the Rainbow Bridge

I didn’t really start believing in an actual higher power until I lost a parent. Many others that I know say the same thing. The notion of a magical place in the clouds that houses our loved ones after they shed their mortal shell, where they look as they did in their prime before sickness or age took them away from their pain is a far fetched notion in this day of science and reason. But it sounds like a hell of an idea and if it gives you comfort, then go for it. It did for me. We all grieve differently.

Grief is a powerful thing. When someone suffers a loss we want to say something, we want to do something. The bitch of it is that there is nothing we can say or do, it’s a personal process that really never ends it only gets less difficult over time. If you are lucky. It is a matter of patching the giant hole that the loss of a loved one leaves in us.

Our human vanity challenges the notion that the loss of a pet can be as traumatic as the loss of a human. They’re only animals after all, right?
Wrong.
I won’t go so far as to say that an animal is on the scale of a human but I will tell you that to many, most(?), our furry friends are not just pets. They occupy our hearts and minds and command a level of love and companionship that comes in a photo finish second.

I lost my first dog when I was in High School. We adopted a Brittany Springer Spaniel from a shelter when I was 4. He was a hunting dog that was trained too early and was gun shy, rendering him useless to hunters. He was my absolute best friend in the world. To call him a loyal companion would be the understatement of the century. He was by my side everywhere I went. He saved my life once. I was crossing our street and a school bus was barreling down the hill. He ran across the street and tackled me. The bus missed us by inches. He wasn’t just a pet. When I drove to NH one summer day over Summer Vacation I was met with the dour faces of my parents, who told me that he was put down. I was crushed and remained that way for a long time. There was a hole in my life. It was at that time that I saw the poem “the Rainbow Bridge.”

We have had a series of dogs since then. I wasn’t as close to any of them as I was to my first but I loved them so very much and losing them was never easy. Recently we put down our Laso Apso of 14 years. That was a tough one for my mother and I, he was an amazing companion. Smart, loyal and goofy and a constant presence. His loss crushed my mother. This time she said “no more dogs. It’s too hard to lose them.”

I agreed with her on the “hard to lose” them part. But I didn’t agree with the no more dogs thing. The one thing about animals that differs from humans is that, while you can’t replace them, you can fill the hole left by a pet. The mistake we make is that we don’t want to do them a dishonor by “replacing” them and in the process we forget that we have an opportunity to at least fill the empty place in our lives.

Having said that, six months after putting down our beloved Laso, we got another dog. A beautiful Cocker Spaniel named Sammy (Samuel L. Spaniel).

My mother’s frown turned upside down from the first day that we got him and I have to say that her life is better with him in it. He is loyal, friendly, funny, goofy and absolutely full of love for her. He has chosen her as his favorite and I’m fine with it, it was her hole to fill more than mine.

If you are a person who doesn’t want a dog because you feel that their lives are too short and the pain is too much, please focus on the wonderful times you are missing out on. Having something that is always happy to see you, missed you like you had been lost at sea, adores you unconditionally and can comfort you without having to know what’s bothering you is a treasure in and of itself.

If you are a person who doesn’t want to get another to fill the hole, remember that it is not about replacing, it is about mending the massive void in your life. Once you’ve known the unconditional friendship and admiration of a pet you really can’t go without it. As you sit on a park bench worrying about everything, your dog is sitting next to you thinking that you are their entire world.

How many people can you say that about?

I’m more likely to believe in heaven if I were to have all of the wonderful dogs I have been blessed to know waiting for me to walk by my side once again as I cross over.

It’s worse at night

It’s worse at night. But lately the days aren’t any easier.

The endless streams of FB posts of friends and family thriving in life. I watch them celebrate milestones, drinks and dinners with giant smiles on their faces. I am happy for them, I really am but it inevitable comes back to me as a reflection of my own situation.

I’ve been to two weddings recently where my only takeaway was “I wish I had that.”

2 years ago I thought I had lost everything. By all accounts I did. The only thing to survive the toppling of my entire former existence was my optimism. I had a resilient and omnipresent ability to look at my situation as a phase that would inevitably get better. After all, it has to doesn’t it?

It hasn’t. With the exception of a fleeting romance, it has all been going downhill emotionally and physically. That romance was a blessing. She was exciting, vibrant, sexually charged and above all it gave me hope. There was hope that we would bridge the distance and be together. I saw it as a new beginning, a chance at happiness. A beam of sunlight piercing the clouds of my every day existence.

For months I found excitement in the constant texts and phone calls. I found solace in our similarities and embraced our differences. I felt excited, giddy, loved, wanted, desired. I felt like I had a purpose again. I came to believe that we would be together one day.

Then it started to fade. She got sick. Plans changed. She was no longer willing to pick up everything and make a change. With me. Still. I remained emotionally invested. I loved her. She was my happily ever after. A shiny and sharp sword to fight my battles with. She gave me hope.

This morning I saw on my FB feed a picture of a guy on her page. The post was titled “This is love.”

A heads up would have been nice.

I suppose it wasn’t enough that I feel sick all the time. That I am lacking purpose. That I am uncontrollably envious at the happy people all around my island of solitude. That I am out of work, broke and dealing with the social stigma of living in my mother’s basement. I’ve now hit for the cycle and I get to add heartbroken to the mix.

It’s an act after all. To portray oneself as a Phoenix rising from the ashes when in reality you feel like just another burning ember that will eventually die out and end in obscurity.

I really need something positive to happen in my life right now. I’m not sure how many more hits I can take before I finally decide it’s not worth fighting anymore. I’m not sure how many more nights I can lie awake writing my own obituary in my head, wondering if the people in my life would understand if one day I just wasn’t around anymore.

Is this really as good as it gets?

On Grief

She cared for her husband when he was sick and dying. He was a veteran with a pension and Medicare but he couldn’t secure a spot in a Nursing Home. For six long years she was Nurse and Caretaker until the day he left us. I never saw her cry. She claimed that she grieved his loss while he was alive.

A short six months after her beloved husband died she met another man. A man that adored her. It was a second chance for both of them and they were happy. They moved in together until they decided that their upbringings demanded that they get married. They did. 3 short months after he was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. He died 10 days from diagnosis. I never saw her cry.

She went on an online dating site 2 months after he died and began dating a man soon after.

She put her beloved dog down last Friday. I saw her cry for a brief moment. That’s it. She’s already talking about getting another dog.

She is my mother, and she does not Grieve.

I have grappled with and marveled at this for many years. I am no closer to understanding it now than before. If she was a closed-off person by nature it would make more sense. But she’s a warm, caring person. She is outgoing, friendly and kind. She had a caring, if not somewhat overbearing mother who showered her with love. Her father was, in my opinion one of the nicest men ever to walk the planet. But something or someone critical in her formative years taught her that women, not just men, don’t cry.

I tried talking to her about it the other day. I asked if she grieves in private or not at all. She revealed that she has her moments when she thinks about my dad and her second husband Frank. The memories are all over the house in the form of pictures and the fact that my Dad essentially built the house we live in. T0here are the triggers, the songs and smells and random nuggets that make us think of that one special person. They make her cry…a little. But not for long, no sense wasting time on what’s already happened.

This can only be the inherited toughness from her mother. Mom’s family cab be faithfully traced back to the ages of Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower and they were solid, steadfast people that frowned on weakness. Her mother was a stalwart example of that bloodline. I’m sure her mother taught her to “suck it up” and not dwell on that which is beyond our control. It worked for her when she was orphaned at a young age and was raised by her brow-beating Grandmother. I’m not sure she did her daughter right by passing this on to her.

I have no pretense of trying to change her. It simply cannot be done. I also inherited, or learned, toughness as one of our family traditions. It has served me well as my life’s buffet has been a seemingly endless supply of Shitburgers. But I do know how to let things go properly.

I wish my mother would just, for once, let it out. Grief is like a lungful of air after a deep inhale. If you let it out slowly it hurts. If you open up and let it go it leaves the body quickly and painlessly. I admire her toughness and her ability to trudge forward no matter how strong the wind is. But toughness at the risk of emotional health is the wrong way to go.

Yes, those of you that know me know that I admire and exemplify a high level of toughness and it is no exception with her. But before I tell something to Fuck Off from my life permanently I deal with it properly. I forgive once I decide that it’s good for me to do so. I cry occasionally because it’s too hard keeping it in. I admit when I’m wrong because it’s the right thing to do. I also know how to grieve, too well unfortunately. I’ve had lots of practice. My mother, on the other hand doesn’t deal with things, she just plays the waiting game in hopes that it will go away on its own. And she always wins. It’s not healthy.

Yes, let it go, but only after you have made proper peace with it.

Goodbye faithful friend

You’ve been struggling for a while. The spring in your step wasn’t quite there. Your deep brown eyes lost a bit of their sparkle. Your playfulness had begun to wane.

We tried to call it a phase. We woke each day hoping that we would see that spark. Occasionally you showed us glimpses of your old self. But you were tired. You were in pain. Life wasn’t fun for you anymore. It eventually began clear to us that you were never going to come out of this.

This last week you provided us with no glimpses of former you. You moved slowly. Your pain was obvious. When you fell on the stairs and needed help to get up we knew that a terrible but necessary decision was made.

It was time to put you to sleep.

For 13 years you were the loyal family dog. You weren’t a pet, my heart can only be this broken for a family member or a dear friend. You were always happy to see me, even when no one else was. You were always by my side so that I never felt alone. When the house was empty, I had wonderful companionship sleeping at my feet. As only a dog could do, your friendship was omnipresent and unconditional. I was one of your pack.

As one of your pack, I vowed that when your time of need came that I would be by your side, tirelessly and unconditionally. That promise was called in today as we woke to find you listless on the kitchen floor. Your sad brown eyes said it all. You were done, you needed relief from your pain and we had to do what was right for you despite how hard it would be for us. We called the veterinarian and asked to bring you in.

I carried you in to the office. You never let me pick you up until today. The waiting room full of people knew why you were there. They avoided eye contact out of respect and the knowledge of what we were there to do. They let us right in and we placed you on a cold metal table. I put your favorite blanket under you. They gave you a sedative and fed you treats until you put your head down. We patted your head and told you what a good boy you are, and have always been. The Dr. asked us if we were ready. Mom was sobbing. I teared up a little. But I held your little paw and stroked your ears in your favorite spot as they shaved a small section of your leg and gave you an injection.

As you stood by me in life, I stood by you at the end of yours.

“He’s gone”, the Dr. gingerly uttered a few moments later. We were asked if we wanted a private moment. I left my mother alone with him. I had said my goodbyes.

He leaves a hole that can never be filled for reasons that can never be explained. I will cherish the memories, for that is all that remains of my loyal, silly, loveable little furry friend. He is in a better place, at peace and free of pain. Somewhere over the Rainbow Bridge.

Unlike those of us who wish he was still here.

The dark secret…conclusion

Welcome to part 2 of The dark secret. You can catch part 1 here.

“Anna, I want you to kill me.” He paused to let his words sink in.

Anna got out of her chair and walked towards the front door.
“Please,wait!” he called to her.
“This is fucking crazy.” she yelled as she put on her shoes. “I’m not a killer and I can’t believe you just asked me that!”
“Anna, please.” he implored. “Allow me to show you just one thing before you go. Please?”
“Make it quick.” she barked.
He gestured to the hallway to the back of the house. He began his slow walk and Anna reluctantly followed. They came to a closed door and Klaus stood before it, his body twisted towards her with his hand on the knob.
“This will make it clearer for you. Please come in.” He opened the door and she slowly walked past him into the room.

She gasped and fell back. Bracing herself with one arm, she surveyed the giant Swastika flag pinned to the wall before her. Her heart pounding, her legs nearly giving out from under her, she surveyed the rest of the room in horror. Symbols of the Third Reich were everywhere. Felt pads with medals fastened littered the tables and benches. Books with German writing on the binders loaded the bookshelves. Flags and banners crowded the walls. She turned, outraged, to Klaus, who stood there with a stone face, his chin on his chest.
“You are the first person I have ever shown this to” he said. “A tremendous, awful burden has been lifted.”
“Well Fuck you very much for that. I hope you feel better! I sure as hell don’t.” She headed out the door.
“Anna!” he called after her. “Please let me explain further.”
She spun and glared at him. “What!” she yelled. “What is there to further explain? You’re a goddamn Nazi!”
“Please come back into the kitchen and allow me to shed further light.” He stood motionlessly in the doorway to the kitchen.
“You have 5 minutes and then I’m walking. Most likely to the Police Station.”
“Fine” he replied.

They sat down in front of their cold cups of tea.

“Anna.” He slowly began. “I am not proud of my past.”
“Then why the shrine of atrocities in your fucking bedroom? Ikea closed?”
“Ikea?”
“Never mind, Not important. Continue.”
“I have that room as a reminder. Not to celebrate my past, but to punish my present. As a reminder of my horrible misdeeds.” He paused and rubbed his eyes. “But it’s simply not enough punishment anymore.”
“So you want me to kill you. Because I’m Jewish? Some kind of poetic justice or some shit?”
“Because I can’t die on my own. And because you’re Jewish it would strengthen my penance.”
Puzzled, Anna took a moment to let that statement sink in.
“Klaus, if you don’t mind me saying so. You’re quite old, certainly mother nature will do the job for you eventually. Even soon?”
“Anna, just how old do you think I am?”
“If I had to guess I would say 90.”
“Table that thought for a moment.” He stared intently at her. “May I further unburden myself of my horrible, evil past?”
“If you must.”

He began to tell her of the distinguished military service of SS Grupen fuhrer Klaus Messerschmidt, Group leader and Field General in command of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. A bright military mind whose loyalty was unquestioned by his comrades, he was the youngest Field General in the Eastern Command. He was also the most sadistic.

For 15 minutes Klaus emotionally listed atrocity after atrocity. The slaughter of those who stood before him and the shooting of any that fled. The digging of mass graves by emaciated men only to have them shot in the back by gleeful soldiers who kicked their corpses in. The separation of babies from their mothers and the one soldier who stuck a bayonet, at his command, through an infant and laughed as the hysterical mother fell to the ground in grief. She was then shot. The gruesome medical experiments on the living. The smell of the smoke billowing from the chambers that all went in but none returned. The screams and pleas for mercy. Of he and his staff cowardly fleeing when the camp was liberated.

When he was done, he stared intently through red eyes at Anna. She was stunned. They sat in silence until she spoke.

“Feel better?” she asked. “Because I sure don’t. Thank you confirming everything my grandparents told me about you fuckers.”“I feel a small weight has been lifted from my shoulders. But no, I do not feel better. I am cursed by these memories whether I share them with the world or only one person. Cursed for eternity.”
“Eternity? How so?”
“Anna, you said earlier that you guessed my age to be about 90.”
“Yes.”
“I’m actually 109 years old.” He watched her intently as he said it.
“Come again?”
“When I fled Germany, when the Americans rolled in to liberate Auschwitz, I was a senior officer of 38 years old.”
“Klaus, if this is correct, you are one of the oldest men alive. Does the Senior Center know this?”
“No, no. In addition to a false name, I provided a false birth certificate. I don’t want to draw attention to myself.”
“Why not?”
“Because then they will track me until I am 110, 115, even 120.”
“Bullshit, Klaus. You’ll never make those ages.”
“I will if you don’t use this.” He pushed the Luger across the table. “You see, I can’t die of natural causes.”
“How do you know?”
“Because at 109 I have never even been sick with a cold. Not since the war. I believe that I am cursed to walk this earth forever bearing the sins of my past.”
Anna sat back in her chair.
“You’ve had this gun all along. Why not use it?”
“Because I’m a coward. I can’t pull that, or any trigger ever again.”
“Yeah, you’re not so tough without the evil midget with half a moustache pulling your puppet strings.”
“That’s a fair assessment. But off topic. Will you kill me or not?” he said flatly.
“Can I think about it? This has been quite an experience and it’s a lot to process. It’s not as if you’re asking me to do your shopping.”
“Of course.” he said. “Tomorrow, then?”
“I’ll tell you when I’m ready. Don’t call me.”

He nodded in silent agreement.

Anna excused herself and left.

That evening, Klaus woke to a commotion in his backyard. He looked out his window and saw someone working to a portable spotlight. He put on his robe and slippers, went down the hall, out the front door and made his way around the back of the house. There he found Anna, leaning on a shovel.“What is this, Anna?” he looked at her quizzically.
With a blank face she looked at him through the erratic beam of the work light.
“Here, put this on.” She handed him a bandana.
“Pardon?”
“Cover your eyes.”
“I will not.”
“Then I will hit you upside the head with this shovel and then put it on for you.”

He did as instructed.

She led him by the hand to where she was working. Klaus raised his hand to his face, lifted his bandana slightly and saw before him a shallow pit. She pushed the bandana down again.“Again. What is this?” he asked.
“Klaus Messerschmidt, you speak of your actions but you show only a small trace of remorse. You mostly speak of what it has done to you but hardly acknowledge the pain you have caused others. You then ask me to shoot you in order to ease your pain. But I have decided I don’t want to do that.”
“Well then, what do you plan on doing?” he inquired of the dark night.

Silence.

She kicked him from behind into the ditch. He fell awkwardly, landing face down. She began to shovel dirt onto him.

“Please, Please,” he pleaded. “Not like this!”
|“Yes, exactly like this. You don’t get the luxury of being shot in the head as your helpless victims did. You’re going to feel this.”
“Please no, this is not what I meant.”
“Klaus, do you know what I do for work?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I’m a Scientist. I test theories for a living.”
“What possible theory could you possibly be testing?” he cried out.
“Yours.” She savored the moment. “You claim you cannot die of natural causes. I want to test that theory. Suffocation is a natural cause. I’m going to bury you alive.”
“Please, I beg you. Just shoot me.”
“Again, it’s all about you and your pain, Klaus. I have my own and I now am obligated to carry that of your victims.”

Klaus was crying into the dirt. She listened for a few moments.

“If you can indeed die of natural causes, then this will kill you and your justice will be served.” She began shoveling more dirt on him. “If you can’t then you will lie awake in this shallow grave for eternity, and then justice for your victims will also be served.”
She shoveled more dirt on him. The cries for mercy became softer and more muffled with each spade of earth.

When she was done she collected her tools and her light. She took a few steps on the earthen grave of Klaus Messerschmidt, War Criminal, AKA Klaus Schmidt to pat it down.
“Has the screaming stopped, Klaus?”

No answer.

She gathered her tools and walked out of the back yard and down the walkway.

Looking back, she decided, as she loaded her trunk, that she would check on him tomorrow.

As she got into the driver’s seat of her car she decided that she also may not check on him at all.

She drove off.

Rest well, my Brother

“The roll of the workmen has been called, and one worker has failed to report”.

I dutifully hung my head as the familiar dialogue of a Masonic Funeral was read. I’d been in many Masonic funerals in my years as a Freemason. It is a beautiful ceremony, the same one performed for George Washington, and a show of respect for the fallen brother and a glimpse for the family into the ways of the fraternity the brother’s family never saw. They always make me sad, but this one really hurt.

This brother was also a very close friend whose loss I know I will feel for a very long time.

I first saw Adam from across the room at a meeting. The first thing I noticed about him was the absurdly round face. I observed that he was heavy, but his face was bloated beyond that. When he stood up I could see that he was in pain. This man had a story to tell.

As the room cleared at the end of the meeting I saw the small crowd gathered around him. Handshakes, hugs and greetings abounded, it was obvious that he was a beloved member of the lodge. I made a goal of getting to know him.

During cocktail hour I walked across the room and introduced myself. Never one afraid to approach a stranger, I stuck out my hand.

“Greetings, Brother. My name is Bill”. He stuck his hand out, “Adam.”
And thus began a beautiful friendship.

Adam had joined Freemasonry at the suggestion of his father. It was suggested that he would make friends, enjoy the fraternal bond, if nothing else to have something to do to get his mind off of his problems. He had many, chief among them being a Cancer survivor.

Adam was diagnosed at the age of 30 with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a highly aggressive cancer with a very low survival rate. Newly married, with a flourishing career and a young son, his life came crashing down. He survived, thanks to the wonderful gift of a bone-marrow transplant from his brother. It was an agonizing, extremely painful surgery for both, but his family continued to make every sacrifice they could for him.

A year later, Adam was living with his parents, sleeping in his childhood bedroom, a mountain of prescription bottles at his bedside. Divorced and friendless because his wife couldn’t handle his illness and his friends stopped calling him. Seeing his son every other weekend was the only glimmer of hope for him, he would tell me one day, keeping him from taking his own life.

I learned part of his story from mutual friends before he and I actually spoke of his travails. As our friendship blossomed he gladly told me the rest. Over lunches, cocktail hours at the lodge (his lodge, that I joined to spend more time with him) and hanging at his house he would tell me the stories about the events that led him to this point.

He was grateful for his new friends and humbled by the support of his new brethren. His father had been correct. His father was a 50 year Mason when Adam entered the fraternity and his father was enormously proud. His mother proudly beamed at the results his new circle had created for him. I vowed to be one of the best friends he would have.

Adam didn’t just take friendship, he gave it back. When he learned of my health issues he became one of my biggest advocates. He spent time at home on his computer researching possible treatments being developed, texting me his findings and always checking in to see if I was eating right, taking my meds, or just to see how I was doing. It isn’t lost on me to this day how someone who felt like garbage almost every day could manage to check up on me, and all of his friends for that matter, to see how we are. He was a special friend.

In the course of our friendship Adam had a rollercoaster of health challenges. On a flight to St. Louis he contracted a virus that caused him to spend 7 weeks in the hospital. He almost died, but he pulled out of it. He had two knee replacements, a hip replacement, a pacemaker and was hit by two more staph infections, one that required removal of both knee replacments. At the end of all of it, there he sat with his absurdly swollen face, a result of a massive amount of steroids and other medications. He was a fighter like no other I have never met. As his Facebook announced another setback, myself and all of his friends had faith that the tough sonofabitch would bounce back and smile that huge smile again.

This past December, Adam met a foe he couldn’t overcome. Another staph infection that the Doctors, despite their Herculean efforts, could not pull him out of. He was forced into a medically induced Coma at the end of January.

I found out too late, for some reason his father’s FB wasn’t showing on my newsfeed and by the time I knew it was too late to visit him. Had I been sitting next to him he wouldn’t know I was there. All of my prayers from afar wouldn’t change it. His parents thanked me for my friendship and support, I knew in their voices they had given up this time.

He died a few days ago.

I miss my friend. I regret not being able to thank him for his unwavering friendship and his eternal optimism. His selflessness in the face of adversity that would cause so many to wallow in a pool of self-pity. He was an amazing human being.

As I stood silently in a moment of prayer, I was flanked by dozens of brothers who knew Adam as I did. We all knew his family. We all knew the efforts he made for our lodge as he took different assignments to keep himself productive, a concept that meant the world to him. We all knew what a loss we had experienced.

I waited patiently as the procession slowly entered the funeral parlor, each waiting our turn to place a sprig of evergreen, a masonic symbol of the eternity of life, on his simple coffin. A rare tear fell onto my cheek, one of many that would fall that evening.

He is resting now, his pain is gone. The irony of it is that the cure for his disease killed him. If he were here right now he would laugh at that line, we shared a morbid sense of humor. Sharing the burden of Chronic Illness, we knew that laughter is the best medicine. I want to laugh at the funny exchanges we had over the years. I can still see his big, round face that initially caught my attention. The smile that shone through some tremendous sadness, the face of a truly great person.

Rest well my friend, I hope to see you again someday in the Celestial Lodge above that we, as mere mortals hope to achieve at the end of our journey.

talking to Granite

I never thought I would be the guy to sit in a cemetery and talk to a piece of granite. I have lost many, too many, friends and family and I always make my visits to their places of rest. But I don’t sit and talk. That changed when I lost my Dad.

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of his death. I wasn’t in the mood to write yesterday, it’s a tough day for me. Living in a house that he built doesn’t help. I see his touch everywhere in the woodworking, design, and collectibles. As I write this I’m sitting in his favorite chair with his beloved dog sleeping at my feet.

5 years later I still tear up when I think of him and when I attempt to talk about him I invariably choke up. I have been fortunate to have been asked to speak at some events I am a part of and have foolishly attempted to speak of my father and consequently blubbered in front of packed rooms. Historically, I am not a crier. But when it comes to Dad I can’t control it.

As a guy with a long family tradition of “sucking it up and moving on” I am puzzled why it is not getting easier as the years pass. Time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t fill all voids. His loss occurred at a time in my life I probably needed him the most. I was finally coming around to understanding the things he said. Things that I rejected in my youth that I later learned he was dead on about. I had just started to appreciate his simplistic approach to life; be nice to people, tell the truth and work hard and the rest will come. I had just started to recognize that people with his value system and work ethic were slowly vanishing and his presence was a treasure. I was at a point when I needed his eternal optimism to fuel me as I entered the worst chapter of my life. He was minimalism at its finest…less is more. Less showboating, less ego, less drama, and aggravation.

I miss him. The world was a better place with him in it. He deserved better. He worked so hard for so many years to provide for his family and build a retirement. He retired early because his co-workers were all dying young. He enjoyed about 3 years before Parkinson’s reared its ugly head. It reduced a strong, proud man to a mere shell in a long 8 years. Those years took more than his mobility, they took his pride and his independence. Death was a relief for him, I saw his face when he took his last breath.

My life has been especially challenging lately. I am trying to maintain the family optimism and positivity. It’s getting harder. I wish I still had him telling me that everything is going to work out. I suppose while I’m wishing for things I wish that he could have enjoyed his retirement. I wish that he could have celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I wish I could tell him how many things he was right about.

I wish that I didn’t have to tell a granite slab things that I wanted to tell him to his face.

Tell the people in your life how you feel about them today, don’t wait. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. You may find yourself sitting in a cemetery talking to granite also. If you’re reading this it’s because I chose to share it with you. Because I care about you and I won’t wait until it’s too late to tell you. Regret is as eternal as granite.