I Used to be a Christian

“The other day, when I was reading something you posted, it hit me. YOU are the writer!”

 

I know, the title is going to get everyone’s panties in a wad.

Chill out.

Read it.

You’ll get it.

I am 36 years old.

I have one HELL of a story to tell.

I’m not sure I’ll make money off of it, but it I do, I’ll have to A: change the names of the people so I don’t have to get their consent to tarnish their names, or B: Get consent from people I love dearly, to drag their names through the mud, because it’s a part of my story.

I remember when I was little. I remember going to church and loving Sunday school. I remember coloring and playing with other kids, praying at night for all of my loved ones and even all the strangers I never met, and never would meet to be safe. I was naive. I believed that if I prayed for EVERYONE, everyone would be safe. Then, one day, I was in shorts and a t-shirt, accepting Jesus into my heart as my lord and savior, as I was dunked into a pool of water in front of a congregation.

I was 7.

I remember, because I remember the look on my dad’s face when I told him I wanted to be baptized. It was a look I craved. A look of acceptance, of love, pride and happiness. I believed that Jesus was good and God loved all of mankind.

The older I got, the more confused I became. It wasn’t because of outside influences. It was because of everything I had read in the Bible.

I’m not going to bash the Bible, or God, or Jesus, or Christians.

I guess, I am writing this to say a few things. I am one of those “think outside the box” types of person. I know. You probably never would have guessed it, am I right? ha!

I have read the Bible. I have read it cover to cover a few times.

It. Makes. NO. Sense. It’s about as contradictory as anything could be.

But that’s okay. MOST of it is good guidelines for how to be a good person.

Jesus was this totally rad dude, who helped poor people, sex addicts, drug addicts, thieves and more! He totally loved them and taught them how to be good people. He proved to them that the choices they were making weren’t the only choices set out for them. He showed them that, although a rough road, a possible road. Right?

Totally cool guy. Loving, accepting, nurturing.

One of those guys you aspire to be like. Right?

Well, you don’t have to BELIEVE the Bible, to believe in the main character. Right?

Either way, my “faith” is different than it was when I was a child.

I have lived. I have observed. I have survived, and have stayed pretty damn level headed in the process.

At the point where one would finally break, I, instead,  keep striving for better. Not to GET something better, but to BE something better.

When I was a child, I believed that I would forever be protected. Nothing bad could happen to cause heartache or sadness, or the things that I have experienced through my 36 years of life.

Boy, was I wrong.

I say something that I know may piss off a lot of people, but I believe it one hundred percent.

Everything happens for a reason.

I’m sure many people who are grieving right now want to reach through their screens and slap the ever-loving shit out of me, right now.

I believe it. You do not have to. But, I do. I always will.

I REALLY met Mitch at a point in my life where I was really ready to call it quits with dating. I honestly never wanted to see another man in a dating manner again. (That was my dramatic teenage mind)

He walked into McDonald’s, smiled his brilliant smile at me, and told me I was coming to his birthday party.

You read that right. He didn’t ask if I’d go. He told me I was going.

“Hey, What are you doing this weekend? Oh? going to my birthday party. Okay, We’ll pick you up at 6!”

I was stunned. I was shocked. I was ALREADY in love with that boy, and he didn’t even know. We were both 17 years old.

He walked into that McDonald’s on the most perfect night, with the best “invite” to a birthday party I had ever received.

I think if God is real, he laughed when I swore to all things holy that I would NEVER name my child Megan, when I was 15 years old…

Que the laughter…

My favorite human, aka my daughter, is Megan. I can’t even imagine her with a different name.

Just as I remember the first time he “asked” me out, I remember our last night together. I remember what he had for dinner. I remember what movie we watched. I remember the words he spoke, as if they were gospel.

I remember his hand as he held mine during that movie.

I remember the next day, when I walked… ran to the doors of the FedEx Hub only to be dragged into an office and told that he was gone. I remember thinking “There’s no way there is a god. There’s no way a god would take such a man from this earth. No way!”

I always joked with Mitch about how I didn’t remember life before him. I think I phrased it wrong. I remembered life before him, but it felt like another lifetime. Like everything was happening as it should .

When he died, I had that same feeling. Everything is falling into place. Everything is exactly as it should be.

I hate it. Megan hates it. Our families hate it.

But that feeling. Gawwwwwd that feeling.

I’ve thought so many times that if anyone knew how I felt, how I felt as thought this is meant to be, I’d be looked at as heartless.

Now, though, I know I am not. I know my family and my friends, my coworkers and my past coworkers know that I am not heartless.

Mitch, I believe, completed his mission here. Whatever his mission was, he completed it, and he did it FAST.

I can tell you that whoever was supposed to learn from him, learned well.

Whatever it was he taught, he taught it without knowing he did.

I feel like I was a part of his mission, but definitely not the whole of it.

He taught me to be kind, even when I didn’t want to be. He taught me to see everyone’s point of view, and not take sides. He taught me that I have the ability to be amazing, I just needed to put forth the effort. (still trying, babe!) He taught me, most of all, that good men did still exist. He taught me that there were really still good fathers. He taught me that I am so much stronger than I ever imagined I could be.

I could write a book about how much like Jesus Mitch was. He never “laid hands on” and “healed” people like the Bible says Jesus did, but he sure did heal people with his words, his kindness, his acceptance, and his love. He talked to everyone, and he helped everyone.

So, again, I say: I used to be a Christian.

Now, I no longer align myself with any one religion, but, I believe that something is out there. Something is in charge and we are mere pawns in a game.

Am I winning?

Am I losing?

I guess I will only know when I pass on to the next realm.

Until then, I will continue my path of love and acceptance. I will not intentionally harm anyone. I will cherish my family and friends. I will teach kindness, empathy, and happiness through example.

 

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What Is Life, Without A Little Death?

Here death strikes again.

So many people, such a short time.

It has happened since long before any of us, and will continue with us and way after us.

Death

It’s inevitable.

We all live our lives. We go and go. Some of us are moving so quickly through life, that we are missing out on the things that really are the more important things.

I was guilty of this. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have since figured out a better balance, though.

I love my family.

I love my friends.

I love racing, and birthdays, and listening to my people talk about their lives, and the things that they are passionate about.

I’m not very good at asking the questions, or initiating conversation, but that’s because I will listen to you tell me about your passions, your grief, your day at work.

When Mitch died, in January of 2017, I was confused. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t really wonder why, so much as “What the Fuck?” It wasn’t an angry wtf, so much as a confused, how could this have happened type question. Once we knew the science and biology behind, I stopped asking. I knew.

That question was answered.

You hear people say, all of the time, “god only gives you what he knows you can handle.” If you believe in God, this has to be true.

You may not know you have it in you, until LIFE (or death really), slaps you in the face.

Wednesday, after I ran 10 miles and was in my car, headed to get some food, I received a phone call. My father in law lost his girlfriend. (They might as well had been married. They had that connection, and that unconditional love. They were only missing the legal documentation).

Let me throw out a little back story on this man, without going too deep into details, or anything.

This man was married to my husband’s biological mother. He adopted my husband, and had 2 more children with his wife, Megan.

When Megan was in her early-mid twenties (I don’t want to screw up on the details), she was murdered in a bar, by a crazy man.

This man, Mike, became a widower father to 3 children, one of which was a tiny baby girl.

He did not handle that well. I mean, who could blame him, right? His wife was murdered. What was he supposed to do?

Fast forward through some addictions and runaways, some verbal fights, and a bit of time in jail, a couple of marriages, divorces and a couple more kids, grandbabies and sobriety.

Here we are, he’s the father of 5 now. He’s gotten his head together, he’s trying very hard to be a good man.

His eldest son dies. The son he adopted, when the son was just a boy, and had his mother ripped from him. The father who may have had his problems surviving this life, lost his son.

He had an amazing woman by his side, to help keep him together. She was there to keep him steady, and remind him that he would be okay. He would make it through this.

Fast forward a little over 2 years, and his girlfriend is now with his first wife, and eldest son.

If god is real, and only gives people what they can handle, he sees something heroic in Mike.

I’m so devastated, for him, and can’t even begin to imagine how his mind is processing.

I’ve been told I’ve handled all of my adversity with grace, and I don’t know. It’s what everyone on the outside sees, when my insides are a screaming and tangled and threatening escape.

But death. Death is one thing we are all going to face.

Death is inevitable, and I don’t think we should fear it. I’m not afraid. I don’t want to die, and I’d never do anything to speed up the process, or invite it sooner. I want to live into my old age, maybe meet a second soulmate, and grow old together with them. I want to have grandbabies and a son-in-law (or daughter-in-law. I’m not picky)

I want to watch my daughter grow into a woman, and watch her find her soulmate, fall madly in love, marry, and grow into her adulthood.

I really love living. I think that Mike is realizing that he loves living as well. Even through the grief that seems to keep being added to his plate, he becomes just a little bit stronger, each round.

I wanted to share his story, because many people judge. Many people do not KNOW. People will never truly understand. But, just the briefest summary of the shot hand this man was felt, and he’s still here. He’s still standing. He is STILL putting one foot in front of the other.

The world we are on is still spinning.

The bills still need to be paid.

Our work here isn’t done, yet.

Death: The only thing guaranteed of life.

Live while you can!

Find happiness!

Be who you are!

Never stop saying their name!

Mary. Megan. Mitch. Sandra. Annie. Gramma and Grandpa McAnany.

Only their bodies are gone. We are forever able to remember them through our pictures, and our memories. We have videos, and voices recorded, now.

On the days we miss them the most, I think their spirits are the closest. Our human form cannot process their presence without their human form, so we interpret their spiritual presence as sadness, and yearning, and missing them.

We FEEL them, but we cannot touch or see them.

May all of our loved ones be partying like rock-stars.

Annie.

Has.

Arrived!

We will miss her, of course. But she is definitely in good hands now.

I See So Much Mitch, in My Daughter’s Face.

The other day, my daughter says “Mom, you should check your photo album, because there are some pretty sweet pics I took for you.”

I knew it was going to be a ton of selfies. It’s what she does. I finished my workout, and checked my phone, and there were 30-ish photos, of her, most in black and white.

I’ve always known Mitch’s traits were stronger in her, than mine. But, seeing these particular photos, really REALLY proves it.

I may or may not have cried, looking at these photos. My little (who is clearly taller than me) is absolutely beautiful, inside and out, with a LOT of her father’s sense of humor.

Looking at her does NOT make me sad, like I’ve seen it does to other people in our situation. Looking at her, and seeing him live through her brings tears of joy to my eyes. Absolute, joy, that he will live on, through her.

There are things that make me miss Mitch more than other things. Like all this snow we’ve had recently. He would have been BEGGING me to go sledding.

I would have said no, and suggested he take a friend, and kids.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with snow. I hate when it touches my skin, but I think it’s absolutely beautiful! I’m about to sound like one of THOSE kind of women, but seeing all the glistening snow reminds me of all the happiest Christmas, and romance movies. I love standing outside and spinning in circles, taking in the beauty of the snow covered tree branches and rooftops. I feel a bit of hope, when I look at it. The smell of snow, is the smell of happiness, and purity, innocence, and clarity. If all of those could be smell, it’d be the smell of fresh snow.

I do love sunshine and beaches more, because, well, I enjoy outdoor activities that don’t involve snow touching my skin. Sand is a welcome touch though. Sunshine, and ocean water, bbqs at the park, and trail running on mountain bike trails. Most of my races are in the warmer climates, and traveling is easier.

But, none of those summer things give the feeling if hope. Maybe that’s why there’s been all this snow. Maybe it gives a lot of people hope, and whoever is in charge of snowfall, (god, goddess, Mother Nature, whatever you believe) decided “It’s time!” And has been dumping on us, consistently for 2 months now.

Every time the snow melts completely, it snows again. This is our spring snow. It doesn’t look too bad, today.

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I feel as though my posts are fewer and fewer theses days, but I realize, maybe it’s because I talk about Mitch every single day. I make social media updates, see all the pictures, and have accepted my fate, as the woman widowed at 34. The widowed mother of a teenage daughter, who couldn’t be any easier to have a child, than she is exactly how she is.

I think, daily, about how proud I am of myself, for fighting to get paid what I was worth, in October of 2016, because if I didn’t, I’d be making $10/hr less than what I make now, and most likely be living the roommate life, or living in a tiny, uncomfortable apartment, somewhere that I don’t want to live. Megan even mentions it, once in a while.

Well, it is time for me to get my day started, so until next time, friends and family.

Much love to you all. And may anyone suffering from such a loss, find hope of happiness, and laughter, in things around you. Remember, there’s always a silver lining, and if we focus on the beauty, rather than the ugly, we can keep on putting

One foot in front of the other.

And always remember, you aren’t moving on, or forgetting anything. You are only moving forward, and making progressive movement.

Dear Mitch,

 

I know you are probably looking down at me wondering “what he hell are you DOING?” OR “Don’t! Not him! He’s a moron!”

Don’t worry. I’m not.

Not with him, or with him.

It’s okay. You remember, I like guy friends. I always had more male friends than female friends, growing up.

I think I have an equal amount of guy/girl friends, now.

But I do like dating. I like meeting all the new people, which is weird, but not too weird, since you know me.

I miss you, tremendously. I have this empty spot in my bed, that only you could fill. I prefer not sleeping next to someone, even if we have sex. I send them home, or to the couch. No, I’m not whoring it up. I just have sex every now and then with one guy.

You’re probably laughing at me, or wondering what the fuck is happening in my head because he’s so much younger. But, you also know, I have always said “If he’s old enough to buy me a drink… Legally… then he’s old enough for me!” Of course, back then, I was referring to the celebrities on TV (cough cough Zac Efron cough cough). haha!

I miss talking about the hot guys on TV and having your unnecessary, jealous stare. It was so funny. You would get so offended about the celebrities I would never meet. I would do it on purpose, just to get a rise out of you. Why? Because I LOVED that you were jealous. Your slight jealousy was comforting. I knew I’d never lose you. At least not to another woman.

I appreciate you. I appreciate all of the patience you held when I was freaking out, right after we got married. When I got “cold feet” post wedding vows. When “forever” sounded like a life sentence. You were there, but not all over me. You allowed me the space I needed, to clear my mind and really figure out who I was, and what I wanted.

Can you even believe that I thought I was a lesbian? I still laugh at that! I was REALLY freaking out about being married. Then, I reminded myself, it was you. YOU. The best of the best. No one other human on this planet could handle me. Not like you did. You spoiled me, in so many ways. Not materialistically, either.

You spoiled me with love. You showed me that good men DO exist, and let me tell you, I can spot them. You spoiled me by doing for me. After a long day at work, you made me mixed, fruity drinks, and ran me a bath with epsom salt. Not because you were trying to get in my pants, but because you loved me. You wanted me to be happy and felt that I deserved to relax.

Oh, remember when we gave each-other massages? That was so long ago. Like in our early 20s! haha! it got to a point where you would give me a massage first, then I would fall asleep and never give one back. Big mistake on my part, because you finally quit giving me massages, and I developed carpal tunnel.

Remember the Christmas 2003, when we decided it would be funny to tell everyone that we were having a baby? hahahahaha!! Oh man! That was so hilarious. Then, in January, we were pregnant. Easy as that. We found out March 3rd, but, still. It happened so fast.

I remember the conversation we had. We were on I35 in 75th street exit. It was Christmas, 2003. We decided we were strong enough, together, to handle ANYTHING. We decided to stop PREVENTING pregnancy.

Oh man. It happened so fast. We had the most perfect little baby. Oh,  I bet you’re freaking out, when you see her, now. I do have to say, at least she’s covered! She has a mouth like her mother, and the wit of her father. She will go far in life.

I am so glad you were able to stick around long enough for her to know, and remember how amazing you were. I am so glad that I won the bet that got me a baby before I turned 22 (actually 18 days after my 22nd birthday, but who’s counting?) If you won that bet, I would have been a widowed mom to a 4 year old! It goes to show that my belief in “everything happens for a reason” is real. I needed to have a preteen. I needed a well rounded kiddo. I needed a kid who understands far beyond her years. And that’s what we had. We had the perfect-for-us child. Weren’t we lucky? Aren’t I lucky, in that way?

Everyone always says, “I’m so sorry for you!”

I bite my tongue, because I want to ask why. “Why are you sorry that I was able to spend all that time with the most amazing man on earth?” I got 16.5 years with you! That was half your lifetime!

There are so many women who don’t have the luxury I have, of saying, “I found my perfect match. My perfect love. Someone who loved me unconditionally.” I have that! I had that. I was able to feel that. I was able to live that. I was so fucking lucky!

It’s so weird to say that, though. People are always so good at twisting words to make things sound bad.

I was so fucking lucky in the way that I met you, had you, loved and was loved by you.

I was unlucky that you died.

But the beauty is that I was able to know you. I was able to have and to hold you.

You taught me how a man should treat a woman. Hell, you taught Meg how a woman deserved to be treated.

Amazing.

You will forever live in my mind and heart, and the hearts of so many who knew you, as amazing.

Ah

Maze

Ing!

My inspiration to be a better human.

My everything.

I miss you.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be graced with your presence.

I am so happy that I had the ability to be loved and spoiled by you.

Thank you.

Thank you for teaching me.

When you died, I thought I was done. I would never get to a point in my life where I could allow feelings for anyone again. It isn’t worth it, I would think to myself. I was mentally crippled by the loss of your presence in my life.

My mind said “WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING??? How do I DO this?” I also had thoughts along the lines of “no one will want me.” But I didn’t care. I bought baggy clothes and hid my body so no-one would even WANT to look.

Those thoughts are pointless.

More importantly, I want you to know, that I hope you are proud of who I am, who I have become. I hope you are proud of my strength and ability to find happiness in such an awful experience.

There are days when I wake up in the morning, and really try to wrap my mind around the fact that you’re no longer here.

Every time I have that thought, my entire body reacts. It’s like I KNOW it is true, but my mind and my soul still refuse to believe.

That’s the impact you’ve left in my life.

With that, I must go to bed.

I will love you always.

I will forever cherish the memories we shared.

You will forever be in my mind and heart.

Love you always,

Ms. Tabbie Wood

 

 

 

 

What Do I Want?

Good news. Bad News. News.

Yesterday, I found out a friend’s step-father died. This morning, I found out a woman I know, the mother of a little girl I coached, died. these people were not old! They didn’t die from old age.

People are passing away, left and right. It’s insanity! We will never know when our time comes, until it is upon us.  It got me thinking. What is it I want from this life?

So, here it is.

In life, I want to be energetic. I want to inspire people to do good. I want people to look at me and say, “Damn. I want to be like her, when I grow up.”

I want to be like Mitch. Everyone wanted to be like him. Right?

In death, I want people to say, “We really lost a great one, with her. The world will never be the same!”

I want love, in life. I want to give and receive all of the love, I can endure. I want to be a great friend. I want to truly listen when people talk to me. I want to be there.

I want to be the kind of mother that makes other kids jealous of Megan. (no offense, mom-friends.) I want to make Megan’s life easier, but, not restrain her from her full potential. She’s going to be amazing! (she already is, and she’s only 12)

I want to be everyone’s big sister, in the way that Mitch was everyone’s big brother.

I want to navigate through life, similar to how Mitch did, only MORE.

I want to be the Aunt that nieces and nephews can confide in, happily.

I want to live beyond my years.

I also want to be the type of Mom that Megan wants to be like, when she grows up. I want to set an example worth following.

I want to pay my bills on time, and maybe, one day, buy a condo or a loft.

I want to be the kind of person that can walk into a room of strangers, and walk away with a room full of new friends.

I will.

I can.

Who’s going to stop me? IMG_20150401_170454

Only I can stop ME.