This morning I was “daydreaming” again and making plans for a future I’m really not “planning” as much as I am “visualizing”. It’s this whole thing that Williamson taught me: “If you want it, SEE IT, THEN GO AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!”. Now, I’m sure some of you may be thinking, “Well, then why the hell didn’t he just SEE himself out his darkness?” Unfortunately, mental illness doesn’t always work that way, especially when a human mind ends up literally splitting in two. But I’ve digressed.
Zack and I always talked about “the little cottage in France” I want so badly, and indeed he vowed to make that happen before my time was done. So, he would make me visualize it: “Close your eyes Catherine. Tell me what you see. Tell me EVERYTHING you want at the cottage.” Then I would close my eyes and tell him:
“It will look like a fairy tale … small and cozy … surrounded by trees … covered in climbing ivy with a stone chimney up on top … SURROUNDED BY HYDRANGEAS, YELLOW ROSES, SILVER BELLS AND COCKLE SHELLS …”.
This morning while I was daydreaming? Once again I closed my eyes and “saw it”. My little cottage, that I’m going to have, with the climbing ivy, stone fireplace up top and surrounded by my favorite flowers. Then all was well and my day progressed.
Twenty minutes ago my doorbell rang. “Who in the world …?” When I opened the door my stomach hit the floor in the best possible way with that all too familiar adrenaline dump I’ve come to know so well during the worst and best moments of my life that consumes my soul then drains right out of my fingertips. It was his florist … the only one he EVER patroned … his “partner in crime” when it came to knowing exactly how to make me smile … with THIS arrangement … for me: “Good afternoon Cat. These are from Diane. She just wanted you to know we’re all thinking of you constantly.”
Call it what you will my friends: Coincidence. Happenstance. Fortuity, fluke or chance. Dismiss it as just “a thing” if you will, but nope, not me, EVER! Never will I fail to heed the many signs of life that flourish in the darkness! To me, it’s Serendipity. My husband, my future AND GOD HIMSELF all screaming to me in living color! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am one blessed and lucky biotch! No, Zachariah, not a single one of your years in this realm were in vain. Every gift you gave me and every dream you dreamt is going to carry on. Because that’s how it’s supposed to be.
“I’m writing this in case I’m gone tomorrow. I’m writing this in case I’ve moved along. There’s something that I hope you’ll remember: That life is not a game, it’s a song. So take the best parts of me, locked away without the keys, and know that I’m forever by your side. When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey. If you’re reading this, I know you’re feeling sorrow. If you’re hearing this, I know you’re probably scared. Just know that all the things you want are borrowed, and all you get to keep is all you’ve shared. So wipe away the tears for me, know that we’ve made history. Remember no one ever really dies. When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch
THIS PICTURE. One I sketched in my early 20’s using the literal ashes from both my father’s and His ashtrays. At the time I had no idea the impact this or any of my 32 Sketches would have on me down the road, yet as I look at them now I can’t help but notice that although I was in very dark place when they were born, something inside me was distantly hopeful. Still, this one. It begs the younger me to stay focused on the very bright future I couldn’t see through the fog I was in, yet was patiently waiting for and calling to me all the while.
If you know me well, you know that grey is my favorite color, which is evident in my predominately “black and white” or grey artwork. What’s interesting about this one is how poignantly it reflects upon the mental illness I fought so hard to overcome for the better part of my life and long before it was diagnosed. My illness imprisoned me in the dichotomy of “black and white thinking” and held me for ransom inside the compartmentalized boxes in my mind where I stored all my feelings and pain. Before I put my disease into remission I was unable to accept people, situations, emotions, or behaviors as anything other than “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, or “one way or the other”. MY ENTIRE WORLD WAS BLACK AND WHITE AND THERE WAS NO SPACE FOR THE GREY! I had a defensive view of both the positive and negative qualities of myself and everyone else and there was no way for my broken thought process to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space. How did this happen you ask? The general consensus is that my “splitting” was the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and I do tend to agree. I was raised in an environment of conditionally based reward, praise, affection and acceptance. If I was “good”, I was praised, affirmed and rewarded. If I was “bad”, I was admonished, punished and rejected. They “washed their hands” of me too many times to count whenever I screwed up or simply failed to follow “the rules” and ZERO was the validation or consideration of my feelings. My mind would “split” as I desperately attempted to shield myself from the constant fear of being abandoned, betrayed or eviscerated by anyone who claimed to love me. For the record, I do not believe that these traumas were visited on me purposefully or with the intent to murder my soul, but the trauma indeed was real, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. For so many years in the wake of not only my broken childhood, but as much so in the wake of my own self-inflicted destruction and imprisonment, I felt alone and voiceless, regardless of the people who “appeared” to be standing beside me. At this point it is no longer a secret that I myself attempted suicide on November 8, 1996, but thankfully survived to tell about it. But I’ve digressed …
Music of all genres has been such an integral part of my mental health journey and recovery, but one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, has been at the forefront of them all. Their songs have not only helped identify some of my lost and broken feelings, but have also given my former “voiceless self” permission to either cry my feelings to the surface or YELL AND SCREAM THEM OUT LOUD! Several months ago I pre-ordered their new album and had been counting the days until it was released. I was so stoked when it finally hit my library and just started from the beginning as I headed out for my day. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up I literally had to pull my car into the breakdown lane on the highway as the words began to cut me in all the most bittersweet ways. I couldn’t stop the tears or the physical heartache and I literally couldn’t breathe. It was one of the most cathartic, awful and beautiful moments of my life and it was as if he were singing it to me himself. To me. To her. To the very few people he left behind that he truly loved and let into his very private world and who loved him just the same. Someday when it’s time for her to read “The Letter” he wrote but never gave her I will play it for her. Knowing God the way I do, when she’s finally able to receive these most beautiful lyrics of both our lives in conjunction with the most beautiful words a secretly crumbling father could possibly have written to a daughter, they will become a significant part of her healing thus far and her journey going forward.
HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the “grey-se” (grace) I’ve received that is so undeserved yet given to me anyway by The One who has never loved me “with black and white conditions”. He “takes the best parts of me and locks them away without the key” and I know He is never far away. He’s the Light that shines ahead of my journey and dilutes the blackness of the abyss into the most beautiful shades of grey. For more than four decades I lived a “black and white life” with no room for the grey I knew I needed so much but didn’t know how to connect with. So, as I look back at this picture now I am filled with the most unbelievable hope, peace, balance and inspiration you can imagine. It reminds me of just how far I’ve come, that it was always supposed to be this way, and there is always a “brighter side of grey”. Not gonna lie, it is now my greatest wish that when it’s time for me to move along this is the last song I hear as they say goodbye. It means everything to me. Literally, everything.
“For the first time in years there’s a light up ahead. It’s calling. (It’s pulling me closer) Reborn within. Now I’m shedding my skin. It’s falling. (The weight off my shoulders) ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I can’t erase all of my errors. Those days are gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. On my knees in the rain with my head hung in shame, just crawling, stalling. (All alone in my ways) Memories I can’t erase. Faces I couldn’t face haunt me. (My life lay to waste). ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I need a break. It’s now or never. Yesterday’s gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. For all the years of emptiness. For all of my mistakes. For all the years I’ve thrown it all away. It’s not too late.” ~ Like A Storm
There is no way for me to properly express the depth of my gratitude for all of the love, support and faith all of you are pouring into me not only here in The Diary, but in other forums (such as Quora) where I am also sharing not only my journey, but the fallen king’s as well. My reach is growing stronger by the minute and I’m consumed by a burning fire in my heart when I open my statistics every morning to find that people literally all over the world are reading my words. I’m getting messages daily, from again, all over the world, and what is resonating loudly is that people are relating to all the best and worst parts of my life and being inspired to try and make some changes of their own and step out of their own silent darknesses. THAT’S ALL I’VE EVER WANTED … for other broken people to realize the power and potential of their own strong warrior hearts and find the courage to not only survive, but THRIVE!
…and neither can you! The secret pain, anguish, heartache and trauma we keep buried within our hearts is nothing short of a 30,000 pound anchor that not only keeps our ships bound to the turbulent seas that some of us end up drowning in, but also keeps us from ever reaching safe harbor. As for me? My most life-altering, traumatic and darkest “secret” has still yet to be revealed by the way, because frankly, I’m just not ready to reveal it. I’m working with God directly on that one and together we will both know when it’s time for my “biggest reveal”. But in the meantime …
All of YOU are helping me do that and I pray that my words will help you change your own tomorrow if that’s what you need to do. Again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING ME. My best to everyone reading this … MAKE IT A POWERFUL DAY!
“Sitting alone in the cold of the night. You’re trying to find what you need to survive. You’re so afraid you can’t go on. Left in the silence that tears at your heart. It only reminds you how broken you are. You’ve lost your way, but Hope is not gone. ‘Cause the Sun always sets. The moon always falls. It feels like the end – just pay no mind at all. Keep rolling. Rolling. Life must go on. Do you remember and long for the past? When love was eternal and joy seemed to last? Yesterday. Forever is gone. ‘Cause the Sun always sets. The moon always falls. It feels like the end – just pay no mind at all. Keep rolling. Rolling. Life must go on. It must go on. We have our misfortunes. The darkest of days. We must endure and keep strong. Just look to the morning. The promise awaits. And know that this life must go on ..” ~ Alter Bridge
I was at the Social Security office today handling the business that noone ever really wants to handle: The “widowed” of it all. Meanwhile, while I was waiting for my number to be called I decided to clean out my wallet because not only was I bored out of my mind, there was no wi-fi there, so, tag, “cleaning out my wallet” was it!
So, guess what I found tucked tucked away in a space in the wallet that I didn’t realize existed? A love note from my husband that he had hidden for me to find! As shocked as I was, I wasn’t really shocked at all. It wasn’t uncommon for him to do things like that and I have a box filled with the dozens of cards and love notes he would hide for me in the decade we spent together. “For richer or poorer. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Until death did us part … and EVEN beyond?” You see, that was just his way. He wanted me to know I was his queen and how grateful he was that I, and no one else, gave him the love, family and home he’d been searching for literally all his life.
He gave me this wallet on Valentine’s Day last year, and looking back do remember both the referenced back pain and the argument I’d had with my mom. He must have hidden it sometime at the end of March. My husband was indeed struggling at that point and slowly descending downward, but there were still very clear and poignant traces of “him” that existed. Someday when I’m ready I will definitely be going back to revisit “the descent“, which as far as I’m concerned really started in January 2019.
In the meantime, just know this: Yes, I am “an effing warrior”, and yes, I AM “a survivor”. But even warriors cry, and you know what? THAT’S OKAY! What kind of queen would I be without moments like today that I literally cry my eyes out to the point of nauseau because I miss my fallen king, who lost his damn mind, and left me all alone on this throne that he gave me with a broken heart and a hurting and traumatized princess? I’d be a pretty heartless one I suppose. One thing I know for sure about myself by now is that my heart is bigger than the ocean, so yah, sometimes I cry. But then I wipe my tears, straighten my crown, and my life must go on! I’m pretty stubborn that way if you haven’t figured it out by now, and also? GOD. Just God. I know He was crying with me this afternoon and I KNOW HE WAS SMILING WHEN I GOT RIGHT BACK UP LIKE I DID: “That’s My girl”, He said, and hopefully so did Zack. I am loved. Still. Always. Eternally.
“Yeah, yeah. What you got if you ain’t got love? The kind that you just want to give away? It’s okay to open up. Go ahead and let The Light shine through. I know it’s hard on a rainy day. You wanna shut the world out and just be left alone, but don’t run out on your faith! ‘Cause sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. And when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small. It’s so easy to get lost inside a problem that seems so big at the time. It’s like a river that’s so wide it swallows you whole. While you’re sitting around thinking about what you can’t change and worrying about all the wrong things, time’s flying by, moving so fast. You better make it count ’cause you can’t get it back. Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. Oh, and when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small.“ ~ Carrie Underwood
It was indeed a rainy day here in Dallas on February 5th. The kind that tends to make you want to just shut the world away. But then again, not so much. With cozy pajamas, fluffy slippers, an ox of a German Shepherd named Lord Williamson at my feet and three cats perched strategically out of his reach all around me? Yah, that’s my vibe! The night before I’d been directed to “Quora”, a question and answer style on-line forum that I’d never heard of. So, after taking Gia to school I got home, made a giant cup of coffee and sat down to check it out. At first glance, I thought, “Wow, this could be interesting”, then I threw a quick profile together, circled back around to the home page, and this was the first question I saw: “What are the worst cases of mental illness you have ever seen?” Really? “Well okay then …”, and off I went (with the Twilight Zone music cued up in the background). This was my answer:
My own husband, who I lost to suicide August 22, 2019. He was the Godsend game changer for me and my daughter, larger than life with a heart the size of an ocean, but had been thrown away like common garbage by his mother at birth. She abandoned him permanently at 18 months, and I suppose his father did the best he could with lack of parenting skills he had, but he was then and is still but a child himself. My husband was left alone most of the time from a very young age and his basic needs were never properly tended to.
We didn’t realize his ACS (Abandonded Child Syndrome) even existed until five years into our marriage, but once faced with the sobering truths of his traumatic childhood, every bit of strength and fortitude he’d managed to find and survive with in his life of solitude before finding us, the first and only real home and family he’d ever had, began slipping right out from under him. The abandonment issues that led to his mental illness were further complicated by the fact that his entire family abandonded him; neither the mother, father or three older siblings could be bothered with him. This heartless, selfish, ice-cold brood of people literally broke his heart into pieces that could never be put back together.
There were demons living in the hole they burned into his soul we fought desperately to keep him from drowning in, but in the end, the demons won. The last months of his life it appeared that he was in the early stages of psychosis, if not schizophrenia. He’d been hearing voices, seeing things, missing “blocks of time”, and ultimately just vanished completely within himself. He said he couldn’t “feel anything” anymore, and honestly, we lost him months before he put that gun to his head. It was a living nightmare to witness and the worst kind of heartbreak to suffer. He died of a broken heart that led to his mental illness and then suicide.
I’ve been writing tirelessly about not only his, but my mental health journey as well, in “The Diary Of My Perfection” dot com. I’d be honored if any of you would care to read, follow or share it, as it is now my mission to try and be a Light in other people’s darkness.
Once I’d completed and submitted it, it was time to switch gears to the work day that lied ahead, which I did, and soon thereafter I was out the door with absolutely no idea what, if anything, would become of my answer to the question. Keep in mind that throughout the day I had noticed the “push” notifications on my Quora app were beginning to skyrocket. NOT GONNA LIE … I was nervous! I kept thinking, “Oh no, what’s with all these notifications? 25, 50, 75, 100, 150? Have I upset, offended or pissed someone off? Have I invoked some drama with the masses? Holy shit! What the Hell? What have I done?” But I had so much going on that day that I couldn’t allow myself to open the app and look, for fear that what I may find would somehow distract, upset or topple me. So, I just went on with my day and anxiously waited until I got home to open the “Pandora’s Box” I was worried I had created.
When I finally got back to my desk that night, I took a deep breath and logged back on to the site. I WAS STUNNED! Much to my overwhelming surprise I found that my answer had been viewed upwards of 22,000 times, “upvoted” over 2,000 times, and responded to hundreds of times, with uplifting, supportive and reflective comments such as this:
“Thank you so very much for sharing this difficult journey with others. You may have just saved my life by giving me enough information to try to find a path out of my personal jungle.
Until I read your post I had never heard of “abandoned child syndrome”. I now have SOMETHING that points to the root of my problems! NOW I’m starting to understand myself just a tiny bit more than I did 10 minutes ago.
The question is now what can I do to start forging a different future? I am 50 years old and feel like a boat without ears, a sail, and a rudder. Or is it too late to try to move forward? I feel like it’s just too much and I’m way too tired to keep trying.
Thank you for putting your grief into action and attempting to save other’s. I think I’m simply too old and tired …”.
And there you have it! Confirmation that every single thing I’ve walked through and survived in my 50 years thus far is going to mean something so much bigger than I could possibly have ever foreseen to someone, somehow, some way, if I just keep on keeping on. Everything my husband had to walk through is going to have meant something bigger than even he was and I am going to make sure of it!
One of the things I loved most about Zack was his unrelenting generosity and heart for others. It was not uncommon for him to “give or do”, if not even to random strangers; the more he acquired, the more he gave away. We shared that in common, which is not to toot a horn right now, but rather, to make this point: Whenever we’d done something for someone else we would always “fist bump” or “high five” eachother afterwards and smile. So, yah, after reading that comment above? I actually did pause as I turned to his picture on my desk and sent out my half of our “fist bump” to wherever he is in this cosmos. This is what I’m supposed to be doing! I know it. He knows it. God knows it! I’m just gonna keep staying “small” so all this can become so much “bigger” than either of us could have ever imagined. I feel so extremely blessed, happy, and even more determined to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do than I was before. That is all.
“She was holdin’ on so tight, but I had to say goodbye. She’s all alone tonight. There’s nothin’ I could do to make it right Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be brighter? Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be easier? Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close Keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. We’re apart but not alone. My love for her is more than she could know. A secret place only we can go, and we’ll laugh while we will hope until we’re home. Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be brighter? Is it ever gonna be, ever gonna be easier? Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close, keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love. This shall soon pass. Steady on, steady on, my love Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close, keep watch, tell her again she’s not alone. Hold her tonight. Hold her tonight. Oh, God, would you hold her tonight? ‘Cause I’m not there to stay close. Keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Stay close, keep watch, tell her she’s not alone. Hold her tonight.” ~ King & Country
I’ve been doing so well in my journey. I know you all can see it, and indeed what you see real. Still, I heard this song for the first time tonight at around 5pm while driving through a parking lot, at which point I fell apart so badly that I had to literally pull my car into a space and just sit there and cry. And cry. And cry. And cry. For about two hours, I literally cried my eyes out. I then made myself go to “get it together” and go the gym and get on the treadmill thinking that would “force me” to calm down. Which it did, for one hour and ten minutes while I was on the tread mill. I turned on the Five Finger Death Punch and made myself stop being sad. Thankfully, the three friends I reached out to all reached right back to me, which helped keep me grounded. But when I got home and walked into our closet it started all over again. I’m not gonna lie. This is hard. I miss him. So much. Every second. Every minute. Every day. Every night. Sometimes I just walk to his side of the closet and “hug his clothes” that are still hanging there. And smell them. One half of my person and everything I used to be is literally, just, GONE. One of my friends pointed out to me that I probably “needed” this. To cry. And cry. And cry. She was right. I think I did. But you know what? GRIEF SUCKS! It makes no sense to me whatsoever. It’s as if he went to God and actually said these words, to Him, about me, because, these is exactly what he would say to anyone right now if he could actually say something. “Hold her for me.” Tomorrow will be a new day, of this I’m sure. But in the meantime: GRIEF SUCKS! I know God is holding me, I do. Right now. This minute. As I’m writing this. I can feel Him. Zack is here with me too I can feel him. Goodnight everyone. Please keep me in your hearts and prayers tonight because I am really struggling.
This one’s for my fallen king. And my son. And my daughter. And myself. And anyone in my atmosphere who is now or has ever struggled just to keep your head above the water. It’s so hard to swim when the entire weight of the world seems to be resting upon your shoulders. This is I know too well! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If I can do this? YOU CAN DO THIS! So, with that: Chin up! Knuckles out! Head held high! Fight the good fight. Just. Keep. Breathing. And remember …
“There’s a ghost. There’s a ghost inside of me. Not like those draped in old bed sheets. Saying “trick or treat”. Different. Oh, this ghost is different. Not one that leaves me scared to death. But one that puts my fear to rest. Oh, holiness keep haunting me. Oh, you’re my hope, you’re my peace. Ironic in a way. I’m no longer afraid. And the ghost is to blame. There’s a ghost. There’s a ghost inside of me. Not something from some campfire story. Where I’m terrified to sleep. Opposite. This ghost is quite the opposite. He came just like a welcomed friend. And I was comforted. Oh, holiness keep haunting me. Oh, you’re my hope, you’re my peace. Ironic in a way. I’m no longer afraid. And the ghost is to blame. I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. No longer afraid.” ~ Mercy Me
… because who else could I blame for the current state of my badly broken but still beating heart and how else could I explain what isn’t happening to me in the wake of all this devastation? While driving home yesterday it hit me yet again that YES, I AM A WARRIOR! And let me tell you why …
Most of you probably know that my husband ended his own life at “just before midnight on August 22nd”, but what you probably don’t know is where: Exactly 1.5 miles from the throne he abdicated in a field that separates the abutting subdivision from ours, which entrance which lies upon the main thoroughfare between Parker and Allen where a lot of my time is spent, so unless I make a consorted effort to avoid the intersection I love to hate I have no other choice but to face these sobering facts often multiple times a day: “This” was the last road he traveled. “That” was the last turn he ever made. “Those” were the last visions that befell his dying eyes as he headed towards his fate.
In the immediate weeks that followed his death I avoided that place at all costs and vowed NEVER to go near it again. What person in their right mind could? Many were concerned for my well-being in this regard, and since the first 30 days after I was highly medicated, when someone had to drive me to Allen they’d go as far out of their way as possible to keep me away from “there”. Greater was the concern as to whether we’d even be able to stay in this house for any prolonged period for fear that what happened was way too close to home.
Yet as the weeks passed my heart just made me go want to go there; I honestly don’t know why. Time and again I wandered down that path with the barage of questions that still cycle through my mind: WHY did he do it? Why WOULD he do it? Why that spot? Why this town? Why so close to home? What was he FEELING alone inside that car? Was he sad? Was he angry? Was he scared? Did his heart ache? Was it pounding? Or was it already dead and numb? What was he DOING the second before he left? Was he crying? Was he screaming? Thinking about his life? His childhood? Me and her? DID HE THINK ABOUT WHAT THIS WOULD DO TO US? Did his hand shake as he held the gun to his head? Did he wrestle with it? Bring it up? Then bring it down? Or just old it up ONCE and pull the trigger? What did he HEAR as he made his final decision? Was it a song? WHAT SONG? Or was there just deafening silence? Was it “the voices in his head” that told him to “just do it”? DID HE REACH OUT TO GOD? Look for His hand? Beg forgiveness? Did he repeat his prayer of Salvation? PLEASE GOD, PLEASE … JUST HELP ME UNDERSTAND! Then the questions stop, I start breathing once again, and the constriction of my heart that always proceeds”the cycle” fades to black AND I SURVIVE!
Here’s what I need everyone to know: I’m fiercely protected 24/7 by a “Ghost Gang” in my mind and these are a but a FEW of its members: A handful of a baby girl with a presence the size of the Cosmos, a Cajun Blaze Of Glory, and the Frog I kissed who turned into a King. My Guardian Angels serve full-time posts as lieutenant commanders and God’s Trinity lords over them all! My ghosts are not just ordinary – they’re THE TOUGHEST ONES AROUND. They’ve yet to let me down as they hunt the many monsters that feast upon my soul and have slayed them to the ground one by one! Each of them have made me who I am today, don’t leave me scared either “to death” or “about it”, and they do put my every fear to rest. If I start going dark? They turn on all the Lights! I pray incessantly they’ll keep haunting me with the abundant hope and peace that has now become the echo in my battle cry:
“Their deaths have neither broken me, nor stolen from or vanquished me, and everything they were is every wondrous thing I’ve become. They’ve but “slipped away into the next room” with countless other loved ones I’ve lost along the way and they’ll all be waiting for me when I get Home. They continue to survive with me in every shadow before and behind with their presences forever locked inside what are now the even deeper chasms of my mind with an ensemble of angelic voices still filling my heart with the memories, joy and laughter.”
Ironic in a way? I will NEVER be afraid and it’s my “Ghost Gang” that’s to blame! They’ve got their territory marked from here to Eternity and it’s every single road I travel. Thank you for listening to me again. I love all of you.
“Love is alive – alive like a new born child. Love is a war – broken and running wild. Love is a thief and it’s stealing our hearts tonight. You give it to me. You’ve given me all I need. You’re all I see. You’re all I wanted to be. Can you take me with you where you walk with angels? Where you walk with angels. Love’s around you now. You walk with angels wherever you are. You walk with angels …” ~ Aaron Hendra
Last night I dreamt about Zack for what seemed like hours, one very real scene after anothe we finally got in the car to go to school she said it :: “Mom, Dad was in my dream last night.” I could have died a million deaths in that moment and actually had an adrenalin dump after she said those words! You know, that feeling you get when you hear something that knocks you over? Like you’re gonna faint, you just can’t breathe and the blood rushes out of your fingertips? It was the same exact feeling I’d felt on August 22nd at just before midnight – “that moment I felt him leave us”. The incomprehensible juxtaposition of our two dreams was absolutely earth shattering, and let me tell you why …
SHE HASN’T DREAMT OF HIM SINCE “THAT NIGHT”! Zero has she seen his face or heard his voice. He’s just. Been. GONE. So what are the chances that he would avail himself to BOTH of us on the same night in such a magnanimous way? It was no coincidence. It was him, and it was real.
Although she hasn’t told me what she dreamt about or the specifics of his presence I could see she that was even more at peace and relaxed today than her journey thus far has found her. Whatever the nature of his visit to her may have been it was clearly also very real! Eventually she’ll share it with me. She always does “tell me EVERYTHING!” I’m so beyond thankful for the powerful bond that I share with BOTH my kids in this regard. It will just have to be on her time frame and not a second sooner. It may be months or even years before she finally does, but it doesn’t matter, because she will! All I know at this moment is HE WAS HERE to finally answer my questions and let me know that he is very much still with me and NOT going anywhere.
For the record, not only did I get answers to my questions, he also told me: “There’s something coming. Something huge. Something bigger than you can imagine. SOME “ONE”. You’re going to be okay. I love you Catherine. I always did and always will. I’m sorry I hurt you both … I’m sorry that I left you this way … It wasn’t about you, it was ME … but you’re doing so good and I’m SO proud of you. Just keep doing exactly what you’re doing and believe that everything is going to be okay. Better than okay. I promise.” There were other very specific things he said about my future, all of which are now written on a piece of paper in my nightstand drawer that I will share with the small handful of people who are closest to me as a solid point of reference and accountability to their validity down the road if and when they do actually avail themselves in the manner in which he said.
So? What do any of you think? Am I just insane? Maybe I am, but hey, it is what it is. I believe in my heart that he’s still walking with me. They all are. My angels will always walk with me and their love is still very much alive. True love NEVER dies … it just “slips away into the next room” …
“Someday soon, I’m gonna pull myself together. Win or lose, I’m starting over again. Start this day like any other day. I fold my hands as I begin to pray. Sometimes we gotta throw the past aside, and come what may, I’m gonna open up my eyes to all my broken feelings. It’s the only road I’ve known. I just wanna say to you: Maybe I won’t feel the pain when you leave me one day, and maybe it won’t be too late when you need me someday. Someone take me away from the one who betrays, but things won’t ever be the same. I’m starting over. In days gone by, I was hiding from myself. In all those lies and the truth was hard to tell. But I will try to turn my life around. I’ll close my eyes so I can finally see the road to all my broken feelings. It’s the only one I’ve known. I just wanna say to you … You were my heart, you were my soul. You were my breath ’til I grow old. You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?” ~ Saliva
So here’s my parting message to all the people, places and roadblocks that had become me in the four decades of life before finally opening my eyes to all my “broken feelings” and finding the truths behind the lies that were my former realities. This is my Christmas gift to me …
Zack and I first heard this song in 2007 and it immediately became as vital in unraveling the mystery of what had broken us before we’d met than actually meeting in the first place. It spoke volumes as to both our prior journeys; it was who we were, where we’d been and why we needed to cut some people out of our lives and truly “just start over”. It was a cryptic message to everyone that had discarded us at virtually every critical juncture in our lives, not the least of which were “our families”: “You were my blood, you were my bones. How could you ever leave me cold?”
Today I’ll spend another “first” without him, completely severed from the blood and bones that have once again “washed their hands of me”. But guess what? That’s okay! I WAS MARRIED TO A KING! An imperfect, broken, mortal king with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave me every “thing” a woman could dream of but more so his heart, his eyes, his soul, his faith and his unconditional love without condition for the first time in my life, all of which DID truly make me a QUEEN! And likewise was he MARRIED TO A QUEEN! An imperfect, broken, mortal queen with a rare and true heart of gold who not only gave him every “thing” a man could dream of but more so her heart, her eyes, her soul, her faith and her unconditional love without condition for the for the first time in his life, all of which DID truly make him a KING! Quite clearly he fell in with a tragic twist that some may never fully know or understand and hurt us in unspeakable ways. But today is Christmas and “who was better at forgiving than Jesus?” Indeed I have forgiven him for the devastation that ended our story, but here’s what else you should know …
I also forgive all of you that hurt, mocked, laughed at, punished, or burned me alive on a cross every time I let you down, embarassed you, or disgraced your reputations when I failed miserably at all the things I’ve failed at.
I forgive you for invalidating me, disregarding and disrespecting me, and discrediting every single one of my broken feelings as “drama, immaturity, ingratitude or self-pity”.
I forgive you for abusing the trust I placed in you with all my vulnerabilities and truths by throwing them back in my face and driving more nails into my already broken heart.
I forgive you for taking it personally when I decided to break the toxic cycle I once lived in and just standing there as I fought tooth and nail to get that fucking Black Spider-Man suit off my weak and weary back so that maybe one day my daugher’s daughters or my son’s sons will be the first branches from this sick and dying tree to not end up in a psych ward because they too want to blow their own brains out!
I forgive you for only loving me when I was good enough to be loved, but “washing your hands of me” when I broke the rules you decided would be best for me, which PS, were complete and total double standards of sick and enmeshed BULLSHIT! As it turns out, it’s OKAY to leave the web, if not THE best thing one can do. The wisest spiders are proud of the spiderlings that manage to get out of the webs they might have unintentionally spun and find a way to survive this fucking life in peace!
I forgive you for NOT forgiving me for being an imperfect human being and I forgive you for all the times you abandoned me! But more so than that? Thank you for everything you’ve done to hurt me because that is how I became a Queen! You pointed me straight to both my Kings – The One born today and the fallen. He may be gone now, but I’m still right here with the crown and sword he left for me, charging bravely forward all the days I have left in this realm! There is still so much I have to do with this power my impossibly strong heart now wields. There’s the Phoenix I made who I’ll fight beside until the end as she makes her ascenion towards the culmination of everything my own broken flight was purposed for, and that first born Prince who hasn’t yet realized that he too is a king because he hasn’t yet found the strength to tear off “the black suit” that shrouds his soul in darkness! He’s trapped in a web and has still yet to realize the long-terms effects of the emotional abuse he also is succumbing to and that being repeatedly being told “I’m done with you” for failure to follow the rules is slowly becoming the death of him too. I will not rest until that day finally comes when he opens HIS OWN EYES to his own broken feelings and “walks away and just starts over” with the courage and strength that’s hiding somewhere within himself so that the next time he hears “I’m done with you”? He can say, “NO! It’s ME that’s done with YOU!” Just like I did.
If I’ve learned anything in my first fifty years it’s that “real love” shouldn’t cost you anything yet it’s the only commodity that can get you EVERYTHING! Love shouldn’t come with strings or conditions, make you sad, make you cry, cause you to doubt yourself, want to shoot yourself, or make you want to hide in the shadows of any authentic version of yourself because the people who “love you” won’t take you as you are. Here’s the thing: Once you’ve had finally had it – “REAL love without strings and conditions”? YOU CAN NEVER ACCEPT “LOVE” ANY OTHER WAY, EVEN IF IT MEANS BEING ALONE! I won’t be the last queen that ever reigned alone in her kingdom because she refused to settle for anything less than everything!
Merry Christmas Catherine Williamson! You’ve been blessed by the unconditional loved of two Kings in your lifetime. There’s no going back to where you came from as you find a way to just start over once again!
Late last night I stumbled upon the “memory” of a post I’d made on Facebook around the same time four years prior, December 8th, 2015. It was in reference to an annual visit I’d made to my daughter’s grave to deliver her Christmas flowers, and ironically, take a wild guess what I did yesterday afternoon? I made the annual visit to my daughter’s grave to deliver her Christmas flowers. This was what I’d posted:
“I held an angel in my arms for 4.25 hours, who left my world as swiftly as she entered it, thus bestowing me the privilege of seeing her very first breath and then her very last. When her heart stopped, so did mine, for what seemed like an eternity, and in that moment I just knew all the light from my soul had slipped with hers forever. Quite certainly I was wrong though, because I am still right here, with a shining heart filled with joy and peace that has healed where I never knew it was broken. You see, I am a woman who was blessed in the presence of two “departed” at the moment their mortal shackles were released, not the least of which was my precious daughter’s as my hands gave her right back to Heaven. It took me a minute, plus 20 twisted years, but I’ve since found the words “all is well” to be so much more than endearing. For both of them survive with me in every shadow before and behind as I feel their presences fervently locked in all the deepest chasms of my mind. I never got to hear her voice, yet I recognize it clearly, and his are the chords that fill my heart with memories, joy and laughter. Perhaps the greatest triumph of my own sweet Earthly existence was that moment I realized I was speaking of, writing about and taking flowers to their graves without a single shed of tear, reveling in the truth that in their crossing my God had not forsaken me, but had all the while been planting the seeds of my truly blind faith and granting my greatest “freedom”. And while of course I do not delight at the thought of our next inevitable relation, no longer do I fear Him, for He is but an Enigma who in one strange paradox both enlightens AND ceases my need to comprehend. For in all my years both broken and whole I have learned to grieve with hope, and with that, all is truly well. All. Is. Well!”
Meanwhile, here I am, having danced with Death yet again at what seems a lifetime later. And do you know what has changed in my relationship with either God or Death since his sudden departure? Not a thing!
As I was driving to the cemetery yesterday I was concerned as to how I would handle it, especially in that not a year has passed since Zack came into my life that I’ve go there on my own. He stood beside me through everything and never could I have imagined myself standing at her grave alone. Yet, as I walked towards her resting place, the most beautiful breeze washed over me and I swear to God I felt so at peace. No tears. No trauma. No aching in my heart or knot in my stomach. Just solace. I knelt down, put the flowers in her vase, breathed in as deeply as I possibly could and slowly released it back into an atmosphere that I’m absolutely certain they were present in – my first born daughter, “my blaze of glory“, and now, THE ONE TRUE LOVE OF MY LIFE!
Their deaths have neither broken, nor stolen from or vanquished me, and everything they were is still every wondrous thing I am. They’ve but “slipped away into the next room” with countless others I’ve lost along the way and they’ll all be waiting for me when I get Home. They continue to survive with me in every shadow before and behind with presences forever locked inside what are now the even deeper chasms of my mind and an ensemble of voices perpetually filling my heart with memories, joy and laughter.
As I write this I still marvel at my triumph. Yes I am able to speak of them, write about them and take flowers to their graves without a single shed of tear. And yes I do continue to revel in the truth that in their crossing my God has still not forsaken me, but instead continues planting and sowing the seeds of my even stronger, truer blind faith. I am still the freest woman I’ve ever known and while I still do not delight at the thought of our next inevitable relation, never will I fear Him … the Enigma who in one strange paradox continues to enlighten and cease my need to comprehend. It’s been a long fifty years for me living “broken and whole at once”, but I continue to grieve with hope, with my eyes continually on The Cross, and all is still truly well.
“The lightning flashed as angels rode fiery chargers through the clouds. That answer scared me into tears and all the grownups laughed out loud. Now the years roll on, tired voices have all gone. Now they ride their thunder through the heavens. There’s a world in every drop of rain.Embracing oceans sweep us home again. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, you shall not find another lie. They say for every living thing there’s a guide up in the sky that helps you pass from world to world so you never really die. Then with scythe and cloak Death comes waltzing to your side. As the visions pass you ask if there was meaning to your life. As you strain to hear the answer, spirits sing and devils fiddle as he bends to whisper in your hear, he leaves you one more riddle.Oh, the answer lies beyond the pain. All the questions in our minds, we surely ask in vain. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, and you shall find another life. And now my life is like a storm growing stronger every day. Like the unrelenting wind that comes to blow our lives away. So I live each day like I know it’s my last. If there is no future there must be no past. Now I know the answers never meant a thing and with each instant that I breathe I feel the joy that life can bring. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, you shall not find another lie. Come along with me, come along with me. Seek the truth, you shall not find another lie.” – Richie Sambora
Tonight after “Batman” lit up our roof for the holidays Gia and I went to Walmart to get more lights for the shrubs in our pajamas, slippers and messy buns, looking quite ridiculous! We were “play arguing” over whether to get “all white”, “all red”, “all green”, or multi-colored. Before we knew it we were giggling up a storm and I said, “Man, this is tough. Do we match the shrubs to the roof, do a contrast, or what? Hmm, what would Jesus do?” Ever the consummate smart ass, my daughter says, “Well duh mom, He WAS Jewish so I’m thinking He’d go with blue.” (And she meant no disrespect by the way. Gia loves Jesus!) Meanwhile, this couple standing nearby started giggling too and the lady says, “You two are so sweet together, like a mother daughter comedy act! You just made me miss my two girls who are on their way home from school right now and I can hardly WAIT to hug them even tighter. I miss those days when it was us being silly at Walmart. Thank you for lighting up this aisle with holiday spirit!”
That was perhaps the greatest compliment either one of us could have gotten, esepcially considering our circumstances, and as they walked away from us she turned to hug me and said, “Mom, I think we’re gonna be okay!” Then I looked up at him and whispered, “Yes, we are!” And then we left just knowing what we know. Those people? They didn’t see it – all of our pain, grief and sorrow. And there’s no way they could have imagined that three months ago she was in a psych ward and I was laying in my bed, barely breathing and praying to God for the strength to walk yet again out of another living hell.
So yes we ARE gonna be okay. Never the same. Never EVER the same! Life without him is going to be, just, different. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be okay, and one day maybe even better than okay! In the meantime, we’re allowed to be excited and play argue and giggle about Christmas lights at Walmart, and if you knew anything about Zack it was this: He demanded nothing but the BEST for “his girls”! Did he throw us one HELL of a monkey wrench that was the exact opposite of “the best”? Um, yup. God’s grace has that covered though and he’s received mine as well. I’m so thankful for those people tonight. And my daughter. And my life. And the King who helped build me into the resilient woman I am today who’s still able to “shine” through all this darkness.
… that moment you get this call from a friend who’s son has been openly and actively talking about suicide :: “Cat, someone just basically told me that I shouldn’t take him seriously … I need to toughen up with him … he’s probably NOT really going to do it. In your opinion and based upon your own personal experiences of having both tried it and survived it with Zack, do you think I should believe her?” REALLY? WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL? I am just beside myself right now. Need to digest what I just heard and surely there’s rant to follow because A SUICIDE THREAT SHOULD ALWAYS BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!
AUGUST 31, 2017: The Frog I kissed who turned into a KING wrote the contract for the house of our dreams.
NOVEMBER 16, 2017: That same king sat in the builder’s office for SIX long hours driving us all bananas over every intricate detail of how PERFECT he wanted this house for “his girls”, and specifically so Gia could have a place for her crew to crash throughout her high school years. A place they could all be comfortable, loved, accepted and at home, with no fear of judgement for simply being human. He wanted for her all he never had, and that was ALL he ever wanted.
AUGUST 22, 2019: The King fell down but left his crown behind, because …
NOVEMBER 3, 2019: … the Princess and I made the decision to stay in this home he gave us until she graduates from high school. It’s what he would want and he has us set up for nothing but success in the rest of our journey without him. We spoke at length about the pros and cons of “should we stay or should we go”, but at the end of the day both firmly agreed that if he can still see us (and we believe that he can) it would BREAK HIS HEART even more than it did to have to leave us behind in the first place to see us pack up and leave this all behind.
NOVEMBER 9, 2019: As I am writing this there’s an upstairs filled with laughter! She’s having her first party and there are a dozen happy teenagers here feeling comfortable, relaxed and at home, just how he always wanted it. THIS WAS HIS DREAM FOR HER! I thought about crying when this ephiphany washed over me, but instead I could only smile. I too am feeling “comfortable, relaxed and at home”, with OUR daughter, in the castle HE built us, honoring his legacy and putting these shattered pieces together in the MOST beautiful way I can. I know he’s looking down right now and smiling smiling ear to ear as he absorbs all the laughter he can surely hear within these palace walls, hopefully taking comfort in seeing a very happy and thankful Queen.
Williamson, YOU DID IT! Your dream has come true despite your multitude of mistakes and all the ways that you hurt us. I will remain eternally grateful for and cherish all the things you have given me, and yes, you are STILL my hero.
This will be my last “sad post” for a while, as tomorrow I start a new chapter of my life and will wake up with the positive perspective I know he’d want me to have as I endeavor onto a path I’ve been heading towards for years. Today was rough, I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t cried so much since I lost my daughter 15 years ago – almost constantly since waking at 7:05am. That being said, I had an epiphany on the way home from my “anniversary dinner” with the only real parents my husband ever had, Rick and Dee, who for the record are the ONLY people with whom I would have chosen to spend this first anniversary without him.
We got married on a Monday in our friends’ theatre room around 8:30pm, nine years ago tonight. We there “married” but clueless as to what the future held. We didn’t have much to start with, and in fact, it was right around “this time” that night we were sitting in a fast food parking lot in Murphy eating our drive-thru meals, SO happy and in completely in love. We had NOTHING but faith in one another, and that was all! Coincidently, we had very little support from anyone at that time. Zack had no real family to speak of. I mean, he had a “family of origin” – a father, some siblings and this “thing” that gave birth to him as he would always say. But with the exception of just one of his brothers, they couldn’t be bothered with him. But that’s a different story for another time. As for my family? But for my sister and kids, they just couldn’t understand why in the HELL I would marry the poor guy with the ugly truck and commit myself and Gia to what they believed was a life destined to nothing more than an apartment and hand to mouth foolish dreams. “We” were a joke to everyone for the most part, and no one, and I mean NO ONE took us seriously. There were a handful of people however that did support us from the onset, and irony of all ironies, today, my “first anniversary without him”, it so happened that three of those very same people were the people I spent my day with. It wasn’t planned this way, it just “was”. I am so thankful because honestly, it almost seemed cosmically purposed this way. Rick was the “dad” that stepped up for my husband when the father he “got” couldn’t be bothered to do much of anything for him in his lifetime. Rick was the one who stood beside my husband all these years and Rick was the one who stood beside my husband on our “wedding day”, while “father” sat in the audience. That means something, wouldn’t you say? IT SAYS EVERYTHING THAT NEEDS BE SAID WITHOUT WORDS!
I’ve heard NOTHING in 67 days from my “father in law” by the way. Zero! I never saw him again after the service, he hasn’t called once to check on me, and worse yet? HE NEVER CAME TO GET HIS SON’S ASHES, and now that I think of it, neither did his “one brother”. Nope. Both sets of ashes I had preserved for them are still sitting in my closet, as forgotten in death as he was in his life. But I digress. You know, now that I think of it, I don’t think “father” even knew when our wedding day was our what that day meant in the big scheme of things to his son. Certainly not very “fatherly”, but also not very surprising. That’s who and what he was, still is, and probably always will be – a foolish loser who pissed away an amazing son and even abandonded him in his death. At any rate, good night folks. I’m gonna be okay. Just, tomorrow.
“Thanks for all you’ve done. I’ve missed you for so long. I can’t believe you’re gone. You still live in me. I feel you in the wind. You guide me constantly. I never knew what it was to be alone. ‘Cause you were always there for me. You were always home waiting. But now I come home and I miss your face. Smiling down on me. I close my eyes to see. And I know you’re a part of me. And it’s your song that sets me free. I sing it while I feel, I can’t hold on. I sing tonight ’cause it comforts me. I carry the things that remind me of you. In loving memory of the one that was so true. You were as kind as you could be. And even though you’re gone you still mean the world to me. And you’ll be here with me still. All you did you did with feeling. And you always found a meaning. And you always will. And you always will. And you always will.” ~ Alter Bridge
… that moment you and your daughter sit holding hands in tears after finding THE perfect theme song at the tail end of THE BEST MOVIE EVER eleven years to the day you first crossed paths with the one who swooped down and picked you both up for the MOST bittersweet flight of your lives, only to have to leave you behind with not only the ashes he tried so hard not to burden you with but all the strength and courage you could possibly ever need to rise so far above them that only God Himself knows how high you’ll possibly fly, because if you’ve both learned anything in 64 combined years of pain, sorrow, wisdom and beauty, it’s that there is NOTHING more powerful than The Truth, which ultimately becomes The Light, which is the ONE thing that can kill the darkness in us all. Our story might not have ended like the fairytale we always thought it would, but once this book is finally finished it will be the stuff that legends are made of. Goodnight everyone. (And yes, that was the longest sentence in the history of the world.)
“Oh, they tryna shoot down angels. They tryna pull their wings off so they can’t fly. And, oh, but she’s so brave though. Just like a tornado. She’s taking us by storm! You can’t stop the girl from going. You can’t stop the world from knowing! The truth will set you free, oh! You can’t stop the girl from going! You can’t stop the world from knowing! The truth will set you free, oh. You can’t stop the girl! Oh, they tryna take our voices. They tryna make our choices, so we scream loud, loud, loud! And, oh, I know you feel the lightnin’, and it’s so excitin’. So, here we come! It’s good enough for right now!” – Bebe Rexha
Yesterday I ran across an Instagram post that really struck me (pun intended, lol). It was a super cool canvas rendition of the fight between Rocky and Ivan Drago, and after having thought about it literally all day and night, this is what poignant thought I’ve now managed to correlate (paraphrasing my comment on the post):
Gia and I are both huge fans, as was Zack. Rocky IV in particular is my favorite, because, don’t laugh, in my mind I have always imagined it’s been “me against the Devil” in both the brightest AND darkest moments of my life, and he’s the one always saying to me, “I MUST BREAK YOU”! Yet I absolutely refuse to let him take me down! Consequently, one of my favorite songs of all times, “No Easy Way Out” by Robert Tepper is from the Rocky IV soundtrack. The Sunday night before he killed himself it was playing in the car on our way home from the gym and he was crying as he squeezed my hand three times (“I-Love-You”). Five nights later he was gone. I’ve listened to it over and over the last 62 days, just thinking, reflecting, remembering and “wanting to know why”. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, does it? Zack’s fighting days are done. He lost. Went down. Tapped out. IT’S OVER! But mine are not, because I’M STILL HERE, and quite clearly, I’m still standing. Am I bruised? Sure. Fat lip, bloodied nose, black eye, some scars here and there? Absolutely!
There have been so many days this last twenty years, EVEN when I was in my most broken, lost, bent out of shape, completely incoherent, mangled and twisted of mindsets, that I have looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Good grief woman, how in the HELL are you still standing? Why HAVEN’T you given up yet? WHY HASN’T THAT MISERABLE EFFING DEVIL BROKEN YOU?” The only answer I can ever come up with is this: “It’s Him. Not me.” And PLEASE fully understand that I do NOT believe I am more special, gifted, blessed or talented than any other person. It’s God. I just know it. There is NO other explanation as to why I have NOT taken the “easy way out”, other than, IT’S HIM! I just feel it. In my heart. In my bones. In my soul. All around me, everywhere, all the time. When I’m happy. When I’m sad. When I’m angry. When I’m grieving. When I’m crying, smiling, laughing, screaming or just feeling like punching someone in the face. It’s. Just. Him.
God just handed me this heavyweight belt I wear for what reason I will never understand. Zero did I earn it. Zero do I deserve it. But damn am I honored to have it! It’s the best and most valuable thing I possess that cost Him everything, and me NOTHING, other than complete and total blind faith in “the process”. I realize of course that some people don’t understand this, and, in fact, actually think its lunacy to believe in something you cannot touch or see. But hey, you can’t touch or see the wind, can you? Nope, you sure can’t. But it’s real just the same, and we sure CAN see the effects of it. I mean, hello? We KNOW what a strong windstorm can do, do we not? So, with that, I am Rocky. The Devil is Ivan Drago. The God I serve is the referee. And I? Am. Winning. Even when I’m losing. Have a good day everyone.
~ Love Cat
Perhaps one of the most powerful days of her life, and his. Zack had purchased the Supernatural fan convention ticket package for her a year in advance, including photo ops with her favorite actors, Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and “Baby”, the ‘67 Chevy Impala (probably her FAVORITE character on the show)! I wasn’t with them but heard that when they pulled into the parking lot that morning and she realized where she was going, she almost fainted. You see to her it’s not really about the show, the fandom or the “stars”. It’s about the storyline (which she correlates a lot to her own life for so many reasons) and the way these guys have used their fame and fortune as a platform for what’s truly important to all of them – mental health awareness and suicide prevention! She has read about, studied and followed their many valiant works and deeds to make this world better than they found it, and to her, THAT is what makes them all truly “fan-worthy”. She wrote an essay about them back in January for a school:
What makes a hero? It is their immense strength, bravery, kindness and selflessness. They inspire and save the lives of people for no other reason than to help. For me, I found my heroes because of a TV show that I had no clue would be as special as it is to me. By telling his story and launching a campaign giving support to those in need, Jared Padalecki, alongside Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, has inspired thousands of people, and myself, to never give up and to always keep fighting!
In March of 2015, Jared launched “Always Keep Fighting” with different T-Shirts with the slogan. All the money gained from the over 500,000 products sold were given to the charities To Write Love On Her Arms, The Wounded Warrior Project and Attitudes In Reverse – Student Suicide Prevention. Later, he gave the reason for him starting the campaign in the first place. That previous New Years Eve, one of Jared’s best friends lost his battle with depression. Jared stated that this was not the first time he had lost a personal friend to suicide. Using this new campaign, he said that he hoped “that this campaign, while raising money for a wonderful charity, can also raise awareness about issues that affect more people than we know. I hope it inspires people battling depression, addiction, mental illness and suicidal thoughts to be vocal about their struggles. I hope it helps people realize that they shouldn’t be ashamed of what they are going through, and I hope it helps people meet and find new friends that they can relate to. I hope it helps people take pride in the fight that they have been fighting, and gives them a push to never give up or give in. I hope it helps inspire people to keep fighting. no matter how hard it is.” Through his actions, he showed a level of kindness and compassion that is superhuman. Later, however, he reveals something that gives the “Always Keep Fighting” Campaign an entirely different depth.
Living with a mental illness by itself requires an immense amount of strength and bravery. I have witnessed first hand that kind of wear and tear it can do (and yes, there is a REAL “super hero” in this regard that I am lucky enough to call my mom). Opening up to the public, to millions of people that you have suffered through the same battles as the people you are fighting for? That requires unbelievable bravery. Jared did just that. He said how he has suffered from anxiety and depression. He said that he did not understand why he would be depressed. “It kind of hit me like a sack of bricks,” Jared told reporters. “I mean, I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.” Misha Collins, a best friend and co-star of Jared, also suffered in the same way that many fans and readers alike have. Misha had been self-harming for years. Since he was only around 12 or 13 years old. Misha won his battle. He stopped cutting himself and started loving himself. Later, he and his co-star/best friend Jensen Ackles started something of their own.
On February 12, 2016, Jensen and Misha launched the You Are Not Alone fundraising T-shirt Campaign with T-shirts that used the slogan “You Are Not Alone”. The SPNFamily Crisis Support Network has been established by Jensen and Misha in partnership with Random Acts, TWLOHA, and IMAlive. This project created an online support network to help fans cope with mental health issues such as depression, self-injury, and addiction and included training for fan volunteers who wish to be crisis responders in their spare time, provided immediate access to support lifelines for fans in crisis, and local community resources for those needing additional support or information. Together, they save lives and create warriors in the process. They have shown people that there are people who care about them. They save lives as any hero should.
Through words and actions, they have shown far more than bravery, courage, and compassion. Just like the ‘S’ on Superman’s chest, what they have done means hope for people. On February 9th, Misha Collins, who plays Castiel on Supernatural, posted a video on his social media accounts. Misha’s message? He told his fans without speaking that they’re not alone. To people outside of the Supernatural fandom, this video may not seem like much. But to people who know Misha, to people who watch him every week on The CW, these four words, “you are not alone” mean so much more. Fans see that the actors that they look up to and love not only care about them, but believe in them. They continue also to bring the three-word sentence, “always keep fighting”, up fairly often, constantly reminding their fans to not give up.
“Jared, Jensen and Misha”. To people not in the fandom these names may mean nothing. I promise you, however, that these names have meant life for thousands of people, mine included. They have not only saved lives, but taught people how to save lives themselves. To look around, at complete strangers, and help those who are struggling, and make sure that they win their fight. They have created an army that fights the demons that live in all of our hearts and minds. An army that is fighting every day for one another.
Jared, Jensen and Misha have saved thousands of lives, mine included. Day after day they continue to save people. Jared Padalecki, alongside Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, have inspired thousands of people, and myself, to never give up, and to always keep fighting. They have taught us that no matter what happens, what we do, I keep going. No matter how much we want to give up on anything, little or small, we will refuse to stop. Most importantly, they have taught us that even if we think we have met our match and can’t go on, we will get up and fight harder than ever. We can go on because we are enough, we are not alone, and we have a family of people we have never met, who love us and understand us. Who live their lives loving and helping complete strangers. Thanks to these three men. As Jared said, “Even if there are a thousand small fights, even if every other minute you’re thinking about suicide, or depression, or addiction, or if you have a mental illness, I want people to hit it head on and take action. And to be proud that they’re winning their fight, period.” We must always keep fighting.
How ironic is it that we are now both preparing ourselves to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” that she had already taken so seriously long before he left us this way? The connection between my daughter, Zack (her “Bobby”), this show, “these guys” and their platforms is no coincidence! One thing you should know is that on August 22, 2019, Gia made the call on her own to the IMAlive chat line in the midst of all the chaos! We have Misha, Jensen, Jared and “Supernatural” to thank for that! One day I hope to be able to tell them in person: “Hey, J2M! YOU SAVED MY KID’S LIFE! THANK YOU!”
Four months have passed since one of the best weekends of her life but then a dark dragon swooped down and changed everything for us both in the blink of an eye. This weekend we face one of the most bittersweet weekends of our life! But we will walk, and we will talk like the warrior girls we are, because I am me, she is mine, and it’s what we’re being called to do.
“Carry on my wayward son, for there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Once I rose above the noise and confusion just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion. I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high. Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man. Though my mind could think I still was a mad man. I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say: Carry on my wayward son. For there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Masquerading as a man with a reason. My charade is the event of the season. And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know. On a stormy sea of moving emotion. Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean. I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say: Carry on my wayward son, for there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Carry on, you will always remember! Carry on, nothing equals the splendor! Now your life’s no longer empty! Surely heaven waits for you.” ~ Kansas
… that moment your friend of a million years, who’s known you through some of your darkest hours, finds and sends you THE SONG OF YOUR LIFE. I’m literally thanking God right now for the very kind strangers who picked me up off the floor after losing it in the middle of my workout. LOOK AT THE NAME OF THE ARTIST! It’s like this song was written just for me – AND for my husband. Regardless of how he left us and what many people believe about suicide, I know the merciful God I serve did NOT forsake him in his last breath and was waiting with His hand reached out to finally rescue and take him “Home”. Thank you Dee Holley. I love you!
And yes, you know who you are – ALL OF YOU! I reached out to one of you today, who I will not name, because the way she loves and the things she does for those lucky enough to be in her circle are from a truly selfless place. She doesn’t “give” for selfish reasons, which can indeed be a reason for giving. What she put herself through in the immediate aftermath of Zack’s death for the sake of me and my daughter I will NEVER fully be able to repay. She was the first person to get “that 7am call” other than immediate family, and this morning she awoke to yet ANOTHER “one of those calls”. Wow, I’ve digressed, as usual. Go figure. I want you to know there are those of US “who know” that you too are struggling on a day like today. “Your people” are hurting, so YOU are hurting! “One of your tribe” has just been smacked with a cosmic dose of WHAT THE HELL, and so too have you. You’re feeling stressed, sad, helpless and overwhelmed right alongside the people in your light and you TOO feel gut punched. Because for all that you are deep within your soul, God Himself knows that when your peoples’ cards go down, yours go right down with them. So, I say this to you … YOU ARE AMAZEBALLS, and treasured in this Universe, and being thought of at this moment! God will never give you more than He knows you can handle, which, my beautiful empath friends, is exactly why you got this bittersweet blessing of a gift directly from The Source. He knew He was going to need an army of STRONG Angels right here on Earth to help keep all these candles burning so people can find “The Light That Kills The Dark”. I’m an empath too, so I understand the struggle. It rips my heart out to see others suffering. It’s who I am, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My love to all of you and remember this: NOTHING GOES UNNOTICED! YOU WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN! This extra stress you absorb trying so hard to help? The sleepless nights spent worrying, caring and praying for others? The tears you cry all too often for the sake of all mankind are being counted one by one! Take a deep breath my friends and be strong. YOU’RE GONNA BE OKAY! ~ Love Cat
So, here’s what’s on my mind today. After my sister’s birthday dinner last night, she wanted to go see The Joker. We’d both assumed it was just a Batman prequel, and in a roundabout way it was, inasmuch as it was set in Gotham City and the Wayne’s were front and present. I haven’t been to the movies much lately and was completely uninformed as to the plot, but I’m a “Batgirl” so we went with it.
This was NO superhero commentary. Was there a connection? Absolutely. But within seconds of the opening scene I began to wonder, “Do I stay, or do I go?” Every alarm in my psyche was honing in on the fact that it could potentially level me. He was “painting on a mask” but behind his eyes you could clearly see that whatever road he’d walked until that moment he had clearly lost connection to both the world and himself. Yet I was compelled to watch this six degrees of separated version of not only Zack’s story, but at times mine and SO many other people I’ve known. As we cringed our way through Joker’s “Hell on Earth” I watched him bring a gun to his head six times, and if that weren’t bad enough, though we’d all anticipated him blowing his OWN brains out in the end, brains indeed were blown out on the screen. And I just sat there watching like an iron wall. I could see my sister panic every time the gun went to his head and she’d lean over and ask if we needed to leave, but I kept assuring her I was okay, because, I WAS! I don’t know what in my own “Hell on Earth” this says about me, but actually, I think I do …
I AM ONE STRONG BITCH! “Warrior. Motivator. SURVIVOR!” The longer I sat there the LESS I wanted to cry and shake my fists all up to the Heavens screaming “WHY?” I already know why ALL too well and no amount of screaming or fist shaking will change my own plot line or erase the things I’ve “gotten to learn” so far. Do I still cry? Every. Day. I’m only human after all. But I believe that every single tear I shed is being counted by a Power INFINITELY higher than me and I trust it. So, I welcome them, then let them go, as my most effective form of therapy.
Here’s my takeaway from both the show and my visceral reaction to it: Much like my husband who often felt isolated in even the most crowded spaces, The Joker eventually lost connection with not only himself but humanity as well. He’d been stepped on, overlooked and bullied by life in general, which process led him to an internal mental madness that most people couldn’t fathom. Like The Joker (and many of us) my husband wore two faces: The very happy “I’m okay” mask he dawned outwardly each day while secretly living inside the invisible, solitary prison where he wore the other “sick, dark, tragic one” that led him to his fate.
One of the most poignant scenes in the movie found the mentally ill Joker sitting in front of “a system” letting him down, just as pretty much everything and one he’d ever known had done, and he said something to the effect of, “Have you even listened to a SINGLE thing I’ve said? All these times I’ve sat in front of you – have you EVER really seen or heard me?” Such is the story of so many of our lives and then we too “slip through the void” into our own darkness. Which is why I think I could NOT bring myself to leave the one movie I probably should NOT have seen in the first place. Last night, sitting through that show like the ROCK I know I’ve become? I did NOT crumble. I did NOT cry. I only became further convicted in my desperate need to touch as many “Joker’s” lives as possible with what time I have left here on Earth. Self-pity, sorrow, screaming and “fist shaking” will accomplish ZERO but “reaching the unreachable” just might. Okay, that’s all. Thanks for listening. ~ Cat ❤️
… to this very day and minute, October 5, 1982, 9:51am, not only I and my children, but this world as a whole received one of the most beautiful gifts I never knew I would have until that moment our eyes locked so many years later in October 2008. “It was written in the stars, on the pages of my heart, oh that someday I would find the love I feel for you … On the ocean of our dreams, like a prayer you came to me. And the longing that had been found its ending in your eyes …”. There are no words to describe the bittersweet emotions I am raw with at this moment. “One man’s trash really IS another man’s treasure”, and God Himself knows this is true. She may have thrown you away, but you were indeed my greatest treasure, other than those I have given birth to myself. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ZACHARIAH. Your battle is finally over.
“Mother, tell me, I long to hear the stories, just like long ago. All these memories start to fade before me. I cannot let them go. No, I can’t let them go. From the cradle to the grave.
It’s a fear I can’t escape. Who will be my hiding place when you’re gone? Father, stay here, don’t leave me like the other. Know, I need you so. All you gave me. Father, how you loved me. Treated like your own. Don’t ever let me go. From the cradle to the grave.
It’s a fear I can’t escape. Who will be my hiding place when you’re gone? There’s no way to deny the brevity of life. As time keeps marching on, all we have is lost. All we have is lost. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing stays the same … How am I to carry on as time keeps marching on?” ~ Alter Bridge
… you finally get that call from the school to come and get her because it’s finally registered that he’s never coming home again and she’s absolutely beside herself. For reasons I cannot say, and only a handful of you can truly understand, this IS a miracle of epic proportion. My daughter’s strength, grace and ability to separate the truth from even the worst of Satan’s lies just befalls me. Her courage puts mine to shame on even my best of days and I have to tell you, SHE is the one who will ultimately be flipping the proverbial game board which is our life not just upside down but all over the place once and for all! She’s the game changer, not me! God has had His hands literally wrapped around her heart all the while and I can NOT thank Him enough for what is happening in our atmosphere today. Honey, are you seeing this? I TOLD YOU! We love, miss and STILL cherish you Zachariah. “From the cradle to the grave” … stay with us please. Always.
I remember this post so well. We closed our eyes that night feeling so grateful for all the ways we had learned the very hard way which “things” mattered, and which did not. The bittersweet irony is that today the principal behind this post still rings true, and in fact, resonates even louder. On “August 22nd at just before midnight” he had every “thing” a man could ever want and had positioned us such that not a single dream was out of reach. But as you can see, no number of “things” could fill the gaping hole in his heart left by “the thing” that gave birth to him that he ultimately ended up drowning in. It’s a sad and sobering truth. “Things” are nice, I’m not gonna lie, and as of this moment I too have more than an abundance of “things” in my possession. BUT I WOULD GIVE IT ALL AWAY IN A SECOND IF I COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE THE WAY OUR STORY ENDED! I’ve said it before and will say it again: I could have lived in that little apartment in Fairview with him forever … that’s how much he meant to me. It wasn’t about all the “things” we got; it was about the life we made. The heart, soul, love and devotion he put into everything he did for us without any strings or conditions for the first time in my entire existence. No amount of money in the world can buy such a treasure as that. It was priceless.
… that fourth Friday night in eleven years without him and “God only knows how many Friday nights” since Friday, November 8, 1996 when I attempted suicide myself. There’s no telling “how many more Fridays” will have to pass by before my baby girl will be out of the danger zone with “ideations” of her own after the virtual Hell she is still living through for reasons I cannot say! So from this point forward I will be here for as many nights as I’m allowed to live to faithfully remind the masses THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE TO LISTEN by doing exactly as Zack would say: “Catherine, USE YOUR WORDS!” Goodnight everyone. ~ Cat
Zachariah Lucas Williamson:
If you can hear or see me from wherever you are, and I’m surviving right now due in large part to my true faith that that you can, I want you to know that I love you. I Miss you. I FORGIVE YOU. I would NOT have made it to this crossroad in my journey without you, and you and I both know it’s true. I will never forget you, or replace you, nor dishonor, disgrace or disassemble the infinite trove of tools, gifts, strengths and beauty that you and ONLY YOU had the patience, courage and foresight to help find buried deep within myself. You helped me find my reflection inside a mirror where I once only saw a faceless monster, and that, my prince, is something you and ONLY YOU shall get the credit for. You refused to give up on me no matter how hard I made you try, and not a day will go by while I’m roaming this earth without you that I won’t pray to God that you’re STILL behind me silently pushing me like only you can do. There is so much work to be done here now, and I’m GOING to make you proud. Every day for the rest of my life I will count these darkened ashes piled beneath our feet and rise so far above them that it will be IMPOSSIBLE for them not to hear “our” voices.
If my wish has come true, you’ve safely made it Home now with your broken heart in one piece to The One parent whose intention was never to forsake you through all the lonely pain and heartache you suffered in your lifetime. And last but not least, I’m hoping that not only have you gone and found my daughter by now but that you’ve also caught up with that handsome Cajun boy you heard so much about who stole the first real piece of my heart and rode off with it in “the blaze of glory”. Don’t think that I will EVER forget how you not only welcomed him and everything he was but even more so embraced him for all that I was because of what he’d brought into my world and let me carry him on our journey together. Few are the men that are capable of such selflessness and “living with my ghosts” the way that you did was one of the things I thanked God for the most every day of our life together. I just know that you’ll all be waiting for me hand in hand when I get there … I can picture it in my mind! So, until that day comes when I can see you all again, I love you more than words. Forever. Eternally. Unconditionally. ~ Catherine
“For all those times you stood by me. For all the truth that you made me see. For all the joy you brought to my life. For all the wrong that you made right. For every dream you made come true. For all the love I found in you. I’ll be forever thankful baby. You’re the one who held me up and never let me fall. You’re the one who saw me through through it all. You were my strength when I was weak. You were my voice when I couldn’t speak. You were my eyes when I couldn’t see. You saw the best there was in me. Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach. You gave me faith ’cause you believed. I’m everything I am because you loved me. You gave me wings and made me fly. You touched my hand I could touch the sky. I lost my faith, you gave it back to me. You said no star was out of reach. You stood by me and I stood tall. I had your love I had it all. I’m grateful for each day you gave me. Maybe I don’t know that much, but I know this much is true. I was blessed because I was loved by you. You were always there for me. The tender wind that carried me. A light in the dark shining your love into my life. You’ve been my inspiration.Through the lies you were the truth. My world is a better place because of you.” – Celine Dion
So a friend of mine of 20 years urged me to get out and meet her at Choctaw in Durant last night. I spent all day going back and forth as to whether I was going or not and must have picked my phone up at least a dozen times throughout the course of the day and started texts that looked like, “Hey, I’m not sure I’m going to make it …”, but then kept deleting them and walking away from the phone.
Eventually I made the decision to go for what I thought would be overnight, so I packed my bag, took Walter to my mom and headed north up 75. The quiet drive was nice and I hadn’t really cried yet all day, as I was planning on trying not to. But right around the Highway 82 exit in Sherman I just about lost it. Zack and I had this whole “Highway 82” thing that I won’t go in to, but let’s just say that if you’ve ever heard the song “Take Me There” by Rascal Flatts, that road was a part of his story, and thus ours too. So yes, it was a moment, and yes as I began remembering all the times we’d taken that exit for our Oklahoma adventures I was flooded with emotions. I swear I could feel the “one, two, three” squeeze (I-Love-You) that we would always share to quietly express the deep connection between us, and EVERY time we made that exit? He always squeezed my hand.
It was an out of body experience drifting through that venue without my husband, and my friend didn’t arrive for a while so I was solo for 30 minutes. Several times I looked up and whispered, “Umm hello? You of all people KNOW how much I fucking hate this! What are you doing to me Williamson?” I kinda wanted to kick his ass, but not in a violent way. It was more so, “This is ANNOYING and it kinda really sucks and I wish I could punch you in the face”. It seemed like people were staring at me, which was probably all in my head, but it was just so extremely uncomfortable. I haven’t taken my wedding rings off by the way, and don’t foresee that happening any time in the near future. To be quite honest, I don’t know that I ever will. First of all, even though “death has parted us”, in my heart we are bonded for life, and also, I just don’t see how it’s possible that any other man on the face of this planet could possibly live with the immensely profound shadow that Zack has cast behind me eternally. No one will EVER be able to fill his shoes. Zero. Not that it’s a competition, and not that it’s even of relevance at this point because the thought of giving “all of me” to another man ever again makes me want to vomit. Aside from Christian and Gia there has been no other person who has had 100% of all I am. It was only him, and maybe it was only EVER supposed to be him, just as I was HIS “one and only everything”. I was Zack’s first love, and his last love, and everything in between. We were eachother’s miracles and the answers to the prayers we’d both been praying since probably before we were born. So what are the chances that a love like ours could happen twice in a lifetime? Right now I just can’t see that happening, but whatever. My focus at this point is my kids, me, and my steadfast determination to take whatever steps are necessary in the direction of improving the human condition. I’ve decided to become a life coach people. It happened on the drive BACK from Oklahoma, right around that Highway 82 exit. It just hit me. Not like a ton of bricks, but a mountain of them. I’m GOING to become a life coach, and I’m GOING to get out there and start talking to people about all the things I’ve been through and all the ways I’ve survived.
Now I remember where I was going when I started this post. So let’s go back to the end of the night when we were sitting in Gilley’s listening to the band. Two guys walked up to check out our situation and asked to buy us drinks. I rolled my eyes SO far in the back of my head that I’m still not sure how I couldn’t read the signs on the wall behind me. I said to myself, “Oh God, here we go. I FUCKING HATE THIS! I don’t want this guy, that guy, or any guy EVER to buy me a drink EVER! I just want to go home, and for my husband to be waiting for me when I get there, and for this to all not be real!” My poor friend was doing all that she could to protect me from this scenario. After all, her intention in getting me out was never to get someone to buy me a drink, only to get me out of my head. And I’m glad she did because THIS is what led me to my “Highway 82” life decision …
So the one guy asks about the drink, I was rolling my eyes, and my friend put her arms around me and turned to look at him and said these EXACT words: “Look, we sure do appreciate you but I’m going to kindly ask that you give us some space. Without going into details, my sweet friend here just lost her husband and I needed to get her out for the night which is the only reason we’re sitting here. This week is her birthday, it’s just not a good time for her, and I need you to leave us alone now.” “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that” he said then he turned to me. “Do you mind if I ask what happened?” Really? Ummm, yes, I do mind, but since he had the nerve to ask, I turned to look him straight in the eyes. “He shot himself in the head 23 days ago.” Then I turned back around and rolled my eyes again. To which, he then replied, after five or so awkward seconds of silence, “Oh wow. Just wow. How could he do that to you? Why would he? I just don’t GET IT! Such a permanent solution to a temporary situation. It’s just so selfish when people go and kill themselves. Man that’s just a shame. I’m so sorry for you darlin’. Really. Good night.” Then he left. Thank. GOD.
So here’s what’s wrong with what that guy said: ALL OF IT! Honestly, for a split second I really wanted to punch him in the face, like, violently, not the other kind of “funny” way I wanted to punch Zack earlier that night. And I wanted to scream at him, “NO! YOU’RE WRONG! He didn’t DO THIS to me. He didn’t even DO THIS to himself! He was sick. And in pain. He’d been seeing things. And hearing voices. He had split apart at the seams. He was suffering. And tormented. AND WAY TOO MANY THINGS YOU COULD EVER POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND BECAUSE YOU NEVER WALKED IN HIS SHOES!” But selfish? HE WAS NOT! And I refuse to let that be his legacy. Yet therein lies the problem. The stigma. The misgiving. The untrue truth that so many have to speak to make “the S word” easier to digest.
And thus my “Highway 82 Life Coaching” decision! So many people just don’t get it. THEY SIMPLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Because unless you’ve lived it, survived it, or have watched someone dying this way out loud? You CAN’T! It’s “only been 24 days” since my husband died by suicide, and by no means am I professing to be an expert. But I know what I know, and frankly, I’ve BEEN down that dark road Zachariah never made it off of. so I’m GOING to help people understand.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2019: At 8am this morning we were supposed to be taking off on our flight to tour Switzerland for my 50th birthday. Lucerne was to be our first night, and our last, and one of the things I was most looking forward to sharing with him was ”the lion in the wall”. The very one that I myself stood before some 14 years prior while having the first of my many to follow “moments”. At that time, I too was trapped inside the dark and lonely prison of my own mind, a secluded chasm where I was alive but not quite living. So many of my realities back then were nothing more than lies and I but a walking farce. I vividly remember that day as the group I was with headed up this tree-lined path towards something magnanimous our guide was excited to show us. I was looking down at my schedule, not paying much attention, and almost ran in to the person standing in front of me when the group suddenly stopped and turned to look across the pond at “him”. My Lion.
The Lion of Lucerne is rock relief carved into the cliff face of a sandstone sculpted during the early part of the 19th century to commemorate the Swiss Guards who lost their lives in 1792 during the French Revolution. But as I paused to gaze upon him, I saw more than just a fallen soldier. It was in that very moment that I began feeling the plethora of emotions I’d been suppressing behind a fraudulent smile to protect not only myself, but my children especially, from the wreckage to come when I finally started letting it all go.
The Lion. Just look at him lying there slain inside that wall. A beast of many burdens, lifeless and alone with only the precious secrets he’d been carrying within his heart. Weak and weary. Tired and spent. Worn out, solemn and vacant. Life had its way with him and now he’s but a corpse of some unknown past he’d once lived, the demons that had devoured him and the countless private dreams he’d dreamt that never were to be. Despite his years of his perceived magnificence, he is, ”no longer”. Connecting with him in that one still moment screamed to me in ways and volumes that I have yet been able to fathom, but what I can tell you this. That was indeed the turning point when I truly began to “feel” the pain from the broken, jagged pieces that had been cutting me within all the while. Both my stomach and my heart were aching so badly that I literally couldn’t breathe. But to be very honest, it was without question one of THE most beautiful moments of my life.
The Lion is me. And he’s my husband. He is any and everyone who is now or has ever had the daunting task of wandering lost inside their own lonely head and heart just waiting for the day that they’re finally allowed to die. So, with that, as I finish this post, I think that I’ve made a decision: Soon I will go on to Lucerne and offer some of his ashes to that pond beneath my Lion. It’s what I need to do.
“The waters rise. The light declines. But I’m not turning back from here. Voices are crying. Corpses remind that most don’t make it to the end. Look to the sky. Take back what’s mine. This life can be a cemetery. This life can be a shallow grave. I’ll never be a casualty. I’ll never bow before I break. I’ll stand and fight. Until the day I die. I left the known to walk alone ’cause to remain was suicide. The “could’ve been”. Stood up again ’cause not to try was just to die. Maybe I’m wrong. But it’s my right. I’ll face the night. I’ll find the light. Look to the sky. Take back what’s mine. I’ll stand and fight. Until the day I die.” – Like A Storm
As you can see I am desperately trying to be as transparent as possible as I journey through this nightmare I’m living out loud, as I refuse to sit back and let the broken roads each member of this family have traveled thus far have been in vain. My story? HIS story? Gia’s? My son’s? They WILL have made a difference somehow in the life of least one other broken human soul that is lingering in this world somewhere if it takes my own last dying breath to do it. People. Matter.
Thursday, August 8th, 2019 things truly seemed to be looking up. It was Zack’s day off, but we’d decided to split for the afternoon so that I could take Gia for school shopping and lunch while he went and ran some errands of his own. When he walked out the door he seemed to be in genuinely good spirits, and as you can see from our credit card statement we’d had a productive day. Me? Shopping. Having lunch with our daughter. Living life in the moment and excited for the double date later that night with our sweethearts. We were happy. We had a family. A home. And a daddy and king waiting for us back at that home who loved us more than words could say. He was. Our everything. Our ROCK.
But what about him that day? What DON’T we see in this picture of him smiling at Pinstack? Our “Rock” was crumbling right before our eyes and had already made the decision to end his life. The charge you see at “CAB STORE ALLEN”? While we were eating lunch he was at Cabella’s buying the Springfield he put to his head 14 days later. The Parker police have the video of the purchase.
So there you have it. What you see hiding behind another one’s smile isn’t always joy, peace and happiness and these two pictures are a sobering example of this truth. Though we knew he was struggling, no one really knew JUST how close to the end of our story he was. He was already dying a slow, painful, agonizing death within the confines of his mind, we just couldn’t see it. He tried not to fall, trust me when I say this. And I’m sorry, but not sorry, if this post upsets anyone because perhaps it’s “too transparent”. But there’s a poignant statement being made in these pictures that I felt was too important not to share.
So, you’re wondering, “How is Gia”? Well I’m sitting in front of her new school waiting for her to come out, and if today is anything like the first three days this week, she’ll have a smile on her face from ear to ear. The entrance ramp you see in the picture is the same one Zack traversed when he too went to Bowman! The little house he grew up in is just beyond the park in my rearview mirror, and as I sit here now, I can see the faint traces of a younger Zachariah barreling out those doors headed straight for that park. A sweet, innocent, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy lost deep in a world of solitude, ever so unaware that the feet that were carrying him were already set upon a dark and broken path of “left solely to his own defenses”. But I digress.
Despite the nine plus years we had him “healthy, happy and somewhat whole”, Zack’s spiral descent truly began here at Bowman two years ago when we were searching for proof he’d existed on paper as a child so as to finally get him a birth certificate and passport to travel abroad.
THIS PLACE? Sitting in the very office where Gia and I sat last Friday to “fake enroll her” (with the intention of online school to finish her 8th grade year) was where Zack and I sat waiting to find that, no there was no record of him there. And although we were lucky to find two pictures of him later that day at Memorial Elementary, the brutal reality burned like salt on his soul. But still, the irony. The very place he began falling apart as an adult is where she is coming together as a child. We didn’t choose Bowman intentionally. It just happens that this is the Plano ISD middle school our address feeds to. It was mere coincidence. Or was it? He’s with her here now, I just know it!
Gia’s decision to leave St. Marks wasn’t difficult. It wasn’t the school itself; it’s a great school and I’m proud that both my kids have that legacy. And although I won’t go into the dramatics of it all because honestly, THAT STORY will be an entire chapter to itself, let me say this: The particular class she was with year after year (most notably, the girls) bears the distinction as having one the cruelest and hateful lot of mean kids in the school’s history. To make matters worse, “real dad” began dating the mother of her best friend, which mother and daughter proceeded to embark upon a campaign to quite literally destroy both mine and Gia’s reputations through words and deeds tantamount only to assault: Bullying, belittling, degrading, socially isolating, controlling, threatening, manipulating and even blackmailing and slander. Yes, all true. (PS. “Real dad” is still dating this woman despite the trauma she and her spawn bestowed upon my daughter. But again, I digress.) Gia spent the last five years feeling very alone on that campus, hard pressed to find but a handful of real friends (and thank GOD for those). For the most part, her “friends” saw her as a revolving door, taking or leaving her to best suit their own social needs such that through it all, on her birthday this year? She was checking her phone every ten minutes to see if any of “her people remembered the day she was born (much like every October 5th when Zack would check his phone every ten minutes to see if any of his people remembered him).
Before he killed himself and hurt her VERY BADLY, she was already in such a damaged and fragile state there are no words. Her “tribe”? Those girls she stood by loyally and faithfully, never fail? The ones she always showed up for? Stood up for? Stood behind? The ones whose lockers she made sure were jam packed with treats on their special days? They showed her just what she meant to them on July 18th: NOTHING! No texts. No calls. No cards. NO. THING! Then on the first day of school this year? She cried her fucking eyes out when she got in the car. “Still nothing mom.” You see, she’d decided to err towards the benefit of doubt: “Well, it was summer, maybe that’s why they forgot. Surely they’ll say happy belated birthday when they see me on the first day of school?” You haven’t LIVED until you’ve seen such a beautiful face and equally beautifully heart reduced to such pain at the hands of the people she thought she mattered to. After all they KNEW she’d already been through and after ALL the storms she weathered for and with them? They threw her away like yesterday’s trash and shattered her glass heart into pieces. So, when she was finally released from the hospital and the school decision had to be made, there was NO doubt in her mind: “Mom, I don’t belong there anymore and you know it. Please don’t make me go back.”
So today? I just know she’s coming out smiling. SHE LOVES IT HERE! It’s only been three days and she’s had offers to sit at seven lunch tables. SHE HAS FRIENDS! I. Just. Can’t. I’m telling you people … HE’S WITH HER IN THOSE HALLWAYS, I can feel it in my soul!
Not one of you was EVER good enough for her and thank GOD she finally saw it because QUEENS DON’T TAKE SCRAPS FROM ANYONE! I’d say I’m sorry that her overwhelming shadow kept the light off your bottom-feeder faces, but yah, not so much. She has FORGIVEN YOU FOR EVERYTHING but WILL NOT EVER FORGET! I promise we won’t both be laughing from her perch at the top of EVERYTHING as you desperately flail on the SURFACE LEVEL of the ground as you’re looking UP trying SO hard to escape THIS truth: YOUR GIRLS NEVER DESERVED HER IN THE FIRST PLACE! 😘
“Another day in this carnival of souls. Another nights end ends as quickly as it goes. The memories are shadows, ink on the page. And I can’t seem to find my way home. And it’s almost like. Your heaven’s trying everything. Your heaven’s trying everything to keep me out. All the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen. A million stories that made up a million shattered dreams. The faces of people I’ll never see again and I can’t seem to find my way home.’Cause it’s almost like your heaven’s trying everything to break me down. ‘Cause it’s almost like your heaven’s trying everything to keep me out. To break me down.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch
I understand that you are upset right now and maybe a little with me too. All I am asking you at this point for HIS sake and for the sake of all that he went through while he was here on this Earth is that you please try to come to terms with his truths. His realities. His last wishes and decisions. That note he left us was a gift. IT WAS FOR US, NOT FOR THEM! You, me, Gia and Rick? We were “his family”! No one else! Those words he wrote in his suicide note were not intended for either the general public, the world at large and most ESPECIALLY the “family” that threw him away like garbage! I will always consider you my family D. And in my journey to speak his truths I will never fail to credit you for being the only brother he had because that is how he saw it! That’s how he spoke of you and that’s what he made painfully clear to anyone that paid attention. He always felt that you were “caught in a void” between “all of them and the truth” because maybe copping to the sobering facts was going to be as painful for you to bear as it was for him. When Zack made the decision to excise them and the “thought of them” from his heart it was a bittersweet and painful gift to unto himself.
So that’s all there is to it. Rick and I are here for you when you’re ready to talk true facts. I truly hope you can be well someday. He worried about you incessantly and I cannot say it enough! It always bothered the fuck out of him how you let them treat you like a revolving door, only using you as they needed you, in and out, in and out, and there was nothing he could do or say to convince you to stand up for yourself and say ENOUGH and walk away like he did! He kept praying you’d find a family of your own one day, a nice, safe, loving woman to finally give you a real home and some joy and healing and peace so that you’d finally “not need to accept their bullshit scraps and leftovers”. Your brother’s legacy “before he got sick” will carry on somehow – I’LL MAKE SURE OF IT! You need to do everything you can to honor him and all that has happened here and start finding a way to, in fact, say the words: NO MORE SCRAPS AND LEFTOVERS!
And for the record, regardless of how it appears on the surface there is no “hatred” in my heart for anyone involved here. I feel nothing for the people that destroyed my beautiful husband from the cradle to the grave! Nothing! Absolutely NOTHING! They aren’t worth my energy! If anything, I feel sorry for them all because they missed out on REALLY knowing one THE BEST human souls that ever walked this planet. They missed out on his “best 10 years” and getting to see him flourish. Smile. Succeed. Grow. Be fearless. Courageous. Change. Become self-aware and strong (much stronger than he even knew). Experience joy. Laughter. Happiness. They missed out on getting to know what an amazing human being, husband, brother, friend and DAD he was to Gia! We got the BEST of him. Everything good he ever did, was or could have possibly been, WE GOT TO HAVE AND WITNESS IT. He was a fucking miracle and you can’t not know it’s true. With all the odds stacked against him, statistically the last 10 years should probably have never happened. He was the frog who turned into a prince and then eventually into a king – he just needed love, and a home and a family to get there. And? HE FINALLY HAD IT! It’s just that the holes your mother left inside his broken heart were deeper than any of us know and he couldn’t find his way out of them anymore. He got too tired and fell. THEY ALL FAILED HIM MISERABLY AND YOU KNOW IT! I’m sorry if this upsets you. I just want you to help me honor, validate and hold ALL his many painful truths and realities up to the light. It’s the right thing to do and I WILL NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY!
NOTE: As of the night I posted this entry, December 28, 2019, neither of the only two “blood family” he’d ever believed he could rely on to be there when his cards were down bothered to “come and get him”! These are the keepsake urns that Rick and I had made for each of them, somehow foolishly believing that for once in his life OR his death they would FINALLY JUST SHOW UP FOR HIM! “Taking him home” is no longer an option for either of them at this point as I would rather spread these ashes amongst the footsteps of his ancestors in all the places he dreamed of going than to let ANYONE ever treat him as “scrap” again!
… when you open up his phone for the first time looking for anything you can possibly find and this is what you see. His “daily affirmation”. He was “doing the best that he could”. I know in my heart. God please let him finally be resting in peace.
“Like a scream inside, the one you just can’t hide. The sound so deafening, you can’t hear yourself think. As real as real can get. Keeping my heart in check from feeling anything but my own apathy. Again, again. It’s creeping up on me. Making it harder to breathe. We’re all under pressure. Can’t stand the weather. For the worse and not for the better. Please, this ain’t the way to live. Something’s got to give. We forgive but don’t forget it, no. Another day, another battle. We all have a cage to rattle. This just might be the death of me. Might be the death of me. It’s reached a fever pitch. I’m living proof of it. I find it hard to cope, without a thread of hope. Blood is thicker then water. But love is even stronger. Hold out a little longer. Until we found ourselves. Again, again. Like a scream inside, the one you just can’t hide. The sound so deafening, you can’t hear yourself think. As real as real can get.” ~ Daughtry
My husband wrote this in June for Gia because he believed, and it is true, that they shared similarly broken hearts. Now in reading it a second time I realize he was actually writing about himself. Ten years ago my husband saved my life, and hers. But in the end it was him that needed to be saved but I couldn’t do it.
I was only four years old at the time and so far removed from anything to do with horses it’s almost comical to think that through my daughter I, no, “we” as a family are now in the fledgling stages of this world. Meanwhile, today Gia and I watched Secretariat for the 21st time since we first saw it when she was five (and yes, she’s counted and today was indeed 21). In fact, it was the second movie Williamson and I took her to as a “family”. This morning was special however because of the discussion we had that followed:
“Momma, who does he remind you of?”
“Hmmm, there are actually two people that he reminds me of, and I’ve always thought it. So I’m curious to know if we think the same way.”
“Well who’s the one man we know that no one had faith in? The one no one believed in. The one that everyone said was going to be the worst thing that ever happened to us? The one they never saw coming? It’s daddy. He’s OUR very own Secretariat!”
“Well Gia I’m so proud of you for making that correlation. I feel the same. Except, who ELSE do we still need to have faith in so HE can run HIS race?”
“BUBBA! Yes. That’s so true! But mom, there’s a third person I’m also thinking of now.
“YOU! Not a lot of people had much faith in you either. You’ve also proven a lot of people wrong.”
If you’ve never seen the movie or read about “The Horse That God Built”, do it! It’s so much more than about that horse. It’s the story of what can happen when one living creature truly believes in another and how faith can make miracles out of anyone or anything. It’s what made OUR little family what it is today – a miracle!
If there was ONE moment in time that I could have witnessed it would be the June 9, 1973 Belmont Stakes when that magnificent machine defied EVERY odd stacked against him. It’s okay though, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people that I will never stop believing in as I watch them “run their races”! Okay, that is all.