In the moment…

My dearest kids…

Today is Monday, November 23rd – just a few days before Thanksgiving; one of the most family-friendly days in our family’s history because, normally, on that day, we celebrate the importance of family with an absolutely perfect meal (usually) and some quality Family Time.

It is a tragedy that mom and I decided on Friday to separate from each other, but it is especially saddening to me that it occurred during this time of year.  For non-Iglesia, it would be equivalent to divorcing on Christmas day.

I know you both have questions.  I know you both want answers.  Quite frankly, so do I.  Only 2 months ago, I thought my life was perfect.  Life had transitioned for me, as it must do.  Your Lola passed away after a full and blessed life.  Josh – you are with a wonderful woman and you have an absolutely amazing daughter.  Donday – you will soon be marrying your best friend.  And until very recently, mom and I had been actively discussing the next phase of our life with just her and I in the house.  Do we keep the house?  Do we stay in Bellevue?  Do we patiently wait until retirement before traveling?

It’s stunning how quickly and drastically things can change.

At this moment, I am understandably numb.  I’m doing what I know how to do: I’m troubleshooting; I’m existing.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me.  So, in lieu of answers, I’m handling the manageable.  I’m packing boxes with “stuff” that I’ve been wanting to jettison for years: old tapes, books, furniture, etc.  Things that I no longer want or need.  It is movement.  It serves to distract.  It keeps my mind and body occupied.  It makes me feel somewhat productive.

At night, lying in my basement makeshift bed, I do my best to fill my head with white noise: playing one DVD after another, doing whatever I can to keep my mind from spinning in circles.

The questions I’ve been asked in just these last few days require more insight and future-planning than I’m willing or capable of at this time.  They ask:  Will you keep the house?  Will you stay in Bellevue?  Will you remarry?  Then, of course, there are the “What” questions.  What happened?  What went wrong?  What were the signs that you should have seen?

I have no answers for any of these things, and I am actively doing my best to keep these questions out of my brain.  They serve no positive purpose at this time.  Making any such decisions or determinations right now would be counter-productive.  I am handling the manageable.  I am packing boxes.  I am eating when hungry.  I am watching movies.  I am spending Quality Time with my daughter and doing my best to be there for her in this heart-wrenching time.  I’m trying my best to give her the best advice and support possible while, at the same time, giving equal effort into building walls around my head and heart.

It is inevitable.

She’s been unhappy for decades, she says.

I can’t reconcile her new reality with my old one.

So… I will continue to produce white noise.  I will concentrate on the one thing I’ve always been 100% confident in – being a Dad.  And I will eat and breathe and work and sleep and pack boxes and watch movies and count days until… something in me says that I can “live” again.

That day is not now.

My turn…

I’ve been totally preoccupied with superfluous ‘stuff’ during the last several months.  Things that really have no positive, nourishing, educational impact on my life.  I’ve also been far too concerned about the things outside of my control and not concerned enough about my own welfare and happiness.

So, going forward, I’m doing the following:

Shutting down or severely limiting all social media.  (No Twitter account.  On my Instagram, I’m only following about 8 people.  I’ve shut-down all extraneous stuff on my Facebook account, stopped following nearly everyone, reduced my Friends to about 25 people – and all of those are family or very close friends.)

I’m actively reducing the amount of email I receive.  If it’s not essential or from a close family member or friend, then I’m UN-following or UN-subscribing from it/them.

I’m working on a NEW morning routine that does NOT include repeated surfs through social media accounts.  The new routine will be heavy on productivity-based activities with perhaps a brief glance at Bing News so that I remain in-touch with current affairs.

I’ve reduced my Podcasts to just three channels – one of which is seasonal and has very few postings.

I’m scheduling myself at least one hour a day to write — and I’ve identified my primary writing project.  If (and ONLY if) I run into writer’s block, then I’ll move to one of three alternate projects (short stories) so that I continue to be productive.

I’m outlining a new workout plan that is highly structured and increasingly intense.  The plan will be designed to stress technical ability, increased strength & flexibility, and will allow me to mentally lose myself in the workout process.

Diet will be a difficult thing, as will sleep.  I know what I need to do for both, but doing them has always been a challenge.  My best opportunity for making significant advances in these two areas will be when Marlene visits the Philippines for a month (leaving at the end of December).

I am SO tired of sacrificing so much of myself for others.  Marlene is going through another mid-life crisis (how many is this now??)  She’s focused solely on what makes her happy — thus the short-notice and VERY expensive trip to the Philippines.  She’s going away to find her happiness.  She’s been distant, disconnected, and preoccupied for the last couple weeks.  I’m sure this will continue (if not intensify) during the month between now and when she leaves for the PI.  So, it seems silly and useless to worry about her anymore.  She is taking charge of her own happiness.  I need to start doing the same.

One difference…

Today is Veteran’s Day (2015). As I’ve done for many years, I attended the Cox Communication’s V-day Ceremony at the Main Building this morning where they raise the flag, sing the Star Spangled Banner, and offer cookies and coffee to attendees. I normally skip out on the treats. I’m just there for the ceremony so that I can, in some small way, honor other vets.

The last couple years, the weather has really been uncooperative, and this year was no different. But this year had what I think is a great example of the many ways vets are unified.

There were about 40 people in attendance – 1/3 of them being vets. As is normally the case, the active military (in uniform) were in-line to one side, and the ex-military folks were congregated together in front of the flag-pole, waiting for the ceremony to start.

All vets snapped to attention without command when the flag started to rise. At that same moment, it began to rain fairly hard. As many people went running for the cover of the front awning, not a single vet moved a muscle. When the MC started to sing the Star Spangled Banner, the rain intensified…but all vets held fast. At the beginning of the anthem, each raised a perfect salute and maintained eye-contact with the flag throughout. After the last note was sung, all salutes lowered in unison. Then each vet, without rushing, went off on their way; some to the remainder of the celebration; others immediately went back to work.

Later, a non-vet in attendance (one of the few who had NOT run for cover at the first drops of rain) approached me and apologized for those who had run, obviously feeling that those persons had somehow done something offensive or disrespectful. I simply smiled and told her, “No problem”. And it was a sincere response.

Vets don’t serve for the recognition – they don’t expect people to completely understand the “Call” that they felt to step forward and potentially give their lives for their country. They simply do it. During that ceremony, it never entered the minds of a single vet in attendance to seek for shelter when the rain began to pour. We stayed there and did what we came to do – until it was time to leave.

Happy Veteran’s Day to my dad, my son, my brother Bill, my niece Jaque, my son-in-law Kyle, and all others who served with distinction.