The Revelator 32:23 (Part 1)

It was almost 3 a.m. and I am standing in a Walgreens with a perfect stranger, who was easily twice my size.  His 6'3" frame was suddenly daunting as he palmed each of the Pepsi cases in each hand.  There was nothing average about his physique.  His shoulders were broad and his shirt couldn't hide the fact that his body was carved from years of actual work.  His forearms were twice as wide as mine and his hands made the cases of Pepsi look tiny.  He was giving me a confused look, and all I could say was, "There are cameras everywhere.  They have seen your face if my kidneys go missing."  He smiled.

I don't quite know why I swiped right.  I didn't find him terribly attractive, but his name caught my eye, and his profile made me laugh.

"So what does the position of Supreme Overlord entail?"

And it began.  We quickly became friends, with the understanding that it would stay just that.  I had a lover at the time and he had a sick mom as well as a strenuous work schedule.  I was deemed his Lady Tactician.  "LT" for short.  Our imaginations ran wild as we turned our daily mundane tasks into stories of battles and espionage.  What went from random conversations became "Good Mornings" as soon as one of us woke and the last "Good Nights".  When we ran out of things to talk about, we would make up stories to tell each other.  Friday nights, he would call and have me fill him in on everything that happened during the week.  It didn't matter how unimportant some of it was, he said he wanted to hear it all.

Finally, I convinced him to drive the hour down and go on a walk.
"I don't want you to be disappointed.  That was an old picture, and I'm afraid with everything going on, I haven't had time to keep my physique as it was."  I told him I didn't care.  I just wanted to go on a walk.  His physique wouldn't be an issue unless he couldn't keep up.

We picked a gas station to meet at. As I walked up with Roxy, I scanned the area.  I didn't see him, but when I texted him, he said he saw me.  I scanned the parking lot again confused.  The only man I saw paying attention to me was much taller than I had anticipated.  I raised an eyebrow as he approached and he met me with his stone gaze.  "LT."  he nodded.  I glanced at Roxy, then sized him up again.  "I thought you said you weren't in shape any more."  For a second his demeanor broke, and I caught a surprised smile, that vanished as suddenly as it appeared.

We walked over six miles that night.  Some of the walk was spent talking, the other was in comfortable silence.  We covered the whole South West side of Champaign.  Strangely, I felt secure walking with him.  He was observant to our surroundings.  Never once did he making a move or make an inappropriate comment.  I appreciated his stoic demeanor.  It became a game to see how I could break his composure- to make him laugh.  With every one of my sassy or snarky comments, he would lift his chin and gaze down at me with an "Oh really?" but a distinct twinkle in his eye.

Eventually, we wandered back to my part of town.  I asked if he wouldn't mind if I stopped and got some Pepsi (of course) from the Walgreens we were passing.  As we walked in, he made some comment about 3 for $10, or whatever the sale was.  I waved it off, mumbling something about just grabbing one because I didn't want to carry all three home. He handed me one as he picked up two more.  When I turned to argue with him, I froze.  I don't know how I had made it through hours of walking with him and had not realized what an imposing figure he was.  He was beautiful, and for a moment I was terrified.  I joked about my Kidneys, but I realized in that moment that something had either gone wonderfully wrong or terribly right.

The Revelator 32:23

It was a bored right swipe, that turned into a remarkable friendship and incredible love.  

We quickly became best friends.  As his love for literature matched mine, we took the line from Anne of Green Gables and dubbed ourselves "Kindred Spirits".  Almost daily, one of us would remark about how shocked we were to have found each other on such a ridiculous app.  We would text constantly, and when we ran out of things to say, we would write stories together.  We were pirates, war lords, mercenaries, and spies.  We would turn mundane tasks into adventures.  Speaking with him with like talking to a life long friend or reading a good book.  His command of English was beautiful.   I loved to read his messages or hear him speak.  He woke up a part of me that I thought had long been dead.

He was the character I had been writing for years.  Strong. Stoic. Humble. Determined.  I fell fiercely in love the moment our eyes met.  He was brilliant in every aspect.  He was so familiar and so comforting. He was like the men you read about in history books.  I adored breaking his resolute gaze into a smile.  He would often comment on how easy I made it seem, and how no one ever had before.  I loved everything about him... and it was mutual.

He made a comment about my hands one night, and I responded with surprise about his adoration.  He simply said, "I have loved everything about you, even the things you thought I wouldn't or shouldn't. Why would this be any different?"  He spoke of me like I was poetry.  Everything about me was beautiful when he spoke.  My large hands were suddenly artists hands.  My short legs were suddenly "Strong and attractive which combine into something both effortless and graceful."  Every physical "defect" I saw was marvelous in his eyes, but that's hardly what won me.  He fell in love with my mind first.  It was magnificent, exceptionally capable, and quite intriguing".  Yes, he adored me as much as I did him.  He wasn't afraid of my story either.  Instead of seeing a broken past, he saw strength and grace.  He saw me like I have never been seen.

He became my strength, my best friend, and my refuge. We would walk and talk for hours.  He adored my "wild and raw" side, how I was unafraid to be simply me.  He loved my strength and independence.  He loved that I was a warrior and capable. Despite that, he still treated me like I was precious. I have never met a man who treated me with respect as an equal, but also as someone to protect.  It is hard to treat a woman like a lady and a warrior at the same time, but he did and how I loved him for it.  He was so invested in me.  In my work.  In my hobbies.  I was loved wholly and completely. Everything about me and who made up my world were important to him.

The first time we hugged, and I felt his arms around me, I knew I found home.  Before I could say it, he marveled at how perfectly I fit.  And oh, how we fit.  Eventually, we knew it was wholly a pristine fit.  All our angles and curves synchronized in beautiful harmony.  Even when he would hold me during a movie, he would always comment.  We were in constant awe of how physically, mentally, and emotionally we matched.  Those were some of the happiest months of my life.

So when I pulled up to a country house with a white picket fence, I couldn't help but think how perfect he was.  My dream partner, my dream location, my dream fence... and like most my dreams, they end in a nightmare.  He answered the door as I watched a woman hug a sweater around herself tightly. I wanted to hate her for having my dream, but I couldn't.  After all, I was the one who unknowingly imposed on hers.  She didn't come out when he did.  She didn't hear him tell me that it wasn't what it looked like.  That they had been separated and it was only for their son.  She didn't wonder when he left to come see me later.  I was angry, but hurt.  When he said it was for their son, I begged him not to.  I asked him how it was so easy to walk away.  "It isn't" was his pained reply.  He didnt deny when I talked about our love... but he had to do this... He wanted to still be friends.  He wanted to still hold each other accountable for things we had discussed before.   It killed me when I said no. 

 If they were starting over, I couldn't be in the picture.  I asked if she knew about me.  When he said no, I told him that she needed to.  Either he could tell her or I could.  He said he wanted to wait till after the holidays and I told him to do as he wished.  I wouldn't promise anything.  I told him I wanted to burn his world down.  He told me to do what I felt was best, he wouldn't be mad, and could never hate me.  I walked him out.  I hugged him goodbye and he picked me up with his hug.  It was bittersweet as he knew I hated to be picked up, but always told him I let him because I knew he wouldn't let me fall.  It hurt, but I didn't look back when I went back inside.

Suddenly, my phone was silent.  No more good mornings and good nights. No more stories.  No more checking in on each other.  It was like a death.  I felt sick for days.  I had forgotten what heartbreak felt like.  Despite wanting to have faith in him, my conscience was nagging.  If he had lied for so long, could I believe what he said?  Despite the situation, my soul was tormented with the guilt of possibly being the other woman.  So I prayed and then I called her.

I made sure my makeup and hair wasn't done.  I wore jeans and a hoodie that made sure my physique and tattoos were covered.  I didn't want to look like I was flaunting anything.  She walked in the opposite of everything I am.  We sat, we talked, and we sat in silence. It was all a lie.  I asked her to forgive me for what I had done.  She graciously offered it as well as an apology for my hurt.  I promised not to bother them again, and I didn't look back. 

I childishly would wish that he would show back up, and choose me.  I would fight back tears when I would drive by the places we wandered.  My lamenting, I believe, has come to an end.  Months have gone by.  The pain has lessened.  I don't feel him like I use to.  I don't miss him as much as I did.  I had asked God to heal me and do as he wished with the rest.  Slowly, that prayer became less selfish as I asked to have grace and peace with whatever happened.  Then I asked for the bonds between us to be broken.  Tonight, for the first time, I asked him to heal and bless their marriage. I surprised myself as I prayed it because I truly mean it.

I'm hurt that I will always be "the other woman" to her.  I would never have entertained a friendship, let alone a relationship with someone I knew I was married.  I'm hurt that he knew my past and still chose to continue with the lies.  I'm hurt that he and I lost our best friend.  I am deeply hurt in so many ways.  However,  I do have peace.  I did what I needed to instead of what I wanted.  There will be healing. I know now that if he could be all that he was to me, there is no reason that there isn't someone out there that could be more.

Before he left, he asked me if I would quit smoking. He was worried about my health told him it wasn't his place to worry or ask such things.  He asked if I could get back into church.  Again, I told him he had no business to make requests of me.  He looked hurt as I cast away his care... but I know he meant them because he saw the value in me.  I can't help but laugh as I am starting to see it also.  God and I have a long road ahead of us.  I suppose quitting soon would be a good idea as I don't want to be out of breath for our next adventure. Hopefully, next time, I'll have a church I'm involved in for back up.

Tiny Titan

This was my speech at the memorial service
When I was stationed in Corpus Christi, someone asked my pastor why we never see miracles like they have in the Bible.  He quickly replied that miracles happen every moment of every day, but often the state of our heart blinds us to them.  Logan showed us that, every day.  His life was a testimony of God's grace, love, and joy.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that God did not take my child from me.  The Bible clearly states that God does not wish for children to die.  Death is not of God, but even death could not hide Logan from God's grace.  He passed away quickly, peacefully, and without pain.  That is a gift.  He died knowing he was loved.  He never knew a day of suffering.  He had a perfect birth, life, and death.  That is grace.  My baby will never know a day of suffering.  From the day he was born there was something different about him.  My heart ached, almost knowing he would be temporary, but we are all on borrowed time.

Logan loved to laugh.  He was always trying to make someone smile.  He was an easy baby who adored his puppies kisses, chasing Cammy, and reveling in Owen's adoration.  He loved spending the mornings with Lucky and helping me unfold clothes or undo any knitting or crocheting that I had apparently not wanted done.  He was the master of finding what the vacuum lost.  He hated the nose sucker (bulb syringe), unless Sean was using it.  He thought Ian made the best fart noises.  He loved and took comfort in Bart pacing with him.  He also loved to remind his Aunt Megan that "3-ora" was more comfortable in the chest area.  He also loved to stick his tongue out at you as he wiggled his bum.  His Daddy and Owen were his heroes and Mommy and Cammy were his princesses.  At the end of the day, he let me know that I was a great Mom.  That is something I never believed until him.

Now we are left wondering about the present.  How deep is it?  How wide?  How much of it is ours to keep?  After David became king, his baby became ill.  David mourned and fasted.  He spent his days crying out to God.  One day, while he was in his room, the baby passed away.  His servants were terrified to tell him, but when David found out, he got up, dressed, and asked for breakfast.  His servants were confused, telling him he mourned at the wrong time.  David replied "Someday, I will go to him.  He will not come to me."

Logan is in God's house, waiting for us.  He is surrounded by family.  A sibling, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so many more.  The Bible speaks of how we are known in heaven as we were on Earth.  He is still my son, and because he was my gift, those that are connected to us are connected to him.  I will see my son again.  I will cherish the time that I have here now, but I look forward to when I will be home with him.  I will try to live my life with the joy that he taught us.  I will strive to be the woman of Proverbs 31, "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.", for my son and my God.

(There may have been more, but this is what was in my notes from that day)

Dark Room

“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” 

I don't remember him.  I desperately search for songs about death so maybe... just maybe there will be emotions brought out.  Emotions that I should have embraced when they were fresh.  Emotions I should have acknowledged.  I didn't get to hold my baby and I didn't get to cry.

I don't miss him.  How can you miss a dream? Some sick trick has taken over my mind.  He wasn't real.  I can't remember his scent, his laugh, his touch...  But I feel like the ghost.  My two little ones desperately search me out, but babies, Mommy died months ago... without a scream, a tear, a fight.  

My skin feels like an over sized costume.  It hangs off of me.  A gaunt,  ghostly face is in the mirror.  She is vile and made up of everything I deplore.  She is weak and terrified.  She is so filled with anger and seething with desperation.  She is a monster. I want to claw the reflection away.  She scares me.  I scare me.

When did I become this ghost?  We're these things always apart of me?  I have become so careless and destructive.  How could the loss of a baby make me so sick?  I feel like his death was the death of everything good in me.  I feel like I am trapped in time.  I can't make sense of anything anymore.

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

Save me, O God,

    for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in the miry depths,
    where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
    the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
    looking for my God.

Almost 30

Dear Cammy,

   I want to share some information with you that my mom told me.  Those goofy/lookin boys you are going to know as kids, the ones all the girls overlook because of how weird they are, their weight, their height, their smell (although, admittedly, that doesn't always get better), or their acne, those boys are going to be golden when you hit 30 (some may even out by the end of high school, but that is another topic).  I want you to know, I can not wait till 30, because I am going to be surrounded by some beautiful and amazing men.

   I talk to these guys all the time.  A couple of them are HUGE deals in your life (Yes, tomorrow is Friday and Bart will be here), but I know stuff about them your sweet little eyes can't comprehend.  Things that they may not have enjoyed from their childhood have defined them as amazing men.  Men that I am blessed to know.  Men that I am comfortable letting be a part of your life.  Little one, those goofy boys that girls will tease or run away from, be their friend.  When you hit thirty, you will be surrounded by the Princes among men.  I know thirty is inconceivable to you, but I promise it isn't old.  I am looking at thirty in a couple years, and amazed at how very young I am... but that is a different talk.  Anyways...

You know that kid that just moved from another state?  The one with a little extra weight who is very shy, ok a bit socially awkward?  When he grows up, he will be your saving grace when you husband is at work, and you have a screaming, sick baby.  For the next two years he always brings a spare shirt, and never complains as your children spit up on him time and time again.  When he hits 27, he decides he is tired of being over weight.  Without posting every pound, he slowly and with determination drops his excess weight.  He also promptly brings over his "fat pants" to donate to your husband who for the first time in his life, gained weight.  You may not always understand him, and he may not understand you, but he will be there when you need him.  That kid is Ian.

You know that other overweight boy?  The one who is always cracking jokes and being the funny guy?  The one all the girls will put in the friend zone?  When he grows up, he becomes one of the best Dad's EVER.  He grows up, gets in shape and blossoms into a beautiful man.  There is a saying (a horrible one but mostly true) that someone has "fat kid personality",  those usually are the best kinds of people.  The are nurturers because so often they were left out.  They have no idea how beautiful they are because so often they were over looked.  They know how to crack a joke, because that was the only way they could get noticed.  Yes, that "fat kid" that no one pays attention to will grow up to be Tony.  He may be a little flighty, but one heck of a man.  He is one of your Daddies best friends.  I promise to drag him and his family around more.

Or that kid who talks funny?  Maybe he stutters or he just sounds funny?  The one that kids make fun of for being dumb.  Sometimes he fights too much, or some times he just can't sit still...  He isn't dumb, it turns out he is quite brilliant.  He grows up to go to school for something that takes way more smarts than I have...  When there is a freak accident and you have to rush all of your kids to the E.R., he goes out of his way to try and cook a meal (but also buys lunchables just in case) so you and your kids have food when you are exhausted and leaving the hospital.  That is such a huge thing for someone to do, especially for someone who doesn't have kids, and who is an EMT and every extra second off work is dedicated to school and sleep.  Yet, despite his crazy schedule, he takes time to try and help you.  That kid is Sean, someone I wish you could know better.

And Lord help me.  You know that new kid who is"Hot but a stoner"?  All the girls are falling all over themselves for him.  You know better (because you are my daughter), but he just wants to fit in.  You know that he could be so much more.  Part of me wants to tell you to stay away, the other part can't because I always hung out with the stoners (less drama).  He just wants to fit in and is going about it in all the wrong ways.  Don't worry, just like the rest of this ragtag group, he grows up.  He becomes an Army Ranger.  He just became a daddy (Yes, he still married one of the pretty girls).  He may have a crazy, busy life, but he is as loyal as they come.  When the world starts crumbling, he is there. He moves mountains to be there for your family.  40 cheeseburgers of mountains.  He gets on the floor and plays with your boy like it is the best thing in the world.   He is Justin.  Yes, your teenager.

Don't forget that quiet boy.  The one who sits in class and doesn't say a word?  If you are anything like me (so far, poor thing, you are) you are going to gravitate to him.  You see that there may be a hurt there.  He doesn't say much, because unlike most people, he thinks before he speaks.  He is wise beyond his years.  There is a strength in the quiet ones.  Try, sweet one, to learn from them.  You two are so very different and lead very different lives, but he becomes one of the best friends you and your husband ever had.  The nights where you are afraid, and your husband is at work, the quiet one will talk to you until your husband gets home.  Even if it is just the wind blowing, he holds you up until your husband can take over.  He also holds your husband up when you can't.  He spends every weekend with your family, being the Uncle to your children, that every kid needs.  He has walked through the flames with you.  He fights for your marriage (for both sides), when you and your husband feel like there isn't any fight left.  That quiet boy is one of the strongest men you will ever meet.  He is Bart.

One last one, Sweet Thing, one last boy.  That small, loud, feisty boy.  I know you can't stand his type.  He is always in trouble for cracking jokes.  Rumor has it he has slept with every girl in the neighborhood.  There are also rumors about drugs you didn't even know existed.  He is loud, obnoxious, and overwhelming.  It seems like he is always doing something for attention. Yeah, I know the type.  All those things are cries for help.  Don't worry, this boy also grows up and gave up the "fast, free, fun life" to keep a girl and her son off the street and falls in love.  Love is a crazy thing.  He fell in love with a girl who hated parties and drugs, so do you know what he did?  He quit.  He gave up all those things for a girl and her son.  He becomes a strong, stable, hard working, deeply loving, loyal, husband and father.  He is the most incredible man that I know.  Darling, I am honored to tell you that he is your Daddy and he is my hero in so many ways.

Every single one of those men are worth loving.  I would be more than thrilled to know that you found someone like any of the men I mentioned above.  I have some bad news for you also...  most the "hot guys" from high school...  Stay the "hot guys from high school".  Most of them are stuck in their "glory days".  They get fat, drunk, and even more obnoxious.  Staying drunk and living in the past is not nice to anyone (another good lesson for you). The point is this...  Who you are the first 18 years of your life, does not always define who you will be for the rest of it.  Those boys that may not be popular now, will be the ones who make the world amazing.

Yup, 30 is going to be amazing.


Mr. Williams, I'm sad and was wondering if you would sit with me for a moment.  No, I don't want you to try and make me laugh.  I just want you to sit on this balcony with me and wonder why there are flamingos here and know that I am sad also.

I am still amazed that I am here.  I have never wanted to come to California. My husband is here on business, and asked me to join him.  You see, our baby died in April, and I drove the eleven hours here because I was desperate not to be left alone in my head.  I didn't want our other two children to be lost in my head with me.  I wanted to reconnect with the man I love after a loss that tore us into people we didn't know.

I was standing in a Celtics tourist shop, when the Scott said he texted his wife that you had died.  He laughed and said his wife responded by asking his pant size.  I almost fell to my knees.  You can't be dead.  You just can't.

I have hardly cried since my heart was ripped out three months ago.  I was reminded that I am human and so very small.  Your story though, it brought a burning to my eyes.  I quickly shuffled through the tartans to try and hide my grief for you, all the while damning my decision to leave my medicine at home.

You can't be dead and neither can he.  You, Sir, have touched my heart in very vulnerable places.  Your joy was always overshadowed by a grief in your eyes.  I have always wanted to just sit by you. Just to sit.  Not for Robin Williams the celebrity, but for Robin Williams, the man who bared his soul to the world and was dismissed. I, sir, saw your soul.  It was a beautiful one.  Not because of your gift for comic relief, but your desperation for humanity.  I saw you behind every joke and all the makeup. I saw you and I saw myself.

I am so, so deeply sorry that it hurt that bad.  I come to you with tears streaming down my face.  I am so sorry it hurt.  It hurts in ways you didn't know it could.  You can smell and taste your grief over everything. I understand. I know that you told yourself to be strong for your spouse and children. I know that sometimes that just isn't the answer.  I am so sorry it hurts so bad.

But I need to tell you that I am angry at you.  I'm angry that you gave up.  I'm angry that I am sitting an an island, aching to hold my son and now you.  I would have hugged you and told you to let it out. I would have told you that I feel alone also, but that it can and will get better.  I am personally hurt that you are gone.

I am so sorry that it hurt so bad.


Maybe I'm the one
I'm the one who will fall
Lay me down
On a bed of stone
I will wait for you
As I rest my soul
I will watch you ride
When you reply to the call

Hero, hero
Hero, hero
Hero, hero
I wanna be a hero, hero

It has been almost two months.  My baby would be walking by now.  He may even been cooing Mama.  Two months since my world crumbled.  I pulled Cammy into bed with me last night, just to feel a little body next to me, but she has out grown the babyish flesh and at some point started coming into a child's body.  She has left toddler hood behind and Owen...  Owen has become a boy.  There is nothing baby about them anymore.

I still reach out, at night, to wrap my arm around him.  To rub his soft belly and breathe in his scent.  To feel his fingers wrap around mine as she sighs contently.  There is only an empty bed, cold sheets, and his scent long forgotten on his belongings.

My Titan was my affirmation in life.  He is the first one who I could nurse.  The first one who looked like me.  A child that actually could be acknowledged as mine.  Owen and Cammy both look like their Dad, Logan was mine.  Each of my children have fulfilled me in inexplicable ways.  They have taught me and blessed me so much, but Logan was my heart song.  He was my reward after years of struggle.

Our life was perfect.  We have a beautiful home, Lucky had his dream job, Owen's Dad and I were getting along, and we finally had the last piece to the puzzle.  I was untouchable.  Our life was as close to perfection as one might dare dream.  Finally.  Finally, damn it, I could breath easy.

My love.  My heart song.  My reward.  My end.

It is so hard to breathe.  It is so hard to know my heart is still beating.  I feel guilty when I see Owen and Cammy.  Guilty that I failed them.  Guilty that they had to learn of death so soon.  Guilty when I see Lucky.  Logan was the only namesake to the McConnell's.  I gave him a son who could not stay.  I feel guilty when I look in the mirror.  I feel guilty that people can't see my pain.  That everyone assumes I have moved on.  Guilty that in a way I have.

My only solace is I know I will see him again.  I know he will know me and love me.  I know he is waiting joyfully, seeing the plans that God has for us.  I know all these things and take joy and comfort, and some days that is enough...

But on the days that I see flashing lights in my rear view mirror, I flash back to that day.  When I go to the salon, I wait for the call.  When I leave my house without Owen and Cammy, and whoever is with them calls me...