A Love Story - Part 1
To tell this story, I have to start at a sad end to get to a new beginning…well, sort of. It’s a long story and one I never expected to happen which makes it more special if you ask me. It doesn’t start off like a love story though, so be prepared to experience some of the tough times I’ve gone through in the last few years. Of course, I’ve skipped over much but this is the gist of things.
One of the common phrases that ran through my mind then is, buckle up, buttercup. It’s pretty much been the theme song of my life and should be the name of this blog, because here we go…
I’ve written all my life…well, since I could hold one of those fat trainer crayons, but I didn’t start publishing my stories until the fall of 2013. It was then that my four children had mostly flown the coop. The youngest had just a couple years to go and a few years later she graduated high school and was off to college.
Sadly, like many failing marriages, nearly half in the United States, mine too was coming to an abrupt end about the same time. Twenty seven years…and now I debate whether or not it’s wise to put your children through years and years of a contentious household. There are pros and cons to sticking it out. There are no easy answers. I thought, at the time, it was the right thing to do to hold it together. Patching up the crumbling parts as best I could. Despite everything, the day came when that was no longer possible. The ex and I had a discussion. At the end of that discussion, I said, I would look for a new place for a separation.
One month later, on a day I’ll never forget, the youngest came home sick from college, I was hit with news of a coming business issue, and the ex and I agreed we would not just separate but divorce.
I got the girl better, even stayed with her at college a few days until she was ready to roll again. When I returned, I packed my things. I moved from near Spokane, WA, over the Idaho border to a little town called Coeur d’Alene, about a half hour away. It was November and the weather matched the dreariness in my soul. It was tough. That’s an understatement of course. Divorce is not easier on older, young adult children. We all struggled and we are all still adjusting. It was not something I wanted to do. No one wants to put their children through that.
In the end, I knew it was for the best. I know that’s true today. I cannot imagine being in the same place I was then. There are some changes you must make in life…to live, no matter the pain it takes to get there. Buckle up buttercup…it’s going to be a long, rough road.
Luckily, the Universe has a way of providing you with the people you need in your life at the right times. I’d never thought of this before. But in my time in Coeur d’Alene, I met several amazing people who helped me through the divorce, and became great friends. I cherish them still. The business issues I was dealing with professionally were also ongoing through all of this as I and my children were trying to adjust and heal.
The Colonel and the Hairdresser, were two of those folks that saw me through dark times.
The FedEx driver and the Trainer were also there for me many times.
I can’t forget the Saturday Morning Coffeeshop Gang.
I miss you guys!
Then there were my professional friends that helped me through some as well. Many of you know my buddy Nicole Apelian from The History Channel’s Alone Show. We pretty much bonded over similar experiences.
There was author, Kate Morris and many other authors. They know who they are :-).
The lonely times were incredibly hard and without their advice, love and support, I don’t know what I would have done. I thank them, each and every one.
Did I mention, that I was also writing books during this time? That’s my day job and only source of income. And it’s brutal to have so much personal turmoil going on in your life and still try to write at the same time.
So there came a day when the divorce was finally over. It was also the day I flew to New York for the first time to attend Thrillerfest. I actually drove to the airport right after leaving my lawyer’s office. I was dazed to say the least. So when I checked in at the airport I found out that they’d bumped me to first class. The Universe at play again. Though I was not at all in the mood for celebrating, the stewardess presented a tray with a rainbow of wine glasses. I picked one, and said, “Thank you.” Though I was not in any way eager to celebrate. If anything I regarded the end of the marriage as an abysmal failure. Though I did take a sip and thought, one challenge down…another one to go. The business issue was still something very much on my mind.
Thrillerfest was a great professional distraction. I enjoyed meeting everyone and hanging out with Mr. and Mrs. Bennecke while I was there. Again, having friends in life…invaluable.
Then, I was back in Idaho, writing like crazy…knowing I still had a challenge to deal with. I was adjusting to my new home for a while, doing my thing when I got a call one morning from my stepmom. My father had a heart attack. She handed him the phone. They were wheeling him into surgery, right then, for a quadruple bypass. He probably wasn’t going to make it. I could only repeat, “I love you, dad.” Twice. That was it. My possible final words to my dad. I needed to get to Texas fast.
I threw a few things in a bag and ran to the airport. On the way, my aunt called me. “Are you okay,” she asked. “No…I am not okay.”
The only thing I could do, was to manage to not cry while driving because then I wouldn’t be able to see the road. On the inside my heart was shattering.
I was on a plane in one hour but missed the final flight from L. A. to San Antonio. During that time, relatives conveyed he’d made it through surgery. Time would tell. I got in at 5 a.m. the next morning, got a rental car, drove to the hotel, slept for two hours and was at my Dad’s side in the ICU by the start of visiting hours. at 8 a.m.
I held his fragile hand. The machines dominated all the sounds in the room. The forced air mask he wore, hid his face from me. He’d not regained consciousness by that time. My stepmom, Mary spoke to me. I answered her and then Dad squeezed my hand. He’d heard my voice. Later, he would say, he thought he’d died in there, because he couldn’t not understand why I was there. He woke up. He shook. He tried pulling at the various cords running in and out of his body. “Calm, down Dad. I love you. I’m here.” He did. I cried. Then finally, calmer…I said, “Dad”…I swirled my finger over him, “This is not good timing for me.” LOL, he laughed then…again I had to calm him. “Don’t laugh, dad.” We’ve always had this dry humor thing going on between us and that was a moment we both needed.
I stayed a few days. My dad is a remarkable tough old guy. He’s a life long oil man after all. They don’t make them like this anymore. It was hard for him to let young ladies help him in the hospital and he had a tough recovery. After it all, he said, “That heartattack, that set me back a bit.”
I’m shaking my head, like, “Yeah, you think, Dad?” The understatement was just like him. Today, Dad is doing okay. I love him very much and so thankful I get to keep him a little longer. I can’t help but think his worry for me during this trying time was part of the catalyst.
During this whole time, I’d heard occasionally from the law firm handling the business issues I was involved in. A looming court date was quickly approaching. This was an out of state matter. Which meant I needed to travel to Ohio. I knew the name of my attorney but I’d never met him or spoke to him on the phone. I’d only heard from his assistant occastionally or via email. Who was this guy anyway? Was he even a good attorney? I had no idea. I’d been busy with other matters. So on the day I was required to be in Ohio, I didn’t even know what he looked like.
I’m always early…I’m just built that way. I’d traveled to a rainy Ohio the day before a court date and went through security and then waited in the county courthouse for the other defendants and our attorney to arrive. I sat on a marble platform and did what I always do while waiting for something, I took out my Kindle and read. Head down…not looking around.
People came and went. Greeting one another as they do in busy places in the morning. I typically ignore the chatter. It’s just like the background noise you hear in a coffee shop. But then, I heard someone else come through security. A man was chatting with the guards while putting his belt back on through the loops of his blue suit slacks. He had a nice voice. In fact, I thought he was handsome. This was not something I allowed myself to do with the current hot mess of my life. My internal voice then quickly went something like this…What the hell are you thinking? Head down, we are not checking out handsome men in blue suits in a court house in Ohio. Not doing that. Not even possible..
Back to the Kindle…reading whatever it was because I honestly don’t remember now. Moments later, I heard footsteps coming toward me on the marble flooring. We might as well been inside a mausoleum they were so loud, totally distracting me from whatever it was I was reading. I looked up and found the other defendants approaching…followed by the handsome guy in the blue suit.
Guess who’s my attorney???
Thanks a lot, Universe! Sometimes, I don’t understand you.
To be continued…