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Four Years Ago, Today

markabell2We lost MARK BELL.

My co-worker, shooting student, sounding board, reminder of things good, bon vivant, and loyal friend.

We had just attended Kevin Baker’s blogshoot the previous Sunday, and had spoken on the telephone, yesterday (four years ago – I cannot believe it’s been four years!).

Then his beloved wife Cathy called me tomorrow (four years ago) to tell me he had dropped dead from a heart attack suddenly yesterday.

Having almost lost Walter recently, this may be a little maudlin.

I don’t care.

PLEASE, tell the ones you love that you love them, and hug them, if at all possible.

Because you never know.

Glenn Frey, RIP

The passing recently of David Bowie definitely got my attention, even though I wasn’t a big fan – in any of his incarnations.  (Sorry)

But yesterday, finding out that a founder of The Eagles had passed.  Well, Universe, this is  over-the-top!

As we age, we seem to see more of this – people who are part of our youth, our lives, passing into eternity.

Personal family and friends aside, these bookmarks in the story of our lives remind of us specifics in our past, and of the eventual future for all of us.

R.I.P. Good Sir!

 

 

In Remembrance

I wasn’t born for another eleven years when this happened, but as a student of history and an American it gets to me.  Much as the JFK assassination, The Marine Barracks, Khobar Towers, The U.S.S Cole and The Twin Towers attacks did during my life.

Meeting that Navy veteran who had served on the Arizona on Veteran’s Day this year did as well.

Please take a moment of silence today.

Because.

A Not-So-Gentle Reminder

For those not paying attention to the calendar…

sept 11

REMEMBER

And prayers and good thoughts for the victims, first responders and survivors.

And woe be to those who committed and continue to commit such heinous acts!

Rose In The Garden

Life doesn’t always go as we plan or desire.  We certainly cannot control others in their personal plans or desires.

Especially, in matters of the heart.

Sometimes, we must let them go…

When love is good, it’s very, very good.

And when it goes away, it sucks.

In Memoriam

Molly birthday1Our daughter Molly, at her 12th Birthday Party

Twenty six days before the accident

I’m so much better a man for having known her.

I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!

Twenty Years Ago, Today

(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)

There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.

The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.

My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.

A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc.  The reasons don’t matter.

Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.

I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad.  The Protector.  The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.

I carry a sidearm.  I’ve done so for 41 years.  Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends.  It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.

And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father.  It’s what father’s are supposed to do!

We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road.  A little after 1 PM.  Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback.  Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping!  The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then.  It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong.  Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.

And many lives changed forever.

I’ve no memory regarding what happened next.  Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later.  I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.

I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!)  Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship.  Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs.  Ribs pushed into a lung.  Broken collar bone.  Broken arm.   Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.

My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could.  Not wanting to answer the obvious question:  Where was Molly?

In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.

My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support.  Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery.  I am forever grateful to her for this.  A number of folks benefited from her decision.

The funeral was that following Tuesday.  I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.

Thank God.

Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.

I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.

Until I could pay my respects.

That came weeks later.

I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath  –  Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!

Because you may never get another chance.

AND be an organ donor.

I try to remember the good times.  The IMPORTANT ONES.  It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.

My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.

(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel.  Thanks, again.)

Life Is Loss, Part Two – A Lesson Learned

I posted a few days ago regarding losses – specifically the loss of my daughter, and a good friend’s loss of most of his lower left leg and foot.

Hardly an upbeat read.

However, Life is not just loss.  Life also gives us lessons!

Since I heard from my good friend Bob regarding his diabetic amputation surgery, I’ve tried to contact him.  We exchanged texts initially a couple of times, and he advise me he would call.

Nothing.

I feared the worst.

So, I took it upon myself to call him.  Not to incessantly badger him (thinking he was busy enough) but once a week, just to check-in on him and his condition.  And attitude.

And I ended up leaving messages.  And this concerned me.

Bob returned yesterday’s message last night.  I needn’t have been concerned.

Bob – (my former PI and gun store boss) was in great spirits!  YES, he did lose his left foot and about 12″ of lower leg.  And yes, he has a long, painful recovery and rehab ahead.

But he was not only doing physically well – he was doing well emotionally and spiritually, too!

Now, Bob would be the first to tell you he is not a religious guy.  And not the most spiritual.  But he almost lost his life to sepsis, and took his survival to mean he is supposed to remain here a while longer.

And not wallow in his losses.

He is fortunate to have the great support of his wife and two daughters.  And his brother.  And he reminded of previous losses and near-death experiences he has suffered.

AND HE SEES THIS AS YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO REDEEM HIMSELF!

Or, in the words of his parents (both deceased), “Put on your big boy panties and get on with it!”

And his is and has.

And, he reminded me (indirectly) that I have similar lessons.  I, too, have had losses, and near-death experiences.  And I have wallowed.  Or more specifically whined.

I might lose some benefits.  So what?  Big boy panties are available for the wearing.

Bob has set an example for me to try and emulate.

Starting now.

Life Is Loss

From the time we are very small, we believe Life is about acquiring things.  Food, warmth, love…stuff.  It’s when we are a little older we realize that Life, too, is about loss.

yin yangThe Yin to the Yang.

And, most of us don’t understand or like that.  In fact, most of us hate it!

And, it becomes a matter of degree.  That toy that broke (with which we didn’t play, anyway), gives way to the lost book.  The dog that died.  The high school girlfriend who moved away.

And we choose to suffer for our loss.

But, there is a larger picture, if we choose to see it.

If we didn’t lose ‘it’, we wouldn’t really appreciate it.

My dear friend Bob (of the many Bobs I know) texted me yesterday, to advise me that on Friday he had his left foot and about six inches of his left leg amputated.  He’s been diabetic for many years, and had already lost a toe.  Even though I lost the use of my right hip when I was 12, I still grieved for him.  I’m certain he has a long and arduous road ahead involving prosetheses, crutches, and much pain.

And grief over the loss of his foot.

Most of us don’t even think of our feet or legs, unless they are giving us difficulty.  A blister, a bunion, a corn.  Calluses.  For me, calluses are difficult, because grinding them off is problematic with a fused hip.  And, I too, am diabetic.

I still am fortunate enough to still have all my extremities, though.  You can bet my nightly cursory examination of said feet was more than cursory last night, though!

Molly 1986 2Today, is my daughter Molly’s 32nd birthday.  I spent most of her 12 years on this planet operating with the assumption that, as nature intends, she would outlive me, and would suffer with my passing.

I was wrong.  And I survive here to do the suffering.

I love you and miss you, Molly.  And sometimes grieve over you.

But, I also appreciate the time I had to know and love you.  I believe so much more than if we had continued in our parallel life paths.  Because of the yin and yang.

And I’ve my memories to keep.

Forever.

Go and hug and kiss those you love, and tell them.  Because you never know.

And, if you are diabetic, check your feet often.

Having Gratitude Isn’t Always Easy

I’m in whine mode.

(I know I said at the outset that I wouldn’t use this weblog for therapy, but, hell, it’s my blog, so here goes…)

Holidays suck.

Why?  Not only do I not have any funds to get neat presents for friends and family, but, I’ve no one with whom to share the non-materialistic parts of the holidays.  One terrific couple I know gifted me with a cool assortment of cheeses and beers (including Lindeman’s raspberry ale!), and all I could give them in response was a small bag of garlic goldfish.

Hardly an even trade.

I love my sister and her kids, and her kid’s kids dearly, but going to a family celebration alone with certain people in absentia is always painful.

Now it’s the downhill slide from the New Year, to Molly’s birthday, to the anniversary of the accident, in March.

We’re told the best way to get out of this kind of funk is to create a gratitude list.  So here goes…

I’ve a roof over my head, and a working car.  Thanks to my friends!  I’m on Medicare.  I’ve disability benefits, which, while in no way am I rich, I can buy food, gas, and pay rent.  I’ve a select group of friends, both locally and on the Internet, who help out whenever they can.  Many of these friends have gone above and beyond – for years – when I am unable to give back in kind.

This must mean something.

I’m disabling comments for this post.  Because, in lieu of giving me an Internet “there-there”, or a virtual hug (or a kick in the pants), please stop for a moment and create your own gratitude list.

It helps.

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…

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