A Harsh, Harsh Reality

Four bullets was all it took.

One gun and four bullets.

Point blank range.

Execution style.

The metal tubes of Cole’s wheelchair filled with his blood.

The skirting around the love seat acted like a sponge with Karen’s blood.

The area rug had to be thrown away. So did Casey’s good tennis shoes.

Karen’s computer had to be professionally cleaned.

Good people and crime scene tape protected me from seeing most of that horror.

But two weeks later when I had to throw Cole’s wheel chair away, his precious blood still poured out in the driveway as I loaded it in a truck.

No father should ever have to do something like that.

Sometimes it seems like the horror will never go away.

And every time I turn around, the ramifications get a little bit bigger.

I feel like the psalmist and U2… How long must we sing this song? How long?

If this is hard to read, try writing it…

I do have identity problems. I know I am husband to Becki. I am know I am father to Kyle, Conner, and Casey. I know I am “stepfather” to Michael and Max (I don’t like the term stepfather; they are mine now too). I know I am father-in-law to Karissa. I know I am son to Les and Margie. I know I am brother to Billy, Julie, and Amy. I know I am an uncle. I know I am a son and brother-in-law to Sandra and company. I know Karen’s parents, Bob and Joan still claim me as their own.

Everyone one I just named is an amazing blessing. I am more than thankful they compromise a significant part of my identity.

But the truth is in at least one major aspect, I am lost.

My lifelong identity has been compromised.

Anybody that has read anything I have written over the last several weeks can’t help but know I am struggling in my identity with God. I am His child. He is my Father. Except it doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact, it feels like I have a deadbeat Dad who cares little about anything I am doing. It feels like any happiness in my life has been acquired by sheer force of will. It’s like I look around at the strides I have made and say “I did all this on my own with no help from a Father who could have made it all work so much easier.”

Sometimes I fear God and I will never be on good terms again. And I am not so sure who is to blame for that. Because sometimes I think I must have done something so bad that caused God to turn his back on me. And it often feels as if those I love the most are paying a horrible price for my failures.

It’s not like after a BA in Bible and a MA in New Testament preaching that I somehow lack the ability to refute that which I sometimes feel. If it were you we were talking about, I could give you all the theological arguments as to why what you were feeling was wrong.

But it is not you, it’s me. And the arguments and knowledge base I own do nothing to negate the abandonment I feel from God.

Did I mention I have identity problems?

I preached my first sermon during the summer after my third grade year at Camp WAMAVA in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. By the time I was 15, I was preaching every Sunday at the little Gibson Road Church of Christ in Vicksburg, MS. I was the only Caucasian in attendance.

Preaching and caring for people is all I have ever really aspired to.

But four bullets was all it took.

One gun and four bullets.

Point blank range.

Execution style.

I “could have” preached again. I could have stood in front of a crowd of people who would have loved to see me standing there. They would have hung on every word. If it was the worst sermon I had ever preached they would have gladly lied and told me it was my best sermon ever.

But to do so would have been a lie on my part.

Integrity is all I have left.

I would love to preach again. Not as a full time minister whose entire existence is wrapped up in a local church. I am not willing to ever sacrifice my family in that way again.

So I have an identity problem. I want to help others. I want to serve the hurting. And maybe somehow through the printed word and maybe traveling from time to time to share my growing faith I can once again make a difference in the lives of others.

I have an identity problem.

And I am hoping and praying that somehow someday soon, I will feel God’s embrace again and find my true identity in Him.

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So Many Whys

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***Warning:Hard Questions Ahead***

Years ago, I belonged to the Kiwanis Club. It was a good organization. I made some friends. We did some good things. I even served as chapter president one year.

Aren’t you proud?

I was particularly gratified by the way we partnered with Wal-Mart and our church to provide backpacks full of school supplies to kids who really needed the help.

Becki and I want to start the Ferguson Family Foundation in Karen and Cole’s memory. Not sure how to go about it yet or any of the legalities involved–and I am not asking for donations–let me repeat I am not asking for donations. At least not now.

One of the ideas we are kicking around is “Backpacks for Cole.”

I hope being proactive to honor their memory will help find me find some measure of peace.

In the here and now though, I still have so many questions of God. I still struggle hard attempting to understand his nature or why he didn’t intervene.

And I am weary of his new club I am in.

I believe God is good, but how can a good God not stop such an atrocity?

If I, as a father stood by and watched that evil scum rape and terrorize my son and lift nary a hand to stop it, I would be complicit in the crime and a horrible father to boot.

And yet…

That’s exactly what God did. He knew what was happening to my boy.

He knew. And did nothing!

All that pain.

All that fear.

All that terror magnified over and over again until two bullets to the brain ended it all.

Why I ask, why I rail, why I rage did God not smite that evil man with a mighty blow before his horror could be inflicted?

Why?

Why?

Why did the Father God of a precious, innocent, handicapped, and defenseless child stand idly by and do nothing?

Were all the prayers over the years for healing, safety, normalcy just empty words without meaning in a heavenly nuthouse?

Why?

I know God hears my complaint.

And still the questions remain unanswered even as they accumulate.

Why did Cole’s mother have to fight so hard and for naught. Why was Karen forced to swing a hatchet over and over again in a fruitless effort to save both of their lives?

Why does a 15 year old have to wrestle with such grown up questions?

Why does a 6 year old have to tie letters to helium balloons to send to his mother?

This week I had the opportunity to share lunch with a man on the two month anniversary of losing his teenage son.

I am not alone in the asking why?

He and I have been inducted forcibly into a new club neither of us want to be in.

And we cry why and the silence is deafening.

Why,  Lord , do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1 NIV)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?  My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1, 2 NIV)

 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”  My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:9, 10 NIV)

Why?

Batman or the Town Creep? They Are One And The Same!

Just in case you didn’t know, you have never seen a picture of Batman and me together.

Just saying.

I have had a lot of fun with that line.

I have had times when Casey was convinced I was Batman and Kyle was Robin the Boy Wonder. At other times, he believed I had a Power Ranger suit hid somewhere in the house.

There is a lot to be said for identities, secret or otherwise.

There is even more to be said for an identity that is accurate, real, and not dependent on the perceptions of others or even your own self-misperception.

Most of us know how to put on masks that hide our true selves from others. And most of us know how to convince our own hearts and minds that what we want others to see is really what we are.

Occasionally, when we aren’t doing what others want or expect they will see either what they want to see or fabricate something to help them understand what they can’t quite grasp.

Some months after Karen and Cole’s murders, I was still pretty vacant. I wasn’t there in a lot of ways. I didn’t like being around other couples because I felt out of place. Social settings were extremely hard. But somehow somebody got the very false impression that I was out every night with a different woman (at that point I had been on no dates whatsoever). I was told my wild social partying lifestyle–nonexistent as it was–had turned me into the town creep.

At least they got me to laugh.

But the truth is a bit harder to handle.

I had lost so much of me. I didn’t know who or what I was.

It wouldn’t have mattered what the church did or didn’t do. No one person or two hundred could undo what was done. There was no finger to point, no blame to share other than the obvious stealer of lives.

My anger and disappointment and feelings were just that. They were mine and they were born out of my grief, pain, and struggle. Were they accurate portrayals of exact truth? Or were they just how I felt logically or not? Probably some where in the middle lies objective truth.

I have no real interest in lining up all the rights and wrongs into neat tidy little columns.

I would hate to see how long, wide, and big my wrong list would be. I made plenty of mistakes, wore my feelings on my sleeves, and in my anger was looking for a fight–those are now easily recognizable outlets for all the hurt inside.

So the point of writing this blog isn’t to make anybody angry, mad, or feeling like they need to defend themselves. Selfishly, this blog is about me and my journey of discovery, my tentative forays into finding a deeper faith, maybe for the very first time.

It is about acknowledging how deep and dark my despair was.

I wasn’t tempted to swallow a bunch of pills. I didn’t see any solace in the bottom of a bottle. I had no desire to eat the barrel of one of my guns.

But I could do anger, resentment, bitterness, and real or imagined slight. Dump truck loads at a time!

At this point I am still uncertain how to separate reality and perception.

And I am not throwing stones at old friends and family. No doubt they could throw some back.

I will forever be grateful to Doyle & Melissa for giving us a place to stay during that first week. They were caregivers like nobody else could have been.

And Lonny and Twila? Who gives up two expensive burial plots? My memory is faded, but I think Don and Jan gave up one too. How do you say thanks for giving me a place to bury my wife and son?

Then there was Doug. Always there, always faithful. A true and forever friend.

There are really too many kindnesses and people to mention. Please do not feel slighted.

So if I have sounded ungrateful, didn’t mean to…

If I have come across angry, well I meant that. I do have some anger to let go of and I am working on it. Part of that process is this blog.

If you feel the need to extend me some grace, thanks… I am trying myself to learn how to do the same.

Back to Batman… I could only wish my real name was Bruce Wayne. I do kind of look like him, don’t I? (Please leave my fantasy intact–be nice)

However, on October 10, 2011, I lost my identity.
I lost who I really was.
I lost who I thought I was.
I lost who I thought I would become and always be.

Over time I began questioning and doubting and in the process lost who I thought I was with God.

I have reached a place where I don’t think God has completely abandoned me.

I do however have huge unanswered questions about where he was that day, what he was thinking, and why he couldn’t have stopped a murderous jerk before he did his evil business.

I have identity issues, but we are working on them.

Happy Valentines Day to my extraordinarily beautiful and sweet wife who reminds me minute by minute that I am loved and my life has redeemable value.

I love you, Becki! Thank you for willingly walking this road with me.

Heroes Then & Now

**Warning: Some graphic details**

My Casey is a double handful. He burns energy and daylight like there is no end in sight. Rarely still for more than a few minutes at a time, there are some questions that do give him pause and really rock my world all over again.

Before his mother and brother were so brutally murdered, he was already asking questions as to why his birth mother didn’t want him. And to then be at the house while his adoptive mother fought for their lives…

It is a true horror story.

And I have no answers to help him.

Casey has not said much to any therapists we have seen. He is, however, talking to my wife, Becki. Just this past Saturday he offered a new tidbit of information unknown to me before.

When Paul Buckman burst into our home that day, he forced Casey and Karen at gun point to bring Cole out of his room in his wheelchair. I have wondered at times if he really intended to murder them or if maybe he was just taking Cole outside to try and get him to change his story.

But, according to Casey, he was screaming the whole time that he couldn’t go to jail for a hundred years so he had to kill them.

And Karen? She was a hero. She fought like a banshee–she wrestled his hatchet away from him and worked on his head with it. I am told before he took the ultimate coward’s way out, he was a bloody, bloody mess.

And Cole? According to Casey he got in one good punch that bloodied Paul Buckman’s nose.

As much as I hate the violence they endured, I am so glad Cole got in at least one good lick. I hope it rang Paul Buckman’s bell.

I fully believe Karen could have escaped with Casey. But there was no way she would leave her son to face his fate alone. We have no way of being certain, but we are fairly sure she lived to see Cole murdered before succumbing to the same fate.

The horror they endured played like a never ending loop through my head for months–over and over again.

I am still stricken with grief when I stop and consider how much little Casey saw, how much he remembers, and how much of this horror invades his conscious thoughts and nighttime dreams.

Thankfully, Karen is not the only hero in Casey’s life.

For those of you who do not know my Becki, you are missing out on an amazing, sweet, and beautiful person. She doesn’t want any accolades. She is not looking for any credit. But she is an astounding hero nonetheless.

No, she hasn’t faced any intruders comIng in to her home with hatchet and gun. She has not fought tooth and nail against flesh and blood bad guys.

Instead she has selflessly embraced a broken wounded man.
She has invited into her home and heart two children who have experienced the worst this world can throw at them.
She has no idea what future heartache or drama will leak out from all the old and horrific pain and accepts that risk
She has chosen to love fully.
She has determined to heal completely.
She assigns value to those who sometime fail to see value in themselves.
She makes me a better man than I am.

I don’t know if I could walk in her shoes…

But I’m so glad she does.

As far as Paul Buckman is concerned, he was a coward. To this day we have never heard from any of his family. Lawyers tell us us he had a sizable pension from BP, but we cannot go after it in any way. Not that I want to live on his money, but it makes me sick thinking that others are profiting from his death.

But any way you look at it, neither he nor his supporters are worth the time or energy needed to hate them…

You Don’t Own Me Any More

At the risk of you thinking I am lying to myself about where I am emotionally and mentally, let me once again say I am in a really good place,

Some days are harder struggles than others. A friend from Long Beach, MS, Fred Walker, says it like this: “Some days you thrive; some days you survive.”

These days I thrive more than I just survive.

And not to be repetitive (although I guess I am), my beautiful wife has really helped me begin the process of learning how to fully live again.

Even on those days when all I want to do is cry, she picks me up and puts me back on solid ground. (Thanks Three Doors Down for the great Kryptonite lyric)

All that being said, I would be less than truthful if I failed to admit to some bitterness and anger.

Ok.
More than just some.
If I didn’t force myself to let it go, I’d wallow in an anger so deep; I’d bask in a bitterness of deep despair.

I have some real and vivid complaints, however, I am not even sure getting them off my chest will actually get them off my chest.

In some cases I may engender some anger or embarrassment. But guess what? Nobody owns me any more and I can whine and complain if I want to.

I am angry that a man like Paul Buckman could be a pervert and nobody ever held him accountable. Nobody ever spoke up and put an end to his depravity. I am angry at a legal system that couldn’t protect the innocent any better than they did.

I am angry that so many fail to see or understand all the ramifications of this tragedy.

Sure. I get that not preaching anymore was and is a disappointment for some. But how anybody could expect me to jump back up and try to preach again is beyond me.

When you fall off a horse the best answer is to get back up and try again. News flash: I didn’t fall off a horse, I got blown out of the water! Just being at the church building made me gag. Every time I was there all I could see was two misshapen bodies lying in caskets they didn’t belong in.

To be fair, the church did give me six months to figure it out, but obviously those six months were nowhere near enough time for me to wrestle with God. And whether my feelings are accurate or not, they are my feelings.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I am still wrestling,

It seems like all I heard from people was how disappointed they were with me.

Sure I made my mistakes. Wouldn’t you have?

But if you are in the ranks of the disappointed, just know I was doing the best I knew how to do. I had never been a single father before. Starting all over was really scary. It still is.

And I counted on the promise of keeping my health insurance for the rest of the year while I tried to reinvent my life. That didn’t happen. And it became a huge financial problem on top of everything else.

Here’s where it gets funny, losing my insurance was my fault because I wasn’t preaching anymore. Because I wasn’t preaching anymore, attendance and giving was down. And because attendance and giving were down… well you get the picture I am sure. No more insurance.

But there were other issues as well.

Staying in that house was also a problem. I couldn’t do it anymore–but because it was a stigmatized property, it lost more than half the value of what I owed on it. We lost that too.

And then there were all those who had such a hard time with me remarrying again.
How long did you require me to be lonely?
.
Really?

How many miles did you want to walk in my shoes before you decided it was ok?

Even today there are people, friends and family, who are either distant or just not there.

Most everybody has an opinion of how I should have managed things. Good luck with that plan if it ever happens to you.

Some of us don’t get to live in fairy tale land anymore…

Blogging Pornography: It’s Obscene!

**Warning: Graphic Details Ahead

When you google (or whatever search engine you prefer) my name, you get a pretty good grasp of the horror that befell my family, October 10, 2011.

It was a horror far greater than words can do it justice.

When I arrived in my subdivision that day it was packed with an unbelievable police and paramedic presence. And I knew…

In just a few minutes I was surrounded by police protection moving me from one place to another for safety until finally I was placed inside an armored SWAT van. Nobody would tell me what was happening. I didn’t know where Casey was. I had been asked to describe Karen and Cole.

As long as I live I will never get the imagery out of my head of seeing the coroner round the corner of the van and make his way inside. I remember telling him he wasn’t allowed to speak to me–I knew what he had to say. That freeze frame is frozen for ever.

I knew. I knew for sure what my heart had already told me.

Ugliness, hatred, and death ruled that day in power and that power will never be completely broken this side of eternity.

But there is a back story here that is obscene in itself. In fact, this post will detail several obscenities we have endured.

During the spring and early summer, my 21 year old handicapped son Cole (cerebral palsy & mitochondrial disease) was violated in the worst way imaginable by a 70 year old, kindly looking, grandfatherly acting man from our church. We invited him into our home, entrusted him with Cole every Wednesday for a few hours at a time over the course of 12 weeks or so. Cole’s mental capacity was more that of an elementary age child and this was like having a “friend” over to watch TV.

Kids like Cole are high maintenance–parents of special needs kids are often desperate for some down time. This was a personal ministry designed so Karen could have some time out of the house. We thought it was a gift from God.

During that time, Cole’s behavior got very erratic and strange. He was always worried about his DVD’s and game discs getting dirty–but then he began dumping whole stacks in the sink and running water over them obsessed with getting them clean. We had no idea what was going on until he finally broke down and told us he had been molested.

Eventually we discovered he had been raped. Cole’s exact words: “he put toothpaste on my butt and gave me a big shot.” And he was threatened that if he told, his whole family would be shot. During those times of violation, a pistol was laid on Cole’s pillow to remind him of remaining silent.

I never knew until after the funeral that once or twice was actually multiple times of rape.

The months between Paul Buckman’s arrest and the murders of October 10 were very stressful. We questioned everything, especially our inability to see what was happening to our son.

And if that wasn’t obscene enough, we then begin enduring the judgment of church members who were indignant over our reporting the crime. I was told I wasn’t a real Christian for “not working it out” with Paul Buckman. Several church members left. Some began a campaign of rumor, innuendo, and just plain ugliness. The toll on our lives and family was heavy.

But then came the day Paul Buckman burst into the house with a hatchet and a gun. We will never know the extent of terror they endured. Casey who was 5-1/2 years old at the time, made it out of the house at his mother’s urging as she fought for their lives. We have no real idea how much he saw and experienced.

After all of that, a few weeks after the funerals were over, a church lady asked me, “How much pleasure was Cole deriving from his encounters?” (I was never tempted to call her stupid, she went far beyond that threshold)

That particular obscenity made me gag then. The thought still does even now. Some things should never happen.

Three weeks to the day after we laid them to rest, I was approached by a man at church who asked me if I was about to get over it and get back to preaching…

I know that plenty of church folk supported me. I know the horror that visited us that day didn’t visit just my family by ourselves. And, I know people were desperate for things to get back to normal.

I, on the other hand, was a long, long, long way from even knowing what my new normal was going to look like.

“Get over it?”

Day after day, long night after even longer night, I was wracked with pain, grief, and an inability to know anything about what my future would bring.

It was all I could do to keep the clothes washed, get kids to school, and figure out what was for supper.

Preach? I couldn’t think of one decent thing to say about God. My integrity was all I had left and I could not fake it from the pulpit.

During this time we had returned to the house where they had both been shot twice in the head–gun-to-head contact. We had to live there. Before we returned, it had been professionally cleaned by a company specializing in the removal of blood. But the house had been a bloodbath and every time I turned around I was cleaning another patch of bloodstains from walls, door jambs, ceiling, and floors. I would cry and scrub and do it all again.

And then there was the day I realized the hole in the floor was from a bullet.

Obscene.

Obviously I still have a lot to work through.

But if I can, I’d like to ask you to refrain from suggesting one particular obscenity as if it was somehow comforting…. Or something I or anyone else should/ could draw from to make me/ us stronger.

The story of Job is obscene beyond belief. There is nothing comforting about the tragedies that fell on him. Even after being given a new family and financial recovery, the story is still obscene.

Yes, I understand I am building a new life.
And I am so very grateful for it.

Yesterday and today, I have felt physically and emotionally better than I have in a long, long time.

I am beginning to see some progress in my new line of work.

I see a brighter tomorrow.

But sometimes kids lose a beloved dog. And sometimes as parents, we console them with the idea they can have another dog one day.

People are not dogs.
They can’t be replaced.

Not now.
Not in the life of Job either.

And it is obscene to think so.

Thanks to all who have been reading…
Les

Just Waiting: My Evident Mortality

I am in a good place.

Seriously.

Really, I am.

You may be surprised by that admission even as we both acknowledge my struggle with faith, hope, and trust in God.

My paternal grandfather was a big fan of ‘rasslin. (For my northern friends who like to affect a bit of Yankee sophistication, that’s known as wrestling.)

He wouldn’t go any where on a Saturday unless he was given the promise he could still watch wrestling on TV.

He was a ‘rasslin kind of guy. (It’s real, Butch, it’s real…)

Apparently I share that trait as well. I seem to be stuck in a wrestling match with God about how I view Him–how I understand his nature. Like the biblical Jacob, I may limp from a prolonged engagement with God for the rest of my life.

It’s real.

But even as the battle rages, I am in a good place.

My new wife has blessed me beyond measure. She is the worthy woman of Proverbs 31. She has given me a joy and zest for life. She has become my partner walking side by side facing the challenges before us; hand in hand, she has become my co-celebrant celebrating life’s successes.  When I weep, she sits and weeps with me.

I cannot imagine where I would be without her.

Yes, I am blessed.

And yes, I am in a good place.

But therein lies the rub and it is a most difficult thing.

I am in a good place, but since the last week of December through this very week, I have been in a mess.

My life has been fearful, anxious, unfocused, and weird. (Yeah, I know… What’s so new about weird?)

Everyone of those days was lived with the expectation of dying. I expected to die in my sleep or in the deer stand. I was confident my days were greatly numbered. When I told my children good night, I just knew I wouldn’t get to tell them so again.

I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was all ripped away once so how could  it not be ripped away again? Why wouldn’t it be ripped away? God didn’t care before so why would He possibly care now?

This time, it was me. I was going to die and lose it all again.

That has been my conviction.

And that is no way to live.

My wrestling match with God continues even in a good place…

Where are you headed?

At the top of the blog is a link called “the Journey.”

That belongs to you.

So many people have hidden storehouses of pain, disappointment, and utter despair.

Life is a journey and telling others your story brings a freedom to move on to the next stage, whatever that might be.

So where are you headed?

Feel free to share your story.

The Journey.

We are in it together, you and I.

The Fat Lady Isn’t Singing Yet

I am quite sure you’ve heard the quaint old cliche “it ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings.”

Hold that thought for just a minute or two.

Most of us are ill-equipped to deal with grief.

There is no way to ever be completely ready.

Not at the beginning.

Not in ourselves.

Not in others.

Grieving is too complex an issue.

Much has been written about the stages of grief. What I am finding is whether you are new to grief or in a decades long relationship, the grieving are all over the map. In fact, I am hearing stories from fellow grievers detailing short-term and lifelong grieving processes that may never completely end this side of the great divide.

And God how I wish I didn’t, but I get that. I really really do.

After the funeral or graveside service or however you address death’s finality on this side of the ether plains, it isn’t over. Not by a long shot.

You may think the fat lady has sung.

She hasn’t.

She hasn’t begun to tickle those vocal cords in warm-up mode.

She doesn’t even know what the song will be.

So what happens after the funeral and everybody goes home?

Life happens.

Life changes

The world keeps spinning.

Through the tears and the pain a hard fought new reality comes into existence.

And the song the fat lady sings? It is being written and rewritten over and over again.

Some of your friends and family will hear it with you; some won’t.

Some of your friends and family will sing it with you; some won’t.

But one of these days, the fat lady will sing.

I think I hear her warming up.

Loss, Grief, & Pain

Loss is not very hard to quantify. Someone was there and now they are not.

Those left behind become intimately acquainted with all the anger, guilt, regret, and suffering that results.

Loss and grief are intimate bedfellows and their union always brings pain.

And that pain?

It is all consuming, all encompassing. It permeates every fiber of your being

We humans do a lot of dumb things to numb that degree of pain. We try alcohol, drugs, sex, and anything else you might imagine to somehow make the pain go away.

In those first few months, there was too much riding on me to try to mitigate my pain with destructive behaviors. (But don’t think I was somehow better or stronger… don’t think I didn’t want to do anything that would take away the searing pain of loss. Every day I was just a short small step away…)

In the basement of the house I share with my sweet new wife lives my old couch. It’s pretty lonely these days. I don’t really care to visit it. In the worst of my pain, I ruined that couch on one end. I rode that thing like my life depended on it through wave after crashing wave of despair, heartache, agony, and loss.

Those days are mostly gone. There are times when pain rears its ugly head and smacks me between the eyes. And those days, I hurt. I function much better than I did in the immediate aftermath, but still I hurt.

That’s the residual pain that you never quite get rid of…

Most people are compassionate and while they can’t really understand (and I wouldn’t want you too either), they try. For that I am thankful.

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