kris munsch

I turned south...

As I walked out the back door of my parent's house, I knew I was about to embark on a remodeling project like no other I'd ever taken on before.  Every project that I'd done to this point was about moving kitchens, a wall here or siding there.  This time there was no lumberyard that would have the supplies that I needed. 

This was 100% within and I simply had to get a grip on the emotions that were flying around in my brain.  As I drove south, I was pissed off at everyone and this included Blake.  The more upset I got, ironically, the slower I drove.  I wanted to twist the fucking head off of anything.  My hands clenched the steering wheel like I was strangling a snake.  Again, I was screaming within.

I doubted everything and I mean everything.  The doubt and anger left me wondering what the hell I was doing in a car with only one seat, packed with supplies to survive and honestly, I didn't want any of it.  As much as I'd planned this time away, I wanted to just go with the flow that society had taught me to go with.  When shit goes wrong, stuff it inside your brain and move on.  

To go against the grain in this instance was the toughest decision I'd ever made in my life.  The decision to seek time alone to do one of two things was finally upon me.  There was no more planning, no more wondering, I was doing it.  I had to make a decision, to live, or to die.  The miles ahead looked daunting to me.  My instinct to rebuild things had to turn within.

As I drove south, I'd only traveled a few miles and I came across this roadside marker.  A classmate of mine had experienced the death of her son Chris and this marker like so many across the country marked his place of death.  I slowed and peered out the window at the monument they'd created in his honor.  Chris died less than a mile from home.

I slowed even more, to a point that I was barely moving.  My eyes were locked in on not just the physical side of what this meant, but the emotional toll this had taken on his family.  The emotional toll Blake's death had taken on me.  The roadside marker was a symbol of all the parents who'd had children die and that I was not alone.

I grabbed my camera, walked back to the Chris's marker and snapped this photo.  It would be the first photo of hundreds of roadside memorials that I would take as I drove into the inner depths, beyond heart.  My travels needed to reach and expose my soul.  I stood and reflected on my life at his marker.  The hot Kansas wind and beating sun vanished as I was transported to another world.

In that brief moment, the slightest sliver of hope appeared.  I've spent an entire life with purpose, and to stand here in this ditch in western Kansas without was anything to pull me forward was the same as death to me.  In that brief moment, the sliver of hope was not what I ever expected.  Instead of driving past markers along the road that meant nothing to me prior to Blake's death, I would record them.

I walked back to my car, placed my camera on the console next to me and began to drive.  This time with purpose, not the purpose I'd expected but with something.  I wanted to live, but not in the world I was in.  Before my trip was over, I'd take hundreds of photos along the way.  Some fresh, some worn, some forgotten.  

"Hope, it's a dangerous thing.  It can drive a man insane."  These words came from one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption.  When you're standing on the side of a wall without it, I believe a person is simply walking dead.  I had no interest in walking dead.  I had full intention of living until my last breath, not sure how, but Chris's marker gave me hope.  

On February 7th, my dad took his last breath on this earth.  This man worked for each and every breath, until his last.  He wanted to live!!  In his final breath, he opened his eyes and looked into my mothers eyes, a tear rolled down his cheek as he slipped away.  Until death do we part. 

Dear dad, 

I'm not a perfect man, but I'm the man you've raised me to be.  When people console me regarding your passing, I respond with a smile "he lived a beautiful life".  I'm still gathering it all in, that you're no longer here, physically.  

The transition of loving you the way I have for 51 years is slowly fading, but the surge of loving you thru my soul is gaining strength.  I'm beginning to feel you within, it guides me.  It's no longer a phone call for your knowledge, it's simply a deep breath for your life.

I've pondered being half the man that you are, but realize that I rather be me.  You of all people would expect that.  Not to try to be something I'm not, but to embrace with kindness, forgiveness and strength.  

I'll never forget the words you left upon me that day in your shop.  "Kris, no matter what you do, leave it better than you found it".  Such powerful, yet simple words.

Love you with all my heart, be safe and well.

Your son



The rubics cube...

I did my best to put on a good face when walking into my parent’s home.  As much as I wanted to tell them I was OK, I wanted to tell them I wasn't.  If there were anyone on earth who understands or is at minimum willing to try, it would be my mom and dad.  Solid people, the salt of the earth, the kind of people who make the word marriage what it is.

My mom raised three boys and last but not least, a daughter.  Over the years of growing up, we had dogs, snakes, turtles, rabbits, pigeons; I smile at all the antics that took place.  All of us kids have such dynamic personalities, this can be good, and in a way, better.  Needless to say, my parents raised us all to be independent and let's just say, successful.

As I made my way thru the garage into the house, I instantly put on the happy face.  I'd become an expert in faking being OK and this time would be no different.  As much as I wanted to crawl into a ball in one of their basement bedrooms, that action would go against everything I'd been taught.

I'd been raised in a quiet way that when things are tough, you work thru them and move on.  I don't ever remember my parents sitting down and telling me this, it was simply something I observed and I'd set my own level of expectation according.  I was here, not to tell them my troubles, as they most likely knew way more than I would have ever been willing to admit.

I was broken, not crack here or there, but broken.  Call it a mental break down, a mid-life crisis; going off the deep end, I was broken.  The toll of my first divorce, my son's death and a second divorce, the three combined to literally break me.  It jumbled my life like a rubics cube.  

Taken off the shelf, twisted and turned and placed back on the shelf next after divorce one. Taken off the shelf, twisted and turned and blocks removed after Blake’s death.  Taken yet again off the shelf, twisted and turned, and what I felt this time, left broken to never be in a place to put it all back together after my second divorce.

As much as I wanted to be within the safest walls I knew existed on this earth. As much as I wanted to blame the entire universe for where I was in my life, I was raised to at minimum, try to work my way thru it.  Staying in this place would not allow me to begin the process of twisting and turning these complicated blocks back into reality, staying at my parents would simply be pulling the colored stickers off and trying to sort my life in a superficial manner.

Deep wounds take time to heal, and I knew in my heart that I had to begin somewhere.  The very idea of walking around for the rest of my life trying to put on one face(blue side) while the remainder of my life was in shambles(remaining sides) wasn't an option.  Well, it was an option, and to be honest, everything was on the table.  

The energy it took to enter that house and falsely gather my colors to blue would bring pure exhaustion in minutes.  I could not spend the remainder of my life focusing on simply trying to cope, I had to dig within and seek solutions.  I've restored homes and built things from scratch, I continually asked myself, "Why can't I rebuild my life?"

Again, in pure desperation, I told them that I loved them left out the back door.  I couldn't be here; it was just too hard.  I needed to be somewhere, anywhere, I began to drive, angry.

I knew I had hope, but...

For just a moment, I felt...normal.  Making the turn west towards my parents, knowing that they of all people would accept me for who I was made me feel like I belonged on this earth.  I'd never signed up for a dead child and two divorces, but somehow that's exactly where I had landed.  Reality sucks sometimes, but for a few miles the idea of going off on this journey had subsided.

The closer and closer I came to my hometown, my anxiety level began to build and I was questioning my decision to go home.  It would have been much easier had I just driven straight ahead at the previous intersection, completely eliminating the need to explain why I was doing what I was doing.  I would have to tell them a lie as to my mental state, but is it a lie when you're not really sure yourself?

I was this close and had made the decision to stop, at minimum I would at least try to fake it so they wouldn't worry.  The battle that was happening within me would put the American Civil War to shame.  The north was screaming for change and the south had dug in to fight off the resistance.  Only time, and well-played mental strategy, and time in my trenches would decide my fate.

As I pulled into the driveway, my dad's shop door was open that day and I just sat looking inside.  The reason I was horrified for the days, weeks and months ahead was that this rebuilding project would be so different.  Before, everything I'd taken time to rebuild was tangible, this was anything but tangible, it was in my head.  Only I could feel what was happening inside and know that change was needed.

This moment had been building inside for months, now those on the outside were observing and trying to catch up with what I was doing.  I think this happens a lot and is why we look at people who are lost as crazy people.  I’d been planning this time away for a couple months and for a lack of better words, I knew exactly what I needed, even if I had no clue what I needed.

After Blake’s death, I can’t tell you how many people told me to be strong, he’s in a better place, you will survive, the list goes on and on and on.  I’m not upset at the things that were said, I know now from experience that people feel as if they should say something and have little experience in such situations.  Nothing said is sometimes the best thing ever said.  Closing the mouth and opening the mind to listen is often, the best option.

In this moment, sitting in my car looking at my dad’s workshop, I began to think about how bady I wanted a life so different than the one I was living.  My son’s death was truthfully, one of the only things I really understood.  It had a clear beginning and a clear ending.  I could take you to the place I first felt him kick in his moms tummy, that kick said, I’m alive.

I could also take you to the exact spot he died, his death certificate said he died within seconds, I hope so.  That’s something you never dream of thinking, that you hope death comes quick for your child.  The thought now brought tears to my eyes and my friend saying to me “your son is dead, how do you choose to live?”  I just sat looking at his little workshop, dreaming of such a space. 

Somewhere in all those crazy thoughts, I knew I had hope for a better tomorrow, but I had work to do and answers to seek.  I cleared the tears from my eyes, looked around the car that I’d turned into my home and I reached for the handle.  Click, at minimum I needed to go tell my parents that I lovedthem and would be safe.  I took a deep breath and disappeared back into a mind that was good at pretending.  It’s where I’d been living for far to long, but the eviction notice would soon be served.  

The first miles...

As I let out the clutch, I knew that the minutes, hours, days and months ahead would be with little plan.  The thought of that left me sick to my stomach, but I did my best to simply ignore it to a point of stone.  If I don't think about it, I'll be just fine.  I'd been doing this for years and had actually gotten pretty good at it.

I'm a guy and in general, I believe this is accepted by society.  Ignore it, numb it, be fake strong and never ever let them see you weak.  Divorce, death, bring it on as I'd become a trained professional at producing self induced novacane.  Amazing how the body produces exactly what you desire when called upon.

I slowly made my way around the curved roads in the cemetery, and when I mean slow, I mean I can still hear the crackle of the rocks under my tires.  Each rock moving echoed thru my head, it was like a drum roll as I moved away from what was to...well, to whatever lay ahead.  It's taken me four years to find the courage to go back to these moments, they simply were too painful.

I've often written about how these moments in my life vanished. After grabbing lunch this week with a colleague who I've known for years, he was talking about all the projects he'd helped me with while in college.  I remember none of them, notta, zilch, gone.  As he talked, the memories slowly surfaced and the more I reflected on his words, the more I realized just how locked up my brain was and still is.

When I write about the emotional pain from the past, my palms begin to sweat.  The emotions are like petrified wood, different, but still what they were in that time.  I believe this is one of the core things that allows me to do what my friend Steve Fugate walks the country doing, to simply emit the belief that even after tragedy, we can "love life".  The little things stack up to this perspective.

As I headed south from town, I was driving under the speed limit.  Cars were stacking up behind me and for a moment, I felt like I needed to step on it to catch up with the world.  I simply kept my speed the same and slowly the cars picked me off one by one until there was no one.  I was in NO hurry as I was scared and if there was ever a time I simply wanted to go hide, this was it.

It was hot and all I could think about were all the July 4th's previous.  My mind was spinning at the thought of driving off and having no idea where I was headed, physically or emotionally. As I slowly made my way south, I remember looking at the radio dial and the sound coming from it was just static to my mind.  I had little room for static.

That's the place I'd been living, a static filled quagmyer of brain mush and in one quick jerk of the arm, I turned it off.  As I inhaled, the silence was comforting, but as I exhaled it was empty. The tug of war between what was and the moment had begun.  Slowing, but steady, I made my way.

The time alone in my car, radio off and only my mind whizzing from past to present, the guilt began to set in.  Guilt, followed by embarrassment for what I was doing, to...the emotional list continued to surface.  The guilt and fear drove me to reaching for the AC switch, click, from on to off. 

I felt this desire to punish myself for some reason.  If you're going to take this time away, you need to do this with as little as possible.  Clicking off the AC was a way to save fuel and to quelch the feeling of guilt for taking time to grieve.  First the radio and now the AC, it was only the beginning of stepping away.

I reached up and began to roll my window down.  As the glass came away from the door frame at the top, the hot air began rushing in.  The sound was welcomed to offset the silence.  The hot air filled the interior, and for a moment, I was lost in it.  Hot, but fresh air exactly what I needed.

I came to the stop sign about 30 miles south and paused, contemplating where...  Straight ahead was the journey I needed, turning right my parents and the town I grew up.  As much as I didn't want to see my parents, I needed to see my parents.  I wanted to go hide, pretend that I was OK and just shut the world out.  I'm telling you, I was not good and knew it.

The comfort of going home, the safety of it, being nutured and cared for.  The thought made my sick stomach subside, I turned right.  I'll just stay for a couple days and than I'll go on.  It's a holiday and I shouldn't do this on a holiday.  For my parents, I need to be with them to make them feel OK about me.  The excuses, God the excuses.

For a brief moment, everything was going to be just fine.  I drove a little faster.


by pushing in the clutch...

After closing out my letter to Blake, I closed my laptop and tucked it under my arm.  I just sat looking at his grave.  What passed by like a breeze in a previous life, time just sat still.  It was like one of those heavy fogs on a morning you gotta get somewhere, but it just clung to every part of me. 

What I needed to do was to rediscover who I was, am, need to be, I really wasn't sure.  What I did know was that I was broken and in every sense of what society deemed needed, fixed. I've learned that when something is broken, it's easy to see that it needs fixed.  However, when broken isyour own self worth, the perspective leaves it almost impossible to see.  

Doing what I was about to do was literally forcing myself beyond my own skin, stepping out of what I've been living within for four plus decades was not the moving day I had ever planned on.  Layered on top of this was the fact that I was a man, and men arn't supposed to be weak.

When a women cries, we move to console.  When a man cries, there's this separation of space that begins to form.  The exposed weakness becomes a festering wound that immediatly leaves self damaged, a desire to run or I guess the stubborness to fight back.  I'd run long enough and out of pure desperation, I laid in it.  

Since my first divorce, so much of my time had been spent trying to be what I wasn't.  The impurity of that makes me gag, but again, when you're in the valley it's hard to see the valley. I'm sure others tried to drag me to the top of the hill to show me, but I can't see what you see. Change is so easy to see when you see it, but when it rests on the other side of a steel wall, you gotta move.

As I sit back in my chair this morning and think about all this, I'm honestly humbled by how simple yet chaotically complex change is.  All my things in storage and I'm about to drive off in my car to seek different.  This must have been the moment in the movie where the camera pans in on a broken man, crumbled in an old wooden chair, head down and pools of tears on the worn wooden floor.

As the camera comes closer, it slowly circles, 360 degrees of pure pain.  It draws closer and the audience slowly begins to feel his pain, it begins to touch thier own souls as they may have been in this place before or even more complex, there in this moment.  They see themselves, nothing moves, not a soul grabs another kernel as they wait for the answer.

That was me, sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the climatic moment where the camera comes full circle and meets the man as his head begins to lift, eyes go from sunken to wide and alive and the camera zooms closer and closer until you see the reflection of soul in the pupil. The screen goes blank and the lights turn on, exposing those within the room who were waiting, they wanted to know where to begin.

More importantly, they wanted to know how it ended.  It has to end beautifully, right.  NO!! "Turn the fucking movie back on" I screamed in my head.  My hands gripped my steering wheel tighter and tighter and, and, and... I fell back into my seat as the fog moved back in on a clear July 4th day.  The only way I'll ever see how this movie ends is to live it.  

As much as I wanted to write a fairy tale ending, that shit was only in my head.  I had to stop prentending.  My sons lifeless body, cold, wrapped in plastic because he was so broken from the horrific impact of the accident.  In an appologetic tone, the mortician told me he had to wrap his chest in plastic to keep what fluids they pumped in from coming out.  No father should experience this.

The words, touching my son, to feel and hear the crinkle under his shirt.  It honestly hurts to even type them, but it's reality and a choice I've made to no longer look at things from the valley.  Slowly, I did lift my head, release the death grip I had on my steering wheel and the camera that was inside, slowly panned out wide.  

I had to step outside of me to find me.  I lifted my leg and what seemed like hardest step I've ever taken, I began again, by pushing in the clutch...

Dear Blake...

After disposing of all the things in my home that simply meant nothing to me anymore; packing what little was left into a storage shed, I took the picture I shared in my last post.  I steppedback,closed the door, and placed a large chrome lock thru the opening and CLICK.

When I drove off, my gut was wrenched.  Tilting my head back as I paused at the stop sign, I remembered telling my son when his stomach was upset, "in thru the nose, out thru the mouth".  Here I was, a grown man, broken.

July 4th was without a doubt Blake's favorite holiday and his last 4th on this earth was his biggest.  Blake had been helping me do some work on a home I was remodeling and for a couple weeks, he did not want paid.  Little did I know, he was building up what would be a cash cow for fireworks.

I paid him and off he went with friends, only to return a few hours later begging me to look at something.  He popped his trunk open and OMG, it was stacked with fireworks.  My personality didn't lend well to his investment, so instead of being excited, I lectured him on how wasteful that was.

So often I wish I could takethat back, but I can't and I've grown to realize that even if I could go back, I would lecture him on why I didn't like his investment.  His last 4th of July on this earth was explosive to say the least.  I smile now thinking back at his smile when he opened that trunk.  

5 1/2 years later, an imploded second marriage, my things stacked in a storage shed, desperate for a reason to live, I drove off seeking anything.  As I pulled into the cemetery, I felt that I had to explain to him why I was doing what I was doing.  Blake's grave had become my "ground zero". 

Anytime I struggled with decisions, this is where I came.  On several occasions, I drove the four hours here just to stand for five minutes and reflect, followed by a four hour drive home in silence.  I rarely asked why.  I often asked for strength and forgiveness for the times I wasn't a patient dad.  He listened, both Blake and God.  


Written July 4th, 2011

Dear Blake,

I’m not sure why I’m here this time, seems it’s always when I need help.  I’m broken, I mean broken.  I’m sitting here in the grass next to you, it’s actually the grass that will be turned when I die.  I can honestly say I wish that were now.  I’d never do it myself, but than again, this time I’m not sure.

You know me the well, I’m a complicated seed.  This wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out and I hopelessly feel like a fuck for what’s taking place.  I’ve left my job, everything I care about is piled in a metal shed, and I’m doing something that goes against every bone in my body.

Help me make sense of this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What makes things even harder is the fact that I can hear fireworks popping as I sit here and write to you.  God I miss you Blake.  All those times I road you to be like me, I’m sorry.  I thought I had the answers, look at me now.  I’m so fucking mad at myself, I’m not even sure broken fits. 

How about shattered?  You always had this way of calming me when my ass was all bunged up.  Sometimes I wanted to just smack you, but that smile and “give me a hug dad” just made me melt.  I just can’t stop crying, dude, is it worth all this?  You’ve got to help me, I’m listening the best I can.

I don’t want to leave here; I’m scared to death.  I’ll be listening and watching for you.  For sixteen years I tried to teach you things, I’m ready to listen now.  Please teach me.  I’ll stop by again, soon I hope.

Love you



Less is more...

Less is more, anyway, that's what I discovered on July 18th, 2011.  I took this photo that day after placing the last of the things I desired keeping with me for the next few months into storage.  Just looking at the moment in time, my stomach is sickened by the loss and despair I was feeling.  I didn't want another person to say to me, "be strong".  

In pure desperation, I needed less static and more substance.  I smile now as I realize just how badly I needed it but just how badly I feared it.  I'll go anywhere, but going within wasn't a journey I was prepared for.  I don't know that anyone is prepared for such a trip, unless you've been there before.

So this was it and I remember thinking as I drove off, "if I die, this is truly everything I cared about".  All my external things beyond what was in my car were now locked in a storage locker on K-10 in Lenexa, KS.  I drove between the rows of storage garages slowly in first gear, allowing the idle of the car to dictate the speed.  I wondered as I looked at the hundreds of doors, am I the only one?

That would be the first of hundreds of questions I would ask myself as I drove off that day.  I often think back to that moment, it keeps my heart humble.  I've heard people say over the years on different occasions, "I wish I could get in my car and just drive any direction I wanted".  When we can't, we want to.  When we need to, the miles are endless.

As I pulled up to the stop sign, knowing full well that I was about to embark on a journey that went against every known truth of who I was, I let out the clutch in desperation and began to move.  I reached out for the radio knob as I had done thousands of times before, I stopped myself and thought, this has to be different.  Instead of miles and miles of static, silence.

There were no rules.  I had one simple mission, to buld a birdhouse in each of the lower 48 states.  I asked myself over and over, why, why, why?  I honestly couldn't come up with a single answer other than, because.  My map tucked neatly against my seat, a small tub of food on the floor, a small bag of clothes and half my car stacked with items only a desperate man would cling too.

I was going against the grain of what society had taught me and so often, what it accepts as normal.  What I was doing most likely only made sense to those in similar shoes, and than again, maybe it didn't as driving off to live in your car as you meander the country even sounds bit off to the crazy.  My mind continued flashing back to a life lived, the experiences so vivid that often my vision was blurred by tears.  

If there was ever a moment of broken, this was it.  Just how broken was yet to be determined.    There was one place on this earth I needed to go before going anywhere, my son's grave.  I needed to explain to him what I was doing and more importantly, that none of this was his fault.  The regret deep, each and every moment of his life clung to my soul until the branches could bare no more.

If there was a life for me to live, I needed to discover it for myself.  Not another soul could repair what I'd damaged.  This time, it was up to me and in all honesty, I didn't want to take anyone down with me.  As I made my way to Blakes grave, I must have looked a fool.  I'd rather be a fool willing to look within, than a fool only willing to point.  

I slowly made my way around the curves that would lead me to a place I never dreamed of visiting.  I stood looking on in disbelief.  How did I end up here, this moment in time?  I did only what I know a father could do, I wrote him a letter.  

Dear Blake...

Directions for making...

chocolate milk.

Needed:  Glass, spoon or stiring device, milk, chocolate.  

1.  Poor milk into glass.

2.  Poor strawberry syrup into class.

(These two are interchangable, meaning you can put the syrup in first and milk in second)

3.  Stir until blended to your liking.

4.  Enjoy

Wait, it tastes like strawberry.  What the hell is going on here?????????????????  Let me do this again.

1.  Glass

2.  Strawberry Syrup

3.  Stir

4.  Enjoy, (disgust comes over my face as I want chocolate yet I continue to get this strawberry crap)

Seriously, ONE MORE TIME!!!!!

1.  Milk (I examine the container and it's absolutely milk)

2.  Strawberry Syrup (I examine the strawberry syrup and yep, it's not chocolate)

3.  Stir, YES!!!!!, this is it.  I'm not stiring it enough!!!  I stir twice as long beginning with a slow stir building speed until I get a vortex of death in the center of my glass.  It's got to be that the strawberry syrup is at the bottom of the glass refusing to mix properly creating the chocolate taste I desire.  YES!!!!  This must be it!!!!!

4.  Enjoy. (As a frown comes over my face, I walk away in disgust as again, the same results)  I want chocolate milk to enjoy, yet I continue getting strawberry, I give up as it's simply not worth the effort.

...I remember driving across the country reflecting on my life.  It must have been after many sleepless nights and absolute despair had set in that I began to clearly see my life and what I had envisioned it to be.  They were not the same.  What I had envisioned and the results from my work were not coming out exactly like I'd planned.  

The answer was extremely simple and I mean extremely simple.  I needed to stop and take a look at what I was using as ingredients for the desired life outcomes.  When I did this, the current life I was living was not what I desired and I sat in tears(almost embarrassment) as I realized that I would never achieve my dreams if I continued doing things the same old way expecting different outcomes.

I believe it's Alber Einstein said the defintion of insantity is "doing things the same way over and over and expecting different outcomes". 

When you're on the mountain wanting to get a glimpse of the same mountain, you can only see the valley.  When you're in the valley wanting a glimpse of the valley, you can only see the mountain.  I had to change my perspective.  Too see the mountain, I traveled to the valley and to see the valley, I traveled to the mountain.

I'd lived a lifetime, doing it this way, expecting these results.  Now my life was different.  I had to change my perspective.  I had to begin looking at myself from another point of view, it was this simple step I took that allowed me to stop picking up the strawberry syrup and to take the first step toward a desired outcome.

The work, emence.  The reward, well, it's beautiful.  You don't have to wait for a new year to begin again.  You can open your eyes each and every morning with an understanding that this is a new day, I'm a beginner with a lifetime of experiences to use as a guide.  The thought of that honor.  

Begin again, not just today, but each and every day.  Stop looking at what you don't have, change your perspective, and look at what you do have.  The desired outcomes will change, I promise.

Be safe and well, but most importantly, be yourself.


The demons...

that have ran rampant in my mind for years are being put in their place.  Looking back, they began to have their way with me after my first divorce.  Leaving that day and hearing Blake's cry haunted me.  The demon of that memory still waits patiently for an opportunity to come play the game.


Yeah, some may call them this or that, but I call them demons, as they simply have no cause but to wreak havoc on my soul.  Blake’s cry amplified a billion times over by his death, I questioned everything. As much as I wanted to forget, I wanted to remember.


In my bedroom, I have several of Blake’s things.  I don’t place them throughout the house, as it’s just too tough.  In one corner his golf clubs with his book bag hanging from the driver, inside, candy wrappers I just can’t get myself to throw away.


Against the wall, his wagon from when he was a child waits for another ride.  Sitting on top, his skateboard.  Along one wall, a green trunk filled with treasures only my son understood; yet I keep them as I struggle to understand myself. 


My journey, or should I say my battle to put the demons in their place far from traditional, yet I’ve learned there are no rules. Often, I hear stories about the past, only to walk away realizing I don’t remember them.  Sometimes the good has gone out with the bad. 


I know the fight is far from over, but I’ve made the choice to fight.  The decision to continue on was like sitting on the razor sharp edge of a sword, regardless of choice I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  In the beginning, it was all in his honor. Today, it’s for me. 


The difference is perspective, learned from life experiences. I removed the fear by looking them in the eye and saying “no more”.  The simple act of courage broke the chains that held me.  The demons no longer play the game unless I allow them in. 


I wouldn’t take it back for a moment, nothing.  The pain, the tears, the struggle, it’s allowed me to see the blade of grass where so many focus on the meadow.  I remember a friend saying to me, “your son has died, but you have an opportunity to live, it’s a choice”. 


As I ponder my life forward, I realize now more than ever that it is up to me.  The little things stack up to become, well, life experiences.  Not in honor of a past, but a future I’ve yet to build.  Be safe and well friends.  Allow your demons a place at the table, feed them and send them on their way.  It’s good to be home, that place within. 

Adding a disclaimer...

Last week I was on the phone with a dear friend who's traveled a grief journey much like myself.  I don't want to put words or thoughts in his mouth, but I know him well enough that we can talk about anything.  We've walked in similar shoes and without a doubt we became friends in a short amount of time.

Over the past couple years, we've discussed anything and everything.  Death, life, struggles, depression, business, yikes, you name it and I think we've gone there.  This past Friday we talked on the phone, our conversation took us down a path we often follow.  

Finding peace in our own lives and how can we continue to openly share that message.  It's not easy work, yet we encourage each other to continue.  I'm pounding this friendship into your minds because I want you to understand as a reader that he and I walk on a similar wavelength.  

I told him that "I wouldn't change a single thing about my life".  I was grateful for the moment, the ability to reflect on my life and see inspiration in my own journey. Having the heart and soul to believe in my walk and to find peace in my life.  Even though I struggle daily to understand, I believe in the lesson ahead.

After saying all of this from the heart to someone that understands my walk, the disclaimer.  "Don't get me wrong, I would take my son back in a heartbeat".  Why the disclaimer?  Guilt?  Regret?  Fear?  The need to be politically correct?  This time, he called me on it.

Why do I find peace and strength in my journey and instantly take it all back with the disclaimer?  I remember teaching the project a couple years back and afterward a woman coming up to me thanking me for everything.  Instantly I told her that I didn't feel that I should be thanked, my lessons came at a cost and my heart was filled with regret.

She told me something that changed my life, "I find strength, hope and life in your work.  When you disclaim your work, you've taken everything back away from me that you've just given me.  In my daughters name, just say thank you".  

She opened my eyes and in her daughters name, each and every presentation forward I've said thank you.  I'm a product of my experiences, each stacked neatly upon the next making me who I am today.  I learn daily, hundreds if not thousands of moments bring to this moment in time.

From this moment forward, there will be no disclaimer.  I wouldn't change a single thing in my life.  Thank you for believing in me, for taking the time to listen, learn and share.  We all walk in different shoes, I'm grateful for mine.

Be safe and well.


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