Sunday, May 17, 2015

Eulogy: How You Changed My Life

Chapter Thirty continued...

To read the beginning of this chapter, please CLICK HERE.

Dear Mark,
    I don’t know how to explain everything that’s inside of my heart right now; it’s breaking at the thought of never seeing you again. I’ll miss so many things about you, like your laugh, your smile, or how you look when you know you’ve done something awesome and you want me to notice.
    I’ll miss your deep voice, and all the sweet things you used to say to me, once upon a time when I was your girl.
    I feel bad that I never told you how very much you impacted my life and changed some of my views.
    You see, you’re one of the most genuinely good people I’ve ever met in my life. To think of all the times you selflessly gave to me and my children... I remember when I told you that my ex-husband wasn’t able to spend much time with my kids because of his job. You rushed to your house, and showed up at mine with a faded book. “Can I give this to your son?” you’d asked.
    “Sure,” I said. And even though you didn’t know it, I stood outside of the door, listening as you gave him the book.
    “This book is for one of the most awesome boys in the universe!" you said. "I’ve had it for years, just waiting to give it to someone—then I met you and I knew this book was destined to be yours!”
    My son squealed, so excited.  And even after things weren’t perfect with us anymore, he kept that book on his dresser as a reminder that someone knew he was special—and that made him realize his potential too.
    “How long have you had that book?” I asked you later.
    “Six years,” you said. “I’d planned on giving it to my son someday. That’s why I gave it to your boy.”
    I cried after you left because your words meant so much. You’d touched our hearts that night, in a way I’ll never be able to explain. You'd accepted everything about us, and loved us for it all.
    I remember another time, I called you when my life had completely spiraled out of control. “My ex-boyfriend said the most terrible things about me. My kids aren’t home to distract me. I’m all alone and I feel worthless. I just don’t see the point,” I said. “I’m so sad today…I make everyone miserable just by being around.” I paused before deciding to tell him the truth. “Part of me just wishes I could stop breathing.”
    “Gina! Don’t say that.”
    “But it’s true!” I sobbed, desperate.
    “Tell me everything. I want to hear all of it.” You kept me on the phone; I had no idea that you’d jumped into your truck, and been driving over to my house all the while.
    “Get some cute clothes on—we’re going to coffee.”
    But I wouldn’t get dressed, so you dragged me out of the house in my pajamas. I couldn’t bear to drink all of my coffee, but you didn’t judge me. Instead you drove around with me for hours. When my eyes were too tired to stay open, I fell asleep on your shoulder and woke up to you bringing me into the house and tucking me into my bed. You smoothed the hair from my face and told me the sweetest things until I fell asleep again.  The next day, I opened my eyes and you were still there, dozing off, waiting to make sure that I was okay. And I truly was because you’d helped me through.
    I’m not exactly sure what day or hour I fell in love with you, but I do remember the moonlight. I looked into your eyes and fell hard. And that love hasn’t been some whimsical romance, or a fleeting feeling, it’s the strongest kind of love, when you have a friend--a companion--an equal--who you’d do anything for and it would be worth any sacrifice. Someone who’s worth spending your life with, or giving your life for. I’ve never had someone treat me with such kindness. I’ve never had a man swoop into my life like this and revolutionize how my children feel about themselves and their worth.
    I remember watching you do homework with my daughters, telling them to try again because they’d get it for sure the next time. “You’re so smart,” you told my oldest.
    “Not everyone thinks so,” she said.
    “Well, I can tell when people are intelligent and YOU definitely are.”  You worked with her every night when you came over to visit us after work and her grades went up after that.
    I’ll never forget when you held me for hours, both of us whispering our unending love, me thinking that was Heaven as your fingers traced my skin and I felt your breath on my neck.
    But you already know all of these stories. And there are so many more… I just wanted you to know that every moment I spent with you mattered.
    Knowing you has been life-changing. In the end we had different goals. I wished you’d meet a beautiful girl who could have your darling baby, and love, and everything you deserve. I’d smile, knowing what a good father you’d be. And Mark, even though I couldn't give you a biological child, I’d be so thankful you got your dream. 

    I guess I just want you to know that I’ll always appreciate what you did for me and my four children; I cherish those memories. And because of the impression you made on my life, I will never be the same.

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I folded the paper up, stuck it in the mason jar, and watched as Mark finished the letter he’d just written for the time capsule as well.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Bury the Hatchet
Chapter Thirty

If you want to read this from the very beginning, please CLICK THIS.
Based on a true story

    The great thing about time apart is that you find out how much you miss—or don’t miss—someone.
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    The time spent away from Mark was excruciating, albeit for the best. After all, when it comes to big issues, like having children, if you don’t agree, it’ll never work out.
    Mark pulled up to my house around 9am the next day. His lips hung in a frown. “This whole thing sucks,” he said. “You really think we should quit dating over this?”
    I nodded.
    “But we could keep dating; and not worry about things that aren’t affecting us right now.”
    “And all the while, I’ll grow closer and closer to you; by that time it’ll nearly kill me to let go.” I couldn’t look into his face. I turned away slightly. “It’s best to say ‘goodbye’ now. Unless you want to stay friends?” I hoped he’d say ‘yes’--with everything in me. 
Instead Mark shook his head. “Gina, that would be too hard, watching you date other people, knowing we’d never be together again….”
    I completely understood--this was a cut-and-dry break-up. "Okay," I said. "But just do one last thing with me?”
    “What?” he asked. "You want to go to the place we swung in the hammock?"
    “Yes! But first, you wanna go to The Dollar Store with me?”
    “Ummmm…. What?”
    “You heard me.”
    So we drove to The Dollar Store, and the whole while I felt Mark’s mood changing from completely sad to curious.
    “I wanted to come here because I'd like to make a time capsule with you!” I said.
    “Yep. If we bury it today, we can meet in five years and go dig it up together. Then I can hear about your life.” And his kids. “And how happy you are.” And his beautiful fertile wife-of-the-future. “It’ll be good.”
    “Five years?! That’s way too long. How about six months?”
    “You can’t bury a time capsule for six months. That’s silly. Time capsules have to stay buried for at least a year.”
    His eyebrows raised quizzically. “Okay. A year.”
    “That doesn’t seem like very long”—for him to find a wife and have babies, and see how good it was that we were breaking up—“but I guess it’ll work."
    “What does all of this have to do with The Dollar Store?” he asked.
    “I’ll get a mason jar, two notebooks, and pens. We can write stuff to each other. But I also thought it would be fun to buy a dollar item that reminds us of each other. Imagine how cool it'll be to dig everything up next year!”
    He laughed in spite of the situation, then sounding robotic, said in the monotone, “Who kn-ew brea-king up could b-e so fun.”
    I slapped him on the back. “I’m gonna find something that reminds me of you. Don’t be cheating and trying to snoop on me!" I smirked. "Meet you at the truck in fifteen minutes? Oh and don’t forget, whatever you’re getting needs to be able to fit in the mason jar.”
     I looked everywhere throughout the store. I could buy some soap—‘cause he smelled nice. Or some gum—‘cause he’s refreshing. I went from aisle to aisle thinking about how each freakin’ item could remind me of something good about Mark. At one point tears filled my eyes momentarily before I shook them off, remembering if I had to say goodbye to this man, I would do it with dignity—and it’d be hella fun. Maybe then Mark would look back and remember--even this moment--fondly.
    It wasn’t until the last couple minutes that I finally found the simplest thing that still had profound meaning: a candle.
Mark already waited in the truck. I handed him the mason jar and he quickly shoved in the item he’d purchased, still wrapped, into the sack. I set mine in as well.  “What did you buy?” he asked.
    “I can’t tell you yet." I giggled. The mood had lightened up so much. We were both starting to have a little fun, and I was excited to bury the thing. “can we still go to where we swung in the hammock together? That's where I'd like to bury this.”
    “Okay. We’ll hike in. It’ll take some time though.”
    “As long as I’m back before the kids get out of school, then I have time.”
    “We’ll make it work.”
    So we spent the first half of the morning hiking to the same area we’d visited before. After arriving, Mark sat down on a rock and gazed at me. “Now what?”
    I pulled the two notepads and pens from my pack. “I want both of us to write where we want to be next year—even if it sounds outrageous or we know it would never happen.”
    “Like winning the lottery?”
    “Exactly! Whatever comes to mind.”
    He ripped a tiny piece of paper from her notepad and quickly wrote, then stuck it in the jar.
    “That was fast. Apparently you know what you want.”
    “Maybe.” He looked away.
    I thought for a moment and wrote the first thing that came to my mind. 
    –Next year, I wish I could be engaged to Mark, and that I could have a job at a hospital—
    It would never happen—let alone within a year—and I had no idea what he’d think about it next year, but I was being honest if anything else.
    “Should we also write a note saying why the dollar store thing reminded us of each other?”
    “Sure,” he said.
    We each ended up writing on another small piece of paper. I wrote something about how candles are illuminating and bright. How when burning they provide inspiration. How Mark seemed to make life better, clearer, brighter while in my life.
    After stuffing the wadded papers into the mason jar, we both just sat side-by-side for a long time gazing at the nature around us. Wind rushed past our faces over and over. I remembered his words from the last time we’d been there:“I always want to be in your life. To be your guy, the one person you'll lean on throughout life. But...I have always wanted to have a kid, just one."    Life with me was a dead-end of his biggest dream.

    I finally moved near him. “I wonder… Where do you want your life to be in a year?”
    He laughed mischievously. “You’ll find out, when we dig this up—in a year. Maybe we should wait five years!”
     I gave him the stink-eye.
    “Should we put anything else in here?” he asked.
    “Heck yes. We haven’t put the most important part in.”
    “What's that?”
    “Well…”—this would sound weird—“I figure since we’re breaking up, I want to tell you how much our time together has meant to me. I heard of a couple who did this exercise in counseling and it was really neat; they imagined that their significant other had died, then they wrote them a letter saying everything they’d wanted to say, but never had.”
    He looked like he’d swallowed a live bullfrog—whole. “Oh, wow,” he croaked.
    “Yep.” I tapped his notebook. “So, imagine I’m dead, baby. Let’s do this.”
    He flipped to a new page in his notebook, and said, "YOU are a character!" That's when both of us started writing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Beginning Without an End

Chapter Twenty-nine
A Beginning Without an End

To read this from the start, please CLICK HERE.
Based on a true story

Breaking up with someone can show you one of two things: how much you need them, or how much you don’t.
    The next morning after Mark and I decided to take a break, I didn’t want to get out of bed. Intense pressure weighed onto my chest, pushing down, making me cry and ache from lack of breath. I didn’t quite know how to deal with this since I’d never known that a mental issue—like a breakup—could affect me like this.   
    After fighting to drag myself from bed, I donned my best smile and got my children off to school and daycare. Some computer-work needed to be finished for the airline; I could barely concentrate. That’s when my mom called.
    “Gina, are you okay?”
    “No. Mark wants to have kids.”
    “Oh, Gina! You can’t have more kids. You know what the doctors said. Mark is great, but your body can't handle any more pregnancies.”
    “I know…. That’s why we’re taking a break--probably for good. He’s thinking about things. It was my idea; I want him to realize that we’ll never work out if he wants a baby. It breaks my heart.”
    She sighed into the phone. I wondered how hard it would be to see one of my own daugthers go through heartbreak after heartbreak. I really felt bad for my mom. “I don’t know what to say," she finally stated, "other than that you’re so strong. You’ll make it through this too. If it's meant to be, it'll be.”
    “I’ve gone through so much, Mom. But to lose him--after finally knowing what it’s like to be with someone who fits me so well, and is kind, and generous, and loves the kids—" Then I was sobbing, uncontrollably.
    After we hung up, that’s when I felt compelled to write our story, Mark. To tell you all of the details, how I fell in love with you, from my stupid job as a security guard, from our little talks and our friendship, to our first kiss in that rocky cave.  I know we might not work out, I know, but I wanted you to realize how much I care, so I can always have these memories to hold dear. And maybe if I write everything down, you won't forget me either.
    I’ve typed, so many chapters that they’ve almost filled an entire book. Not because it's something that makes me rich, or comfortable…it’s just something I've done to cope. And this is the first time I’ve found myself writing a story that I don’t really know the ending to. Most authors, plan the end first so they’ll know where to start. But I couldn’t plot “our” story out, not this time. And I’m hanging on, wondering if you’ll ever even read this….

    I thought about all of this for what seemed like an eternity.
    We didn't talk for several days that week, until you finally called me....

    "Gina, I'd like to meet with you, just to talk about how both of us are feeling. It seems only right, to meet in person."
    "Okay," I said, trying to keep my voice from sounding sad. "Can we go where you hung that hammock a few weeks ago?"
    "Sure. That's all right with me."
    And so we decided to meet the following day.

Please CLICK HERE to read more.