I’ll Be Seeing You

It’s crazy how one moment you can feel so alive and awestruck by the world. Then in another moment realize how harsh and cruel the reality of life can be. While I have been relishing in my day to day adventure filled life, I have been selfishly unaware of things that are far more important than myself. I have been self-seeking in my happiness, not fulfilling a promise I gave to a dear friend awhile back.

Back in late August of 2014 I went to Nashville for work and had the opportunity to use my night off to catch up with an old friend from back in my early High School days. He was coaching soccer down the road from my hotel, so I walked to go watch. We caught up over dinner and drinks and laughed at each other over how much we had changed over the years. We had always kept in touch, but we hadn’t seen each other in so long, so much was different now. Nevertheless I felt like I was hanging out with a close friend, teasing each other about work, giving out relationship advice… basically him giving me advice ha! It was awesome! Only briefly did he mention this weird pain in his jaw that he was having his dentist look at soon. No big deal, we barely talked about it.

Middle of September I was heckling him on the soccer pictures he was posting to Facebook. As a goalie myself we have always been supportive and critical of each others performances. It was lighthearted and fun, typical soccer banter. This was our friendship.

In October everything changed… He had a biopsy, surgery, and was ultimately diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) or cancer of the muscle. Dr. said that this cancer is very curable and responds well to chemo and radiation. She was very wrong.

Early November the Dr. said that the PET scan showed some spots in his bones (left hip, shoulder blade, mid-back) where the cancer had spread. Team Caleb shirts were made a few days later to raise awareness and money for Caleb’s fight. I bought one immediately. The end of November was the beginning of a long trek through Chemo and Radiation. Words I am all too familiar with. I donated more money to help with the bills. I wore his shirt often.

December 17th was his birthday, he is now only 28 years old. I wish I was there for your birthday… I’m so sorry I wasn’t.

January 5th thru 9th, was pretty brutal. He became weak, feverish and his blood counts dropped a great deal. While at an appointment with his oncologist it was decided he needed to be admitted to the hospital, on January 13th.

On February 11th he had an appointment, follow up with Renal docs from the long stay in the hospital, and  Caleb’s kidneys had fully recovered!  The appointment with the oncologist showed that the spots in Caleb’s hip/shoulder had started to die and scar over. Also, the jaw tumor showed dead tissue within. All of this, positive news.

On March 10th, Caleb and his girlfriend Bethany headed to Vanderbilt university, more chemo.

May 27th, Caleb’s jaw tumor has grown. It’s bigger and closer to the opening of his mouth. It has grown up towards the skull. This means that at some point, the chemo regimen had stopped working. Then his Dr. said she no longer thinks she can cure Caleb’s cancer.

I text Caleb that day. Told him I was praying harder than ever, told him I was there if he needed anything, told him “If my boyfriend and I get a chance we will come visit”. Why didn’t I book a plane ticket then?

June 15th, Caleb’s jaw tumor has gotten bigger still, just in the last week, and he was very uncomfortable. His oncologist was concerned with the growth and they were scheduled for a “debulking” surgery the next afternoon.

July 3rd, Caleb and Bethany head to NYC to visit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center which resulted in being referred to Provision Proton Therapy Center for treatment on July 23rd.

August 3rd, Caleb proposed. He was going to get married November 1st, 2015! I texted him the next day, congratulating him on the proposal, the ring, and for being a hopeless romantic. I said how excited I was and  how “you deserve all the happiness this life can bring”. I really meant that.

August 18th, almost exactly a year after seeing him and things were looking up!

Then September 24th came. I woke up from a dream of being at his wedding to Bethany, it was beautiful. A very calm, warming feeling to wake up to. Then I saw a post about them needing prayers… it felt urgent and scary. I texted him immediately, “I wish I was around to help, but I want to visit soon and help you and the lady any way I can. Let me know if you’re free the weekend of Nov.6-8th, would love to fly down.”  There was silence. The buzz of a thank you never came. An open armed invitation to visit never arrived. Then I read about it…

Bethany wrote- “Caleb had a bad night last night that led to a 3am trip to the ER. He collapsed after using the bathroom and we had trouble getting his breathing under control. He’s got fluid build up in his abdomen that is just related to the cancer in his body. They are running other tests for now and trying to decide the best way to keep Caleb comfortable and allow him to rest. His body is fighting hard but it’s really getting knocked down over and over again. We were moved from the ER to ICU and he’s stable right now. We don’t know what the future holds for us over the next few days. We do know that becoming a married couple is one thing we wanted. So our beautiful family, friends, and nursing staff set up a sweet and perfect wedding for us. We are now Mr. & Mrs. Hanby!”

I messaged his mother on Facebook. I needed to get down there. I would go this weekend, cancel all my plans, I’m going.

“We would love to have you visit, but truthfully, we don’t think he’ll make it through the night.”

I didn’t know what to say… “I’m so so sorry. Thank you for welcoming me down during such a hard time. I don’t even know what to say, and I’m sorry for that. Caleb is a dear friend, my first real high school boyfriend, I’ll always have a special type of love for him. I hate that I didn’t visit sooner… Please tell him I’m sorry for that.”

Caleb died on Oct.1st 2015. I would not see him alive. I didn’t make it. I would not get to tell him all the things I still needed to say.

Immense feelings of sadness and guilt overcame me. Why didn’t I make the time for you? The time I promised I would make. Why did my excuses make sense when I made them, but now seem so pathetic of me?

Why didn’t I just go…

I only have the option to pray and hope you can hear me now. I don’t get the reassurance of your voice, I don’t get the response of your shy smile. I will always admire that smile though, the way it shot across your face when my brazen honesty made you uncomfortable. The way it stretched through your cheeks every time we saw each other. Your honest grin made everyone feel so welcome in your presence. Making you smile is my first memory of you and it will be my last.

So my prayer to you now is to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry I broke your heart in high school… twice. If I’m honest, I never felt good enough for you. Being your first kiss is something I will never forget, and I will hold it dear, but you were deserving of someone who loved you unbridled, open, on fire. I loved you then, but it was so quiet. At the end of it all, I am glad we stayed friends. I cherish that friendship.

I’m sorry I wasn’t a better friend through the other years. I remember our summer ice cream dates to catch up during college and the chats when you were heartbroken. I can’t tell you now how honored I am to have been a voice of strength for you when your heart was hurting. I should have been around for more every days, and not just the hard moments.

I’m sorry I didn’t come see you when I said I would… I know you wanted me to get to know Bethany . I know you wanted me to see your family. You wanted these things to happen, and sadly they came to be at your funeral. I was able to catch up with Cory, we tried for years to hang out with him, all together again. Although it’s been 8 or so years since I saw him, we were able to comfort each other.

I pray today for your memory to live on and for the comfort of your family when times get hard, because they will. I pray for Bethany and her peace, her heart and her soul moving forward. Her love will be a huge part of your legacy. I pray for the healing and acceptance of every single friend you touched, all of your new and old friends, Cory and even my own.

I beg today for forgiveness, from you and from myself, for letting little things come between me being the friend that I should have been to you. For not being there when I said I would. I know you never held that against me, but I will be a while working on the forgiveness of myself.

Thank you for teaching me so many things that I needed to learn. I’ll be seeing you.

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Lately I get  these perfect thoughts in my head and I sprint to the keyboard to type them out… but my fingers can’t decipher all the thoughts racing behind my eyes. I decided to carry a journal again so I could jot down my thoughts as I go, but the distance from my brain to my fingertips must be too far to travel. I fail at writing down the emotions coursing through me. But what if, it’s not the fact that I am failing in translation, what if, it is simply that my skin is so alive and on fire that it burns to pause.

I was asleep for so long I forgot what it felt like to be set aflame. I want to run everywhere again, and see everything that is available to be seen!  I also want to simply stand, and soak up everything that I am feeling, unmoved from the moment.

I want to be awed by the world. I want to be awed by people. I want to bask in the humanity of beautiful moments. I want to drown in the beauty of this planet.

It’s nice to say Hello to me again.

An Open Letter to a Man I Wish I Could Love

You deserve a mad, passionate, extraordinary love. We all do. And I am not giving that to you. How unfair.

There have been so many moments where you have shined and I say to myself “how beautiful of him, why don’t I love him”.

You are compassionate, supportive, funny, caring, giving, and extravagant in your love. You are always willing to please and are eternally helpful.

So why can’t I love you? After all the atrocities that I have dated, why is it that when you come along, I simply cannot bring my heart to love? No matter how much I have tried?

Through the last few months, I have come to realize that although you are an incredible man, you are not the right man for me. As I am also not the right woman for you. I do not love you ferociously as you do me. I do not express the passion for you, as you do me. I am failing to be a considerate and generous companion as my heart continues to make the realizations that we are not perfect for one another. Although I do so desire to be this for you, because you deserve all these things and more, I cannot force my heart.

I want someone to light up your life and empower you, you deserve this. I want someone to give you their everything, I want this for myself.

I want to run down the aisle to someone someday because the idea of spending forever with them can’t come soon enough. And I want someone to run to you.

I want someone who can make you feel incredibly special, blessed, by just their presence. I actually think we had this… I’m sorry it wasn’t enough for me.

I’m sorry that I am making this selfish decision, because I know it is selfish. You do not want this, but I truly believe that we both need this. Even if it is for the simple reason, that you truly deserve better than me. You deserve that full, all encompassing love that you have been giving. I really hope you can see that, I am sorry for hurting you, but I want more for you.

When it comes to the timing, no this is not perfect, but when is a good time to pull away from someone you have invested so much time in? I couldn’t have done this any sooner because I wasn’t sure, I still so wanted to fall for you. I also can’t continue to drag this out on you. As cliche as it may sound, life really is too short, and I don’t want to waste any more of your time. I say that, but I truly hope you do not feel that our time together was wasted.

I learned a great deal about myself during all of this. You showed me things that I deserve in a relationship, and made me aware that those traits exist. I am forever grateful, for before you I was losing hope in finding many of your qualities in another.

I will say this knowing you may not want this, but I do hope we can maintain the friendship. More than anything, I can say that my friendship for you has grown immensely and I hope we do not lose this completely.

Can I apologize enough for it? Are there words that can make this ok in your eyes? If there were I would write them. I do not want to hurt you, but I do not want to hold you back from finding the one that can make your soul sing.

Please forgive me, for I wished to love you, I simply couldn’t.

 

The Repeat Offender

You know what I am talking about, that ex… that ONE ex that can’t seem to leave it be. You finally feel like you have distanced yourself from the negative scenario that was that situation, only to have him pop his ugly head back in to your life at the most inopportune times. The repeat offender aka the ex boyfriend who repeatedly offends you.

The said relationship ended, you violently ended it about a year ago, not necessarily proud of all of actions, but you did what you thought would hurt him the way you were hurting. Tit for tat cause you were livid. You wash your hands of it and try to pick up the pieces that you might have left for the next guy. You spend the next few months dating and losing hope in humanity, let alone men, he tries to reach out at first but quickly quits because, in reality, he never cared as much as you. You have removed this person from all other avenues of connection that you might have left by now. Or so you think. You do your best to remove yourself, you do your best to move on.

You find someone, a good one, and you start down your path of happiness. Then BOOM! Text messages, phone calls, ridiculous attempts to reach out to you of “I need to explain”. Certain messages fall on deaf ears, some make it through… some make it through. Then you find yourself angry all over again! Furious at this person for what they did to you so long ago. “I was just coming to terms with this! Damn you!”

And the anger can never only affect you, noooo, that would be too easy. It seeps out of your pores and your friends and new happiness can sense it. You are irritable and frustrated and you are not even 100% why. You don’t love this person anymore cause the person you “loved” never existed. You don’t want to be with, let alone near this person, because their life practically disgusts you now. So why is this making you so angry? Why are you praying to see a photo of his happy face so you can spit on it?

Then it hits you… his attempt to reach out and explain completely negates the closure you thought you had back when you exploded in a fit of rage at the end of it all. He took away the one thing you had in your corner. He made you open a door you had long ago closed. It was only a door that you could open. You opened it for this bullshit??

Slam that damn door shut, smile, and get back to life.

 

Happiness for Granted

If you are like me, it takes a lot of effort and energy to let yourself be happy. When you have been holding on to an impossible idea of happiness, you really lose sight of things in your current life that are bringing so much joy to the world. If I stopped to look myself in the mirror to count my blessings, I would have an overabundance in comparison to the things that I would choose to change about my life. When I recognize that… I feel ashamed for all the times I felt sorry for myself or thought “oh woe is me”. My life, in comparison to some, has been a pretty tough go, I’ve lost a lot of important people in my life, I am not from a rich family, I wasn’t blessed with incredible talents worthy of finding fame over. I have had a really VERY shitty string of luck in the boyfriend department.

But as I sit on my couch looking at the walls of MY house, laughing along with a plethora of friends that stopped by for dinner and game night, I realize that on so many occasions we (especially me) can take the immediate moments of happiness for granted. I was able to buy my own house, I have several very good friends and a loving boyfriend, my family that’s left is healthy and kicking, my job is amazing. These are all happy things that are in the now!

I encourage you today, if you haven’t already, stop worrying about the future. Stop worrying about when you maybe might possibly get married or have kids. Stop worrying about whether or not the next paycheck will be bigger or even big enough. Instead, take the moment to soak in everything that is right and wonderful and thank God for those pieces of life that are blessing you in this moment.

Don’t take your happiness for granted.

A Relationship Explained in Paramore Songs

I found this gem buried in my drafts section. How funny that I was able to use one band to describe an entire relationship haha. *These are great tunes, all lyrics and songs are Paramore and YouTube found.

 

The day we met:

Wish I could find a crystal ball…
For the days I feel completely worthless
You know I’d use it all for good,
I would not take it for granted
Instead I have some memories… for the days I don’t feel anything.
At the least, they will remind me not to make the same mistakes again.

Years Later:

You never, you never said
This wasn’t what you wanted
Was it, was it?

This isn’t what you wanted
This isn’t what you wanted

When She Hurt You:

I settled down a twisted up frown
Disguised as a smile, well
You would have never known

I had it all
But, not what I wanted
’cause hope for me was a place uncharted and overgrown

You’d make your way in
I’d resist you just like this

How I still felt about you:

Well you built up a world of magic
Because your real life is tragic
Yeah you built up a world of magic
If it’s not real
You can’t hold it in your hand
You can’t feel it with your heart
And I won’t believe it
But if it’s true
You can see it with your eyes
Oh, even in the dark
And that’s where I want to be, yeah

Your song to me:


So one day he found her crying
Coiled up on the dirty ground
Her prince finally came to save her
And the rest you can figure out
But it was a trick
And the clock struck twelve
Well make sure to build your house brick by boring brick
Or the wolf’s gonna blow it down

When I found out:

The truth is hiding in your eyes
And its hanging on your tongue
Just boiling in my blood

You were my conscience, so solid
Now you’re like water
And we started drowning
Not like we’d sink any further
But I let my heart go,
It’s somewhere down at the bottom
But I’ll get a new one
And come back for the hope that you’ve stolen

The End:

But you think that I can’t see
What kind of man that you are
If you’re a man at all
Well I will figure this one out
On my own


You can’t tell me to heal
And it hurts remembering
How it felt to shut down

On The Death of a Friend

Elliott

I am so incredibly blessed to have known Elliott Orr as long as I have, although the time is never enough. Growing up in the church together, coaching soccer together. The memories I will cherish forever. There are so many people that have been touched by his laughter, his selfless love, and unwavering faith. Such a beautiful soul through the hardest times. His journey has touched so many lives and inspired me to see beauty in dark hours. I pray for peace and strength and comfort to his family, wife, friends. God bless you and everything you have brought to this world.

May you be at rest with the Lord, Coach. Your memory will forever be in my heart.

Death is not something I have ever been able to process easily. From losing my mother at a young age, to countless relatives and more friends than I would care to see go. Cancer has taken so many from me in such a short span of life. I find myself always struggling to process the emotions that flood me in these times.

I seem to always begin with a selfish regret… “I should have been around more, I said I would visit, I wish I would have held that friendship closer and done more to be a support system.” After the regret I move fiercely in to anger. I don’t think there will ever come a time when I will not feel angry when someone loses their life to cancer. It’s a nasty thing and by God I do not understand it. Maybe it’s a lack of knowledge and understanding, and honestly I should have sat down with Elliott a time or two and simply asked, “You are a young, vibrant, amazing young man who had so much passion for life. How do you not let yourself become angry with God? You praise his name daily and ask for prayers for others before yourself! How do you find the trust in him that this is his will and his plan for you is greater than what we can comprehend?” It takes every fiber of my being not to curse him in this hour. I never preach to be the best Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but my biggest struggle is when he tests me to keep loving him when good people are taken from this world, in my opinion, way too soon.

Following anger is the incredible heartbreak, a sadness from loss that can not be described. You feel so much that it physically hurts. Now if you know me, you’re aware that feelings of sadness are not emotions that I am willing to wear openly. I don’t cry in front of others, I stand strong, hold fast, show no weakness if you will. I’m the tough one in the face of difficult times. But loss is a sadness I can’t conceal. Tears will flood my eyes beyond my control.

But once the tears subside I will come to find a place of acceptance. Acceptance for the  bigger plan. Acceptance of the comfort in Heaven that the suffering can now feel. Through all the anger and regret, I always find solace that the departed have left to be with the Lord.

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” – Henry Thoreau

It’s a testament to my friend Elliott that over 700 people showed up for his funeral. I can also promise that many were still missing. But the truly miraculous thing to watch is how peaceful and blessed everyone who knew him continues to be. myself included. I find myself laughing at the things that used to infuriate me, “my truck has been recalled?! HAHA of course it has, I’ll call next week”, “I can feel cold air leaking in through the kitchen window now, the door wall can’t get fixed till spring, I definitely need to add insulation to stop all the freezing on my roof, guess I better start saving and planning”. My reactions in the past would have been much more aggressive, angry, full of cussing and confusion on why and how this is all happening. It’s interesting to me how one single human can drastically make you reevaluate your priorities and what you find important enough to fuss over.

So more than anything, through all the processes of emotions I must land my final emotion on a feeling of thanks. A thank you to a kid who was able to bring so much perspective to my world, so much more evaluations of being thankful as opposed to being irritated. Positivity above anything else.

Thank you Elliott, coach, friend. I will forever be grateful for your mark on this world.

Contributions in memory of a wonderful man can be made here:

Elliott Orr Mission and Scholarship Project Fund, c/o Scott Orr, P.O. Box 248, North Branch, MI. 48461

The Way I Look At Me

I finally caught your eye yesterday… I know you saw me. All black Johnny Cash outfit at the gym. I could feel your stare my entire workout. Every weight I lifted I could see your eyes trailing over every curve of my arm, to my shoulder, along the outline, down the slope of my hip and back again, analyzing. I could sense the judgement in your look, but there was an overall acceptance of progress and drive. You were accepting of the fact that I was there, a female taking up free weight space.

Surprisingly, unlike the recent past, I wasn’t as self conscious as I had been on other gym days. Even though I knew you were laughing at my facial expressions when I struggled to put up the last few reps. I know you noticed the extra weight around my middle, not as prominent as it has been, but there. The shorts I had on made an extra roll I wasn’t particularly fond of. But yea I get it, I don’t have a six pack yet, but stand by, it’s coming! I know you watched as I moved from machine to weights, move to move, struggle to struggle. You never took your eyes off me.

Finally, during the rest on my last set of the hour you spoke.

“You are looking good, I like how far you’ve come. Yea, you have some goals to hit still, but you have got this. You look better to me than you have in a long time.”

“Thank you”, I said to myself, “Thank you for realizing what you have accomplished, what you are capable of and what you know you are about to discover about your abilities. You have a long way to go, but you are finally happy looking in the mirror”.

Sometimes, you need to check yourself out at the gym and remind yourself you only have one body and you should love every muscle, every fat roll, every scar and say “Damn self, you are looking good!”

Give yourself a pep talk today!

 

He Put The Corn in Corny

Literally… He went for it, spelling out his desires in a cold yellow vegetable. But the sentiment, the thought, was anything but cold, and maybe melted this heart of mine just enough.

I have come to realize in my life the things we should run from and the things we should grasp on to for dear life. Many of these things I had twisted. I was running from good people and grasping on to my self preservation. I had loved so hard for so long that the constant torture and pain from ending that relationship was never over. Every time I let someone hurt me I felt his pain again. I longed for him instead of the one who just left. Loving was never truly loving, it was a temporary dissolve of emotion that I could utilize to hide my struggle. Because it was my fault after all, I left.

The bigger issue with this, you end up feeling bull dozed by all the bullshit you let in to you life. I allowed myself to have my self esteem destroyed by one, to feel like I deserved to watch another get married, to understand why another couldn’t just have me but needed more. I allowed these things to happen to me while I built walls and froze myself off to anything that could possibly be good for me.

With this, I was so far away from expecting this one to be anything more than a friend, I very literally laughed when someone brought to my attention that he was clearly trying to enter the race for my heart. No way, we are just friends, I have known him for over a year, there is no way… Then he showed up at my door with a dozen roses and a smile that I couldn’t ignore… Yep… He is trying for me. Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit! Here we go. A truly good guy that I am obviously not ready for. I just went through a train wreck of scenarios. I am bitter. I don’t know what I want. This isn’t going to work. I’m going to hurt him.

Don’t kiss him! Whatever you do after this date, DON’T KISS HIM!

You kissed him… you’re an idiot.

O.K… just tell him the truth about you, you suck at this thing of dating and you will probably run away from him a couple times and he should go now before it gets serious… He should be the one to run away actually, physically run if possible, the sooner the better.

Why is he still standing here? I just told him I was bitter and didn’t know what I wanted and I would probably hurt him and he is still standing here… He is standing here telling me that it would be worth it, I would be worth it. He will give me the time to figure it out, but he wants this.

So he is crazy? Blind maybe? A masochist?! Or will I have another push over good guy that I train wreck… It’s been a few years since I have done this, I am due for one right?

Wrong…

What I was actually due for, was a solid person to invest their interest in me at the same magnitude that I invest. It was time for me to get out of my own way and let someone worthy in. It was time for the guy who wouldn’t give up, the guy who was just himself, the man that was so incredibly willing to possibly be crushed by me that would end up breaking this ridiculous trend of self destruction.

And even then, I continued to talk myself out of it until I came home on lunch one day. There he was, simply and unapologetically himself, standing next to a pizza and a Yankee candle with little pieces of corn arranged just right.

“Will you be my gf?”

And through my laughter, I would break the vicious cycle and allow in the Nice Guy.

51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

32. “We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
—Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Amazing lines… some of my favorites!

51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature.