Sometimes I Wonder

Sometimes, I wonder about him. He was devastated. I called him about a business matter, but he mentioned his pain. I couldn’t ignore his grief. His father died. I told him I understood. I could relate to him losing someone he loved, because I’d lost someone recently, too. I told him it would take time to heal, and how crazy family can be during a time of loss because everyone is trying to show the deceased how much they were loved and appreciated. There’s not a blueprint for how to grieve. Everyone does it differently. I wonder if he remembers my words.

I heard he lost his job because he started drinking. I guess he was trying to numb the pain. It feels prideful for me to say this, but sometimes I wonder if he remembers our conversation. I would call and check on him if I had his number. To be honest, I don’t even recall his name. I just remember the pain behind the voice on the other end of the phone. I wonder if he remembers that someone cared, and understood. I guess I still care, even now. I hope he’s doing well. I hope he’s healing.



Empty Chairs

I’ve reposted this story before, but came across it on my Facebook page today. I actually forgot about this story! (I know, I should know ALL my stories, right?!) Empty Chairs takes a look at what happens to the families of criminals and victims. They both lose something, but the way most of us see justice, is that it has to take as much away from guilty as possible, their livelihood, even their life. I can’t say whether that is right or wrong. Take a read and share your thoughts. Who lost more? Who deserves to mourn?

empty chair

I was angry. Even though two years had passed, the pain was still deep. I understood her attempt at an apology was meant to bring closure to me and my family, but I felt like she was just trying to ease her conscience…

Source: Empty Chairs

Back to Life

It’s been two months since I posted anything. My focus has been diverted by all aspects of life. The last 60ish days have been a little bit of a downer. In times like that, it’s sometimes a good thing to be silent. There are things I wanted to write about, but I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready. I don’t have the right words yet. Some of the things that had my attention are:

  • The latest round of police related shootings. It’s heartbreaking. I’ll share my thoughts eventually, I just don’t want to overwhelm this space with my anger, frustration and pain.
  • My family started the 2nd half of the year by saying goodbye to my grandmother.  She was my last grandparent. Even though I mentally prepared for the day my grandparents would be gone, I wasn’t prepared for how it would affect the way I look at how much time I may have left with my own parents. The loss of an elder brings the next level of “adulting” into clearer focus. One day my brother and I will need to care for our parents like they cared for theirs. We need to prepare ourselves for when that time comes.
  • In happier news, I’m working on a project that is still something of a secret as of this posting, but I will be able to share details in the coming weeks! That’s all I can say about that, for now!

While July was the official start of the 2nd half of the year, the 8th month of the year (the number 8) is symbolic of new beginnings. I can’t let myself get stuck in a rut. I’m looking forward to blogging again. I’ve missed posting weekly. Not writing is frustrating and leaves me feeling grumpy! A grumpy Nike is not a good thing! So, I’m declaring this a new beginning for myself and coming back to life!

Flashback Friday: Eating Alone

Warning: You may need a Kleenex while reading this piece. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker.

Today’s piece was written a couple of years ago. My writing challenge was to write a story about eating alone. I read this piece today and can think of several more things to add (which would mean you’d need more tissue), but I’m going to let the original post stand as is. I’ll jot down my ideas and play around with this story in my spare time. 🙂

So, I present to you, Eating Alone. (I’ve added some music below to set the mood.)

Hide and Seek

I know today is supposed to be a “C” day, but I decided to jump ahead to the letter “H,” because I’m adult and that’s how I roll!  😀

Today’s short story is based on a writing prompt about losing something. I hope you enjoy it!

Photo credit: Sukanto Debnath

“I found you, I found you,” he squealed with excitement. He wrapped his plump arms around my thigh and jumped up and down. He had won this round.

“Now you count,” he ordered as he pushed me toward the tree in the middle of our backyard to count. 

“Ok! Ok! I’m going! No need to push,” I laughed.

“No peeking, eeiver! I mean it!”

I chuckled at his baby talk and assertiveness, but covered my eyes and face, as the traditional hide and seek rules demanded, and began to count slowly and loudly so he could hear me from anywhere in the yard. I knew where he would hide. He’d been hiding in the same spot all afternoon – on the deck, under the picnic table. I heard his little foot steps head toward the deck, followed by the thump, thump, thump, of his sneakers as he scampered up the short steps. He squealed with excitement as he crawled under the table. Then, he was quiet.

“8, 9, 10! Ready or not, here I come,” I shouted toward his hiding place. He didn’t make a sound this time. I made a big deal of looking for him in open places, like on the other side of the tree where I just finished counting, in and behind his playhouse, and between the well trimmed shrubbery that surrounded the deck before finally tip-toeing on to the deck and announcing, “I’m going to find you!” By now, I would have heard him giggling from under the table, but he remained silent. I ran over to the table and shouted, “I gotcha!!” But he wasn’t there. He was getting good at this game. I smiled. He’s such a smart little boy. 

I looked behind the shed and I even looked under the porch, but he wasn’t there. My chest tightened. I checked the side gates to make sure he didn’t let himself out of the yard. The gates were locked and the latch was too high for him to reach.

“Come out, come out, where ever you are,” I called in a sing-song voice. I stood still in the yard and listened for him to come running toward me. The birds chirped, cicadas sang and a neighbor was mowing his lawn a few houses over. But he didn’t come. Panic rose in my chest. I was sick with fear. I tried to calm myself. He couldn’t have gotten far.

I went back to the deck and looked around and noticed the patio door was ajar. I breathed a sigh of relief. I checked behind the tables and chairs on the enclosed porch and wondered how he managed to open the door without me hearing. I looked around in confusion. Where could he be? Maybe he needed to go potty. The french doors that lead to house were easy enough for him to open and close without help, but at three years old there wasn’t too much that Todd did quietly. I rushed inside, concerned that he may have gotten into something and possible hurt himself.

“Todd,” I called, “Are you in here?” The house was silent. I checked the powder room on the first floor, the garage and the basement. I checked the front door. It was locked and chained. I had the keys in my pocket. There was no way left the house. I was on the verge of tears as reached into my back pocket to pull out my phone and call the police when Todd and his father jumped out of the closet in the foyer, scaring me half to death.

“We tricked you! We tricked you,” Todd shouted in excitement. His father laughed.

“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist!” I slapped him in the arm. Hard! I couldn’t speak because I was crying tears of relief. He pulled me into his arms and apologized again. He came home early to surprise us and decided to join in on the game.

“Ok! Ok! I won’t scare you like that again! I promise!”

“Daddy, we scared Brenda good! Let’s play again!”

“No! No! No,” I finally managed to say. “Let’s have lunch instead.” Todd ran to the kitchen, ready to eat.

Lunch followed by a nap seemed a good way to closed out the afternoon. Losing a game of hide and seek, and thinking I lost my fiancé’s son was more than enough adventure for one day.


This poem is from my book, Persistence of Vision. It was inspired by artwork of Clint Brown. This image is a part of a series called The Plague Drawings. Special thanks to Clint Brown for allowing me to share his work.

Image from The Plague Drawings, used with permission.
Hollow Embrace by Clint Brown


What began as exploratory curiosity
eventually led to a single rendezvous,
in a room hidden from
the light of day,
but quickly
turned into frequent assignations,
and innumerable stolen moments
of explosive passion and lust
only to abruptly end
with final breaths
of regret.

If She gave too much
he took more than his share
and demanded more still
to feed his ego’s insatiable
appetite for her tender flesh.
Shameless suppliant,
foolish guttersnipe!
She bathed him with amorous
words and lofty immemorial fantasies
of him being Her first and evermore immorato
and Her being The One his soul long for.
Yet, was not his soul,
but his loins alone
that longed for Her.

She believed his lies
of the time being too soon
and his desire to know
Her deepest thoughts
and emotions before
he could present Her as his
crowned jewel
She saw him in the arms of another
who did not love him as well as She.
But he courted her
and presented her to all he knew
and flaunted her
as though she were new to the world,
but she wasn’t worthy,
there was no way
she knew how to speak to his soul
as She had done
in their clandestine encounters.

Could She be so easily replaced?

Truth settled in Her heart
and shattered its walls.
He was never Hers
and never intended to be.
So, She went back to their hiding place
and cried over the cessation
of his attention
and welcomed Quietus
as if it were Her next
romantic pursuit
and clung to it
wishing it was he
taking her to rest.

Empty Chairs

empty chair


I was angry. Even though two years had passed, the pain was still deep. I understood her attempt at an apology was meant to bring closure to me and my family, but I felt like she was just trying to ease her conscience. It didn’t stop me from wondering what kind of animal she raised. There wasn’t anything that she or her son could say to ease the pain. I stopped short of wishing her son dead. I wasn’t cold enough or hateful enough to wish this kind of pain on anyone else.

There isn’t a word that describes the loss of child. There’s simply a void – a painful, sickening,  and overwhelming void. A piece of my heart died. The person that was a physical part of me for nine months, who I nursed and held in my arms, that looked up to me with loving and dependent eyes suddenly stopped being because somebody else didn’t value his life. It doesn’t make sense. It will never make sense.

I still mourn. Two years later and I still break down and cry when I think about the milestones he never achieved. He didn’t get to graduate from high school, he didn’t get to go to college.  He had a girlfriend. Maybe they would have gotten married one day. Maybe they would have settled down and started a family. He would have carried on the family name. Her son robbed us of that future, and now she stood before me and before this crowd and offered a heartfelt sounding apology. I admired her courage.

She talked about her son’s life, his desire to become a professional athlete, the scholarships he lost because of the murder he committed, all of his academic achievements and his regret for his mistakes. I listened as she made it a point to turn toward me and apologize for her son’s “mistake.” I would have been able to accept her apology and move on if she hadn’t said the following:

“I can relate to what you are going through. I’ve lost my son, also. His future is gone. We are forever changed by his mistake.”

I heard several gasps from the crowd. I remained still. She continued to speak with a pained expression on her face as she talked about her son. There was quiet applause as she sat down. The facilitator called me to the podium next.  I looked out into the crowd at the other families who were somehow affected by the violence that has overtaken our city. I saw politicians, police officers, and members of the media in the audience waiting for my speech.  I glanced down at the note cards in my hands. They were shaking. I wasn’t nervous. I was angry. I felt tears stinging my eyes. I let them fall.

“I had some statistics and other information I wanted to share with you today. I wanted to tell you a bit of my son’s story and about the process – the entire process of going through the court system to get justice for my son while mourning his loss. But, I think it’s more important to address a few of Mrs. Bellamy’s comments,” I began. I turned toward her and looked her directly in the eyes.

“I can understand that you miss having your son at home. But you get to visit him. He can call you. You still get to hear his voice in real-time, not on video or an old voicemail. He is still alive. He may not be comfortable, but where he is more spacious than the grave my son rests in now. How dare you attempt to compare the two. Your son is losing time ‘on the outside.’ My son’s life was taken. People have tried to comfort me by saying his death was ‘God’s will.’ No, it wasn’t. It was your son’s will. He took my son’s life, not God. I am respectfully asking you to never make that comparison again. Our losses cannot be compared.”  I took a deep breath and turned back to podium and tried to still my shaking hands. The audience began to murmur and I heard movement behind me. I looked back to see Mrs. Bellamy’s seat was empty. I turned back to the audience and shared the information I originally intended to share.

After the program was over, some of the panelist and audience members came up to me and offered words of support and comfort. I needed to find Ms. Bellamy. Even though I was direct and meant what I said to her on stage, I didn’t want her to leave believing I didn’t understand how her son’s actions changed her life. I found her in a small conference room with her husband and daughters. Her husband saw me first and moved towards me with a stern look on his face.

“You can’t come in here! You’ve said enough! My wife tried to apologize to you and you weren’t even graceful enough to just accept the apology,” he yelled as he shook his finger in my face and attempted to close the door on me.

“David,” she shouted, “You aren’t helping matters! Stop yelling at her! She was right. Girls, take your father out of here. Let me and Ms. Dreyer talk.”

“I’m right outside this door, Rita! You call me if you need me,” he made sure to plant me with an angry look before leaving and slamming the door behind him and his daughters. I sat down next to her at the conference table.

“Ms. Dreyer, I didn’t mean to make you angry with my apology, but I’ve been through something, too. I’ve been hurt by this and it continues every day. It doesn’t end.”

“It doesn’t end for me either! The person that is missing at your dinner table is still able to communicate with you! I don’t have that anymore! The empty chair at my dinner table will never be filled again! My daughter doesn’t have a brother anymore. I lost my husband and son in the same month, and to hear you say that your son being locked up is anything like burying a child…yes, it made me angry. I know you regret what’s happened. I accept your apology for that, but you cannot compare our losses.”  We sat in silence for a moment. There was more to be said, but I certainly didn’t want to add to the hurt with my words.

“I had to leave my job,” she said softly. “The firm was concerned about all the attention my son’s case getting. They didn’t want their name associated with my son’s case in any way. They offered me a package to leave. All those years I worked and fought to become partner…no one in town will hire me because people have the notion that I raised a murderer. I’ve read the comments to the news stories online. Everyone wonders how come I didn’t supervise my son better, why didn’t I know he had a gun, why didn’t we lock our weapons up better. His crime was my fault. I was on trial with him. He wasn’t a bad kid. You know that. He used to visit your house sometimes.

We’re struggling to pay bills. My husband lost his job. He got in a fight with co-worker who kept making remarks about our son being a gangster and a thug. David was charged with assault. We’ve gotten death threats, our home and vehicles have been vandalized multiple times. Neighbors that we once considered friends no longer speak to us. Our lives don’t belong to us anymore. The media practically lives outside our front door. This is no kind of life. I try not to let Ricky know everything that is going on. He’s going to be in that place for the next 18 years. But he knows – he hears about the things that are going on. He’s depressed about this. He realizes how much his actions have changed all of our lives. He tried to kill himself twice.

Even my daughters had to deal with bullying in the classroom and parents expressing ‘concerns’ about having the siblings of a murderer in class with their precious children. We’ve been home schooling them since the trial. This is the weight my family has carried for two years. It’s nothing like burying a child, you’re right. I should not have made that comparison. But it’s hard as hell to live like this.”

I watched her as she spoke. Her face was wet with tears. I’d been unfair in my judgement of her, just like everyone else. I took her hand and gave it a squeeze. Then I reached over and hugged her.

Maya Angelou

I needed a day to process the news that Maya Angelou passed away. Of course, I know that nobody lives forever, but it didn’t stop me from hoping she would always be around. I wanted to meet her and sit at her feet and listen to whatever wisdom she chose to bless me with. That opportunity is gone.

I regret that I wasn’t able to make it to the University of Delaware last year when she came to speak. I loved listening to her speak! She chose her words very deliberately. She didn’t rush. It seemed to me like she saw all the possible words she could use hovering in her mind, and would pluck the perfect word and drop it into her sentence. I marveled at her ability to say things in the most perfect way. She had a brilliant mind.

I read her books and poetry as a teenager and was amazed by her story. I thought she was bold and courageous. It takes a great deal of courage to share the deepest details of your life with people you know. It takes a greater deal of courage to share, not just to good times, but some of the darker times of your life with the world, in writing. That’s bold. (Memoirs are not an easy thing to write, especially if some of the key players in your life story are still alive!) I appreciated her openness.  I was amazed that one person did so much in her life. She travelled, she sang, she acted, she danced, she raised a child, and became a teacher. She was open to life! She LIVED.

I cannot recall which book the quote below was in, but I adopted it as a good way to handle life.

“Hope for the best, be prepared for the worse. Life is shocking, but you must never appear to be shocked. For no matter how bad it is it could be worse and no matter how good it is it could be better.”  – Maya Angelou

Her passing isn’t a total surprise. As I said, nobody lives forever. I’m glad to hear that she still writing, her mind was still working and she was still active until she passed. She lived, and I am so grateful for that.

Rest In Peace, Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Eating Alone


I was hungry. I knew I needed to eat, but my stomach protested at the thought and sight of food. It was my first week back to work and I could not focus. I hadn’t slept or eaten much since the funeral. Why do employers only give you a week to mourn? A heart cannot heal in seven days. You don’t love someone, build a life and raise children with them and then feel the loss for just seven days.

But, life has to go on. I can’t stay in mourning for the rest of my life. The kids are grown and out of the house. They have their children to take care of and jobs to return to. I am left with an empty house, an empty spot on the couch, at the dinner table, in our bed. I have memories, a constant flow of memories that make me cry. The scent of his cologne still lingers in our bedroom. His shoes are still by the door. I keep listening to the last voicemail he left me. He said, “Hey Lady, I’m just calling to say I love you. That’s all. I didn’t want anything. I love you, and I hope your day is going well.” It was a lunchtime call. I missed it because I was in a meeting. The accident happened during the evening rush hour. I was in traffic just a few miles behind the accident. That traffic jam changed my life.

So now, I have to get used to eating alone, watching TV alone, and waking up alone. I have to get to the point of not getting sick to my stomach at the realization that he isn’t coming home. Life goes on, and though I miss him, so must I.

God and I

Time with God
Time with God

I haven’t been able to sleep lately. I fall asleep at midnight and wake up two hours later thinking I got a good night’s rest, until I look at the clock.  My heart sinks every time it happens. The cause of these sleepless nights is two parts stress, and one part autoimmune disorder and the pain that comes with it. Last night, was a good night!  I fell asleep at midnight, and woke up at 4 AM, and ENTIRE hour before my first alarm goes off! Truthfully, I almost threw a hissy-fit because I wanted that one hour! But I decided to be grateful and thank God that I slept as long as I did without waking up every hour.

I decided to make good use of my time. I was awake. God is awake. I figured it was a good time for me and Him to chat. I don’t do that often. I usually talk to God throughout the day about little stuff. Like:

Dear God, PLEASE change the traffic light! I’m about to be late for work.


God, I am so sleepy, please help me make it to the end of my shift!

This winter, my conversations were more like:

Seriously God? MORE snow?! Why do we need more snow?!

But there was one conversation I had with Him, where I told him how tired I was. I got transparent with him. I went through the “why me” of the autoimmune situation, and finally settled in my mind that this disorder is what I have to deal with, now. I didn’t have a choice. I had the, “If it’s your will, Lord,” conversation with God. When it comes to health, it’s actually easy to say, “If it’s your will, God, let it be so,” because you are usually already in the midst of the issue at that point. But, I decided to extend that prayer. I asked Him to take away the condition, if it was his will, but I asked Him to take away other things, too. That’s a more difficult prayer. At that point, you are laying everything on the line; family, friends, the job you love, the possessions you worked hard for and cherish and that He blessed you with. Now, I did punctuate that prayer with, “but if you don’t need to take anything, don’t.” Because I didn’t REALLY want God to feel obligated to take anything. He’s not a genie in the bottle, after all!  He immediately went to work! He shaved a lot of things out of my life that made functioning day-to-day easier on me. But, He took something that was very important to me, something that I wanted to keep. I was about to complain to Him about it when He reminded me of my prayer. I had to shut my mouth and accept the loss.

How often do you hear people celebrate God answering prayer when He gives them something? Often, I’m sure. How often do you hear people celebrate when God takes something they wanted? Not so much. But this is a learning process.  There is a scripture in the bible that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) It reminds me that A.) what was taken is not the worse loss that I can suffer, and B.) God has a plan for my life, which means He will take things out of my way that may have been blocking me, or moving me in the wrong direction.

So, all this to say, that at 4AM this morning, I began celebrating God remembering and answering my prayer. He is taking me somewhere and I can’t go to that opportunity He has planned for me with excess baggage slowing me down!

Thank you, God!