Category Archives: Family

Mountain House

This is going to be a long one but well worth the read, I hope.


Last night I had a dream that could rival Homer’s Odyssey. It lasted all night, I woke up many times from shock and fear (and once to pee) but as soon as I fell back to sleep, it picked up again. It was so vivid I could feel the cold snow, feel the wet rain, smell the smoke of fires, and definitely feel the fear of pain and death and fellow human beings.


I begin the dream as I get off of work at a local store I work at. It is winter, cold, and raining. I do not drive and was going to walk home since I was not able to find a ride. It is currently raining quite hard, so here I am cussing life, waiting for the rain to , hopefully, let up enough that I can walk the two miles home. I was thinking to myself, standing on the store patio near the cart rack, that this rain, watching and listening to it, would be wonderful and relaxing if I wasn’t stranded.

I hear the electric doors open behind me and listen to the cart wheels rattle.

“Hey Lee’s wife, waiting for your ride?” A man says.

I turn and look to him, it’s one of my neighbors. I smile politely and am about to say I don’t have a ride, but quickly hold back for fear of burdening him. Instead I just say I am waiting for the rain to lighten up, then realize I just said the same thing with different words.

“Hell no! C’mon, I’ll take you home.” He laughs that common ‘don’t be an idiot’ laugh.

We quickly run to his car and I help him load his bags before we jump in and head toward home. Not even a block down the road it appears there has been a horrible accident on the freeway and the underpass is blocked off by emergency vehicles.

“We’ll go through to the other side of the parking lot and take the back roads.” My neighbors says.

Everyone has the same idea and it takes a few minutes to get out of the parking lot and on to a road. We go a little farther than the other traffic and take a country road that is not busy. A couple blocks down we come to a cross roads we need to turn left on to get home, but there are cars blocking the intersection.

“What the fuck is going on today?” I say.

“I don’t think it’s another accident.” My neighbor says.

I agree. Men with rifles in their hands and large knives on their hips are guarding the intersection. Two are now walking toward our car.

“Go.” I stutter. “Go.” I say again. “Go! Go! Go!” I finally yell.

My neighbor punches the gas and runs through the road block and tries to turn left but the men, gun fire, and wet conditions cause him to swerve and hydroplane. Our car hits two men head on and my side of the windshield gets splattered with their blood. The car ends up in the grape vines but my neighbor is able to regain control and pull us back on to the road. He drives as fast as he can away from the guns.

“Are they dead?!” I yell. “They’re hurt! Are they dead!?” I am on the verge of hyperventilation.

Before he can say anything, my neighbor loses control of the car again when he hits a pothole at full speed. We end up deep in the grape vines. He tries to start the car but it is dead.

“We gotta go.” He says. “They might be following us and they’ll see the car.”

We get out and start running toward home. It is wet, cold, and the farm land is muddy and slippery.

*I wake up, roll over, think to myself “Damn, what a vivid, scary, dream”, and then fall back asleep.*

I wake up from the bumping of this vehicle. I am in an SUV of some sort. I am with my brother, Joel, and my sister-in-laws, Bri and Louise. I have no idea where Lee is, he was not home when I got there. I think he had probably left work to come get me when the word broke of the attacks. Before phones, media, internet, etc., were all blacked out, news broke of one major attack in each of the fifty U.S. states as well as many smaller attacks across the U.S.. One atomic bomb hit Washington D.C., while air, ground, and water attacks hit the other states simultaneously. Information was spotty but clear, the U.S. is crippled.

My brother and his wife had been near my town when the attacks hit. They came to my house instinctively as did my other sister-in-law, Bri. When we didn’t find Lee there and there was no way to get ahold of him, I gathered up my essentials, diabetes supplies (as I wondered to myself when I would be able to get more insulin after this. Myself and my Type 1 brother will be the first to die), clothes, toiletries, food, a couple of Lee’s swords, and most importantly, my four cats and two dogs. I left a note for Lee letting him know we were headed to the mountain house. Most of my family will be headed there, for sure.

We are packed tight into this vehicle and driving back streets because the main streets are gridlocked. We will need to take the main roads at some point, though, because the mountain house has few options of approach.

Everyone in the vehicle are on high alert, keepings eyes and ears open for anything bad. We see all manner of aircraft flying the skies, some American, most unidentifiable. We hear gunfire in the streets and country. Fires rage out of control all over the cities. A couple of times we hear massive booms and feel the shockwaves of bombs in the distance.

We are terrified.

After hours of trying to figure out how to get through the gridlock, we decide to change course and go to the Auberry house.

The drive there is easier, but still takes us nearly a day to arrive.

As we approach the long driveway to the Auberry house, across the street we see our brother, Glenn, waving us to him. Why would he be at the property across the street from his old house? We follow his instructions and pull in to the small property with a single wide mobile home on it. He shows us to a spot hidden from the road to park.

Once inside the mobile home we are able to talk. Myself, Joel, Louise, Bri, Glenn, his ex-wife, Buffy, and their son, Cody are all crammed in to this two bed, one bath old run down tin can with my dogs and cats. The larger property with the very nice house Glenn built with his own two hands has been taken over by a group of “freedom fighters”, Americans who have gone rogue and take what they see fit from their own fellow Americans in order to fight the bad guys. In reality, these are just assholes out for their own, stealing anything they want from anyone who can’t fight back.

Are we going to try to get the house back? Are we going to try to get to the other mountain house on the other side of the valley, where the rest of our family is, hopefully? We have no weapons other than kitchen knives and the two swords I brought.

“What about Ruth, Nohemy, Dean, Wade, and everyone else that don’t live in our valley? How are they going to get to the mountain house? How do we even know they’re alive?” I start crying.

“And my family.” Bri is already crying.

“We need to get to the mountain house first. It’s where everyone would go first.” Joel states plainly.

“It’s where everyone would go first.” Glenn nods. “From there we’ll know who’s missing.”

“Where is mom?! Is she at the mountain house?! Where is my mom?!” I cry as I look terrified at my brothers.

“She was visiting Ruth and Nohemy.” Joel says with a strained voice.

The worst place for her to be when this happened. The farthest she could be from the mountain house.

We set up a watch schedule so no one can sneak up on us. It doesn’t take long for people to start snooping around, looking for safety. We turn everyone away that asks for shelter. We just don’t have room. It gets physical with a couple of them, but no one gets hurt.

Not much more time passes before, during Cody’s watch, we see a group of freedom fighters walking down the long driveway of Glenn’s nice house. We become alarmed when they approach our tiny home and surround us. We gather our few weapons and hunker down.

“OK, get ready to run. Get to the cars and get out of here, quick.” Glenn says as he trades me his butcher knife for my Samurai sword.

“What?!”

“He’s going to distract as many as he can so we can get away.” Joel says.

“No!” Both Bri and I cry.

“You can’t do that!” Louise cries.

“Don’t worry, I got you, too.” Cody says as he stands beside his dad.

“no.” I can barely say through my sobs.

“Go, now!” Glenn yells. He opens the front door and steps out.

All but Glenn, Buffy, and Cody, escape through the back door and have to fight two bad guys before we reach our vehicles. We hear gunshots and yelling, but don’t see anything until we are driving past the front of the home. Glenn is lying dead on the ground, his face gone from a shotgun blast. There is blood smeared on the door of the home, a lot of it. We have no idea what became of Buffy and Cody.

I cry for my lost family. I also cry for my cats I had to leave behind. My dogs are still with me. We drive toward the mountain house, not knowing if we’ll be able to get through. Three hours later we have made it to the correct side of the valley and now are blocked by gridlock. There are people honking, yelling, shooting guns, outside their vehicles screaming at God. Some vehicles have been abandoned on the road.

“How are we going to get through this?” Bri asks.

“We are going to have to hike it.” Louise says.

“Should we try to get to Chris and Trish?” I ask. They are closer and also out of the city. Their home could be safe.

After a few minutes of silence, Joel speaks up. ” Gather what you can carry. We head for the mountain house, it’s more remote and most of the family will go there.

We hike as far off the road as possible, sometimes it is not possible to avoid at all, but we do our best to avoid other people. There is no way to know who is safe and who will try to kill you for a cracker, or some fresh water.

We walked nearly non-stop for fifteen hours. We all would have cheered and cried once we arrived at the mountain house, but we were too tired and pained to do anything but fall on the soft carpeted floor and sleep.

Chris and Trish were there with their kids, so we had made the right choice to avoid their house. My foster aunt, Maria and her kids were there. My sister-in-law and nice, Karen and Lili, were there as well.

“Where’s Dean?” We all asked.

Karen and Lili cried as they explained that Dean had fought off a couple of bad guys who were trying to take them. The two women got away, but Dean… they didn’t know if he was alive or a prisoner.

Not long after we arrived my brother, Wade, and his wife and kids arrived.

“Too bad we tore down the cottage, we’d have more room for everyone.” Karen said as she hugged each of her family members.

“Has Lee been here?” I had been too scared to ask about my husband.

Lili nodded her head no.

I looked to Joel and Louise, “Where are your kids?” Why had I not asked until now?

“Mine are with their mom, Jordan is with his dad.”

We all sat and discussed who was missing, where they could be, and if we should go look for them. We decided to give it a couple more days since the missing lived farthest away and may be on the way still.

Skip ahead a couple days. It has been decided that myself and my brother, Wade, will head south to try to round up the missing family members. We start out in a car, then park it in some high brush off the road when we hit the gridlock and can’t use it anymore. Then we hike down the mountain. Our trip is wrought with bad people, avoiding gunfire, fires, and heavily populated areas. there are times when we are able to take a vehicle for short distances, but most of the time we have to walk. Then, in a strike of luck, we come across a motorcycle dealership. It has been sorely looted but we find two scooters in the maintenance shop. We ride mostly easy from there.

We stopped by my house to check for Lee but it looked as if no one had been there. Next we headed to Paso to check Dean’s home, maybe he had gotten free and went home. He was nowhere to be found, either. We then headed farther south to look for Mom and our sister’s and their families. Lori and her family were not at home, hopefully they were on their way to the mountain house.

We had made it now to Murrieta, we went to Nohemy’s house. The neighborhood was in a riot, just like most neighborhoods everywhere we had been. There were three cars parked out front of the house, we hoped this was a good sign. We pulled our scooters right up to the front door and knocked hard.

“Nohemy! It’s us, let us in! Nohemy!” We both yelled. We kept looking over our shoulders, the rioters didn’t seem to care about us, yet.

The door opened and Jason let us in, quickly closing and locking the door behind us. The scooters came in with us.

“I am so glad to see you guys!” Nohemy cried. Jason, Troy, Mike, and Mom chimed in.

“Mom! You’re here!” I cried and hugged her.

We hugged and then we told each other everything we knew and experienced from the beginning. Nohemy told us they had been locked in the house all this time, too scared to go out because of all the attacks and also because the rioting in their neighborhood was so, so, bad.

“Where is Kevin?” I asked.

Through tears Nohemy explained that Ruth and Kenny had taken Kevin and Kenny’s son, Jayden, to the zoo on the day of the first attack. No one has seen or heard from them.

“I will go to the zoo and look for them.” I said.

“We will both go. You guys stay right here until we get back, then we will all head up the mountain together.” Wade said.

We drove our scooters down to the zoo. The parking lot was half full of vehicles. We entered the park and began looking for our family. We hadn’t been looking very long when we walked into the eating area and Kevin popped out from behind a hot dog stand and waved for us to come to him.

We ran over to him and found Ruth and the others with him.

“We need to get out of here now.” Ruth said.

“Someone is letting the animals loose.” Kenny said.

“OK, let’s go.”

We all moved together quickly and left the park. There was no way a car could be driven in this city, so we found bicycles for our newly found family members.

This is when I woke up for good.

Something Slightly Related

First off, for some added information and context I recommend reading another post of mine, if you haven’t already, before reading this one. Click on the link. Something Slightly Related to Quarantine

I decided to write this post mainly because I promised one of my brothers I would explain to him the depth and details of my family issues (I’m sure you didn’t skip the post I asked you to read first for more detail and context, it really will help you to understand this post). I also decided to write it for my own therapeutic value. And, as my regular readers already know, I choose to bare my soul to the world via this blog to reach out to others going through similar or the same mental health and physical health issues I am, so we all can understand that we are not alone; and that chronic illness and mental illness are not to be shamed or stigmatized. We are stronger for our struggles, not less because of them. And, lastly, because it is easier, and better, I think to write to an unknown audience rather than speaking directly to my family members about this. Speaking directly to my family would mean having to use words such as “you” which can unintentionally bring up feelings of blame and defensiveness, which I completely do not intend to do here. I do not blame, fault, or feel harmed in any way toward or by my family.

No, I am not ashamed to let you all know I have family issues, virtually everybody does. Family is hard game.

Before I actually dive in, I must point out that by no means do I intend to be rude, mean, or anything malicious toward my family. This is an unavoidably emotional topic and, sadly, mostly negative emotions, so I can not avoid pain and heartache, I am sorry. I love my family, but love doesn’t erase pain here in reality; here in reality love tends to amplify pain. We wouldn’t hurt nearly as deeply if the pain came from someone we don’t care about.

Obviously this is all being told solely from my point of view and personal experience. I am sure some of the things I say here about how I feel and why, etc., will be all new information for my family. My siblings, I think, do not realize how little they actually know me. I have always felt that they do not value me and have little to no interest in really knowing me and have taken little effort to know me. I am not being cruel, this is my experience, but mostly just my feelings and intrusive thoughts (at least I hope so). Part of my mental illness includes self-loathing, self-harm, and unwanted intrusive thoughts: “I’m not worth loving.”, “No one cares about me.”, “No one wants me around.”, “I’d be better off dead.”.

Try living with those thoughts and beliefs in your head nearly 24/7 since virtually the day you were born.

I spend everyday in complete fear that I will be misunderstood. It has happened to me many, many times and lead to hurt and anger to all parties involved. There are two types of misunderstood I mean here. 1.) Someone just taking something I said in a way I did not intend. And 2.) The worse one for me. No one ever understanding me, at least not at the depth or level I need them to. I’ve spent my life feeling like a stranger in my own family. It seems they all either just can’t fathom who I am, or they just don’t even try to.

Again, no cruel speak here, The rational me knows these thoughts and feelings are untrue. But the monsters in my head beat into me that those thoughts are true.

Another reason I feel like a stranger among my family is that most of my family members are extremely opposite to me. They are conservative republican, christian, heterosexual. I am liberal democrat, atheist, bisexual. These are not the only differences that make waves, but the ones that tend to make the noisiest waves.

Growing up, sometimes I would be told straight forward that I was in the wrong for believing something I believed. But most of the time I felt like I was a bad person, or dumb, because I felt, believed or was something my family thought poorly about. I would hear conversations, comments, etc., on these topics.

When I was young I just stayed quiet about my differences. My family is the type of family (as many are) that dealt with conflict by avoidance. Just don’t talk about it, don’t acknowledge it, ignore it. Don’t make waves. So I did just that, I stayed quiet.

This is probably why I never felt known or truly seen in my family.

I even took it a step farther for most of my childhood. I tried to be what they were. I tried to think like they thought, believe what they believed. I wanted to be “good”. I love them and I wanted to get along with my family, be comfortable with them, and accepted by them.

That didn’t work out. I ended up with worse depression, anxiety, and impostor syndrome, and I’m sure all of this fed my rebellious nature that I had already developed due to my type 1 diabetes diagnosis (whole ‘nother story there). Of course, as a child I had no idea I suffered from any of these conditions, I just thought it was the way things were. This was life. No one in my family thought anything about my mental health, mental health was treated the same way as conflict, an avoided topic.

All throughout my twenties I slowly realized what individuality was, and that there wasn’t anything wrong with the real me, I am just different from my family, a different mindset, different values (not totally, but enough), I’m different from them in many ways and it doesn’t make me a bad or wrong person. They are each their own, and I am me. I stopped trying to be what I am not. But I didn’t stop being quiet around them, I still felt a sort of shame and wrongness about myself when I was around them; only when I was around them. I continued to feel like a stranger in my family. I continued to think they had no interest in knowing the real me.

In my early thirties I started to be much more comfortable with the real me. I was completely open and honest with my friends and acquaintances, and it felt super nice, it felt so right. And I was completely accepted, comforted, and even celebrated by them. And I happily returned the favor. With my family I started to slowly relax my quietness about myself. I felt no need for ceremony or “coming out” or anything like that, my attitude was more of a “when it happens it happens” kind of thinking.

From my early twenties through to now (cough, 41) I have kept my family at a distance, except for my mom, I could never live without my mommy nearby to see or to talk to. I rarely talk to her about avoided “conflict” subjects, I’m scared to death to hurt my mother. But the rest of the family I keep at a distance, I could only handle occasional and short interactions with them. My explanation for doing this summed up is because while visiting with family I am glad to see them, glad to be with them, I love them dearly, but soon the talk begins to smack of our differences. I see, hear, and am reminded of how much I do not fit in with these people. My feelings of strangeness, black sheepness, and the totally untrue shamefulness of me grow and grow. I feel tired and drained and I just want to go home to my safe place. Although I mostly have a wonderful time with my family, I almost always come home depressed, anxious, guilty, and terribly frustrated. All-in-all this keeping them at a distance and only interacting once in a while worked just fine for me for twenty years.

Now, however, with all the very loud, in-your-face political frustration going on, and the pandemic, and the racial inequality issues, and the LGBTQ issues all raging and raging and raging, My family issues have been stinging me right and left. I know my family has had no problems on their end, because they have each other and share mostly all the same beliefs and stances. I am over here standing alone among my family. It quickly begins to feel like me against all of them. I’ve never felt like I was against my family, just different from them, but now, with so many immensely important issues and choices we all have to face and make very soon if not right now, I can’t help but feel like it is me against them.

I profoundly dislike feeling this way.

So, over the past several months I have been feeling more and more extreme depression, anxiety, and frustration when I interact with my family members. It’s draining me and hurting me very, very much.

The other day it came to a head and I had an epiphany. I can’t stay quiet anymore. If I keep biting my tongue around my family I will end up biting it off. Considering they don’t want to hear my “shit”, and this is all tearing me to bits from the inside out, I decided to cut ties with many of them.

It’s broken my heart to do so, but another thing I’ve finally gotten through my head recently is that I am by no means required to harm, hide, or change myself for other people, no matter how much I love them. I am learning how, and starting, to put my needs and health first.

You may recall in the other post related to this one (the one I strongly recommended you read first) that I said I love my family and would never give them up. I do not want to give up my family, I truly hope this cutting of ties is not permanent. Maybe the work I am doing in therapy will heal me enough to ask to interact with them again. I love them dearly and already miss them.

On a last note, my intrusive thoughts are screaming that my family is very happy I have cut ties, they feel they can now relax and be truly happy without my shitty ass around to fuck up their good time.

The Matriarch

My mom is awesome. My mom is the best mom in the world and my experience of the world has proven time and time again that that statement is true.

Mom is not without her insecurities. This post is to prove to her that the world has proven, time and time again, that her insecurities are lies to herself, just like it has proven to me that she is the best.

1. She doesn’t believe she is beautiful.

C’mon, Mom, how very many people in your life have told you you are beautiful? How many people have told  other people you know that “Kay is beautiful”? If third parties are saying it then you know it is true! Also, how many guys have flirted with you (whether you realized it or not) and/or asked you out on dates in your life? Lots! You are gorgeous. A3 (2)

2. She doesn’t think she is smart.

I don’t have the foggiest idea why she thinks this. No one has ever accused her of it. Her belief of it has made her hesitate and have anxiety over things she didn’t have to. Mom, there are so many ways to prove you are so much more intelligent and capable than you think. The first proof that comes to mind is all those times you were at work and your coworkers came to you for help, all those times you taught your peers how to do the job! All those times you corrected other’s mistakes. All the times the people you knew told you you could go back to college and get your M.D. if you wanted. You be smarts, yo. A4 (2)

3. She doesn’t think she has any artistic/crafty/decorative/clothing style.

She does. She has them all. She is a calligrapher (amateur but does it beautifully), she decorates beautifully for the holidays. She crochets, quilts, sews. She makes these blankets that have become so popular she gets so many requests for them that her order list is full months in advance. She has a wonderful style for clothing that suits her wonderful personality just perfectly. When she sends cards or writes little notes she has a signature smiley face she does, it’s nothing that would win any awards, but everyone who has ever gotten one or more smiley from her knows it’s hers by it’s uniqueness. It’s a Mom smiley and it means the world to me, it fills my heart with love to see it. Now, that’s style. A1 (2)

4. Sometimes she thinks she is/was a bad parent.

This is something every good parent has thought at some point. But Mom, my mom, has no right or reason to think it. She always was and still is the best mom, ever. She raised 7 kids while working full-time, then buried a husband and continued raising her youngest two (who are both type 1 diabetics) alone. Even after all her kids are grown and have lives of their own, they keep coming back to this day, because we know Mommy will always be there for us. Even more proof: virtually all of her kids kept hounding her to move to town; we were worried about her living in the mountains, we worried about her driving up and down that mountain in bad weather. We wouldn’t do that if we didn’t value and love her as our matriarch. Even more, all our lives all of us kids argued over who would get to have mom live with us when she wanted to stop being totally independent. The second to youngest of us won. Even more proof: So many of our distant family and friends tell us we have the best mom, ever; “I wish she was my mom” they say. A2 (2)

So, yeah, I have the best mom in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You are loved and cherished by so many more people than you think or could imagine. Remember that.

 

 

Something Slightly Related to Quarantine

Something about this quarantine has got me thinking a lot about friendship and family. I’m not sure why, it’s not like I’m doing anything different, I always stay inside my home. Hello….agoraphobia over here. LOL. Maybe it’s because so many of my friends and family have been reaching out for social interaction because they are not used to being stuck home and alone.

The sad thing I’ve had slapped across my face is how very opposite I am from virtually all of my family members. I am so much closer and more accepted, and have more in common with my friends. That’s not unusual, but it is so very obvious for me.

I’ve been painfully aware of my black sheep status for a long time. Much longer than my family has, for certain. But since the quarantine it’s been so much more harrowing. I guess with everyone being so much more social lately it’s just…there.

Politically most of my family is conservative republican. I am liberal democrat. My most vocal family members are total Trump lovers. I hate Trump with a passion. I can tolerate their side, but for the life of me I can’t understand how anyone can think he’s even remotely a good person, cares at all for the people, and has anyone’s best interest in mind. He only cares about himself, he doesn’t try to hide any of it, it’s right there in front of the entire world, how do Trumpets not see it!? My family pays attention to certain news sources they trust and watch Trump’s rallies, news conferences, and get their info from their chosen sources. I get my info from reputable news sources, I force myself to sit through his conferences, and get my info from other reputable sources as well. This is why I just can’t understand how my intelligent family members can listen to this man and not see the very obvious lack of intelligence in him, and the blatant lies, greed, and lack of empathy or humanity among many other traits that make for a total lack of presidential qualafication.

So, you see, my family and I are polar opposites here.

We argue some about politics, but mostly just don’t talk about it at all. I post a lot about it on my Facebook, as do some of my family members and friends on theirs. My family is very vocal about their issue with my political posts. It doesn’t bother me, everyone is free to post on their own page, that’s what it’s there for. And if their comments on mine bothered me I just wouldn’t leave the post open to comments. I have muted a couple of friends and family members in the past for both political and religious posts on their pages I just got tired of seeing those posts every single day. That’s what the mute option is for, I still love you and want you as a friend, but STFU already! LOL

As for my friends, we are all of differing political beliefs. We talk politics, we may not agree, but we still remain civil for the most part, we are open to learn from each other. We can joke and laugh about our differences. In the end, we remain friends.

I guess my family is just very, very sensitive, and very, very stubborn? I just feel that we can’t talk without high feelings and can’t be open-minded enough to learn from each other.

Religiously the vast majority of my family are protestants, and very devout at that. I, being raised the same as them, grew up protestant as well, and I tried to be devout, I tried to believe, I tried to get close to God. I tried to be a good Christian. But I always felt it just didn’t add up. I couldn’t articulate the issue at first, the feeling in the back of my mind. I began to study more, the Bible, religions, theology, etc.. In the end I became atheist and I’ve never felt more at peace.

So, you see, my family and I are polar opposites here.

My family lives religion, every single thing in their life is all about God, just as they believe it should be. As you can imagine this sets me apart from them in a big way. Not by fault of either of us, we just have opposite beliefs.

As for my friends, once again, there is every imaginable religion amongst our group. We talk about our beliefs, or lack there of, we learn from each other, on few occasions there is debate, but in the end we remain friends and love each other.

The difference here between my friends and family is just the simple fact that hanging with groups of friends means many different beliefs. Hanging at family gatherings means an atheist or three being drowned in God talk. I don’t hate it, but I do tire quickly of it.

Then there is the last, and probably least of the issues. Most of my family are heterosexual and most (not all) of them have traditional religious and cultural beliefs on any sexuality other than hetero. I am bisexual, at least that’s what most people would call it. I can be sexually attracted to and fall in love with guys, gals, and trans folk. There are a couple other family members that are not straight. But most are hetero and some don’t feel even the slightest bit comfy with anyone that isn’t.

As for my friends, once again, we are a mixture of all sexualities and more than just the two classic genders. And we all love and accept each other just the way we are. And we are open to talk and learn about each other.

I love my family and I mostly understand them, and accept them just the way they are. I do not share most of their stances and beliefs, but I will never give them up because of it.

I know this post may sound like a bit of a family shit-post, but I don’t intend it to be that. It is simply a post about how I feel like I am shoved to the sidelines of my family, lest we hurt each others feelings.

Yes, I am liberal
Yes, I am atheist
Yes, I am bisexual

Love and accept me as I am.

Tony, It’s Been A Year

For about two weeks now the anxiety had been growing and the depression had been deepening. Not just for me but for many friends and family as well. As each day went by and December 8th got closer, everyone’s heart grew heavy with the refreshed pain of loss.

An entire year has gone by since we last heard his voice. That laugh, oh, that gigglish laugh that made everyone around him laugh as well. One year is too long to have gone without seeing him, talking with him, joking with him.

And then we realize, this is just the first year, how the hell are we going to keep going on without him?!

All year long every single time I would see a picture of him, or experienced a memory of him, I would be once again shocked and surprised that he is dead. As if it had just happened.

How can this be?! How can he be gone?!

It’s all different, nothing is the same without him.

Every time hubby needed help, advice, a level head, or just someone to talk to, he would go to his brother, he would go to Tony. For an entire year now, he still instinctively takes that path, and then stops short, remembering, and his heart dies a little more.

For an entire year now, at least once a month (that I know of) hubby falls apart and cries.

“I miss him so much.” I know, my love, I know.

He’d been crying more often as the 8th loomed closer.

In a group of friends who thrive on jokes and fun, nobody wanted to laugh or joke on the 8th.

A huge blackness, as heavy as it is eternal had been boring through our hearts all day. We came together to comfort each other and celebrate the life of Tony. But there was no celebration. The comfort of friends was there, love was all around.

Just as equal was the sorrow.

It is strange how sometimes the small things we took for granted are the things that leave the loudest silence. I miss hearing hubby yell at Tony over Xbox Live Chat when they would play their games.

“Tony, Tony! Cover me!”, “I got you, Tony, I’m right behind you.”, “Damn it, Tony!”

It used to annoy me. I used to complain about the noise.

Now all I hear is the profound silence of my husband’s broken heart.

I would give anything to hear him yell at his brother again.

I WANT TO MAKE HIS PAIN GO AWAY!

I see my sister-in-law, Tony’s wife, and she’s a trooper. Going on with life, she’s made all the adjustments needed to live without her partner. She’s strong in that respect, the getting business done part. But you’d be a fool to think she’s OK.

She’s broken. She’s not the same. She has the heaviest heart on the face of the earth. And she has every right to.

She has no choice but to keep going. And she wants to keep going, it helps with the immense pain.

I observe her and I can see the shadow of herself within weeping continuously, trembling in agony, silently screaming.

Every time I see her I want to hold her, I want to cry with her.

I FUCKING WANT TO TAKE HER PAIN AWAY!

I have no clean conclusion to this post. Everything sucks and we all deserve something happy after this crappy year.

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Rambling About 20 Years

I’ve been married for twenty years. 20 years, only about half of marriages last that long (I thought it was even less than that). What can I say, I love the man and he loves me. We make great business partners, lovers, friends, supporters, caregivers, etc. When you’re in a lasting relationship you both wear many hats and learn to switch them out as needed (and sometimes wear multiples at once) to make a strong and unwavering balance.

It’s tough work, but oh, so worth it.

I usually say that time is both slow and fast when referencing my marriage. But I made a video recently of the past 20 years worth of photos of Lee and I together. Going through all my photos in search of the perfect ones for my video I realized how long 20 years really is. I had thought it had gone by so fast, but that was just because I wasn’t remembering everything we’d done and been through together. 20 years is a long time and we’ve done so much.

Our very first trip was with a group of friends and family to Universal Studios. That trip was also our first couple photo. We made many lasting memories that trip.

We love to go on short trips with friends and family. We’ve done several: San Francisco on a spur-of-the-moment whim, a trip to the LACMA and Trejo’s Taco’s, and Trejo’s Donuts, trips to different beaches, and Jocko’s, trips to churches and missions, trips to visit other friends and families, trips for special occasions. Foodie trips are always the best.

Our first wedding was an elope. We went to City Hall, just the two of us. We had no witnesses so the Justice of the Peace asked two people in the waiting room to sign as witnesses. We said our vows, the JP took our photo and gave us a gift bag of free samples and coupons and we went on our way. It was perfect.

We are lucky that each of our families loves our spouse. My family especially loves Lee to no end. Lee’s family has had some hiccups with me, but there has never been any doubt of love.

For the first three years of our marriage Lee and I liked to go to the fair when it came through town in early October. We would just walk around and see the exhibits and eat fair food. We would get our picture taken at one of those black and white photo places. The photo’s left much to be desired, but it was fun and we loved to do it together. We stopped doing it when we fell on extra hard times, after several years of not having any money, even though times got better again that little fair tradition has never made a comeback.

Our second wedding was in the Catholic church. It was a group wedding of about 22 couples. The event took place on Valentine’s Day. We decided to do this because Lee’s mother was having a very hard time with the fact that we were not married in the church. It was a romantic and special thing for all of us, but for different reasons. For Lee’s family it was the religious aspect. For me, it was just the simple act of proclaiming our love and commitment to each other once again.

Often Lee and I will escape, just the two of us, and go on an adventure to relax, unwind, and romance somewhere other than the norm. When times were extra tough financially we would just rent a hotel room in town for a night. Even that small getaway can do wonders. We’ve also done bigger things like going to amusement parks, beaches, day trips just driving around aimlessly, or just going to the city to window shop and eat good food. OK, so more often than not it is small, inexpensive things. The point here is that you don’t have to do big, expensive, far away things in order to have a great romantic getaway. It’s supposed to be about being together and giving each other your undivided attention and reminding yourself and each other that you love and value and are loved and valued.

Lee and I have a lot in common. We both love to do fun things that are also educational and enriching, like reading historical books, going to see historical places, museums, etc.. We are both foodies, always trying new and interesting foods, also foods of different cultures. We share a love for Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune films. We share the same political views. We have each brought a lot of new experiences and joys into each other’s life. I don’t think I would have ever bothered to play World of Warcraft if it wasn’t for Lee.

We love our friends and there are often parties and get-togethers. Spending time among our friends is awesome, fun, wild, wonderful. We laugh, we cry, we bitch…commiseration is great therapy. With my agoraphobia I do not always attend the get-togethers. But I cherish them.

Our group of friends are as much a part of our marriage as each other. Most of our friends in some way have impacted and strengthened our marriage and relationship. We’ve gone through some very tough times, even the strongest of relationships struggles, and it’s through these trials that a relationship will learn and grow, or will perish. Certain dear friends have been there for us during these times and helped us to do that learning and growing, whether it be purposely or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, without our friends we would not have as strong a bond as we do today. We have a wonderful support system in many of our friends.

As I said, Lee and I work well together. We have on many, many occasions been on the same wavelength without even having to speak. Someone is in need, we do it, not talking, no checking with each other, we just do it. Someone asks for help or comes to us to talk. Someone is talking about a random subject, Lee and I both are reminded of the same thing and both start to tell the same story. Yes, we do finish each other’s sentences. We both will speak up at the same time offering the same aid, story, suggestion, etc.. After twenty years it’s almost like we’ve become two halves of the same mind and heart.

This past year has been an extremely heartbreaking one for us and our friends and family. We’ve all been there for each other as best we can. Significant others have tried their best to be there for each other especially. Something some people may find surprising is that even though it is our job to be there for our significant other (it’s written in the stone of the invisible, unspoken, Soulmates Terms and Conditions you sign with a piece of your soul at the moment you fall in love) so very often our suffering soulmate will not open up to us but will either hold it in or talk to someone else (because they do not want to cause pain and suffering to you). For me, and so many others, it is crushing for my man not to open up to me. I can see his pain and turmoil, and I can be there, hold him, comfort him, etc., but I can’t listen too terribly well and be a good emotional caretaker if he won’t speak with words as well.

I tell you this because being in a lasting relationship means forever learning new lessons, forever improving your relationship, forever meeting new trials. The heart wrenching year we’ve had has taught me that I need to learn to listen better with my eyes, instincts, heart, and all other senses, just as much and as well as I can with my ears. Pain often speaks without ever using words.

I talk a lot about our friends, much more than I do about our family. We love our family, both sides, but as is common, we spend more time with our friends, and truthfully can be more ourselves around them. Family is extremely important and supremely loved. Family, of course, plays a very large part in our lasting marriage. We’ve both learned from our parents and extended family marriages, good or bad, everything is a lesson, just make sure you learn the right ones.

What has twenty years of marriage taught me? When you meet the right person, whether they be your best friend, a close relative, or someone you end up marrying, the right person to experience life both good and bad with is the best thing in life. I’m a loner, I usually work so much better alone than with a partner or in a group. But when it comes to life in general, a partner, the right partner is much preferred. I would never have survived this long without my husband. I certainly would never have been happy without him.

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Mourning Tony

Early afternoon on December 8th, 2018 something sudden, completely unexpected, and devastating happened. A close loved one died. One moment he was here, happy, active, and very much full of life, then everyone blinked and he was gone.

Tony was a son, a brother, a husband, a dear friend to many. As December 8th crawled by- as the most painful days of our lives do- I couldn’t help noticing how very many people were in Tony’s life that loved him with all of their heart.

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Tony with just a few friends and family

This post is about Tony, of course, but it is also very much about the one’s he’s left behind. Especially his wife and his brother (my husband).

In the days that followed Tony’s death so many of his friends and family posted on their and his Facebook pages photos of them with Tony and stories of their relationship with him and how deeply he touched their lives. He helped them through tough times, he shared so many joys with them. They expressed their sadness at his passing, and most of all they shared how much they love him. Below is just a sampling of the many posts.

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Tony was the youngest of three siblings. They grew up in a blending of traditional Mexican and all-American cultures, as many Mexican-American kids do. He was intelligent, had a bachelors degree, and could hold his own well in virtually any conversation. He was always there to listen and give good level-headed advice. He had many friends and did many things with them and seemed to be an extrovert even though he was an introvert and suffered anxiety.

He loved photography, gaming, philosophy, and could often be found talking politics and religion just as often as he talked pop-culture. Tony was an animal lover and could often be found snuggling, talking to, joking about, and playing with his and other people’s pets. He was a foodie, loving to try new and interesting foods both in restaurants and through cooking at home. Tony was a well-rounded person with many interests and many friends to share them with.

Tony met Bri through mutual friends in the early 2000’s. They became friends and eventually started dating. They fell deeply in love, supported each other’s goals in life, made each other laugh all the time, even when times were so tough even a smile was hard to wear. They got married in early 2007 and continued to love and support each other every single day thereafter. They were together helping each other through college. They got good jobs with each other’s support and love. And, together, in mid 2016, they bought a house and made it their dream home together.

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Tony and Bri

The day the world stopped for Bri, understandably she was frazzled, in shock, panicked at first. Tony had been just fine, totally his normal self all morning. They were going to make tamales with friends so a few people were there at the house with them. Tony walked out of the bedroom and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack”. And then he collapsed. 911 was called. Two of our loved one’s traded off doing CPR until the paramedics arrived. Other family and friends were called in those moments, one being our dear friend Stephanie who is an EMT, and another being Tony’s brother, my husband, Lee.

Lee and I arrived at the house just moments before the ambulance pulled away. We were quickly caught up on the situation. Tony collapsed, a heart attack, he wasn’t breathing. The paramedics were taking him to the nearest hospital.

In those moments Bri was obviously in a panic (who wouldn’t be). She was rushing around while talking on the phone. Trying to gather things she’d need at the hospital; her purse, Tony’s wallet and prescriptions, lock up the house… we all tried to keep her attention, tell her not to worry about any of that.

We finally moved her to our car and drove her to the hospital. She cried, who wouldn’t? I cried, too. She called her dad on the way. She and Lee talked a little.  She kept repeating the moments when it happened through her soft sobs. She didn’t have any shoes on.

We got to the hospital and I lead Bri to the emergency waiting room while Lee parked the car. Bri, Ryan, Joy, Jackie, Stephanie, Lee, myself, Allan, Nathan S., and Jocelyne were all there. They moved us all to a large room off the main waiting room. They said it was because there were so many of us, but I couldn’t help being reminded of when my dad died. They took us to a room to tell us he wasn’t going to live.

Sure enough, not long later(I remember thinking the doctor came in too soon after Tony arrived for this to be good news) the ER doctor came in. He very quickly and straightforwardly, albeit kindly, told Bri, “I’m sorry to inform you your husband has died.”

One second passed before Bri blurted out in so much pain and agony, “WHAT?!” I could see her heart shatter in her face.

This came out of nowhere. He was fine! Then he collapsed. Just like that, her whole world was gone.

Tony was 41 years old.

They call this kind of heart attack the Widowmaker, and every person on earth hates that accurate name.

For the rest of the day Bri was in a kind of fog. She was surrounded by friends and family. Many more friends arrived throughout the day. They sat with her, talked with her, cried with her. Everyone offered as much help and support as they could. Many worked together to work out plans to help her with arrangements and all the tedious and confusing business related things she was going to have to work out in the near future.

A few hours after the world ended the coroner came and took Bri’s world even farther away from her.

Bri decided to walk the nearly three miles home from the hospital. Friends walked with her.

Lee is the oldest of his siblings, and as I said, Tony is the youngest. Lee and Tony had a profound bond that went beyond the normal brotherly bond. They texted and called each other a million times a day. They spent almost every evening playing video games together. They hung out on the weekends. They even ran errands together. They had so many shared interests and had gone through every moment of their lives together. They were always there when the other needed an ear or a shoulder or help of any kind.

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Lee and Tony

Allow me to digress slightly and tell you what had happened to Lee and I over the few hours before Tony’s death. I promise, this is relevant. The evening before, Lee and I arrived home from work and I went out to let the dogs in. One of the dogs, Kandi, came running in all happy as usual. But Chispita didn’t come right away. This wasn’t unusual but also wasn’t too common. I called her again and she finally stepped into view off the side of the porch. She was looking at me but not moving. “C’mon, Chispita.” I said sweetly. She started walking, slowly, painfully. It wasn’t until she stepped into the house that I realized she had a huge spot of blood on her back and down one side.

I called Lee to come over. “Something’s wrong with Chispita, she’s drenched in blood.”

Lee came over and looked at her. “It’s a huge gash.” He went and got his mother from her room and asked her what had happened throughout the day regarding the dogs. She hadn’t spent much time with the dogs this day, she had last seen them around 4 when she went out to feed them. They had both been fine. We cleaned the wound as best we could, gave her pain meds, and kept her warm and comfortable for the night.

The next morning we took her to the vet. They said she needed surgery to sew up the wound and put in a drain. They took into consideration her age (about ten years old) and that she was dehydrated but otherwise OK for surgery. They would give her fluids first and during. We left her in the capable and caring hands of the vet and went home.

A couple hours later the vet called. Something had happened. Chispita had an adverse reaction to the anesthesia and her heart stopped. They were keeping her body alive until we got there, but she was gone.

We went to the vet and said our goodbyes as they turned off the machines. We cried, our hearts broken.

I said as we watched Chispita’s final moments, “Kandi’s going to have the hardest time with this. They’ve never been apart, they’re so close.”

We went out to the car but before we left Lee called Tony and told him what had happened. Tony comforted Lee over the phone.

Not 15 minutes after we got home from the vet, Lee got the call. Our friend Jackie told him Tony had passed out and we need to get there right away.

“They’d better be kidding. This better be some stupid joke to get us over there to make tamales with them.” Lee said as we rushed out the door.

Being his wife, and knowing him as well as I do, I could tell how worried Lee was. But he hid it, he buried it and took charge. He was solely on the task of taking care of business…and of burying his emotions.

While he was driving Bri and I to the hospital, he was comforting and calming Bri, and he told her to call her parents. I remember thinking “he needs to be comforted, he needs to not bury his feelings for too long”. I was already thinking ahead, to when we got home and were alone. No matter the outcome with Tony, good or bad, Lee was going to break down once we were alone.

The moment the ER doctor gave the news of Tony’s passing I looked to Lee. My first thought was that he was going to die right there. His brother, their love, their profound bond. I honestly expected my husband to drop dead at that news. But he didn’t, he just stared, expressionless. He didn’t move, he didn’t blink, I don’t think he even took a breath for the longest moment.

Then he went right into protection mode. No feelings, no thoughts on reality. Just take care of business. What needs to be done? Who needs to be comforted? Who needs to be notified? Who needs to be here that isn’t already? Etc.

I went into protection mode as well. I felt the devastation, I cried a lot, but I soon realized I needed something to do, so I did what I always do, what comes naturally to me, I needed to support and protect my husband. I stuck to Lee like glue all day. I needed to be there for him. I needed to make sure he was OK. I stopped him whenever he was on the verge of… I don’t know how to put it, it would have been OK for him to cry, it would have been OK for him to grieve…but when I could tell he was on the verge of something else, exploding?, panicking?…I would stop him and hold him and make him sit down ‘for a minute. Take a breath, it’s OK’.  A few tears fell from his eyes, but not many. A moment here and there he stopped and I could tell he was starting to think about it, but then he’d wipe it aside and get back to business. He comforted everyone, he wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of, especially Bri and his mom.

Everyone was just as comforting and supportive to Lee as they were to Bri. Hugs, tears, words of support, offers to help whenever and wherever needed. We have so many wonderful friends with beautiful hearts.

Then we went home. Maybe 30 minutes or so after we got home, he started to let go. He began to feel it, think about it. And I held him. It came in little spurts at first. It was hard for him to accept that his brother was gone.

“I want to hide from my feelings.” He said.

The parallels between our dog Kandi’s grieving and Lee’s grieving don’t escape my attention. Two hearts that lost the connection to their sibling, both broken. Kandi howled and barked and cried for her sister. She looked everywhere in the yard to find her sister who had dissapeared. Lee woke up the next morning and almost immediately broke down in sobs, finally. The flood gates are open and that huge gash on his heart will never be closed again.

He was crying on the couch. I heard him from the bedroom. I went over to him and held him and cried with him.

“I know what you’re thinking.” I said (because I had thought it as well).

“What?”

“You see something, or think of something, and your instinct is to text him or call him and tell him about it.” I said through tears.

“Yeah…” He sobbed. “Oh, God… fuck! Why?!…why…”

So, so many friends and family came by the house over the next days. There was no time to be alone and that was good for almost everybody. It is very calming to be surrounded by loved ones, to know you are not alone, to grieve together, and to also have your mind distracted. To be reminded that life goes on, and it’s OK to cry, but it is also OK to laugh. To share stories of the one you’ve lost, good stories, happy memories, fun times.

Two days after Tony’s passing, Bri, Lee, myself, and Bri’s parents went to the funeral home to make arrangements. The first thing I’d like to mention here is how very strong Bri is. Her husband died so suddenly, so unexpectedly; of course she was devastated, of course she showed all the range of emotion and typical grieving you’d expect; but she held it together, thought clearly, and took care of this horrible required task like the badass woman we know her to be. We stood by her, supported her, helped her, and that certainly gave her strength, but I can only imagine if Tony were there he’d smile and say, “Of course she’s got this, that’s Bri”.

She’s only 34 years old, she shouldn’t have to be doing this.

The whole ordeal took about two hours. The funeral director was so very kind and easy going, straight forward, and explained everything step by step. Lighthearted stories and jokes were told from time to time to lighten the mood and make it easier on us all. It was a depressing and daunting task, but it wasn’t nearly as torturous as it could have been.

After the funeral home we headed over to the cemetery. Tony died suddenly and young, remember, so there was no plot already waiting for him, it had to be bought now. That whole task didn’t take much time at all.

Bri and Lee had agreed that it would be nice if they could find a plot near Lee and Tony’s father. We were worried there might not be one available since it was in the older side of the cemetery. One was found just a few rows away, and that was good enough.

Later that evening Lee and I went over to Bri’s house to spend time with her and some friends. We sat around the hookah and smoked a bit while talking primarily about Tony and how we’re doing in our grieving process, as well as discussing the upcoming viewing, funeral, and reception. I felt both better and worse hanging out with my friends, telling stories and remembering happy times with Tony. It felt good to have so much love and support, but it also depressed me more. I felt the loss even deeper in those moments. I felt the empty space where Tony should be. Where were his quips and jokes? Where was his laugh? I was sitting on the back patio talking with everyone, I looked up for a split second and could swear I saw him walk by the dining room window. A fresh surge of sorrow rushed over me.

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Tony with just a few friends and family

On the way home Lee and I were talking about how everyone was dealing in their own way and it was helpful to have so much support. I agreed, but I also didn’t. I hadn’t said anything about it up to this point because I didn’t want to upset anyone or cause any issue, but I said it at this moment.

“I don’t want to sound mean or make anyone feel bad. I know some people need to have people around all the time right now and that’s OK, they need to do what they need. I know everyone just wants to help and be there for all of us- each other- and that’s wonderful. But I can’t grieve like this…I haven’t been able to grieve properly for me. The people, the hanging with friends is great and it does help, but I need solitude, I need to be alone. I can’t think, I can’t feel, I can’t work through the deep sorrow with all of these people and all of this activity and noise around all the time. I need to be alone.”

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Tony and I

A few days after his passing, I had a night full of dreams of Tony. The dreams were more like memories of normal things we did all the time. In one dream we were in the car, Lee, Tony, and I, driving on the freeway on the way to run errands and have lunch in Fresno. Tony and Lee were talking and joking on all the topics they always loved to talk and laugh over. In another dream all of the regular group of friends and family were gathered for a random party at Tony and Bri’s house. We were gathered around the hookah with music playing. Everyone happy and enjoying each other’s company. Tony and Ron leading the main conversation and keeping everyone smiling and laughing with their jokes and anecdotes.

Then I woke up and was hit with the brick of reality. I will never see Tony again, never hear his voice and laugh again. He will never join in on our gatherings, and never run errands with Lee and I again. I will never hear my husband yell at his brother over Xbox chat while they played CoD or Destiny, or any of their games, ever again.

Every now and then I have a moment where I feel just about normal again. As soon as I realize I feel OK I then feel guilty. I know it’s normal, natural, and healthy to feel OK even when you are in the middle of mourning, it’s all part of the process. But I can’t help but feel guilty for feeling OK when it’s all still so fresh.

Lee can’t see a picture of Tony without breaking down. Lee can’t talk about Tony with anyone without breaking down. Lee went to his contacts list on his phone to call someone and the first contact on his list was Tony because he called him the most often. Lee broke down. Lee can’t go to Tony’s Facebook page yet, he wants to, but he just can’t do it.

Tony’s mom is elderly and in poor health as it is, the news of Tony’s death lay immensely heavy on her. She’s his mother and now she’s burying her youngest child. The day it happened, Lee and I went with our dear friend Stephanie to give his mom the news and take her to the hospital to see her baby before he was taken away.

Her cries will forever echo in my memory.

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Tony, his mother, Lee, and Mona

Lee and Tony’s sister, Mona, was away at a retreat when Tony died. She was unable to make it back until the next day. She rushed over to our house to be with Lee and their mother. I heard her step onto the front porch and ring the bell. Lee opened the door and I could hear soft, cracking voices greet each other. Then Lee stepped onto the porch with his sister and closed the front door. It didn’t even begin to muffle the sound of her wails.

Mona came to our house the next several days. She kept her mother company and took care of her, and took comfort in being with her everyday for many days. They organized a rosary every night at the house and found comfort in their religion and friends.

The Wednesday after Tony’s death Lee had a doctor appointment. The appointment had been made a couple weeks earlier but Lee decided to take the opportunity to ask for an in-depth examination of his heart considering his family history and his brother’s sudden death.

When the doctor came in Lee and I began to tell her the story of Tony. She listened compassionately but as we talked I could see her facial expression change from empathy to curiosity.

She stopped Lee mid-sentence. “Is your brother Tony _____?”

“Yeah…”

“He was my patient. I just signed the death certificate today. I’d just been his doctor for a couple months, but, yeah, he was in good health. I’m so sorry.”

We had not been aware that we shared the same primary care physician with Tony. It’s a small world.

After the doctor appointment we met three of our friends for dinner. Ever since Saturday everyone had been so burdened with the horrid feelings of loss but this dinner turned out to be a barrel of laughs. Jokes, anecdotes, stories, memories, and “if Tony were here he’d say…”, followed by laughter. So much laughter. Lee and I smiled, really smiled, for the first time in days.

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Lee, Eric, Nick, and Tony

We are so lucky to have so many wonderful friends who love and know Tony just as much and just as well as we do.

Bri had been holding it together most of the week with the help of friends and family. It was obvious that she was devastated, but she kept herself busy, which wasn’t hard because she had to take care of so much for the funeral. I can only go by my own experiences but I  imagine she was constantly reminded of her husband and her loss by all of the things she had to do, gather, sort through, and talk about. Sometimes she smiled through the tears, sometimes she just cried, sometimes she was very quiet, sometimes she was running around doing nervous busy work. The day finally came where she asked to just be alone. We were all happy to oblige because we knew she needed it, but we certainly hurt and worried for her.

Our good friend Nathan H. wrote Tony’s obituary. He has a way with words and did a beautiful job keeping it simple, true, and touching.

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Tony’s Obituary

I made a video presentation of photos set to music to show at Tony’s viewing. It hurt, but was also comforting, to sort through so many photos, listen to emotional songs, and put the video together. I had to watch it beginning to end many times over in order to get it just right. Many of Tony’s friends and family contributed photos to the project. Our good friend, Nick, helped me with some technical issues. It turned out nice and was played at the viewing and digital copies provided to friends and family who requested them. Friday evening I finished the project but before I was to upload it to the web I needed some fresh eyes to watch it and, hopefully, catch any mistakes and provide any suggestions for improvement. The only person available at the time was Lee. I felt bad asking him to watch this video full of pictures of his brother, but he was willing.

After the video was over I asked him, “So, what do you think?”

He replied through sobs, “Fuck you, that’s what I think… it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.”

Every morning I wake up feeling vulnerable. It seems each day is getting harder and I grow more sensitive. It’s difficult not to cry, holding tears back seems futile. I am depressed, not severely, but it’s there.

The cemetery where Tony is laid to rest is literally on the main street in town. Lee and I and many other friends and family of Tony drive by it all the time, like every single day, multiple times a day. This doesn’t help to ease any pain.

Almost all of us who were very close to Tony are at the point in the grieving process where we’re a bit short-tempered. It started at the mid-point of the funeral arrangements, all the stress of organizing plus the heartache of Tony’s loss, but it’s not gone yet. Hopefully soon.

Early on in the week both Lee and Bri had stomach issues due to the shock and heartbreak. My stomach had been fine until just about a week later. I woke up a few mornings in a row with nausea and other issues. At first I thought it was because I had missed a few days of meds due to being so distracted and sad, or maybe it was because of the terrible diet I’d been eating all week (carbs are comforting). More likely it was both of those and the sadness all mixed together. Also, I hadn’t been drinking hardly any water all week, but crying a lot. Dehydration will get you.

The day of the viewing/rosary we woke up to rain. Tony’s sister and mother were stressed about it, worried it would muck up the viewing and funeral. Lee told them not to worry, people are buried in the rain all the time, it won’t hurt anything. I thought it was perfect weather for a funeral, even the sky is crying over Tony. In the end the weather cleared up and all was sunny for the funeral.

The viewing was as good as such a sad event could be. The flowers were beautiful and represented Tony’s taste well. The mortician did a great job making Tony look just like himself. Bri chose a handsome suit and she had him wear his WoW ring on a chain, and one of his favorite watches (he collected watches). His mother had them place a rosary in his hand. It was all so nice. They played my video on a large screen over the coffin, with speakers placed throughout the building for the music to be heard. The flower arrangement that set on his coffin had his Titanfall helmet in it. It all represented Tony so well.

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Flowers atop Tony’s casket

Everyone had a very hard time. No one could hold in their sorrow. Tony’s mother and sister sat in the front row the entire evening, sobbing and grieving heavily. Bri wandered a lot, not able to sit still for very long at a time. Lee went and saw his brother at the beginning of the evening, then went to a side room to cry for a while, then went outside to get some fresh air, then came back in to a different side room for the rest of the evening. I stayed by  Lee’s side the entire time.

A lot of friends and family came, the chapel was packed. We were hugged and comforted by friends new and old, and family from near and far.

Mona lead the rosary. I thought it impressive how she could be so strong to get up and do that at her brother’s viewing. She did a good job.

The following day was Tony’s funeral. It was a traditional Catholic Funeral Mass. Our dear friend Nathan H. said a eulogy, beautiful words with a touch of humor. Perfect.

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Graveside

After the mass we headed over to the graveside. The procession of cars was very long. Tony was well loved and something around 100+ people attended his funeral. At the graveside about halfway through the priest’s final prayer a train came by (the cemetery is right next to the train tracks). We all paused and waited for the long train to go by. After, while we were waiting for everyone to make their final pass by Tony’s casket, Lee, myself, and a couple friends joked that Tony would have joked about the train stopping the funeral being lag. That’s an online gamer style of joke for those of you who don’t game.

The reception hall was also quite full of loved ones. It was sad, of course, but also filled with lively, happy memories of Tony and how he touched each and every person’s life in such positive ways.

Our good friend, Kim, and other friends came together to make the center pieces for the tables. They turned out beautiful. Each one had a different picture of Tony.

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One of Kim’s centerpieces

The first week has passed. The viewing, funeral, and gatherings are done. Now begins the mourning -while -living -life part. The part where you have to go to work, run everyday errands and chores, do normal everyday things. The part where you go hang with friends and have fun, but he’s not there. This is the hardest part, figuring out how to go on without him. How to do those things we used to do with him, but now without him.

We will always remember Tony. He will live forever in our memories, our stories, our photos. He will be forever cherished.

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Tony and his pug, Perry