Unwrapping Grief at Christmas

I find myself bursting into tears at random times during the day. A memory of her, us will pour through me like a dam breaking at inopportune times. It happened at 1/2 Price books yesterday when I was standing in line behind a lady buying the book, Marley and Me. I immediately burst into tears as I thought about the Christmas we spent in Washington D.C. We started our tradition that year of being out of town every other Christmas. This year we went to see Marley and Me in a deserted theater. We both left crying our eyes out and being thankful no was there to witness this spectacle. For the next 2 days we toured DC like a couple Japanese tourist on crack! We made it through every major spot in record time! We stayed at Hotel Monaco in the middle of K Street. When I asked why she chose this hotel, she said, “Guppy-Love”! “hUh?” She said its because we get a pet guppy for our stay”! She was quirky that one! She bought me my first bomber jacket that year.

This got me thinking about the two other times we went out of town for Christmas. In 2007 we went to Miami and stayed at the Vanderbilt in Coral Gables. She said she chose this place because it was on a golf course, (we never played golf), it had the biggest pool in Miami (she never got in), and that each person gets their own personal trainer in the gym (we never went to the gym). It was nice though to just sit by the pool all day. Thats when I learned that Lindy likes to go to a city on a beach, but prefers just to lounge at the pool and dislikes the beach altogether. Lindy bought me my first Hawaiian shirt for Christmas that year. http://www.biltmorehotel.com/?NCK=8554540196&kw=hotel%20biltmore%20coral%20gables&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Adwords&utm_campaign=Brand_Tier_1&gclid=CM22q-G_38ICFeY-MgodZ1AAGw

In 2009, we went to New Orleans. I chose this place because we could take our kiddos. The company I worked for had a nice condo in the French Quarter that we stayed in with Ollie and Sassy. We had a blast. We ate at the Rib Room Christmas day, http://ribroomneworleans.com while a small barbershop quartet sang Christmas carols. The day after Christmas I proposed to Lindy. I got up early and set it up. I went down early in the morning and placed a pink rose in a bush behind the park bench we would sit at. I was going to propose when the church bells struck noon in Jackson Square. What I didn’t plan for was the two homeless guys that would Occupy Bench and ruin my plan. I just chose a different bench, and after she said yes, I walked over and pulled the rose out from between them. It worked out! We went to the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone right after for champagne. http://hotelmonteleone.com/entertainment/carousel-bar/?gclid=CNHW8I7C38ICFataMgodnAcAbw That night I had a horse drawn carriage take us to dinner to another incredible  NOLA restaurant, Antoine’s http://www.antoines.com

That year she gave me the best gift ever by saying YES!

With tears in my eyes and a smile in my heart,  I just sat down at a local coffee shop for a few hours and went through everything we did on our out-of-town Christmas trips. This was my gift this year to  myself: precious memories that  make me smile though my grief. Her not being here with me at Christmas is painful. I am happy that I will always have our memories. I will  carry on our tradition of being out of town on Christmas day. This year it is on the slopes of Vail.

Merry Christmas to everyone. Cherish the memories and make new ones!

Carousel BarAndrew_Jackson_monument,_New_Orleans,_USA44570652

How I Will Remember Her…

Dallas-Fort Worth Brain Tumor Walk will fall on the 21 month anniversary of Lindy’s death. I regretfully announce that I will not be walking this year. Last year was a phenomenal year. I want to remember Lindy going out on top with her efforts. She was very dedicated for 5 years and was the number one fundraiser every year. With $30k+ being raised in the year of her passing, I know Lindy was proud and honored by her friends last year. I have set up the Team Lindy Lou page and would be honored if you did donate this year. It is a great cause and they are making huge strides in the way they are researching a cure that will be the benchmark of the way other diseases will eventually research their cures. However, it’s for personal reasons that I don’t want to do the walk this year. In a short explanation, Lindy wanted me to move on with my life. I honor her in so many other ways that aren’t a reminder of how she died. I am choosing to remember her other qualities. Yes, her courage and strength are what will get me through my challenges with my disease, but her numerous other qualities go beyond how she faced her eventual demise.

The past 19 months have been an incredible journey. Both incredibly hard and incredibly trying, sad, depressing, joyous and painful, all at the same time. I wouldn’t trade those seminal, personal experiences for anything, except the chance to have Lindy back. The moments I have had these past 19 months have made me feel closer to her than I have ever felt. I cherish them and always will. My travels, with her in spirit, to Spain and Paris twice to walk the several hundred miles on the Camino de Compostela, unknowingly completing her Walk for Jacque, were indispensable to my mental health. Not knowing until the end of the Camino that the route I took was also the name of Lindy’s original tumor (and also the one that ultimately robbed us of our future) was nothing short of a divine sign that God was bigger than our circumstance and was and is always in control. (Tears flood as I type this knowing this was the first thing I did shortly after her burial. What a surreal moment for me). I have also climbed the majestic, uber-challenging Mt Kilimanjaro alone to commemorate the first anniversary or her passing, and to mark my extremely hard, personal mountain to regain any sort of normalcy from losing my life, my love, my heart, my everything. Her not physically being around to share our lives together anymore brings me the most heartbreak. My journeys with her in spirit also pays tributes to her love of travel.

I have and am successfully honoring my wife’s memory by living outside myself. I will always continue to do this.

I don’t think there is anyway to top last years walk for the brain tumor society, nor do I have it in me to be the prodder for another drive. I learned today that my latest MRI shows several new lesions on my brain. My MS is progressing and I know Lindy would want me to focus on that. I have put my complete faith in Jesus and that journey, in and of itself, has been incredible, both in great ways and difficult ones. I have experienced personal miracles, breakthroughs and growth that can only be attributed to Him. I face the distressing journey of rebuilding a life, and I will do this with His help. In him, I truly have the joy that I will one day reconnect with her. I don’t know what that will look like, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that I do all I can to make sure I do get to join her.

Please donate to this cause. Lindy put so much effort in helping them get closer to a cure and advance treatment options. She was a recipient of several therapies that they championed. They allowed her to live beyond medical expectations . She truly helped because she believed they would find more breakthroughs that could save her life. She believed in them and now other believe in them. These newly diagnosed people are hoping for a cure. What the National Brain Tumor Society is doing is truly unprecedented in cancer research. It’s the most advanced research to date. Their goal is to double life expectancy for Glioblastoma patients within 5 years. This is the same tumor type that Lindy had. She was given 12 months and lived almost four productive years. The hope is that someone else will benefit from their research. Someones little person, wife, brother, mother, friend, or loved one.

In memory of our Lindy Lou, please give. Thank you.

I will be donating 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the CD that I recorded in memory of Lindy. (Just so you know, If you haven’t purchased the CD, it isn’t depressing. Sure there’s a couple of songs that are, but in large part it is upbeat)! 


To donate:

http://events.braintumor.org/events/dallas-ft-worth-brain-tumor-walk/donate/?kwoAdvocateId=FC7BKQ9

To purchase a CD:

http://www-michaelpaulcox-com.myshopify.com/products/l-by-michael-paul-cox

Buy on iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album//id867534856

Perception Lost

Today marks 18 months since Lindy’s life vanished before the dogs and my eyes. Time has all but frozen around me. Sure. I live day-to-day the best I can manage. I’m productive…somedays….somedays not. Who’s watching? I mostly just sit and think about where I am now and how I seem to have just jumped tracks. I now seem to live on a track parallel to reality. I sit and wish my life was still on the old track, a LOT! Grandpa used to tell me to wish in one hand and shit in the other. (Wonder if Lindy has met him yet? They share a similar sense of humor. Hope so. She would like him).

Told a friend today that it has been hard to move, or even touch anything in the house. I secretly fear that one day I will wake up and she will have come home. It wouldn’t be pretty! She would have my, you know whats!! I haven’t lost my mind, at’all….I know she isn’t coming back. Maybe it’s just me being respectful and just letting my mind unwind all I have been through in its own time; let the natural course of things take its course. When I’m ready, I will make a major move or changes. The first thing to go, I tell you, will be the old “tube tv” she hung onto for 20 years that stares at me in the family room like an angry old lady . Until then, I will just bask a little bit longer in who she was, is, and is in my spirit now. She is still the most special, remarkable person I have ever known. That deserves a little more time in and of itself.

I was up at 3:30 A.M. the other morning restless. The steroids I was on for my MS episode didn’t leave a sliver of sleep for 3 days. I rummaged through some old journals wanting to find and reminisce on the first few months Lindy even became a thought to me. I flipped too far and went back to September of 2004. Tis the first month of my post break-up with the fraud that I had wasted 3 years of my life with. I thought I would marry this excuse-of-a-serpent woman. (God truly did have things in control at the time). My heartbreak at the time found me vagabonding in New Orleans at my now favorite daytime drinking spot, The Chart Room. (Side Note: 5 years later I would share a beer with Lindy at this bar right after I proposed to her in Jackson Square). It’s on the corner of Chartres and Bieneville in the French Quarter. It was here I decided to put my raw feelings into permanent written history in a journal, while drinking several fifths of Mr. Daniels. For 3 straight days I wrote [and drank] while staring at the passerby/drunkers through the open french doors that viewed a 300° angle of the corner of this intersection. On the 3rd day, I wrote about what I was yearning for in my next girlfriend-slash-companion. It was the exact opposite [plus] of the society-snob I just split up with. Without going into detail, I basically described Lindy down to her last quality. (Wow. Reading this again made me realize how spot on she was in what I was looking for. Eerily nice). Only I didn’t know Lindy existed, yet. I put this journal up when I got home from NOLA and didn’t pull it out again for years after I started seriously dating Lindy.

I met Lindy in September 2005 at a bar in Dallas- Adairs. I wanted nothing to do with her on a serious level at the time, as I was still on my single-datem-all rampage! I had finally embraced LSD, aka, Lead Singer Disease, for the first time in my life and there was no stopping this ride! I didn’t no have-a- the time for monogamy. As one of our band’s songs at the time correctly pointed out, “Short Fat Big and Tall, It Don’t Matter I Wantome ALL” was all I could seem to fixate on. That is, until the day I sobered up and realized Lindy was the perfect woman for me in every way. Now the chase was on and she was hard to get!

It wasn’t until after we got serious 2 years later that I pulled out that journal and happened to read what I wrote that day. I realized, subconsciously, I had wished the perfect woman into my world. Did I really? Or, was it just happenstance? Who knows. It’s all water near a bridge now.

It did get me thinking about what’s in store for the next 40 years. I feel like I am in the hanger waiting for the day I can hit the runway and fly again. While fueling up, I am trying to set the stage for a good take off and flight. Don’t get me wrong, I have really enjoyed the life experiences post and prior to Lindy, but the only thing that I feel I accomplished from all my wearisome efforts in 40 years is landing the woman of my dreams, and now she is gone. I have tasted tidbits of success in lots of other areas of my life I hold dear, but never have I accomplished the end goals of my dreams, except in love. Now that I know what real love feels like, I will patiently wait for it to surface again.

With this new knowledge, I am making every effort to create a life of fulfillment and significance. A life of the highest adventure and relative happiness. I will carry forward a piece of her in everything I do, because that’s the only way to keep her alive and with me. Some ask me when I will let her go, take down pictures, quit talking about us. The answer is never. Her love & loss will stay with me until the day I die. I need it to. I want it to. It makes me take a closer look at everything I do, say, and promise beforehand. This is something I have never done in 40 years. I am a pilot-my-plane-by-the-whims-of-my thoughts kinda guy. Not anymore. No more tuna on toast. It’s chicken salad on rye, untoasted for me!

Chartres Room

http://www-michaelpaulcox-com.myshopify.com/products/l-by-michael-paul-cox

Buy on iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album//id867534856

Hallelujah, The Only Cover on L

This is a tough song to cover because it has been covered by some great ones including the Beatles. How dare I! The day before Lindy passed I was looking on her Pandora channel list and she had a Hallelujah channel. I turned it on to Jeff Buckley’s version. It moved me. We put it into her video eulogy. I hadn’t listened to it that closely before but the way that John Pedigo put the video together, and him taking a black and white wedding picture of her and having it turn to color at the end of the song was very heart-stirring. I later downloaded while hiking in Spain. I didn’t realize that I had downloaded Leonard Cohen’s version. I loved it even more, and why shouldn’t I? He is the writer of the song. The more I listened to the lyrics, the more I felt each verse told Lindy and mine story. I then was told about a book written about the song called The Holy or Broken. After reading the book, I learned there was 90 verses written to this song. I picked out the 5 verses that I felt depicted us. I like my arrangement:)

Enjoy

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My Favorite Track, Track #5 Cold Hard Truth

After our first appointment with Duke, we were trying to relax at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf center after the first exhausting day there. I flipped on the TV to try and escape from the news. Lindy sat on the bed staring at her computer and began to cry for the first and only time. We flew to Duke because the last doctor in Dallas was cold, rude and had seemed to care less about a patients outcome. She was the one that diagnosed her. When Lindy told her that she was going to do in vitro before starting chemo and radiation, the doctor looked at her and said, “thats the dumbest thing you can do. Your not going to be around long enough to have them much less raise them”! Lindy walked out of her office and that is how we ended up at Duke. Their motto at Duke was Plan to Live. And that is exactly what my wife did: she lived on her terms.

She sat on the bed at the Duke hotel, and for the first time looked up what she was in for. The Duke doctor upgraded her cancer earlier that day to stage 4 and it hit her. I determined right then and there that I was going to do everything to give her her dreams. I proposed four months later. Bought her the biggest ring that was 10 x’s over my budget, and we planned a wedding in Italy on Lake Como. Yes. I drained every nickel I had and then mortgaged my future for the love of my life.

She did live fearlessly. She never once gave into the idea that this was going to take her life. She believed it so much, I believed it. We did in vitro and got 4 embryos. She bought a horse and fulfilled her dream of jumping. We traveled a lot and generally lived a normal newlywed life with no fear. We made a plan to have kids (that saga hasn’t ended yet btw) the June before she passed. I was so convinced that she was going to beat this it took the very back seat in our conversations. The very end had me grasping for understanding. I was dumfounded. She was so confident that she would survive this that reality took awhile to sink in. (In some ways it hasn’t sunk in yet).

I wrote this song mostly about our wedding, but more about the fact that we were able to ignore the inevitable.  I read one page in her journal a few months after she passed and she said that the Italy wedding and trip was a dream come true. She said it would forever be her favorite memory. That is what inspired this song.

 

IMG_6970photo 2

photo 4photo 4-2

 

On Sale Now

http://www-michaelpaulcox-com.myshopify.com/products/l-by-michael-paul-cox

 

Part of the proceeds go to the National Brain Tumor Society.

 

Track # 3 off My New Album-L- “I’ve Got a Feeling”

This is without a doubt the fastest, funniest song on the album. I wrote this about our first year of marriage. Lindy and I were very traditional in the fact that we didn’t live together before marriage. So while we were engaged I would drop her off at night from “date night”  and I would text my friends and meet them out. (This happened, ummm, every night)! That was my life prior to marriage. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo that going out to the bars every night, post marriage, was, well, not looked upon kindly by the wifey. This was one of the two things we fought about all the time, until I fell in line! I learned my manners, especially after she installed the “you must sleep in the spare room if you get home past midnight” house rule! Did I mention we only had twin beds in the spare bedroom? Yeah. It didn’t take me long to acquiesce to her wishes:) Things got better quickly when I grew up!

I had fun with my friends in the bars! Telling stories, drinking too much, hangovers….it was fun I wont lie, at the time.  Meanwhile, the wife would spend the evening, while I was out,  writing an extensive to-do-list for me in the mornings! I miss her helping me grow up. She was a no nonsense woman. I loved that about her. I just miss  miss her being here for me every night:(

 

First verses tells a very true story of an unnamed friend of mine and me was leaving Las Vegas, dropping his stuff off for his last semester in LA, and driving at 2 am (after barhopping all night on Sunset) to Tijuana. We ended up the next morning riding around in the back of a police car in cuffs getting the best tour of Tijuana while looking for an ATM to pay the nice tour guides!

Enjoy! (I did sample a small part of this melody from an old gospel tune I used to sing as a kid in church…oops!)

 

http://www-michaelpaulcox-com.myshopify.com/products/l-by-michael-paul-cox

Day 388: Easter in Lieu of Valentine’s

When Lindy and I first met she told me not to get her flowers on Valentines day. She said, “only suckers fall for the nearly triple-the-price roses on amateur love day!” She said, “a fellow ought to be smarter with his money than that. Beside, you get no closer to what your after! I saw your band. I saw what you do!” “Ha. Like that’s what I’m after from you!!”, I told her  “You apparently wasn’t paying attention to my moves on stage! Women are a dime a dozen at our shows. But, a real woman like you never comes around”, I politely explained in my twangiest voice.

She very modestly drawls, “besides, I celebrate Easter. The presents are better and it means more to me to see a guy celebrate a day not commercialized for couples .” So I waited till Easter to woo her with candy. (I still have always got her flowers. Found out  later her favorite rose was sterling).

That first year that we were dating we went to Mass, (which bored me silly) then to the park to Easter egg hunt with Sassy, then ultimately Ollie joined when he entered the equation, then back home to open our Easter baskets. Boy did I underbuy the first year! She took this Easter basket thing serious! She gave me ties, dress shirts, a watch, Starbuck’s gift card, and lots of funny knick knacks from Froggy’s Five and Dime. All this barely scratches the surface of what she got me. I only got her tons of candy! I mean lots of it! Yikes! Did I feel stupid? I fixed it the next year. I took us, and the dog(s) to San Antonio riverwalk. Whew! Saved this one. She probably should have kicked this idiot to the curb. S.A. soon become our yearly tradition for Easter weekend.

I miss this holiday with her so much. It will never be the same. (It hit me harder than last year at the cemetery today). Sure, I will still Easter egg hunt with the doggies, but it just won’t be the same without her. Toni Collins and her kids were nice enough to accompany me last year with
the hunt. This year I will introduce Rigatoni to our household tradition. I will try to keep our traditions alive.

 

Happy Easter to everyone. Enjoy this holiday with your family. Take a silent moment and think about how lucky you are to enjoy this weekend with the ones you hold dear. Remember also, the reason we celebrate Easter. Its not the chocolate bunnies you get! (Do they even still make those)? Its because He died, rose again, and lives that I will get to see my beautiful wife again. I know that it’s Jesus I should be focused on, but right now I have blinders on and just want to kiss my wife again…Have a great weekend 

A song off my tribute album to Lindy

Day 365: Your Absence is Like the Sky, It’s Everywhere

Punta Mita
Punta Mita
Punta Mita PoolSide
Punta Mita PoolSide
Happy girl
Happy girl
Chicago Trip 2012
Chicago Trip 2012
Lindy's True Love
Lindy’s True Love
 
St. Jean starting day 2nd trip
Revisiting the lock and my ring I left 4 months prior
Revisiting the lock and my ring I left 4 months prior
Me, Carter and Jill in Paris
Me, Carter and Jill in Paris
1st Dodgers game
1st Dodgers game
Famous Dodgers sign
Famous Dodgers sign
Laguna Beach, Ca
Laguna Beach, Ca
My favorite Lindy and Izzy picture
My favorite Lindy and Izzy picture
1st DC trip- Ted Cruz and me
1st DC trip- Ted Cruz and me
Favorite photo booth pic- Vegas 1st anniversary trip
Favorite photo booth pic- Vegas 1st anniversary trip
Cotton Bowl 2012
Cotton Bowl 2012
Louve
Louve
Eiffel Tower at midnight
Eiffel Tower at midnight
Top of the Eiffel tower at midnight
Top of the Eiffel tower at midnight
Favorite photo of first Camino
Favorite photo of first Camino
Cubs game 2012
Cubs game 2012
 
Lock and ring left in Paris in March 2013
More Paris food!
More Paris food!
I finally accomplished something. End of first Camino
I finally accomplished something. End of first Camino
Favorite engagement photo
Favorite engagement photo
The beauty and love this picture evokes for me leaves me speechless
The beauty and love this picture evokes for me leaves me speechless

My wife began her journey to the other side this morning one year ago today. In sheer disbelief, I watched as she took her last breath. At 11:30 a.m. her earthly being left. As I stared out the window over her head, it quickly cast a dark, gray shadow in the room as the rain clouds seemed to appear in consummate timing. The feeling of that moment has never left me. Most days I feel like the clock stopped and I’m frozen in that moment still. Within an hour of walking away from the house to the lake, in the now drenching rain, the sun pierced a tiny part of a cloud and shined directly on me. Was this somehow a goodbye from her on her way up? Looking back, I was looking for anything I could call her communicating with me. Since as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with what exactly happens in the few moments after you die. Where do you go exactly during this transition? Lindy and I shared a book just 7 months prior to her death, on our second anniversary, in Punta Mita, Mexico. She spent most of the time stuck in this book, Unsaid, by Neil Abramson, while working on her tan. She loved her days-n-hours-on-end by the pool on vacations! She was always content with the sun and a lay-out chair, and a book of course.  It shocked me to look over one afternoon and see her crying. She never cried. “What’s wrong”, I said. “You have to read this book”, she struggled to tell me. We never share books, so I knew she meant it. Next day I read it, and “I” cried. It was a story of a  young married couple. The wife dies before her time. She leaves her husband to manage her collection of animals on the farm, while he tries to juggle and maintain his job as a lawyer in Manhattan, but more importantly struggling to find his way through his grief. While trying to find his way back to any form of normalcy, his life takes an unexpectd detour and he learns more about his wife in death than he would have ever imagined. Good things… eventually. The odd thing about this book was it’s written from the wife’s perspective, in her afterlife, before she transitioned to the other side. The wife was dealing with her own regrets. She was sad that she had to suddenly leave everything she held dear behind. She was sorting regrets while watching her husband so desperately manage his new reality. She tried to help him, but she couldn’t communicate with him. She could only observe. The booked moved us both profoundly, but we never talked about it. Looking back, I wonder if somewhere deep inside we knew this would be our outcome. I wonder if she has been watching me and what remains of any sort of life I am trying so hard to reformulate. I wish I knew.

I spend most of my days in a paralytic state. Barely making it to the coffee shop, home, coffee shop, bar, church and occasional movie. Who am I kidding? I live at the movies most days! It feels like I have entered a parallel universe and I have yet to find my way back to any semblance of my former self. Truth is? I don’t want to go back to my former self. She isn’t there. She was so much a part of who I morphed into that I want to pretend that this life will end soon and I will be with her again. The good part of that statement is I am now looking at life on an eternal plane, and no longer on the earthly plane. Before her death, it was on a “what’s-in-front-of-me” basis; anxiously checking off the boxes of life. I never stopped and enjoyed the moment. This loss has forever connected me to another life, and maybe, with any luck, I won’t ever go back to who I was before I met Lindy, completely. Long entrenched priorities are shifting daily.

Most days I feel like I have walked a million miles in my grief only to wake up at the same place. I feel like I pass my starting point again every day; wanting so bad to re-launch my life. Movement seems beyond range. I was told by a gentleman [eleven months ago] who had been grieving his wife about 18 months “this is going to be the slowest fastest year of your life”. This imparted truth now makes complete sense to me at this very moment. It seems like yesterday she passed. At the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago. Just when I think joy is coming back, Niagara Falls ensues. Makes me feel crazy! Thanks to C.S. Lewis’s Grief Observed, I started to realize these feelings, and reactions are semi-normal. His personal thoughts when he was grieving the death of his wife made me realize, I am just experiencing thoughts and emotions that are brand new to me, and premature for my age. After reading his journal, I am fixated on my own journal entries. After reviewing my entries,  I see how normal and crazy I was/am. It is the only real way to remember where my mind was at certain points over the last year.

February 15, 2013 -3 days after her funeral- Port of Barcelona, Spain Within the first 30 minutes after landing in Barcelona, I crawled into my hotel room bed and immediately zonked out….after popping another Xanax of course. In minutes I was dead to the world. My exhaustion was a combination of the jet lag coupled with my heavy heartedness surrounding the reality of losing the only woman I have truly loved; the one I looked for since I was old enough to want to fall in love. Apparently 700 miles an hour couldn’t out run that fact that she was gone. Did I really think that was even possible? Maybe I did. This trip was such a flash decision that I didn’t have time to think it through. Woke up five hours later in a fit of terror. I searched frantically through the drool on my pillow for my phone. Somehow I thought I hadn’t finished her funeral arrangements. After searching for some three minutes, to call God knows who, it hit me that we already had her service. It wasn’t a bad dream. It was a sinking reality that didn’t seemed real yet. What a pit of depression I sank into. I’m in a country I have never visited. I don’t speak Spanish. My life as I know it -over. Not even sure where I’m going next. What have I done? I felt like I was in another universe. Then the memories of her service came flooding back. It all hit me like a shovel across the gut! The funeral made a mad rush through my mind like it was happening right that second. First the music from her service seemed to play loudly in stereo. I heard “Forever Young.” Then, “It is Well with My Soul” blurted even louder. Then right into the ending of her eulogy video: Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” started its surreal beginning. The black and white angelic image in my head of her in her wedding dress turning to color dropped me to my knees. Through a waterfall of tears I finally found my phone and turned off my iTunes. I had the music of her service on a playlist and it had begun playing. It wasn’t a supernatural happening. I downloaded those songs on a playlist and it just happened to come on. I fell on the bed and wondered how I would ever make it on this hike I was about to undertake. How was I ever going to go on without her when I got home?

February 18th, 2013 Pamplona, Spain After walking the streets of Barcelona for two days, I drug myself to Pamplona. After 2 days walking the streets here, I am try to gather strength. I will forced myself to strap on my backpack and begin to hike.

I started recently reading things I wrote throughout my walk in Spain. Surprised! This is what journals are for I see. (Thanks Doc). On the third day of my walk on the Camino, I wrote about cursing God out loud – all day. I wanted to know why he would allow this to happen. [Loudly cursing mind you]. No one was around, so what did I care? If the Spanish grape-pickers heard me they would just call me that crazy American man with a too-big-for-his-body backpack in tow- pissed off at the world for distant reasons.  So I let it fly. After exhaustion from screaming at God all day, I called my cousin who is a pastor (at $2.99 a minute). I asked him the same question. “Why did God allow Lindy to die”? He led me to Deuteronomy 29:29, it’s not for us to know the secrets of the Lord”. Well, in true Michael-inquisitive fashion, I needed context. So I read chapter 27-29. It basically talks about the curse of disobedience. Bam! That’s why he took her. Because I have lived in my agnostic ways for 22 years! He let her die to get my attention! I was quickly told that this was a very narcissistic view of why…. “God didn’t have to take  Lindy to get your attention”.

I find myself sitting and trying to reminisce about the last year of my existence, often times, reliving every conversation, and view I took in, letting my red wine get warm:)  I have had a good travel year. That’s the only positive I can put up on the board right now. I have grieved in places I could have only dreamed of going. I have left my own trail of tears. (I can say that. I’m 1/100th Cherokee). I went to Spain twice; I have been to Paris twice; I have been to [insider’s] DC twice; and I spent several incredible days in Newport Beach visiting some of Lindy’s best friends (mine too). Dodger’s game was a bonus! Hands down the most travelling I have done alone in one year. I have made friends all over the world that I still talk to frequently. It has been a real blessing to have the ability to spend a year off. (Thanks to my financially savvy wife: Thank you for looking out for us, Lindy).

Paris: I have seen the Monet’s & Manet’s in the Musee D’orsay. Surreal. I have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower at midnight. Enchanting. I walked the streets of Paris all night till the beginning of morning twilight. Magical. I took in all the Parisian food, dirty martinis and lifestyle I could tolerate. Exhausting. Lindy always wanted to visit Paris and I want to believe she did, with me. Even did Paris in more style the second visit when I was fortunate enough to be there at the same time as my friends, Carter and his wife Jill. (Carter was also the one who sold me the extraordinary ring that made my wife so proud to parade).

Spain: The first trip to Spain started in Barcelona. I saw the astonishing Sagrada Família. Walked almost every street in Ciutat Vella (Old City), Barcelona. I took a panoramic three hour train ride across the Spanish country side to Pamplona. It was in Pamplona I had one of the most surreal experiences. I am a Hemingway fan to the nth degree (thanks to David Mitchell) and I actually walked the entire city while listening to the Sun Also Rises, my favorite Hemingway book. Most of the book is set in Pamplona around the Running of the Bulls. You talk about feeling right smack in the middle of the book!

My story is still unfolding and I am trying to find the excitement in that. It should be a new beginning. I turned my life over to God after many brutal arguments, on the hike across Spain, somewhere between Punta la Reina and Los Arcos in the La Rioja wine region. (Talk about marking a seminal moment in ones life!) I realized after two days of questioning the “why’s” of God taking her from me that I was actually talking to God for the first time in 22 years. When I made a conscious decision to quit running from him, I felt a peace beyond comprehension. The journey since then has not been one void of hardship, or unbearable heart-break, and choice words with God, but it is a path that I know I was always meant to walk again. Every minute of the day brings new revelations to me; new understandings. It is nice to have a shot at a new beginning. Never thought I would turn 40 a widower and have to start over. I didn’t, I don’t want to be alone. I’m not. I will forever feel Lindy right here. At this point in time, I don’t know that I want to be with anybody again. I’m sure that will change. In a way, her death is what lit the path back to God. Her wisdom and practical way of life has weaved itself into my personality. It’s two positives that should make for a good foundation for a new launch.

I miss her every second of every day. I have realized in the last month that I CAN go on. I will go on. I may still shed tears daily over her, but I will no longer sit on the sidelines and wait for something to happen for me or to me. I read a quote recently from an unknown author that has really been a new mantra:

“Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It’s the price of Love.

Lindy, I love you and thank you for everything you did for us, and continue to do for me. I would pay the price again of our love a million times. You were so special that the English language doesn’t even contain the words to describe it. I promise to always cherish and honor your life and memory; our life together and the beautiful memories we shared.

Forever in my heart,

M