Day 141 “Walk to the Lock”

Day 141
June 29, 2013
3:53 a.m
Paris, France
“Walk to the Lock”

“Hey vous ! Viens ici!” was yelled at me by some thirty-something hipster. I understood what he was saying. I speak zero French, but by the motion of his hand I realized he wants to speak to me. This late at night? Walking down a dark vacant street? I had no interest in what he wanted. I stopped and starred at him. I stroked the beard I had started growing on my last trek over here. I petted in slowly and repeatedly as if I was contemplating a Chuck Norris response. I then ran my hand in an upward choking motion from my Adam’s apple to the tip of my chin, then asked in my lowest-booming-bass, redneck-voice, “where might I get some whiskey this late at night hoss?” Silence was his answer. He flipped me off and resumed his chatter with his other hipster friends.

I encountered this on my twenty-five block trek to see if I could find the lock I left here at the first of March on the Louve bridge. After finding the marks that were graffitied on the top rail above where I placed the lock (as seen in my handy picture I took back then), I found it buried among a myriad of other locks. It was a bit rusted but it was there. Man there have been 100’s, if not 1000’s of locks put on this section of fence over mine since I put Lindy’s on there. It made me feel happy, and comforted in a weird way to see it. It put me at peace that it was still there with my ring still hanging on it. It gives me a sense of joy knowing it will always be there anytime I return. It’s as if I have a piece of Lindy waiting for me in the city of love, Paris. I will always look for it when I visit. It goes without words how much she is missed.

Had a long but good day. Left Dallas at 5:05 p.m. yesterday (June 27th). Was happy to have a surprise direct flight to Paris. I boarded the plane and popped a Xanax so I could sleep the whole way. I wanted to be ready to see Paris and not spend the better part of the day in my hotel bed. Forty-five minutes after I popped it we pulled back up to the gate. “We are de-boarding the plane due to overheating issues” the intercom blared. Really? I was sound asleep! This ought to be fun. Still asleep I followed the leader like a zombie and got off the plane with the herd. Man I was hungry! Who knew Xanax gave you the munchies! A full plate of a two meat BBQ platter and 2 Dunkin donuts later we were re-boarding. Nine and half hours later, at 12:30 p.m Paris time, we were landing. I still slept like a baby….on a full stomach!

After the grueling stop-no, stop-n-go , stop-n-go hour + cab ride from CDG airport to Paris centre, I was sipping classic cocktails with my friend Carter in the 65 degree overcast Paris air while his wife Jill shopped. She joined us at the restaurant inside Ralph Lauren when she was done. So glad I was able to hang out with them all day. It made my visit back to Paris easier. They were here on coincidence. I consider Carter a good friend and great guy. I met him through Lindy. He sold me her beautiful wedding ring.

Carter, Jill and myself had really fun conversations; ate awesome Italian food; had fun people watching experiences at a really posh club; and retired fairly early…for me that is. Great evening. The cab dropped them off at their flat and it took me to my hotel in the Bastille district. I checked in. I dropped my back pack in my room on the sixth floor. I unpacked my new external battery pack and went went immediately walking. I walked in search of the lock, which as mentioned, I found it. Was shocked i was able to find the bridge between the Louve and Orsay so easily. I had some weird, intense deja vu though while walking down this Paris neighborhood side street at 4:41 am. I am slightly lost but not really. I start adding up the hours of sleep I will get-at best. I have severe anxiety over the sense of déjà vu that is overwhelming me. It seemed to stop me in my tracks. “I have been here before” I say out loud. In Paris staying at the exact hotel and on this exact street. I turn left one block and it goes away. Funny when that happens.

Once I’m done with my 4 a.m. Hamburger and beer here at Taverne Karlsbräu, I will find my bed and sleep like a wild hog full of holes. Tomorrow I will tube it to Lourdes. (Thanks Dave A for the definition of tube. Heard it referenced several times today). This will take me within two hours of the start of my walk. Word on the rail is it is a 6-7 hour train ride to Lourdes. May or may not stay the night there. That’s the beauty of traveling alone. Who cares. No time keeper to say where, when, and how. (I want to be on the line here. I liked being accountable to my wife). Nothing would please me more to be back in her arms. Wish she could be here to keep me in line and on time. Any man who says they don’t appreciate that from their wife either had a shotgun wedding or is just pounding their chest!)

Sweet dreams from Paris. Thanks for the prayers and well wishes. Exited to get in the mountains.

****Want a good read? I am listening to The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. He is the writer of The Alchemist (great book). He wrote The Pilgrimage after he walked the Camino de Compostella. It’s a fictional book based on his journey of The Way.

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Day 135: A Pilgrimage with a Different Purpose

God, what should I physically be doing with my time/life? For the first time, in a long time, I can follow the answer with very few restraints. I pray that somewhere between the foothills of the Pyrenees and Pamplona lies the answer to this glowing question. I feel like I may be a little narcissistic to think this, but somewhere in all this misery I pray there is magnificence: an opportunity to share her story of courage and optimism. I found that the greatest place to clear my head for direction was on the Camino. I pray it is the same the second time.

I used to sing that old song that Billy Joe Shaver wrote from 1981, “I’m Just an Old Chuck of Coal, but I’m Gonna be a Diamond Someday” to my wife while on road trips, and she rolled her eyes when I sang that song! She never missed an opportunity to let me know that song annoyed her! Truth is? That’s what I want to believe. I believe that my wife made me a better person. Given enough time she would have helped “us” become great together. She refined me. She taught me. She filled a piece of me that I always wanted filled but didn’t have the discipline or “know how” to fill myself. I was talking to a good friend last night after the show, someone with whom I have the utmost respect for, and he said he has seen a change in me since I married her. A change for the better. He knew me from the Speedtrucker days and said I have made a 180 degree turn with respect to how I live my life since I married L. It’s hard to see that when you are so close to yourself, and full of yourself. My outward actions may have changed, but in my mind I still feel like the same old Mike. I’m starting to see a difference though in how I live my day-to-day life, as well as, how I interact with people. At least a few times a day I can hover above myself, look down and see me doing what Lindy would have done in a particular circumstance or conversation. It feels good to finally take her advice. I always put up walls when she tried to give me advice. I can witness myself finally letting those walls down. Walls I feel most newly-married couples put up out of pride, ego, or just habit. I know she would be beside herself if she was alive to see me handle things the way she would have.

My therapist says she has never seen anyone beat themselves up over every little thing as much as I do. Lindy used to say it a little differently. She always said, “why can’t you just be present in the moment?” I was always, and I mean always lamenting over something when I was with her. Whether it was a perceived wrong comment I made to someone that day, or just a tone I gave a client earlier. Or tormenting myself over a decision I made that I was second guessing. I was always beating myself up constantly, when work was going bad, for not making the right educational decisions at a younger age. (Better known to her as the proverbial chip on my shoulder). I am learning to live in the moment and accept where I am in life- with pride. At least I perceive that I am.

One of the few things I can be proud of is walking my wife to the other side with absolute, unconditional love. I know she knew how I felt about her and us. I want to think that I was a part of her peace, courage and strength. She knew I was there come sunshine or torrential downpour. I know she never had this peace in her life. I was meant to be in her life. I didn’t know that at the time, but I know that now. The ins and outs we had the five years leading up to our getting married was nothing short of His clear, cut design. What we experienced together the last several weeks will forever be a road map for me with how to live the rest of my life. It’s confirmation of my innate sense of commitment and loyalty.

We lived a happy life overall for the 41 months of life she was blessed with after diagnosis.

“There was no shame in ignoring the cold hard truth- it got us through. We had 41 great months of loving, dreaming about the things that we were gonna do. I’d give anything, I mean anything for one more night with you”

Lindy, I know you are here in spirit:) I pray you approve of how I am handling myself. See you soon, but not soon enough.

Thank You Dad for Showing Me the Old Trails

20130616-134855.jpgA little over 4 moths ago I called my parents, who live in Oklahoma, and told them that I felt this was the end of Lindy’s battle. While I had no concrete proof, my tears told me so. I just had a little voice in my personal spirit that led me to make the call to them. My Dad started up the car and he and my Mom were in Dallas 3 hours later. After getting them settled in at my house, we headed back to the rehab hospital Lindy was in, Zale Lypshy. I had been staying there to be next to my wife every second. It had been well over 2 months that we were in hospitals. It felt so long, but now it seems so fast. I felt like a person devoid of reality.

Reality soon took shape.

On the way back to Zale I got the call. Dr. Mahr said the results from her latest MRI showed the end was imminent. I got to the lobby and just sobbed on my mom and dads shoulder for what felt like an eternity. I’m sobbing now as I write this. All I can remember was the short conversation just a week earlier. Lindy told me she couldn’t take another bad scan. She was never told of this scan. She knew nothing other than we were headed home the next day. On Wednesday we took her home to hospice. Ten days later she went home to be with God.

My parents didn’t go home for almost a month. They stayed through hospice through the funeral we had a week after her passing. During hospice, my dad did what he does best: supports unconditionally. He sat at my kitchen table in silence just teeming with strength. He was reading the bible, praying and generally helping where we needed it. His presence was strength enough for me to still hold hope that she would beat this tumor like she beat the rest. I took so much comfort just having him sitting their ready to help. He just sat in silence. He was observing to find where he can help. He also offered soothing words at the right time, or a distraction with a comment right when it was needed. His presence has always poured a hidden comfort over me. Hidden till today. He helped me right through the funeral arrangments by just being by my side.

I love my father so much. I thank him most of all for showing me the “old trails” or ancient paths of God at such a young age. It was an anchor I had cut loose for 22 years. I was an obstinate agnostic until my wife was taken from me. I was sitting in church this morning listening to the”Fathers Day” service they had orchestrated. While they were taking offering this guy sang a song that really grab me. It was about sending your son out into the world and reminding him that when he gets lost he just has to remember the “old paths.” They will lead him back to rest and peace.

Jeremiah 6:16
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.

It made me want to give thanks for my Dad and the solid foundation he and my mother gave me as a kid in Jesus Christ. It’s because of you that I found that path back to God. It ran in front of me the whole time. I just couldn’t see it.

Happy Fathers Day from a grateful son.

I am still trying to find my path that God wants me to walk. I am unsure how my story will unfold, but “Glory to God, Glory to God! In fullness of wisdom, He writes my story into his song. His bow is on the strings, the tune resonates in open space to show how emptiness sings.”

Day 129: Waking Up is Hard to Do, Unless You’re Being Yelled at by your Dog!

I just consciously realized that I sleep every night on my wife’s side of the bed. I’m sure I have realized and acknowledge this once before, but right now, Ollie stares and barks incessantly at me like I stole his bone. He barks-yells at me, while jumping up and off the chair to look out the window. It seems like he wants to know why his momma hasn’t come home yet. He has been doing this every night this week. The dogs share/slash hogs the bed with me every night, but right now he stares at me from the floor with a confusion or uneasiness in his eyes.

They both, Sassy and Ollie, are suffering “Lack-o-discipline” syndrome these days. My give-a-howl has been running short these days. I can’t seem to punish them for any wrong doing. I can’t tell you how many accidents in the house I have cleaned up lately. Not sure why. They still go out at the times she let them out. That schedule I have kept up as diligent as she did. As a fake vet, pseudo name Dr. Sergei, I would say Ollie has severe anxiety. Sassy just seems to suffer “old-timers” disease, sleeps and just wakes up for treats!

What do they think? Do they miss her? Do they know she’s not coming back? Or, did they forget that she passed and Ollie just sees a squirrel that haunts his dreams? I often wonder how its effecting them. I know Ollie, our youngest Jack, seems to run amuck all the time. I don’t have the discipline my wife had with him. (Its starting to come back slowly the more time I spend at home. The more stay home the more I understand why Lindy had the discipline she had with the dogs).

Ollie jumps off our 4 foot high bed a couple of times a night and barks up at me! He doesn’t need to go out, so it has to be a nervous problem. Or, it’s an attention thing. Not sure what to do with this yet. Can’t tell you how many times I have let him out at three a.m., for him just to stand in the driveway and look back at me like I should take him to meet her or something. He never has to go to the bathroom that late. I feel so sad for him.

We lost Sassy about two years ago for several days. She Houdini’d her way out of her dog run. We were completely frantic looking for her. Hanging posters, knocking doors, calling nearby vet clinics and shelters. She was my wifes baby of 15 years. Lindy was in tears every night. This situation is the reverse. I wish I could hang a poster of her for them:(

God (four-letter-word), I wish this was easier. I often forget and think that she is coming home, or at the mall, or out late with friends. I get confused sometimes and think she is at home waiting for me. This house is so empty but so full of her. She decorated her house completely. It was her home before we got married. Every milli-inch of our house embodies her essence. At times I feel unworthy to live here. I try to keep it as she would have. A task I failed at as a husband. I never valued our house like she did. I took it for granted. She, on the other hand, took so much pride in the house’s appearance that I had to take pictures of the layout of the couch pillows so I could put it back in the right way after lounging on it! Annoying then, but soothing now to honor her wishes.

Is she watching my every move from inside the house? Does she walk instep with me? Or, is she looking down in cloudfull happiness; laughing at something I still don’t understand; watching me “try” to take care of things. If so, she is officially realizing truly how much of a non-handy man I am. Pretty sure she knew that before though. It’s funny. When you are exposed to the theory of the naked truth, as seen through a ceaseless-astronomically-spiritual-empirical telescope, you really realize how exposed and incompetent you are . I know. A ton of big words! Hard sometimes to explain or articulate the impossible.

Neil Abramson’s book, Unsaid, (http://www.neilabramsonauthor.com/) has had a more profound effect on me/us then I ever could have envisioned. (His book Unsaid is really good, especially if you are an animal lover/advocate). Nine months ago, August 2012, Lindy and I celebrated our second anniversary in Punta Mita, Mexico at the St.Regis resort. On the second day, while poolside for 7-8 hours, I rolled over to bake my other side only to catch my wife crying. I pushed myself up to ask, “Are you okay?” She said, “this book is amazing. You must read it”. This is the first time ever, and would be the last time ever, we shared a book, or any literature together.

I read this book in about a day. It was really good. The book was about a wife that passed away. It was unique in that it was written from her view as a spirit in between worlds. It showed the husband trying to take care of her animals, the house, the kids the way she did, while trying to pick up the pieces and move on with some semblance of his life. The whole time she wanted to help. She tried to talk to him but couldn’t do anything but observe. She gave him advice but he couldn’t hear her. She pleaded and begged with him to do, or not to do things, but to no account.

He was an attorney in Manhattan that commuted an hour plus daily. His wife was veterinarian who politely forced them to move to the country so she could care for her animals. She loved her horses, dogs, cats and pig. She loved preserving the rights of animals too. Her other passion was making sure animals had a dignified transition to the other world.

The result? This book became real to me unfortunately. I didn’t realize at the time how real it would become. Maybe our subconscious knew what was in store. But when I read the book poolside, I cried as much as Lindy did. I really have never cried over a book. A movie? That’s a different animal!

I’m now living that book. I can’t help but to wonder if she sees me like this guys wife did in his book. If so, how am I doing? Is she frustrated with me? Rolling her eyes, with her famous Lindy Lou eye roll, at my mistakes or debacles. Lord knows I have had many. Or, is she watching with pride at how much more attention I show to our 4-legged kiddos; how descent I am keeping the house; picking up after myself like I never used to. Is she proud that I am trying to forge my own semblance of a life. I will never know until the Lord descends or calls me home and I can ask her myself. What’s a wonderful day that will be. I’m ready to see Jesus and I am ready to curl up in her warm loving arms. I have much work to do here first, but what a ribbon to break at the finish line of this human race.

Proverbs 8:28

Michael Cox

Day 127 (Too soon for another Post, but who cares)!!

Wedding Italy 2010

I am happy that God has given me the gift of expressing my true thoughts through music. Even if it only sounds good to me. I am a living tribute to my departed wife. She will forever be celebrated. The positive influence she has left on me is incalculable.

I struggle to spit out the words of gratitude I have for the inspiration she has been to me. Expressing through words the magnetism, courage and beauty, both inward and outward, is difficult. The right words, when spoken out loud, can’t seem to surf the waves to my lips, except in song.

I told my therapist today that I can take stabs at, and even picture the words I want to say in a conversation, but “blahbuggabish” is what always seems to come out most of the time. I feel crazy at times. I was never that articulate before, but I could always make sense. Even after a half-of-a-fifth of Jack I could mumble better than the incoherent babble I churn out now. Heck, I built a music career my babbling! At least I thought I did. I do owe my health, and most likely my life to my wife for pulling me out of the abyss that was my toxic musical debauchery. I could have never landed on a transplant list drinking the way I drank back then!!! Don’t believe me? Google Speedtrucker! (Risk: Make sure there are no kids within ear shot:) The debauchery was nothing to be proud of, I assure you)

What I feel I may have accomplished with this new album is an opening; a genesis of my deepest feeling of my love, admiration and thankfulness I have for Lindy. She epitomized “No braver soul behold” with the way she fearlessly battled cancer. Her lore will span life to death as her balled will be told. I pray I can do her memory justice with the fashion with which I live on in her remembrance. She is my hero.

Day 125 (The Closer the Text…the Further the Fall)

I am happy that God has given me the gift of expressing my true thoughts through music, even if it only sounds good to me. I am living the tribute to my departed wife. She will forever be celebrated in my life. The words of gratitude for the gifts her magnetism and wisdom have left me can’t seem to surf their way to my lips, except in song.

I told my therapist today that I can take stabs, and picture the words I want to say in a conversation, but blahbuggabish is what comes out most of the time. I was never that articulate to begin with, but I could always make sense, even after a half-of-a- fifth of Jack! Heck, I built a music career on that! At least I thought I did. Thank God for the sense my wife put in me about the abyss that was for me personally. Doubt I could have ever got on a transplant list drinking the way I drank back then. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BITz8CDgJGw&sns=em

What I feel I may have accomplished with this new album is an opening, a genesis of my deepest feeling of my love, admiration and thankfulness I have for Lindy. She epitomized “No braver soul behold” with the way she battled cancer. Her lore will span life to death as her balled will be told. I pray I can do her memory justice with the fashion with which I live on in her remembrance.

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