out to be an immense period of growth.
I am "shedding skin" again.
 I can feel it.
While I am no fan of constant change, I do believe in necessary change. My life is best when I embrace it, rather than fight the pull.

But there's a nagging realization that I am just a baby on the shore, and there's monsters just waiting to pull me in.
My absense would only be noticed temporarily. While the belly of my enemy will be full. Everyone else around the pond will say,
"That's the price you pay...."

Inner strength creates the outer foundation and I'm in the midst of a big build. Ironically after all the things I've seen, I do not fear death.
The fact that I am mortal gives me no anxiety.
There is clarity in permanance.
This is part of the fuel for my drive.
I have no time to waste.
 Adventure is calling and I must go.
And for the first time in all of my years, I know my head and my heart are in the right place.
If  I am to be swallowed, I hope it's in one gulp.


06 February 2018

I am Sam : Piece One

      West Leyden is a small town. Only about 1,500 people are here living ordinary, small town lives. The school is not far from my house. We never do it often, but this evening must have been special. My parents have brought me down the street so that I could swing. I didn’t need anyone to push me. I’m not sure if I ever did. The sun is fading fast. It casts a golden hue over everything it’s touching for these last few minutes. My mom is abnormally happy. Dad’s got an arm around her waist, twirling her about. The oddity of it all makes me feel awkward. Displaced.
I kick my legs harder at the knee and imagine doing a full flip on the swing. How crazy that could be. My hair is as long as my legs. I bet it would get caught.
They’re walking together on the pavement, hand in hand. I’d hate to feel judged for my lack of sensitivity, but it’s the first time I remember seeing such gross displays of affection from them. A lot of the time that I’m not right here at this school is spent with my Aunt Joy or my grandparents. Mom works days. Dad works nights. In between they argue about who should or shouldn’t be out drinking with friends. 
 I have a half sister on my dad’s side. She is ten years older than me. Ecstatic to think I had a gender ally that could teach me all the things I needed to know as a girl, I was somewhat disappointed when it didn’t turn out that way. I’m pretty sure her childhood self, hated my existence as much as my mom disliked hers. Both sides arguing greedily…. Who needs the paychecks more? Who should get child support less? How can someone be so ungrateful?
I remember mom arguing with dad once that “we don’t even have money for Sam to get breakfast cereal, but Amanda got new basketball shoes!”
I didn’t want them to argue about me. Honestly, I can’t even stomach cereal. The milk turns my belly sick. I’m fairly petite for my age and I could go without needing breakfast. Amanda is older, and bigger. She probably needs more things. I don’t play basketball. I bet the shoes are cool though... 

I would never hear the story from my parents, and I still haven’t. But the story went that dad left Amanda’s mom for my mom, and to many in town, that wasn’t allowed in this aged out society. Either way, I was too young to ever be valued for my opinion. I never hated Amanda though. I never held bias towards her mom. I understood why people would hurt in different ways than others hurt. 
I believe my mom tried…. she just couldn’t let everything go. 
I believe dad tried…. he just wasn’t meant to operate that way under immense pressure.

You can’t change people. You’re far better off changing your expectations of them.

 I came to understand at about the age of six that Amanda wasn’t going to be my “super close, awesome, big sister”, instead she was just trying to survive her parental drama. I could respect that. There was a huge blow-out during a family camping trip. Mom and dad would argue in the tent over who he took preference to and defended more. I can’t recall all the details, but it would be 15 years before I ever saw Amanda again. Her high school prom picture would sit on the mantel forever. She wore a beautiful, floor length gown and had long dark hair. I imagined how things could’ve been if people weren’t so self-serving and if parents didn’t need to spill toxins into their child’s ears. It’s hard to understand why adults would set their children up with unnecessary dilemmas. We are much more resilient than any of them. We are also less spiteful and petty.
 In an alternate set-up Amanda and I could’ve been closer. I thought of her often, and always hoped that she wasn’t sad. I'd always felt like I ruined her expectation of how she pictured her life. For that I was sorry. 

A few months after that odd day at the park, my aunt is taking me to the hospital in the near-by city. Mom and dad were already there. Rushing through the parking lot my aunt tells me I have a baby brother. In utter shock at all of this news I try to hide my immense disappointment, but I start to cry my eyes out.

 In some sick turn of events this causes my aunt to laugh and tell me it was only a joke. I am indeed a big sister to a little sister. Pride swallows my whole heart. I don’t know if there was ever a greater feeling than this. I will finally get to be the sister I know I can be. Elizabeth is beautiful and healthy. She screams obnoxiously loud, but it’s okay. We’re both new to each other. We are learning. I don’t care where she came from. I smother her with promises. My instinct takes over almost immediately, no one is going to take this one away. 

30 January 2018

Not Today.

It's the first evening of english literature, while I'm never worried about classes like this, the last thing I want to do is arrive late to the first day.
At the moment it's starting to look like I'm arriving late to the first day.

I got the four small humans where they needed to be, snuck in boyfriend kisses, got a caffinated beverage (or two) and was on my way. Bookbag is packed. Hair is brushed. No make-up. I can't look someone in the eye when mine are watering from misguided drops of mascara or eyeliner.
I park at the far end of campus. When you get too close to the start time everything close to the building turns into a war zone. I'll run to make up my time before I'll pay for a college rage induced fender bender. They can have it.
A sigh of relief rushes over me as I get through the double doors. Officially inside. Unfortunately I've forgotten that the honor society I'm being inducted into next week is doing a meet and greet for the hour leading up to my class. There are 6 minutes left. I still haven't found my new classroom. Exasperated, I accept my fate. I cannot just walk by this advisor to then face him next week. I am wearing red pants...I doubt my stealth. I remember Mr. Frisbee from his emails. The fact that his last name mirrors that of the novelty beach toy also helps to stick it to my brain. It was a crash meeting, but he seems pleasantly surprised that I took the time to say hello and already knew his name. He gives me a little black box. I am undoubtedly welcome. I walk down the hallway just long enough for him to not see me hit a dead sprint. Three minutes left to have my ass in that seat of that classroom I still haven't found.
Low and behold, the mechanic and campus police are around the bend. While it's not mandatory to stop and say hello, I feel obligated. Through crap weather, or sketchy people out in the parking lots, I can honestly say that these are the good guys. Intrigued with the mail jeep last semester they approached me, asking if I was there on work business or personal business. They couldn't believe someone with federal experience would want to come to college, especially when I have to drive through the worst of the north weather to get there. I am too young to be a mail carrier forever I laugh. If they only understood. Very few have time for that story though.
We exchange our friendly welcome back jokes. It is good to see friendly faces. During the evenings of my government class last semester I would see the mechanic weaving in and out of empty rooms. Typical maintenance I'm sure, nothing horrible, but it always made me feel sad. You'd never know it in a conversation, but to watch someone when they think they're alone, you pick up the details. I think he missed someone. I know I do when I'm here all week.
Room 215. I've made it with one minute to spare. Little did I know that chaos was about to ensue. I should've realized it once I figured out the girl seated in front of me was the actually professor of the evening. She finds that it's easier to analyze people when they are surrounded by a group of their peers with no apparent supervision. Not bad...dual Master's degree with honors woman. I'm fairly impressed with the work she puts into depth reading. We play two truths and a lie. I actually giggle inside, who plays this?!? The 19 year old boy in the back of the room lies about his favorite color, the girl next to him lies about how many sisters she has. I am a train wreck of truths. Which happens to make you a Queen at this game.
I have four daughters, I'm at risk for a terminal illness, I've been to rehab.
Maybe I should've worn the make-up.
Strangers are more likely to believe I've done drugs than had babies.
"There's no way you're that old."   (Maybe I should've counted the twins as one)
We analyze poems about suicide and depression. The class, all in all, will be a success. I can work with this. She ends class and I finally have time to open my little black box from honors advisor, Mr. Frisbee. It is simple. The shine makes it beautiful. I attach it to my Jeep keys and throw my ever growing book bag over my shoulder.
This was worth the rush. My life is worth the rush. People, as a whole, are worth the time.

I wanted you to know-
I doubted myself today. For about fifteen minutes. I still managed to get myself together and not lower into the black abyss of what life used to be day in and day out. I've said it before and I'll say it forever.
   Verbal abuse IS domestic abuse. Physical altercations count as well but, when those happen you could call for help and they give you a fancy stack of pink papers to use as justification for restraining orders.
   My cellphone is the only place he can go now to tear me apart. I tried to warn the others. I then got accused of jealousy. The abuser never changes. Only the victim. It's a cyclic chain of abuse. I hope they know it's not just them. It was me too.
My college major is in government. I am not learning for the money. I am learning for the people. Our people. I believe that if you're doing your job in society honestly then there's no way to get rich off of such a career field. Women need help. Good men need protection. But there are so many girls living in situations you'd never want to see them in if you were their parent. My girls deserve better. My friends deserve better. I don't even know her, but the woman sitting next to me on the train deserves better.
I try to lead an open life so that you'll feel like you can too. I do not need anyone following me that doesn't genuinely want to. Being a source for the enemy makes you a traitor. Nobody likes a traitor. Besides maybe other traitors.
People only have as much power and credit as you decide to give them. I am overjoyed to be back. To be honest I don't even know how I ever lived that way or why. I promise my life is not simple and rainbows and butterflies don't shoot out my windows every morning. But if I can recognize what's right and what's wrong I'm hoping that it will give you the strength to do it too. While I have an incredibly busy life to live I am still dealing with a narcissist. Your abuser doesn't have a problem with his anger. He has a problem with your anger. One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes your voice shouldn't rise and your blood shouldn't boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone. When your anger does jump out of you, he is likely to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can. Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are. Abuse will make you feel straight jacketed. You will start developing physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger. Such as, depression, nightmares, teeth grinding, emotional numbing, eating and sleeping issues, all of which your partner will use as an excuse to belittle you further and make you out as the  crazy, insane one.
Do you remember the story about the dog that got put to sleep?
As a puppy and through it's young life, the man kicked it daily. It became so frightened that even the man walking into the room caused the dog to soil the floor. After a couple years though the dog finally started to grow tired of this. When the man pulled his steel work boot back to kick the dog, the dog lunged and grabbed hold of the back of his knee. He latched on with all his might and what spirit he had left until the warmth of blood soaked his jowls.
The owner literally chucked the dog into the bed of his truck and drove him to the nearest vet. Taking no time to tend to his wound during his rage spree, he used it as evidence that this violent, nasty, rotten dog needed to be put down as a service to the public. He denied ownership of it. He had no idea where it came from, or why it chose to attack him. Seeing how he never properly cared for the dog it didn't even have a record, let alone the proper shots and treatments. No one claimed the dog on the radio. His three days were up. With a heavy and confused heart, the vet inserted the death cocktail. He seemed like such a nice dog. It is too bad that he had to bite that man.

I'm twirling my new, silvery key chain. It spins in the middle. I find it satisfying.
"Not today, life.
I will not be a victim today."

23 January 2018

The Permance of Purgatory: aka Teenage Pregnancy

 Alexis is ten years old now. Her face mirrors my own. She doesn't know the storms that surrounded her birth. How easily our entire lives could've changed. How hard doing what was right over doing what was easy was. I was a "teen mom".  It's no where's near as cool as the hit MTV reality show makes it sound. Not an ounce of glamour was involved.
   I was class president, student council vice president, soccer captain, accelerated softball catcher, Honor society member, Humane society volunteer, an active part of students against a vanishing environment, chorus, girls athletic association, I played clarinet and was nominated as our schools ambassador to the HOBY conference. I've always had a strong passion for learning and growing. Not because someone told me I had to....it's always how I've been. My support system was fairly weak on the home front and there was nobody mentoring me. My mistakes were my own and I had to take full accountability for them. Granted, there would be plenty more, but my pivotal shift from being a successful teenager turned into me being a failing adult in a matter of 9 months. 4 months if you count the fact that I didn't know I was pregnant with Lex until 24 weeks. Teenage stupidity.
      I was naive, uneducated in matters of the storks and made the giant mistake of sneaking out in my down time to go party away the stress that awaited me at home every day if came out of my room. Alcoholism and depression effects the entire family. Not just the person doing it. About a year prior to my pregnancy my maternal grandparents both died. A lot of focus in the house turned into the emptiness of what was gone, over what was still around. The guidance counselors never saw behind the smoke screen. Nobody could possibly understand unless their family has been through it too. It is the biggest knife in my back. I should be angry. I should be vengeful. But instead, we choose to protect those that are weak. I've never felt right about taking someone to slaughter that can't defend themselves. Maybe, it's a weakness of all sons and daughters. Maybe it's a weakness of those with empathy. But in short, I can't place my life mistakes on anyone else. I was all I had.
        I was escorted to a room in the high school office by one of my softball coaches. I managed to hold it together while I numbly made the walk to what felt like impending doom. A counselor was waiting for us inside. My mother had called and reported my newly discovered pregnancy to my coaches. I dropped a bit on my mile times but for the most part (aside from the constant vomiting each morning) you'd never know that I was 6 months pregnant. The doctors would later confess that my sports efforts were likely the reason why I was so physically able to handle labor without drugs or much effort. I sat in a pool of tears and embarrassment. The adults in the room seemed sad too. I begged to keep playing. Those were my girls, my team. I spent more time in the weight rooms and on the fields than I did at home. I was barred from athletics. Unless I wanted to be the designated " water-girl", which was an extremely generous gesture to keep me involved but I was already heart broken. It's like getting dumped and then having the guy say he wants your best friend. He'd still be there but then you'd have to lie witness to the pain day in and day out until you finally couldn't stand to see it anymore. "Thanks, but no thanks.", I want the girls to grow as a team, but I can't emotionally handle it while watching my belly grow on the bench.

         I lost everything I had built. Everything I loved. Alexis' father lost nothing. He'd never know what it was like to be pregnant and have to walk down a high school hallway. I lost my scholarships, I lost my sports teams. I lost my honors advanced regents degree. I had no time to volunteer or participate in my clubs. I lost many friends. Family tore me apart even more. I was put on a PINS program to prevent me from leaving the house I dreaded so much. PINS stands for "Person In Need of Supervision.", typically kids with drug charges in high school utilized the program over going to Juvie. I had to agree to it to avoid being placed with a foster family. I promise you I have never been a delinquent, nor is reckless one of the adjectives I would use to describe myself. People higher than myself, because of my age and inexperience, wrecked me in any way possible. There's something about people trying to destroy you that makes you want to empower others. Other teens, other moms, other kids of alcoholic families, other domestic abuse victims. We don't deserve to live with the consequences of other people's short comings. Family or not. I let the negatives go so that I could give myself the peace enough to make room to grow. Hate is too heavy to carry for long.
     I am strong because I've  been weak. I believe in everyone , regardless of their past, because I had no-one to believe in me. I believe the strongest of us are those who have been left for dead by everyone else. We then despair on our own until we choose to dig ourselves from the trenches or accept the life we've got in the dark abyss of sadness and solitude.
      I decided to be strong. So strong that no-one would ever dare tear me down again. I will have fire in my eyes when I face them all, never tears. I won't point fingers. I will stand and deal. I will face the world with my head held high and carry the universe in my heart. My mistakes are not grave. My life is not bad. My losses in hindsight, have been gains.
             Today starts my 2nd college semester. They don't know my past. I've got a clean educational slate. If all goes as planned and I keep myself organized I should have an honors degree with a major in Government next Spring. This morning, my four daughters shared in my anxiety and joy over another semester starting. Us all being in school creates a united front in all things homework and studying. They love going to the college. They are proud to wear their sweatshirts. They give us discounted movie tickets for our local theater and offer many family friendly events. I've been criticized for choosing to work and do college full time while I have 4 children. My daughters are not baggage, they are my drive. I could never put goals on my girls without being serious about achieving my own. I will pick them up when they are down. This is how the world will change, and it starts with what we do in our own households. We are not our parents and that's okay. I'm about to be a Sophomore again. And this time I will get it right.

25 April 2017

Laying Love Down in the Driveway

"What weird people.", I said as I slammed on my brakes. This crazy old man and woman were veering in and out of their driveway on bicycles. I waited, somewhat annoyed, for them to complete the action and be roadside but no such luck. Even with the multiple chances I had given, they stayed glued to their paved driveway. I was about 5 miles from being done with my work day. I didn't have time for this nonsense.
 I was on my favorite mail route, about five years ago that I first met Mr. & Mrs. P. Before I came to know who they were they seemed awful strange from the outside, and trust me, I shouldn't even judge! My first run in with them was brash and quick. The second time I ended up there was for a bit longer....
   My old blue mail jeep strikes many peoples interest. With her steering wheel on the opposite side and odometer tipping 250,000 miles she's of novel curiosity. Mr. P caught me one day while stuffing bicycles are us magazines in his mailbox. I wasn't fast enough to get away without the introductory conversation that becomes necessary when a mail customer flags you down. It's never easy to be a speed demon, like headquarters desires and to be your neighborhood Mr. Rogers like your customers deserve. I accepted defeat and put on my best "I love new people" face. I could tell by the bicycle incident that this guy was going to be a weird one.
      Mr. P was in his 80's and nothing like the conclusions I had jumped to. He and Mrs. P moved here to be alone in their latter years. Which was going fairly well until I came along. For being in a town where there are more bovines than people they lived a fairly secretive lifestyle. Besides their daily bike charades!
 Mrs. P was his true love and that was about all I knew of her. He was a coastguard, a mathematician, a mad scientist and a mechanic. He talked of philosophical beliefs and scolded me on my cold views of humanity.
"There's good people and there's bad people Sam. Don't ever let the bad guys win.", he'd say.
Instead of using my lead foot, I began to slow down in hopes that Mr. P would be outside to entertain me with a new story of living and learning. My young brain enjoyed the tales of travels these two had made since the 1950's.
The only thing that became apparent...besides how wrong I was to judge this couple by first impression, was how much he loved Mrs. P. I had actually wondered if maybe he was in the beginning stages of dementia with all his repetitive elaboration on how wonderful his wife is. I swear her rosy cheeks were some form of permanent blushing caused by sharing a life with this man.
She was a woman of few words and many smiles. Mr. P would visit with me whenever I could make an appearance. Some days though they'd both kindly wave me by. If they were both on their bikes and riding in their weird ritualistic circle in the driveway they were not to be disturbed. Not that I ever understood this, I always respected it. I also began to pull a little farther away from their mailbox so not to scare Mrs. P into thinking I was about to put her under my jeep tire.
 A couple years had passed. Old Blue and I were still delivering together but this day was a bit different. I'd been overheating for about an hour now. I knew my time before complete disaster was limited but I was down to my last 5 miles! Sure enough my radiator blew it's top at Mr. P's. No one was riding bike in the driveway today, which seemed strange because it was beautiful out. To my relief Mr. P came out to their garage when I rang the door bell. I noticed his bike in the garage on the ground. Mrs. P's was hung up in the rafters. For safer keeping I imagined.
Sure enough I was right. Paul confirmed it. For the time being though, he said I could take whatever stopleak brand radiator crap he had along with however many gallons of water I could fit into the back of Old Blue. Everything combined should be enough to get me up and down my last hill and back to the post office. Success! That's all I could ask for. While we were filling jugs from the garden hose that's when he told me. Mrs. P had died. It was so unexpected that I managed to maintain my composure and focus on the tasks at hand while he told me what happened.
     I blanked out bits and pieces though....it was much easier on the heart to focus on the water jugs. She had gotten sick since my last visit and I hadn't been back to deliver mail there in so long that I never even knew. Immense guilt washed over me. Not that we bonded much, but I loved Shirley indirectly because of how much Paul loved Shirley. I needed a sidelining topic. This was a conflicting time for me...I told Paul of my beginning stages into the abyss that is divorce. I currently despised life and any type of "investment" into another human being. What a waste. I waited for his disapproval. Without a tear in his eye or a frog in his throat he said,
 "There is no divorce in love. There's not a thought or action towards it. You cannot come close to dissolving someone that is your entire existence. You don't know what I speak of Sam because you obviously didn't have it, but do what you need to do and get it done because that is not the kind of love you live your life for. No ma'am. It's unfortunate that you didn't know this sooner and that children have been brought into it but thank your stars for the chance to get it right because if you get it right you will find someone that would literally die for you if they had to. I always thought that I'd go before Shirley. I had everything set up for her so that even though she'd have to carry on without me she could do so without any worry about who was going to take care of her or that she wouldn't have the means to get by. I took care of EVERYTHING to make sure she would be okay when the last thing I'd ever want to do is leave her and now in some sick joke life has taken her from me.
Do you know why we rode the bicycles Sam?? We'd ride here in the driveway because our plan of traveling the country after my retirement was halted by the risks of Shirley's declining condition. She'd always say we could go but it was never worth her health. So instead of biking the big roads we circled the driveway. We may not have seen all the sights the world had to offer but just seeing Shirley's bike wheel right behind mine was enough for me. She was enough for me. The world can have all of it's glory. The best time of my life was the love we laid down in this driveway. I am not a simple man Sam, but I can tell you I have found beauty in the simplest of things. Do not have sympathy for me for I know what true love is. I will hope that it finds you someday. Only then will you understand what it is."

We put 5 gallons of water in the back of my jeep. The stopleak in the radiator seemed to be holding. I tried to pay Paul $20 for all of his help and supplies....he wouldn't take a penny. He shook my hand and told me it was a delight as always, even in the darkness of both our situations.

I cried softly the remainder of my mail route. I actually didn't even realize it until I saw the dampening dots on the front of the farm magazine I was holding. Oddly enough I didn't know if the tears were for me, Shirley, Paul or something completely unrelated. I just know the realness of what I just drove out of shook me. I would never see Mr. P again.

He died shortly after I saw him. It was November of 2014. He plugged the exhaust to his car and let it run inside the garage with all the doors closed. He was an intelligent man and I imagine he made it as painless as possible. He had hung his bicycle up with Shirley's.
People called it an "unexpected suicide".
There was a request for no donations, no service. No goodbyes. Paul didn't believe that he was going to a pearly gate to be united with his long lost love in heaven but a world without Shirley in it was not a world he wanted to live in. Although any chance at seeing her again, through any means possible was worth whatever sin was in his way. Death was not going to stop him from trying. There is no divorce in real love and there's no way to dissolve it. There was more love in that driveway than there had ever been in my heart in 23 years. I did not cry for Paul the way I did for Shirley. I'd been holding on to this story for a couple years now. Maybe it's taken me that long to actually appreciate the depths of it. But when I passed their driveway today on the mail route my heart "pinged" and I realized  how much their example meant to me and that just maybe you needed to hear it because it could mean something to you too. This really happened and the people are real. The love even more so...