Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hello again!

What a year this has been! 2018 seems to have been designed from the ground up as a challenge for me. My daughter, Taila, had a car wreck on January 6th. While she “walked away” relatively uninjured the wreck was bad enough that it nearly killed her. That happens when you start out in the driver’s seat and end up in the passenger’s side floorboard after having bounced your face off the windshield.
I have a bit of a “thing” about not missing work. Still, when my Mom called me to let me know about Taila’s wreck, I covered the distance from Hardin Valley to UT hospital in about 13 minutes. I don’t play around when it comes to my kids. I would come running in 6th gear for a skinned knee. A car wreck serious enough to require ambulance transport? Forget about it. I broke land speed records in my little Veloster.
Ultimately, Taila was hurt, but so far nothing is permanent other than a few scars. I mostly she knew was ok when she was flipping me off from her hospital bed. I did take pictures, but I won’t post them here because of the gory nature of the kiddo covered in her own blood. If I weren’t religious about saving EVERY photo they would already be long deleted.
Twelve days later, My Mom died suddenly. I would say that this is emotionally difficult to write about, but that isn’t exactly the truth. I love my Mom. I always will. She was an amazing person who sacrificed herself that her friends and family would have better lives. Our relationship had suffered in the last few years from the tumultuous nature of my love life, but at the end of the day, Mom always had my back. She looked out for my kids.
Sadly, Mom was also fiercely stubborn. She loved her animals to a fault. When she died we had 11 dogs living in her house. Taila was still laid up with her car wreck. I was, as always, working my tail off trying to keep up with my financial life, get Teagan diagnosed (more of this to come), and help Whitneigh to try and find her way to therapy and a “normal” life. The situation left quite a mess in the house. Dad and I were basically the only people capable of cleaning up the mess. Mom fought both of us tooth and nail not to throw things away. Getting rid of animals was simply out of the question.
When the ambulance arrived to try and revive Mom (something they obviously weren’t able to accomplish) they found the house in shambles. The cops showed up (they investigate all deaths at home as homicides. Who knew?). Animal control showed up. DCS came out.
I don’t think I can quite detail that entire day. Well, I possess the necessary narrative powers to break it down. It is much more accurate to say that I don’t want to talk about it. Instead, allow me to give a summary.
Teagan was (temporarily, we hope) removed from the home for environmental concerns, her custody situation (complicated), and mine and Whitneigh’s mental health (why did we allow her to stay with my Mom if the house was dirty…among other things). Thank the Lord, Lindsey and Philip (my cousin and her husband) agreed to keep Teagan for me. I owe them both big. Since all this happened, Lindsey also got to remind me that they once bailed me out of jail. I owe them rather a lot.
We downsized our animal population. All of our animals are outside (weather permitting. I won’t freeze a pup. Pupsicles aren’t fun) This probably would have been a little bit more traumatic if they weren’t a barrier to bringing my child home. I occasionally think about one of the dogs Mom cared so much about and get a twinge of guilt. Still, priorities matter.
Whitneigh and I moved into Mom’s house. We all cleaned… a lot. We still are cleaning. We clean continuously. Had my little trailer been big enough for everyone to move into I might have suggested that we move there. I am happier keeping Dad and Taila in their home. Still, moving is stressful. Showering in the very bathtub Mom died in gets a little strange at times. I just keep telling myself that it is just a bathtub.
There were good things to come out of all this drama. Whitneigh had been estranged from all of the family except me for about a year and a half. She has been welcomed back and is getting to know Teagan again. Given how alone she has been through all of her own trials and tribulations I am glad to not be her only person. Taila and Whitneigh genuinely get along well the majority of the time. I am proud of them both for pulling together.
Whitneigh and I both got involved in some mental health therapy. I have avoided going to see a counselor for years. This was probably highly foolish on my part. I am already pretty self-aware and very reflective, but it is hard to solve all your own mental kinks and quirks.
Teagan finally has gotten her own mental health assessments. She has had a speech delay. At this stage, she should have about 250 words. She has about half a dozen. Her fine motor skills are also not where they should be. I had started this process nearly a year ago. My initial belief was that Teagan had some hearing loss which was causing the delay. She DID have some minor hearing loss, but her issues stem from something else. Mom and I both suspected autism.  She is still a bit young for the diagnosis, but mild autism has been indicated. This is double tough since she isn’t at home with me right now, but Lindsey is doing a great job caring for her and making sure she gets everything that she needs.
I have started riding a motorcycle. I think people around me suspect this is a mid-life crisis thing, but nothing could be further from the truth. My Ninja is a coping mechanism on two wheels. I have lost (and nearly lost) a LOT this year. When I ride I can put everything aside and JUST ride. The world comes into sharper focus without the filter of my troubles. I can appreciate the sky above me, the pavement beneath my tires, and the wind doing its best to show me who is boss.
I am probably a little big for the Ninja, but I am working on slimming down. Irene (named for Ryu Hayabusa’s love interest from the Ninja Gaiden series) is a great bike. She is responsive and comfortable. It didn’t take me very long to get the hang of riding her.
The best thing that has come out of all of this is finding out who my real friends are. The people that care about me have shown it from day one. The casual acquaintances have fallen quickly by the wayside. If there is any silver lining to the storm clouds of 2018 this is it.
In an interesting twist of love and friendship, my ex-wife Ashley has come back into my life. She and I hadn’t spoken in almost 4 years when Mom died. She had heard through the grapevine that Mom died, and she did what everyone should do. She reached out to offer help and condolences.  As painful as our parting was years ago, we have been able to sit down and talk about what really happened, catch up on each other’s lives, and become good friends again. I didn’t realize what a weight the loss of her and her family had been on me until I had the chance to see them all again.
I wish I could say the same of Whitneigh’s family, but I have never met any of them.  That is a struggle for another day when my life is more together. In that family, I am satisfied with just my baby momma for the time being. That is saying quite a lot given how slim my family has gotten. The way I feel about it all I have the best of what they have to offer in the form of Whitneigh anyway.
Life has gotten simple. I do what I am told to do at court to bring my daughter back home. I work. I clean. I look after my family. I get the time I can with my friends. I read my comics. I read my books. I write.I exercise (being heavy isn’t working for me anymore.)I play board games. I play video games when I get the time. I ride my motorcycle. For all the tragedy of 2018, what more could I really ask for?
This blog is one of the things I could ask for. I have missed the interaction of blogging. I miss having “fans” or “followers”. I also miss my podcast. This is the first step along the road to launching my own website offering a “mixed media experience”. I plan to get back to recording a regular podcast. I am going to keep writing these blog posts. I am going to record some video of different things that I get into. I have a vision. This is me bringing that vision to life.
You might have noticed that this post is uncharacteristically revealing. I laid a LOT of dirty laundry on the internet. I have decided that there is rather a lot of freedom in living honestly and openly. Secrets, compromises, and shady dealings don’t have much of a place in my life anymore. Hopefully, that won’t turn my blogging into a sort of text-based Jerry Springer Show. I rather doubt it will because I am doing my best to keep things simple and clean.
Either way, I am going to keep writing. Hopefully, someone out there wants to read what I have to say. Either way I am going to put it out there.


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