Love

Feeling Boingo-y

One of my all time favorite Oingo Boingo songs – it never ceases to make me feel good! Working on some stories today, but I have a doc’s appointment this afternoon, that may postpone my posting till tonight.  Till then, just sit back and enjoy the music. ;)

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Fairer the Tree

This one was inspired by a song I heard a long time ago, by Echo’s Children. It was inspired by books in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, and though I enjoyed the song, what struck me most was the final line. I always thought it’d make one hell of a love poem, so here is my attempt at it.

Young love blossoms quickly but fades away fast.
With petals down falling, so short do they last.
But flowers, when picked, handled gently indeed,
As they drop petals might also drop seed.

And from that small seedling our lust can take root,
When tended and cared for in passion’s pursuit.
And there, in the springtime of lover’s delight,
True love can spring forth in flowers, so bright.

And as the years pass what as seed once began
Will spread in its reaching, forever to span.
To grow up much stronger, a sapling no more;
Instead, there’s a tree where but flowered before.

And the tree, it will blossom and always renew
The passion and love that I first felt for you.
And I hope that when others look on us, they’ll see
That fair was the flower, but fairer the tree.

“Revenge Served Sweet” – Turn-A-Trope #5, #WOEGTTT

Better late than never! Here is my entry for Turn-A-Trope #5, Opposites Attract Revenge!

“Jack! What are you doing…”

Jack walked past her before she could finish, his palm raised in defiance against her words. He glared at Susan, his ex-girlfriend, then over to the guy he’d just caught her kissing. Doug Harlen, football star, athlete, and in general, complete jerk-ass to anyone who didn’t play sports or drive a really nice car.

Jack did neither. He wasn’t a jock at all; his skills were far more brainy. A computer whiz, a Grade A scholar, a musician. If you could call playing the tuba music. And his car? A beat up old pick-up truck he’d inherited from his mentally deranged uncle. He wasn’t the lamest kid in school, but he wasn’t far from the bottom, and guys like Doug couldn’t be more different.

He had to laugh. It was comical, really. When he and Susan had started dating, no one talked to her but him. She was in that awkward stage that some girls hit, a late bloomer who had yet to bud but desperately wanted to be with someone, anyone. Jack never let himself believe that he was her first choice, but he wasn’t bad looking, truthfully, and he was kind to her. And honestly, she hadn’t been his first choice either, but they’d been friends since the start of middle school and had always gotten along.

That is, they had until she’d finally blossomed.

They hadn’t seen much of each other, that summer. She was away on vacation for a month in the middle, he was in camps towards the end. When they finally got together, man, how she’d changed! How was it possible that in three short months, she could develop so quickly? Gone was the flat chested, doughy girl he’d been dating. In her place, a real stunner. Curvy, fit. Even her hair seemed wavier.

Of course, it became immediately apparent that she was no longer interested in a boy like him. She began flirting, heavily, with every guy she’d see, where she used to never make eye contact. She became rude, dismissive of him, where she used to be sweet and a little clingy. Yeah, she’d blossomed, alright.

Blossomed into a real asshole.

Not too long after that, she’d dumped him. First for a higher chair band geek, then working her way up to the penultimate opposite of all that was Jack. Doug Harlen. At first, Jack had been hurt. It wasn’t so much her dumping him that stung. Well, maybe a little. in truth, she really wasn’t his type, and he had been realizing that more and more every day. What stung, though, was her choice of guys. Doug freakin’ Harlen. He ached for justice. For revenge. So Jack went to ground. Started to plan. He was nothing if not a thinker, and a skilled one at that. And after a while, it became clear. Perfectly clear. A path to revenge so sweet, he could almost taste it.

It took work, of course. Revenge wasn’t going to be easy, not this one. He started working out, getting fit. Talked his mom into getting him to a good dermatologist. Got a haircut, some nicer clothes. Fixed up the beater truck, did some bodywork, gave it a paint job. Looked nice, real nice. And he did a lot of reading. A lot of research. A lot of investigating. Soon, Jack was turning heads himself. A slew of girls who never would have given him a second glance were all but throwing themselves at him, but he didn’t care. His focus was singular. Images of Susan and Doug swam before his eyes, and he refused to let that go.

Susan noticed. He could tell. Could see the way she started looking at him, that same look of desire and ambition that had bloomed in her eyes when she left him. Her glances towards him became longer, more flirtatious. She made sure to bend over near him, showing him her now ample cleavage, or the curvature of her feminine rear. He pretended not to notice, and that made her all the more flamboyant in her attempts to get his attention. Of course, it is no doubt what led to her being “accidently” discovered by Jack, in the back of the band room, with Doug. It was time for his revenge. Stalking past her, palm raised. He stared intently at Doug. He could see her face flush with desire, the thought of Jack ready to fight Doug for her affection. Doug got to his feet, his eyes narrowed, his hands clenching and unclenching. Jack walked right up to him, nose to nose. Breathing hard.

And then they kissed. Long, deep, passionate. Doug’s hands sunk into Jack’s hair, as his own found the football star’s impeccably tight end, and drew him closer. Susan let loose a confused gasp, stumbling back and falling to her ass on the band room bench. Doug and Jack broke their kiss, and turned to her.

“You see, Susan…you weren’t my first choice, either. Doug was. He always was. So when you dumped me for him? I felt terrible. Decided to try out this dating app…for guys. Who like guys. And who should I see there? Turns out, Doug’s been tired of living a lie for a long time. And I’m just his type.”

Doug blushed, and shrugged bashfully. Jack leaned in to him, pulling him close.

“You may have dumped me for the football star,” Jack said, as they walked to the door, “But you? You got dumped for the band geek.”

#FFC52 – 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge Week 27 – “The Pen is Mightier”

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Week 27 has arrived in Thane in Vain’s Flash Fiction challenge! This week, the theme was thus:

A journalist writing a story about living on death row begins to fall for one of the inmates she’s interviewing.

I’ll admit, I cheated a little on this one, in that the falling in love part has been shifted slightly, but I like the results so I’m going to run with it. Here is “The Pen is Mightier.”

It was almost time. She felt her heart pound as she heard the thick, heavy bars in the hall beyond. She fidgeted in the hard plastic seat of the visiting room, and a thought slipped through her head.

Should I really be doing this?

It was only a brief thought. Of course she should. She was Samantha Hanes. She had a Pulitzer, for God’s sake, spent time embedded in war zones, survived an attack on her position there. She had nothing to fear.

She fidgeted anyway.

The door opened, and she stifled a gasp.

Jonathon Lemay entered in chains. A part of her, a kinky part of her, stirred. She suppressed it. Must be professional. The guards led Lemay to a chair, fit his chains into slots in the floor. One turned to her.

“We’ll be right outside of the door. Don’t get too close. If you feel the need, hit the panic button.”

“Thank you,” she nodded. They left, leaving her with Lemay.

He was beautiful. She blushed to think it, but it was truth. He was tall, symmetrical, thick hair and eyes a gorgeous shade of blue. His physique, divine. Better than it had been in Iraq.

His eyes narrowed. She felt her face flush again.

“Hanes?”

He remembered her! Her heart pounded with fear and delight. She felt her breath grow heavier. She lingered on thoughts that were definitely unprofessional.

“Why are you here?”

Her vision of him broke, for a moment.

“I’m here to interview you, Mr. Lemay. I’m doing a story on the life of prisoners on death row. I know we have personal history, but I convinced them I could keep things professional.”

“Personal history?”

His confusion bothered her. She straightened her blouse, perked out her breasts.

“You don’t have to be coy, Jon. They aren’t listening. I paid a lot to ensure that.”

“Hanes…”

“Please,” she said with a nervous chuckle, “Sam. You know you can call me Sam.”

She didn’t like the look on his face. Didn’t like it at all. He was supposed to be grateful, damn it; he was supposed to be happy! It was her turn to be the savior, to make him fall in love.

Like he had done to her. In Iraq.

But who was she? Just a journalist? He saved her life, yes, and won her heart. But he didn’t want it. He had another, a girl waiting back home. But that was ok. She didn’t want him either, before he saved her life. She knew that.

That’s why the girl back home had to go away. That’s why she had to make it look like he’d killed her. It wasn’t hard. She’d trained with them, after all. She saw how they worked. And once he was here, in prison?

She could save his life. She would make him love her. She may not have a gun, but she had a pen. She smiled.

After all, the pen was so much mightier than the sword.

 

“The Measure of a Man” – Turn-a-trope #4, #WOEGTTT

This one was incredibly tough! Were it not that I refused to be beaten by my own challenge, I would have tossed in the towel. That said, I think the following tale does a decent job of skewering the trope, “A Man is Not a Virgin.”

Enjoy.

Tomas rode with the fury of a man possessed. The gates of the ancient temple of Kalziban lay behind him, and in his wake, the bodies of a legion of slain hellions. Ahead, he could see the door that lead to the inner temple, and the Pool of Tears. He knew that he would find her there. Lillian. His sworn ward.

As the Knight of the cloak, it has been his responsibility to protect her. And he had, through countless dangers, countless attempts on her life. She was the last of the purest bloodline, and her death would profit many an evil man. He had fought dozens to defend her, and bested them all. Sir Tomas of the Cloak was, perhaps, the greatest knight who’d ever served.

She had vanished in the night, despite all precautions. Tomas knew this time would come, had since the moment of her birth. Tonight, the moons above aligned with the Dread star, the Blood Eye of Kalziban. He knew that whoever took her, would take her here. His horse stumbled, fell. Tomas leapt from its back as it went, tumbling to the ground in clash of steel and leather. He cried out as he struck a stony pillar. His horse, ridden far beyond exhaustion, cried out, and expired. He rose to his feet, and ran up the stairs and through the temple’s doors.

“You’re too late,” Alcyon cackled. The dread summoner held up his hands, dripping with blood. “Too late, hero, too late to save her, too late to stop the summoning!”

Tomas fell to his knees with a sob. Before him, splayed across the pentacle carved into the ground, was Lillian. Sweet, innocent Lillian. The last of legal heir to the kingdom of Tancreath. The Virgin Princess. The Keeper of the Barrier. His sworn ward.

Tears fell from Tomas’ cheek. He cast away his shield as he took her hand in his own, felt the cold lifelessness therein. Her body, a ruin of blood and savagery, her thighs, a spectacle of disaster and debauchery.  Tomas’ sword slipped from his free hand, and reached, tenderly, for her cold staring eyes, unfocused and staring into the void. He closed them, softly, and brushed away a lock of coal black hair.

“It would have been enough,” the knight croaked hoarsely, “to have just killed her. ”

“Oh,” the summoner spoke, his voice filled with sarcastic mock pity, “yes, it would have. But then I would not have gotten to see this, would I have? The undefeatable Sir Tomas of the Cloak, brought to his knees? Not by a sword, not by a lance, not by an army of men…but by a man. A single man, with nothing in his hands…but blood.”

Alcyon continued to laugh madly. Tomas felt his head swim. A strange, numbing wave crashed against his nerves, his face, his limbs tingling. He rose, slowly, a final sob given to his fallen ward as he raised her up in his arms. He turned, looked to the Pool of Tears. Slowly, he walked towards it, heedless of the summoner and his madness. Around him, lights began to grow, strange, glowing, otherworldly emanations that rose from the ancient runes and sigils carved and cast throughout the hall.

“Too late!” Alcyon cried, sobbing in mirth, “She is dead!”

Tomas didn’t listen. He continued to the pool, till he stood overlooking its pale, milky waters. A drop of blood fell from Lillian’s outstretched arm, and slipped into the pool, an angry red swirl on a sea of pearl.

“She is dead,” Alcyon repeated, but his laughter cracked, slowing, “It is over, fool! And besides…”

The summoner nodded at the pool.

“It takes the life of a virgin of royal birth to halt the summoning of the Dread Lord Kalziban. She was the last. It is over!”

Tomas, silent still, lowered the girl’s body to the pool, then watched her slip beneath the surface. He stood then, turned to the mad summoner.

“Do you know the measure of a man, summoner? Do you know why I took up the Cloak?” he asked, his voice almost a whisper. Alcyon’s grin faltered.

“The Cloak is not an easy burden to bear. Its wearer must be good and strong. Generous and just. Compassionate and merciful. Swift of blade, swift of defense. Trustworthy and…pure.”

The knight turned and looked at the summoner, his eyes rimmed with red, stained with tears, but cold, so cold.

“Pure. Untouched by the hands, the lips, the body of a lover.”

Tomas ran a hand through hair as black as pitch, the same color as Lillian’s.

“I took the Cloak because I was born a bastard. And now…”

Tomas stepped to the edge of the pool. Alcyon stumbled forward, slipped in blood. He crashed to the ground, then looked up, his eyes wide with something they had never known.

Fear.

“…now I will see my sister safely to the Underworld.”

Tomas dived into the pool. Alcyon shrieked, raged, as the knight’s heavy armour pulled him quickly downward. The summoner scrambled to the pool, plunging his arms in, staining the water pink with blood. But the knight was gone, the pool empty.

Around him the walls began to shake. The sigils began to glow a violent red.  A sharp smell of ozone filled the air, and the crack of the barrier, the gateway between worlds, slammed through the air. Alcyon howled as the dissipating energies tore about the room. The ceiling quaked, and pieces began to collapse.

Then bitterly, he laughed, as the temple collapsed around him.

Free – An older villanelle

Since a lot of my poetry these days is written to my other blog, I thought it’d be nice to share here some of my less erotically themed pieces. I don’t write them as often, as I am one who finds his poetic skills work best with passionate play, but some of them I am very fond of. This one, a villanelle written shortly after the finalization of my divorce, is such a piece. I was at the time a bit overwhelmed by the feeling of freedom, much, I imagine, as a prisoner might feel when first released after a long, difficult sentence.

I give you “Free.”

How strange, the way that freedom seems to feel,
No longer shackled to miseries past
When once I suffered ‘neath another’s heel.

For when no more my will is made to kneel
On hurtful deeds that grind like shattered glass,
How strange, the way that freedom seems to feel!

Now freed, I find I can at last reveal
The inner scars I thought would ever last
When once I suffered ‘neath another’s heel.

No more these mortal wounds must I conceal
That e’en my will to live, nearly surpassed;
How strange, the way that freedom seems to feel.

But aired and breathing, now I find they heal,
No longer poked, where formerly harassed
When once I suffered ‘neath another’s heel.

Divorce, I fought so hard against, in zeal;
But now I see my efforts were miscast.
How strange, the way that freedom seems to feel,
When once I suffered ‘neath another’s heel.

 

 

 

A tale of two fathers…

Today has been a rough day. My stepson, whom I adore, is away with his father for three weeks. And as I expected, my wife’s ex and his wife are playing games with us. Despite an agreement that we are allowed to call every night to speak briefly to our son, they ignore calls, texts, and when they do respond (rarely) promising to call back later, they never follow through. We have spoken to him a total of 18 seconds in the last week. My stepdaughter, who we all joke is really some time-switched bio child of mine, as our personalities are so alike, had to work a double shift today because her work fired one of their staff and she has been tasked to fill in. I got to see her for all of ten minutes this morning. My oldest bio son was able to share breakfast with me, before having to run off for a week on a Scout’s summer camp trip. I’ll see him briefly next Saturday before he goes off for another week with his mom for her summer visitation. My youngest bio son remained, but I had to spend most the day away from him, as I was helping my elderly father-in-law, with a wicked heart condition, do some emergency repairs on my wife’s childhood home…which they are selling.

But the roughest part of the day was the realization that, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a father to call today.

I am a man who was blessed with two dads. My stepdad, David, will always be the person I think of most as “Dad”. He raised me, taught me so much about life, and loved me like I was his own. He passed away just over four years ago, after losing his battle with esophageal cancer. My bio dad, Roger…well, as a child, I barely knew him. He was an alcoholic and a career Navy man. When he wasn’t out at see, he was drunk. But he turned his life around, and as an adult, we got to know each other all over again, and I am not ashamed to say how proud I am of the man that he became. All of us, me and my siblings and my mother, felt this way.

He passed this last January.

I’ll be honest…I don’t have a lot of heart for words tonight. I had thought to do some writing with a child-free evening ahead of me. Instead, I have been low, sad, and sleepy. But…my dads would have wanted me to write something, and I felt terrible not doing so. So here I am. I am going to end this piece with the toughest words I have ever had to write in all my life. The first I wrote myself, the second, I collaborated with my siblings. The obituaries of my fathers.

***

My stepfather:

P01 David W. Ruth, USN (Ret.)

Warner Robins – Known as “Jackhammer” to his friends and co-workers, David Whitney Ruth died at the age of 63 on Sunday, February 21, 2010, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He passed in the peace of his home with Rosemary, his loving wife of twenty-seven years, at his side.

Born in Bisbee, Arizona, to David L. and Cora W. Ruth on August 18, 1946, David was the eldest of three sons. He graduated from Bisbee High School in 1965, and soon thereafter joined the United States Navy. It was while serving that he met Rosemary, whom he married on August 27, 1983.

A combat veteran of the Vietnam War, David retired from the Navy in 1985 after twenty years of proud service, having attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class. Subsequently, he continued to serve his country as a Civil Servant first at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and then at Robins Air Force Base, where he transferred in 2000 and from which he retired in 2008 due to illness.

An extraordinarily creative man, David had a lifelong passion for woodworking, metalworking, and machining, as well as love of the art of calligraphy. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, swimming, was an avid reader as well as a motorcycle enthusiast and collector. However, of all his passions, none was greater than that for his family, to whom he was absolutely dedicated.

He will forever live in the hearts of his wife, Rosemary; children, Joseph, David, Mark, Julia, Shauna and Michelle, along with their significant others; eighteen grandchildren; brothers, Charles (known as “Bill”), and Jeffery; numerous nieces and nephews; lifelong friend, Ed Liest, and many other close friends and associates. His parents, David and Cora Ruth, and his ex-wife, Sandy, predeceased him.

At the request of the deceased, there will be no public service. In lieu of flowers or other memorials, the family respectfully requests that any such considerations be given to a local hospice organization. The family wishes to express special thanks and appreciation to the staff and caregivers of the Heart of Georgia Hospice.

***

My bio father:

Norfolk, VA:  Roger Paul Baron, died peacefully January 4, 2014 in the presence and prayers of family and friends. He was born September 27, 1943, in Manteno, Illinois, to the late Grace Ross Baron and Orville Baron. Enlisting at the age of 17, Roger spent 30 years of honored military service in the Navy, rising to the rank of Command Master Chief and serving in both the Cuban Missile Crisis and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

He made his home in the Hampton Roads area for the remainder of his life and was fiercely passionate about family, friendship, and helping those around him, especially those in the recovery community. He was a beloved Father, Grandfather, Son and Friend and leaves a legacy of service and a family strongly rooted in the foundation he helped to build for them.

He loved and is survived by his four children and their spouses: Joseph Patrick Baron (Jennifer), Julia Lynn Escobar (Joseph Wang), Mark Ross Baron (Myndee), and Michelle Kay Henry (Joe); and grandchildren Kevin Baron, Cameron Baron, Hailey Escobar, Katherine Escobar, Emily Escobar, Jaden Baron, Riley Baron, Elijah Sebboy, Robert Lindsey, Anslea Bell, Xander Mann, Adam Wang, his ex-wife Rosemary Ruth and his long-time friend of more than 50 years, Jim Driver.

He is preceded in death by his older brother David Baron and also survived by younger brother Michael Baron.

The family would like to give extraordinary thanks and appreciation to Takeisha Bishop, Raina West and all the Hospice caregivers for their compassion and consummate care and tremendous assistance which will forever be appreciated.

There will be no graveside service. Condolences may be offered to the family at (funeral home website link).  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Roger’s name to the Wounded Warriors Project at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/.

This one may be rough for some of you to read (Triggers: Cancer, kids, life)

Before I begin this post, I want to make it clear that I don’t want this blog to seem to have taken a sudden turn for sadness. It has been a rough few days, but I am, truly, doing quite well despite of it. Sometimes, though, a touch of sadder memories is a good thing, that helps us appreciate the things we have. I’ve got a story I have been thinking of writing for here for a while, and though it has its harder moments, I hope you’ll read it through to the end. Unlike most of my work here, this piece is absolutely non-fiction.

I remember it clearly, the day my son was diagnosed with cancer.

I was working two jobs at the time, trying to make ends meet while paying a ridiculously high amount of child support; don’t get me wrong, I begrudge my children nothing, and would give every cent to see them well-cared for, but even the judge who passed the support balance commented that he thought it was ludicrously high and did not know how I was going to live on the remainder. Well, truth be told, I couldn’t. So I found myself, a career professional, in need of a second job, one that would be flexible with hours and let me bring in just enought to ensure that me and my wife and step-kids kept a roof over our heads, while ensuring my bio-kids kept one over theirs.

So I took a job delivering pizzas. It wasn’t a bad job, but it was rough, hot work in the middle of summer, and when I wasn’t hurrying about town dropping off pies, I was in the back room, washing dishes in scalding hot water and sweating like mad. I was in the washroom when my phone buzzed. The manager did NOT allow calls while at work, but I glanced down, saw it was my ex, and due to our rather combatative divorce, we never called each other unless it was something to do with the boys. I went to my manager, explained the situation, and he was unusually understanding in giving me the time to step outside and return her call.

I apologized for missing her call, and asked what was up. She explained that Riley, our then five year old, was running a fever again, and that she was taking him to the med stop, as it was Sunday and our normal pediatrician wasn’t open. Riley’s regular illnesses had been a point of contention for several months at that point. My ex invariably blamed me, saying he always came back from my house sick, and I invariably blamed her, saying he always came to my house sick. It was always passed off as a cold or allergies or whatever the bug of the week was that was going around. I told her that was fine, and to call and let me know when she found out what was going on. She agreed, and I returned to the dish pit.

A couple hours passed. I was scheduled that night to work from 5:30 till midnight, though that typically meant I’d actually be there till 1 or later with post-evening clean up. She had called right as I had started my shift, and I was beginning to get a bit irked that she hadn’t called back yet. Finally, though, my phone rang, and again I cleared a break and went outside to take it.

She told me they were on their way to the Children’s Hospital.

Instantly, my nerves were on end. I asked her why, my voice slightly a tremble. She said that the med stop had taken some blood samples and that they didn’t think their equipment was reading it right, but to be on the safe side, they wanted her to take him to the Children’s Hospital and have them check him out. She was irritated at how vague they had been, and I was worried about it, but there wasn’t much to do. She promised to keep me updated, and I went back to work.

Worry consumed me for the rest of the evening. My stomach knotted up, my heartbeat pounded furiously. I made a few mistakes, got chewed out. I apologized profusely, and though he was irritated, my manager was fairly understanding. Unfortunately, we’d already had another driver call out, so he couldn’t afford to send me home. I worked the rest of the night in a mood of underlying doubt and worry. At 1:30AM, I was finally off. I called my ex immediately, and she told me that they had taken blood, but that the lab wouldn’t be able to process it for a while and that for now, they were just waiting in a hospital room. I asked if she needed anything, and she said no.

I remember, clearly, the difference in her voice at that moment. Her normal tone of underlying anger was absent, replaced by worry, stress. For a moment, we were no longer a messily divorced couple – we were parents, sharing mutual concern for our child together. She promised to call me as soon as anything came up. I thanked her, sincerely, absent of paranoia or anger or doubt at her word. I went home and went to bed, as I had to be up in about five hours for my day job.

I’d been asleep for two and half hours when my phone rang. I had barely been able to get to sleep, and the sleep I did get was fitful and unsettled. The buzz of my phone had me up with a start. I answered it.

The line was silent.

I said my ex’s name, afraid we’d lost the connection. Faintly, I heard sobbing. I said her name again, panicked.

“What’s going on? Are you there?”

“Well,” she said, her voice wavering between sob and sound, “they know it’s not a virus. They’re just trying to figure out what kind of cancer her has.”

I don’t know that words can fully capture the absolute devastation that those words can deliver to a parent. The best I can manage seems clumsy and no where near strong enough to convey the feeling, but I will try. Initially, it felt very much like someone had just slammed me in the chest with a sledgehammer. Pain, actual physical pain, wracked my body, and the wind was knocked out of me. I had trouble breathing.

“What?”

“Cancer,” she said, and then broke into unbridled sobs of anguish. Unwanted, unbidden, mine joined hers. My wife woke with the sound, and joined us.

The week following was a roller-coaster of emotions. Tests upon tests were performed, and finally, they came to us with the “good” news. Riley had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, type Pre B. Of all the cancers that strike in childhood, it was considered the “best” to have. At his age, it was highly treatable, with a large chance of being beaten back permanently. It didn’t make the process easier, the emotions less painful, but it was a glimmer of hope. He had a great team of doctors, who explained that treatment for leukemia had come so far in the last ten years, and that it was going to be tough and he couldn’t promise anything but there was hope.

***

It has been three years now since we found Riley’s cancer. The stuff that was hardest in the beginning became strangely routine. The monthly lumbar punctures, the chemo, the regular bouts of neutropenia where we had to scrub everything in the house with Lysol, wear masks, and keep away even the most well meaning friends and family. It all became part of normal, daily life. We had some stumbles, some real scares. Once, his liver began to go into failure, but we caught it quickly and changed the course of his treatment. Another time, his brain began swelling, but again, the docs caught it and we changed paths again. Now, we are only six months away from being done with his treatment, hopefully forever.

There have been blessings and losses along the way. Some of the children we got to know during his treatment weren’t so lucky. Some didn’t respond as well as he did. Others did wonderfully, like Riley. My ex and I became more understanding with each other, work a little bit better with each other.

So there it is. I don’t know why I felt I needed to tell it here, but I did. I think, perhaps, because Riley is one of the many reasons I need to write. I don’t want to leave him a legacy of his father being bitter at his mom, who never tried to live up to his potential, his dreams. I want Riley to see in me an example, a man who dreams and reaches to accomplish them. I want him to see that, just like his cancer, he can overcome the obstacles that life places in his path, and do what truly makes him happy.

And so, I’ll write. For Riley. For all my children.

For me.

A tiny bit of awesome in a stressful day…

There are times where stress makes it hard to write. This week has been filled with them, as I’m sure my previous posts have indicated. That said, sometimes it is tiny things that can make a day so much brighter, that can inspire us to do something more. I had one happen today that I want to share, but first, a little back story.

I want to tell you about my siblings. Unlike a lot siblings (or at least, unlike the siblings of most people I know), my brother and sisters and I are all incredibly close. We text each other at least once a week, call at least once a month, email regularly, and try to see each other every few months whenever possible, despite the distance between us. We love each other, but more than that, we like each other. We legitimately enjoy one another’s company. We spend such times with food and wine and song and it’s really an amazing thing.

So this morning, things started rough. I was in a rather grumpy mood, when suddenly, my phone buzzed. Then a second one. Then a third.  I checked it, and it was my siblings. My brother had sent out a group text, a simple “I love you guys”.  My sisters responded in kind. I couldn’t resist, I texted back “Eh. I think you’re alright.”

Everyone responded back with a laugh, and then I posted, more seriously, a small paragraph about my appreciation for being not just close with, but best friends with my siblings.

My brother responded with “That’s my brother, the writer.”

His brother. The writer.

Thanks bro. I needed that.