SEPTEMBER 22, 2020: “The Last One Alive” …

… because sometimes the only thing you have to “say” is a song. Make it a good, bright and powerfully POSITIVE day my friends. That’s what I’m gonna do. “Eyes on the prize”.

AUGUST 24, 2020: “The First Year … In Focus” …

I did it people!

I SURVIVED!

Thank you SO much for all of the love and support! I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on!

AUGUST 10, 2020: “A Tree For All Seasons” …

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DEAR CAT:

Let me remind you of the words to that song he would sing to you:

“There’s a light in you that tears me down to nothing. There’s an angel in your eyes. There’s a hope inside that you can make it better. You see right through my disguise. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down when the seasons change. There’s a hope in me that I will die for something. Was the fire in my eyes? All this pain inside … Will it be this way forever? I can run but I can’t hide. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. When the seasons change and we’re in for colder weather look for me on The Divide …”.

You see? None of this is about you.

It has NEVER been about you.

IT’S ABOUT THEM!

Not just your babies …

… all the lives you’ll have touched before your time is done … if only for a season.

Your greatest treasure and greatest triumph are in knowing just how insignificant you really are in the bigger scheme of things.

Your “valuelessness” is your greatest value!

Your “powerlessness” is your greatest power!

YOU ARE REACHING NIRVANA!

You are EVERYTHING!

Because you are NOTHING!

You’re NOTHING but a pebble, to be dropped into your ocean, making ripples and waves of outward change for everyone whose path you cross on your journey.

Your purpose is to keep working the roots of this new and healthy family tree you’re now growing — free from the black toxicity that suffocated and broke all the branches of the tree that we came from.

KEEP CHANGING THE STORY!

THE BUCK STOPS WITH YOU!

Your children’s children may never get to meet you, their “Crazy Grandma Cat“, but your legacy will live on through them! HIS legacy will live on through all of you!

Keep working.

Keep sowing.  

You’re doing a good job.

… and (PS) …

I love you! We got this! I WON’T LET YOU DOWN AS THE SEASONS CHANGE!

~ Me ❤️

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AUGUST 7, 2020: “Of Kings And Queens” …

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KINGS AND QUEENS

I saw these words posted on the Instagram page of a friend of sorts. He’s a musician, an inspirer, a widow, and also a pirate that I follow whose posts I adore:

 “… listen to her thoughts … adore her like no one could ever do … be more than just a text message … be the air they breathe, future they plan and smile they wear everywhere … live to have her hug you from behind … write her letters and hold hands while kissing … love until your heart is empty … and then love some more … BE HER EVERYTHING …”. (from The Diary Of An Outlaw Music)

How lucky am I to have had TWO kings on Earth? Not just one … TWO! Some women never have one! The “two kings” loved me to the depths of their souls, with every shred of what they had to give – UNCONDITIONALLY. The two of them made me into the true QUEEN that I am and I cannot say it enough! I’M A FORTRESS NOW PEOPLE! An impermeable FORTRESS!

My King in Heaven is pretty smitten with me by the way … I can feel His loving hands wrapped around my heart every second of every day. My truly blind faith in Him only pales in comparison to the faith He’s had in me since before I was even born, and He has loved me like the QUEEN He intended me to be long before any man on this Earth ever did. Is there to be “one last king” in this realm for me? Only He knows that and He’s got this! If there is, there is. If there isn’t, so be it. I’ve been there, and done that, and the legacies of love the two of them left for me are more than enough to fill my heart for the NEXT fifty years without them if that is to be the case. My standards are obnoxiously high now, and as I’ve said before, it would take one HELL of a powerful presence of a man to stand with the shadows of the two loves of my life that came before him. I know who I am, EXACTLY what I’m worth, and EXACTLY who is worthy of my attention and affection, much less being put on a pedestal. I will accept NOTHING but a king again. Nothing. No one. EVER! Unless and until that day comes that “the last king on Earth” comes to find me, I’ll continue to reign here in my kingdom “happily alone”. THIS CROWN ON MY HEAD IS GOING NOWHERE!

As for the next 50 years? Only time will tell.

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AUGUST 5, 2020: “Open Up Your Eyes” …

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Yesterday morning I woke up to another one of those magical music moments I have come to love and cherish wherein my son, Christian, communicates what he’s feeling by simply texting me a song. As I’ve said, his music messages are one of my greatest treasures, and ironically, Zack would often do the very same thing, which of course I treasured just as much. But once again I’ve digressed. Sufficed to say, today my own eyes are open wide and I’m beyond thankful that my beautiful King FINALLY found the peace he could never find.

But as they laid him in the ground, her heart would sing with out a sound :: For the first time you can open your eyes, and see the world without your sorrow when no one knows the pain you left behind …“.

I can only imagine what it was like for him that night, “August 22, 2019, “just before midnight, in that split second after he pulled the trigger and his eyes closed for the very last time.

WHAT did he see when at last he opened them?

HE SAW JESUS!

I JUST KNOW IT!

God had His hand on my husband’s beautiful head at all times, even while he was roaming this Earth like the motherless and forsaken “trash can boy” he always saw when he looked into a mirror. I am still the most blessed woman I have ever known to have roamed this Earth as well. How is that even possible? Because God has had His hand on MY head at all times as well, be it during my greatest triumphs and joys or darkest tragedies and traumas. And too, this …

MARK 2:17 :: When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Make it a good day everyone and always keep the faith! Remember, “this is our temporary home“, nothing more, nothing less. The best part of all of this is still yet to come!

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JUNE 16, 2020: “Day 300, And, Death Is STILL Nothing At All” …

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Death Is Nothing At All

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MAY 30, 2020: “Overwhelmed With Overwhelmingness” …

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MAY 15, 2020: “HEY DADS! Take Your Daughter’s To The Castle” …

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Okay people, I’ve been SHOOKEN by a “Ghost” again in ALL the most beautiful ways …

IvanYou see this guy? He’s Ivan Greening, some know him as Ivan Moody, but his people call him “The Ghost”. He’s the lead vocalist and MANIAC for the band of my lifeand PLEASE say you already know this … Five Finger Death Punch. Ivan’s not quite your “traditional” man, and to some he may be downright scary. Not only is he a recovering alcoholic with a somewhat colorful rap sheet, he’s also covered from head to toe in an array of tattoos and his voice is as ominous as thunder. Most of the time he rages and screams, but sometimes he serenades us from the most tender depths of his soul. He’s the living embodiment of the word “oxymoron” and actually one of my heroes! King Ivan takes “Phoenix” to an entirely different level if you’ll look past the scars on his inked-up, fleshen sleeves. “What you see is what you get.” With this guy? Not so much! He’s a completely open book and a total mystery, as on one hand he seems to be telling us everything about himself, while on the other no one really knows him. That’s how I feel about myself by the way, but where in the HELL was I going with this? It seems I’ve run amuck with yet another of my digressions as my “thought chaos” leads me to somewhere.

Ah, yes, “the video”. Earlier this week he posted a clip of himself “TikTok-ing” with his daughter which immediately struck my heart in a brand new place I never knew was broken. It was one of the sweetest things I think I’ve ever seen, while also one of the saddest. You see, I am a daughter who cannot help but wonder, “What could have been if my larger than life dad had danced with me in the living room”?

HERE’S THE THING: He’s probably worth a gazillion bucks and has a cult-like following worldwide. But when the lights go down at his final show and he reaches the end of the road? What do you think that little girl of his will tell her own kids about her daddy? “Grandpa Ivan was a rock and roll star” or “Grandpa Ivan danced with me in the living room”? I’m fairly certain, as hopefully you are too, that it’s going to be the latter.

HEY DADS …

Now about that legacy you’ll be leaving behind … WHAT’S IT GONNA BE? You may not be perfect, because no one ever is, and there’s NO such “perfect parent”. But trust me when I tell you that it’s NEVER too late to change the ending of a story. This, my friends, is what us “knuckleheads” call “The Brighter Side Of Grey“, and I’m here to tell you IT’S EVERYTHING! Despite the mottled undertones here of the struggles with my father, I really want to end this now with a “brighter side” I’ve found.

My daughter had two dads to take her to the balls, which I find just amazing! My husband escorted her in many of those carriages while her real dad escorted her in others. Neither of them was perfect, and each of them hurt her in very complicated ways, but at the end of the day I just know in my heart that she’ll treasure her dancing days with both of them forever! She’s an incredibly lucky girl, but I’m an even luckier mom, so beyond thankful for the Princes who danced with Cinderella!

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MAY 11, 2020: “When Someone Dies And You SMILE” …

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Yet another bittersweet day for me with the passing of one of my favorite comedic actors, Jerry Stiller. For those of you who know me well it’s no secret that one of his best known sitcoms, “The King  Of Queens“, is, was and probably always will be my favorite TV show! Williamson and I watched it every single night from the beginning of “us” to the end, and “Arthur” was one of his best impersonations. We all spoke fluent “King Of Queens” in our daily banter (as well as “My Cousin Vinny” and “Birdcage”) and Gia and I still do. Lol, Zack had always promised her that when he was old and if I was already gone he would move in with her family and be their “basement Arty”. 

It’s also no secret to those who know me that cooking is not my thing! Are there are some decent dishes I manage to pull off from time to time? Sure. No one has ever starved on my watch, but there’s not a person who I’ve cooked for who’s a stranger to my “interesting dinners”. I fondly remember an “episode” set at our table as if it were just last night: “The Night Of The Hot Pink Chicken!” It was the first meal I’d made for our brand new little family on the third night we were married. I’d marinated some chicken in raspberry dressing, which chicken ended up literally turning pink. As I set the plates down, Gia turned to him as discreetly as she could with her hand on her little forehead trying not to let me see the look of fear in her eyes. Then just as sweet as he could be with nothing but appreciation for the effort I’d made, he quickly came up with the perfect line: “Well, have a biscuit then. Some of them turned out PRETTY well!” From that night forward throughout the entirety of our decade together there were SO many times he would chime in with that line, his very favorite “Arthurism”, at every one of my mealtime flops! Every time he spoke those words I fell in love with him all over again!

So, what was my thought behind the title of this post, “When Someone Dies And You SMILE”? Oooooh but let me tell you! While I was waiting for Gia to wake up this morning, anxious to share the news of “Arthur’s” passing, I just sat in bed thinking and smiling. That funny man brought SO much into our world … laughter, hilarity and true joy! Which man you ask? BOTH ARTHUR AND MY HUSBAND! I thought about crying, especially given the torrent of “first Mother’s Day without him” emotion I ran the gauntlet with yesterday, but honestly? I simply couldn’t. Instead I just sat there with my thoughts and countless memories cherishing the most beautiful ride of my life!

While I’m saddened by the loss, especially for his loved ones, I’m again encouraged that death is nothing at all. He was so much larger than the life he lived itself, just like the “King” of this very lucky Queen, and their legacies both I will treasure! Zack once said that if he could have met any particular actor it probably would have been Jerry Stiller. “I can only imagine what a riot it would be to shoot the shit with that guy!” Well, if God is the God I know in my soul He is, perhaps now he’ll get the chance! Godspeed Jerry. The comedic spirit and “crazy old man” you infused into the fabric of our lives will remain in our hearts and “Arthurisms” forever!

…”PS” …

IMG_1994Our hands down favorite KOQ episode was “Spicy Sausage & Peppers”! I cannot tell you how many times Williamson asked unsuspecting waitstaff who were taking his order at restaurants: “How’s your spicy sausage and peppers?” Most often they looked at him absolutely dumfounded, as if he were a actually crazy, but the ones who got the joke always got an extra tip from him! This clip is a go-to on any of my “down days”. I CANNOT watch it without laughing until my sides hurt, so ENJOY! As for me? I’ll be spending the entire rest of this night binge-watching The King Of Queens in tribute to both Jerry and my husband!

What We Leave Behind

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MAY 10, 2020: “Mother Love” …

While I am more than thankful to claim the highest honor of “mother” of two living children and one angel baby in Heaven, I am ever so mindful as I end this bittersweet day with the heart-breaking awareness that not every child “celebrated with their mother” today. As you’ve already read in the admonishment to “her”, on this day one year ago the abandonded and motherless man that I was also honored to call “mine” began his painful descent into the darkness she left him in that literally devoured him alive and indeed ended the most beautiful chapter of my life.

So, with that, if you are a mother who has truly abandoned her child, know that you have left them with an unfathomable wound that will never truly heal. If, on the other hand, you are a child whose “mother” abandonded you? Know that I, like so many mothers in who understood the magnitude of the job we were given to have children, am crying and praying for you tonight. It wasn’t your fault! You didn’t deserve it! YOU are a gift to this world! I’m so sorry that happened to you, from the depths of my soul I am, but remember this always PLEASE: Our Father in Heaven doesn’t make trash! So, “Chin Up! Knuckles Out!” You are loved and needed here.

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MAY 10, 2020: “To His Mother: WHY?” …

MomnTO “HIS MOTHER”:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your “son” stopped living the day he was born, but it was a year ago today that the hands of Fate threw the very last spin of the wheel that ultimately led to not only his demise, but the end of the most beautiful chapter of my life. Looking back now, I can honestly say that the very first hint of change in him was June 5, 2014, as that was truly the day the “rock” that was our Zachariah began crumbling inside himself. Slowly, subtly, yet ever so steadily, he began slipping down the black, dead hole that devoured him alive, but it wasn’t really until May 12th last year that he started coming apart at the seams. I remember that morning as if it were now, right down to exactly where he was standing, the look of angst upon his face, what he was saying, the tears falling from his eyes, what he was wearing, and even how he smelled. Sufficed to say though, indeed it was “Mother’s Day 2019” that earmarked the beginning of his end.

So, with that, today is bittersweet, as not a Mother’s Day had passed since he walked into my life eleven years ago that I wasn’t cherished, celebrated, and placed so high upon the pedestal he built for only me there are literally just no words. It was no secret to anyone that knew us well that your “son” was hell bent on making sure that I was abundantly aware of exactly what my role in all of their lives meant to him, especially on Mother’s Day! As I’ve also said before, when we first met, he appeared to be a solid rock. He’d told me about his past and how not just you, but his entire “blood family” abandoned and rejected him (for what reason only God knows). He was so matter of fact about the awful things you’d all done to him, which was always so perplexing to me because even I couldn’t wrap my own head around it all. It angered and outraged me to the core of my being to not only hear the stories of his maternal abandonment and fucked up beyond reason childhood, but to have watch, live and experience the abundance of bullshit his “family” did to and put him through which was unacceptable, gross and disgusting. As for those other “Williamsons” you spat upon this Earth who still live here in the city where their “brother” slipped right through the void? If any random stranger were to meet a single one of them and not know who they really are they’d be more than impressed with the charming personas they present. But his truth is the truth, he spoke it, I witnessed it, and God Himself was watching IT ALL! Congratulations dear “mother”! You made self-consumed narcissists who get all dressed up with the plastic smiles and shallow hearts only you could possibly be proud of!

On the surface he seemed to have made peace with it all as he moved on down the road. We met, fell in love, made our own little family, and he left you all behind in his dust. “Their loss, not mine”, he would say, and he couldn’t have been more right, as none of you were ever good enough to be graced by my husband’s presence. Trust me when I tell you that because of our professions we knew plenty of people who “know them”. The general consensus about your other Williamson children? You know, the ones you actually managed to want? Selfish, shallow and greedy social climbing, wanna-be’s in one of the greatest shows on Earth. Everything about his character was so far removed from and above all of theirs that no one that realized their connection could fathom it. Those were amongst the highest compliments he received, and he absolutely reveled in them. But I’ve digressed. Sufficed to say, it was “every Mother’s Day” that hurt him the most, even more so than all the birthdays you forgot as he waited for you year after year, phone in hand, checking to see “if she’ll remember and just show up”. There is still much to say about my husband’s final descent and all the ways he was driven to insanity, not the least of how he hurt Gia.

In the meantime, all you REALLY need to know, “Mother” Of My Fallen King, is this:

It’s Mother’s Day 2020 and 264 days ago your “son” shot himself in the head with a Springfield handgun and a hollow point bullet at just before midnight on August 22, 2019. To him you were a stranger, and what a shame that you will never know what a truly amazing man you threw away and the priceless gift he was to this world (though unfortunately he never believed it).

Only God knows what was going through his mind in the very last moments of his life, and yes, “what that may have been” will break my heart forever. Alas, he’s at rest now, finally at peace after the “legacy of abandonment” you knowingly chose to burden him with. But here’s what I do know in concrete fact “was going through his mind” in the years I was lucky enough to give him the only real home he ever had and the only real love from a woman (other than his Grandma) he’d ever known …

Your “son” hurt us all with a broken mind and heart that were jaded beyond human comprehension. “He must have had mommy issues” is what some will surely say, and sadly? That was true! He wasn’t quite two when you left him behind, him, and only him, and not your “other babies”, because for what good reason he could never understand you just didn’t want him like the others! Then you never turned back to see the tears that burned through his heart every day for the rest of his life.

When your “son” was just a boy he had to sit with all his classmates making “macaroni Mother’s Days cards” that he never knew what to do with, so he would tear them all up and put them in the garbage as he was leaving the school grounds watching all the other kids being greeted by their mommies as he walked home to nothing all alone!

When your “son” was just a boy he would go to his friends’ birthdays while his heart physically ached because you apparently couldn’t remember the day he was born. (It was October 5, 1982, in case you forgot.)

When your “son” was just a boy Mother’s Day broke his heart into little tiny pieces that none of us who really loved him could ever put back together. He cried for you. Ached for you. Longed for you. Dreamt about you. He disappeared inside himself just waiting for you to want him!

Despite these words and my more than apparent anger, I have forgiven you and yours for all the ways you destroyed my beautiful husband. But never will I forget the last ten years watching him try so hard not to break because none of you gave a FUCK about “the Zack of shit”, your “son”, their “brother”. So, with that, happy Mother’s Day to you, “mother” of my fallen king. May you sleep well this and every Mother’s Day going forward that you’re able to enjoy the Williamsons you somehow managed to “mother”! Hold your hand over your chest now and breathe in what you feel … it’s the still beating heart of the one woman in this world that was supposed to love my husband forever.

Signed truly … “Daughter-In-Law”

Mother

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APRIL 2, 2020: “With Silver Bells And Cockle Shells” …

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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 floristthe 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.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

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.

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MARCH 8, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

img_8259TO MY KIDS …

“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, pain and trauma. 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 ROOM 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 psyche to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space. How did this happen? 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 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 it 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 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 Christian. 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 this song 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 dying father could have possibly written to his daughter, they will become as significant a part of her healing and journey going forward as they have been to mine.

HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the “grey-ce” 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”. I’m not gonna lie … it is now my final wish that when it’s time for me to move along, this is the last song I hear as they say farewell. It means everything to me. Literally, everything

Them

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FEBRUARY 25, 2020: “Thank You For Helping Me Change Tomorrow” …

img_9238… CHANGE TOMORROW

“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!

“I can’t stay chained to my secrets …”

…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 …

“I can change. I can change tomorrow.”

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!

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The Diary Thank You

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FEBRUARY 24, 2020: “Life Must Go On” …

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“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 no one 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 wifi 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 nausea 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.

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FEBRUARY 7, 2020: “Why It’s AWESOME To Seem So Small” …

SO SMALL

“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.

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by Charles Mackesy

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FEBRUARY 1, 2020: “Crazy Grandma Cat” …

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TO FIND OUT “WHAT HAPPENED” THE NIGHT BEFORE I MADE THIS VIDEO <<CLICK HERE>>!

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JANUARY 30, 2020: “The Love Song From Heaven That Took Me Down” …

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HOLD HER

“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. 

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JANUARY 29, 2020: “God Only Knows” …

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 …

GOD ONLY KNOWS

“Wide awake while the world is sound asleepin’. Too afraid of what might show up while you’re dreamin’. Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you. Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you. Every day you try to pick up all the pieces. All the memories, they somehow never leave you. Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you. Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you. God only knows what you’ve been through. God only knows what they say about you. God only knows how it’s killing you. But there’s a kind of love that God only knows. God only knows what you’ve been through. God only knows what they say about you. God only knows the real you. There’s a kind of love that God only knows. There’s a kind of love that. There’s a kind of love. You keep a cover over every single secret. So afraid if someone saw them they would leave. But somebody, somebody, somebody sees you. Somebody, somebody will never leave you. God only knows what you’ve been through .For the lonely, for the ashamed. The misunderstood, and the ones to blame. What if we could start over. We could start over. We could start over. Oh for the lonely, for the ashamed.”

~ for King & Country

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JANUARY 28, 2020: “The Most BEAUTIFUL Fog I’ve Ever Seen” …

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“Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. In the dark bathed in Cathode ray blue, Miss Red Hook of 1922, weeping silently for the pain of others. Every night a tearful rosary, a victim of the curse of empathy. Her reward of compassion is to suffer. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. My short coming I know I caused her grief. Still she loves me. This I can’t believe! Responding not with anger but a prayer, Heaven’s just Southwest of Cobbil Hill. True. I am the son of an angel. Maternally, not one woman compares. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes. If you fall, I will catch you. When you’re lost, I’ll be there soon. Far away, but of course near. When you’re sad I am always here. Thank you from saving me from myself. Your compassion became its own hell. Unequivocally Beautiful inside and out. Without a doubt. Nettie, no need to cry. Let me wipe those tear drops from your eyes.” ~ Type O Negative

One of my greatest treasures in life is the way my son communicates with me and only me by simply sending me music. He’s been doing it since age 16 after I finally left our home in desperate search of a different ending to this story. His messages come at the most random times, and often in the wee hours of the morning, which is always bittersweet because as every parent knows, “3am texts from your kid” can often invoke nightmarish fears that no one but a parent can understand. Thanks be to GOD that regardless of the piercing alarm that goes off inside my heart every time I hear his text tone in the dead of night, so far they’ve only ever been his “communications”.

His latest message arrived this morning at the absolute craziest moment, and the instant I got it every ounce of adrenaline in my body dumped right back into my soul in all the most beautiful ways. I was standing at the end of my driveway in an abyss of fog like none I’d ever seen, with no idea why I’d been so compelled to walk right into and stare at it. As you read in my response to him above, “I wasn’t sure how it was making me feel. Maybe a little lost, but maybe a little not”. Yet something made me want to take it’s picture, and as shown in the text, as soon as I held the camera up to take the shot his text appeared on my screen. What in the actual HE JUST DID THAT, DIDN’T HE? And no, I don’t mean Christian. It was Him! It was God. Or maybe my husband. Or my Angel. Or “someone” infinitely beyond this realm in which I exist set that ethereal moment up just for me. The Cosmos was beckoning me with it’s “message in the fog” at that one perfect moment in time and no one will ever convince me otherwise! After I took the picture, I just stood there in a trance listening to the song. Yes, it’s dark, and indeed very tragic, but oh my GOD is it ever beautiful, and such is the story of my life! Its haunting chords called me back to the shore like a foghorn on on the darkest night night, and what are the chances that something like this would happen “out of the grey” the way it did?

It’s half past one here in Dallas and as I wrap this up, the fog is starting to lift. As forlonging as it seemed when it greeted me this morning, I’m almost sad to see it go, because as soon as I received this cryptic message from deep within his soul it enveloped me in the most comforting blanket of emotions I think I’ve ever known. My kids truly are my most beautiful work of art, and despite the many circumstances that have dampened some of our days, I believe with every shred of my being that they are going to be okay. I’m his “Nettie”, I am loved, and I am the luckiest woman on this planet.

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JANUARY 26, 2020: “My Ghost Gang Is To Blame” …

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GHOST

“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.

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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.

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JANUARY 17, 2020: “When You Walk With Angels” …

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WALK WITH ANGELS

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” …

cassiel

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DECEMBER 25, 2019: “Starting Over As A Queen” …

IMG_8199… IT’S TIME TO JUST START OVER!

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!

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DECEMBER 8, 2019: “Death Is Nothing At All”…

DeathLate 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. Tthe greatest triumph of my bittersweet 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. Do you know what has changed in my relationship with either God or Death since my husband’s sudden departure? Not a single 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 standing at her grave alone. Yet, as I walked towards her resting place, the most beautiful breeze washed over me. 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, took the deepest breath I could, and slowly released it back into an atmosphere that I’m 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 only “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 There. 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.

deathAs 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 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 upon The Cross, and all remains truly well.

THE ANSWER

“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

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NOVEMBER 25, 2019: “Shining Through Our Darkness” …

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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.

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NOVEMBER 20, 2019: “Because Suicide Is ALWAYS Dead Serious!” …

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~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

… 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!Can

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NOVEMBER 9, 2019: “From The Ground Up” …

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WHERE DO I BEGIN MY POST FOR TODAY?

How about 800 days ago …

AUGUST 31, 2017: The Frog I kissed who turned into a KING wrote the contract for the house of our dreams.

8NOVEMBER 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.

7AUGUST 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 epiphany 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.

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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.

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NOVEMBER 1, 2019: “In Loving Memory” …

usThis 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.

RingsWe 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.

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In Loving Memory Of “The Frog & The Butterfly”

“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

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OCTOBER 24, 2019: “No Easy Way Out” …

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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

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OCTOBER 23, 2019: “Supernatural” …

JUNE 23, 2019 …

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 andBaby”, 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:

“SAVING PEOPLE, HUNTING MENTAL ILLNESS & THE SPN FAMILY BUSINESS”

by Gia Embach

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 ArmsThe 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.

WE. ARE. SUPERNATURAL!

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CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SON

“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

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OCTOBER 20, 2019: “My Rescue Story” …

Rescue Story… 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!

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OCTOBER 21, 2019: “DEAR EMPATH: You’re Gonna Be Okay” …

EmpathAnd 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

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OCTOBER 9, 2019: “SOLITARY: Life Behind A Mask” …

ArthurSo, 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 screaming that this movie 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 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 like an iron wall. I could see my sister panic every time the gun went to his head as 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 wait, I think I do …

darknessI AM ONE STRONG BITCH! A “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. Fucking. Day! I’m only human after all. But I believe that every tear I shed is being counted by a Power INFINITELY higher than me and I absolutely trust it. So, I welcome those tears, then simply “let them go”, as my most effective form of mental health 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 ❤️

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OCTOBER 5, 2019: “37 Years Ago Today” …

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… 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.

Until your in my arms again …

Zack

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OCTOBER 3, 2019: “From The Cradle To The Grave” …

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CRADLE TO THE GRAVE

“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.

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