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Welcome to my website. I hope you will enjoy the eclectic collection of short stories and essays. They are all very close to my heart, in whichever genre. I always welcome comments and feedback. Once again, I hope you enjoy my site. Thank you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

To Relish in his own Misery

  • Inspired by the song "Standing Outside the Fire" by Garth Brooks

The atrocious and very painful hangover he felt this morning was not new.  Living his life as an alcoholic for many years, it was customary. 

Last night, alone, in his apartment, around 9:00 p.m., he sat in front of the television.  A bottle of whiskey by his side and a six pack of beer in the refrigerator, he strived in an endeavor of inebriation which would surely lead to an early death.

Jonathan worked long hours at a menial job, bringing him sufficient money for a cheap, one room apartment in a nice part of the city.  He was the manager of a fast-food restaurant.  The dollars he did not spend on whiskey and beer were free to be spent on the other necessities of life such as food, shelter, and clothing.  Financially independent, he was not left wanting from the income he was receiving.

He worked long hours at his job as manager.  Usually he didn’t have to be to work until about twelve in the afternoon.  Every night he would return to his apartment alone and begin the ceremony which had defined his life for the past fifteen years. 

He was sure to keep a sufficient inventory of whiskey and beer at his apartment, so when he arrived home from work he immediately took a shot of whiskey and quickly followed it with a cold beer.

As he sat in front of the television, his morbid depression was defined by his excessive consumption of alcohol; or was it that his excessive consumption of alcohol was defined by his morbid depression?

It no longer succumbed to motive; it was simply the only lifestyle he knew.  He watched the television as it pleaded with him to some sort of sanity.  The movie, about a relationship which contritely mocked his own existence, did not invoke feelings of emptiness, for they were already ingrained into his soul. 

Whenever the television in front of him called for them, tears would be shed.  The anomaly of emotion was rare, however, and it failed to serve as a crutch to sensitivities that were a thing of the past.

He changed the channel in an attempt to mask his feelings of desolation which had graduated from those of loneliness to what amounted to be a complete lack of disposition.  

He awoke this morning shortly before twelve in the p.m. to start another day.  The magnitude of his hangover was nothing new to him.  He poured himself a cup of coffee and then another.  He turned on the television.

“The chances for rain are very good today,” the weather girl stated.  She continued, “It will be overcast all day.  Chances of showers tonight are expected.  If you are going to go anywhere tonight be sure to wear a warm jacket and bring an umbrella.”

The forebodings of the weather girl did not affect him.  Yet, without self-realized motive, he went next to his couch which had a half bottle of whiskey left over from last night.  He brought it to the kitchen and dumped it down the drain.  He went to his refrigerator and grabbed beer can after beer can, one by one, he cracked them open and dumped them down the drain.

This was the time.  There was nothing to look back to, so all that was left was to look forward to whatever may come.  For years on top of years, he had led his life, haphazardly confusing misery to be merriment.  This was the time for it to all change.  He went through his apartment.  There were empty beer bottles near his bed and more by his couch.  He through them all into the garbage symbolizing, what would hopefully, be a new start.

The next morning he poured himself a cup of coffee, but not to combat the customary hangover.

A week later, getting out of bed, he realized how clear his senses were.

He decided if there ever was a time, this was it.  Once again he awoke with clarity of thought which had been eclipsed from his consciousness.

He awoke one morning, put a pair of running shoes and began to jog.  He, at first, jogged around the block.  Soon after, he began jogging around the neighborhood at further and further distances.

“If there is ever a time,” he thought to himself, “It is now."   

A man that, just over a year and a half ago was too sick to get out of bed each morning was now standing at the starting line for the Los Angeles marathon.  He had been training for almost a year now, and was about to compete in a twenty-six mile journey through the city which would test his endurance in a way he did not think possible, or care enough to consider, just a short time ago.

He ran, with diligence and fortitude, mile after mile, he continued.  The marathon, a test of perseverance for any man, was more meaningful to Jonathan because it represented a completed goal of resolution unthinkable to the man he had been in the past.

As he crossed the finish line, sweat covered his body and tears seeped from his eyes.

This morning Jonathan woke slightly after eight.  He savored his coffee as he watched the morning news.

The weather girl began to speak, “We can expect a sunny day today.  Highs should be around 72 degrees with cumulous clouds forming in the early evening hours.”

Without another thought, Jonathan finished his coffee, and got in his car to enjoy another day of hard work.   With new found hope and passion for life he knew it would a good day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Love of the Season

Awakening early in the morning, it was a time for celebration.  Christmas comes only once a year and this Christmas was more special than most.  As a child, Christmas was the time of year for wishing and hoping for the gifts and toys I longed to receive.  However, this Christmas my family and I would be celebrating my young nephew’s first Christmas.  I was, at this time, a young boy in his early teens, but it was then that I learned the meaning of Christmas.  Christmastime is not a time to celebrate what we receive; nor is it a time to celebrate what we give.  Rather, it is a time to celebrate the love and warmth of the season which is greater than any gift could ever be.  This love transcends to the love of family, which transcends to the love of mankind, which transcends to the love of one’s self, which creates the desire in us to be better people.

My family and I did not have much money, but we wanted to make my nephew’s first Christmas special.  It was at this time that I recognized what Christmas actually embodies.  Although the choice of gifts is important, giving is only part of the celebration of Christmas.  The actual meaning of Christmas is to share the love of which the season encompasses.   At this time I came to know that, with the season of Christmas, comes recognition of the love and warmth that our lives can bring.

That year the Christmas lights and the Christmas tree, which were standard in our household, brought with them more meaning.  Christmas movies which in the past served as no more than entertainment, now warmed my heart like they had never before.  Christmas music came with it an emotional appeal which not only communicates the love of the season, but also the brotherhood of mankind.    

I now wait for Christmas eagerly every year.  I take joy in the gifts that I receive, but more so in the love the season brings with it.  The gifts that I receive are now tokens of love from family and friends which represent the warmth of the season.  The gifts that I bestow also represent my feelings of love and I take great care selecting them in an attempt to convey the sentiment that I feel.

More than the gifts that I receive or the gifts that I give, Christmas is special because of the love and warmth that can be felt during the holiday season.  The spirit of Christmas, abounding with lights and majesty, highlights the feelings of the season that, each of us at our best, wish to embrace.  Christmas movies cause misty eyes with the heart-felt stories that they share.  Christmas music brings feelings of sentimentality with the lyrics and feelings it pronounces.  The spirit of the season brings love to us all.

The love of Christmas is not only shared by my friends and family, but also in the reverence for mankind for which it brings.  The love that is shared during the season is palpable.  Children’s love of the holiday reflects our own with our maturity in not only receiving, but in giving.   However, the presents, the lights, and the music are not the most tangible examples of the love that can be found in the season; rather it is the actuality of creating in ourselves the kind of people we would like to be.  The love that we feel for Christmas translates to the love of family, the love of mankind, and, most importantly, the love for ourselves.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Celebration of a Life

  • Inspired by the song, "Go Rest High on that Mountain" by Vince Gill

His son was sick from what seemed like infancy.   When Thomas’s son had been born, tears flowed freely from his eyes.  The day he took his son home from the hospital was a marked occasion.

Barely past the time of infancy, seemingly shortly after the time his son learned to walk, a sickness surfaced which would debilitate his son for the rest of his time on Earth. 

One weekend, when he was home from work spending time with his wife and son, the onslaught of his son’s illness became apparent.  Joshua had learned to walk and had begun to speak.  The heart-wrenching love which Thomas felt for his son represented a feeling of love so deep that he had never imagined that he would feel.  He pushed his son on a bicycle in their backyard, relishing the smile on his son’s face.  He and his wife savored the love for their son in a way young parents usually do.

The sky was overcast that day.  There were no eminent storms threatening, but the gloom of the day blocked out the sun.  It was a contradictory backdrop to what they emotionally felt to be a serene day.  He pushed his son’s bike and his son sped slowly away for five or ten yards and fell off his bike.  It would have been an innocuous memory if not for the startling revelation that it brought to light.  As he lifted his son off the ground, he noticed a bruise that was far too pronounced for the minor fall.  At the time he did not let himself be preoccupied from the incident.  Although the bruise seemed much too distinct, he lifted his son off the ground and placed him back on top of his bike.  They continued their play activities for a short time to come without significant emphasis put upon the event.

Thomas and his wife cherished their son Joshua.  The precious love that they felt for him was almost more than they felt for each other.  Thus, when the bruise did not go away after a few short days, they became very concerned.  A week passed and another week passed and the contusion, which had barely left a mark, worsened.  It began to swell and puss.  They concern turned to worry and they thought it best to take their son to the doctor with what they prayed was only the nervousness of new parents.

In the waiting room they noticed many other parents with their children.  Some were there with a stuffy nose or flu symptoms while others were there for their shots.  Their worry lessened in their hope that the minor bruise that would not go away would soon be discovered to be trivial in nature.

The startling revelation which shocked and invoked pain and fear to their souls would soon be pronounced.  Their son was facing childhood leukemia in a progressed stage.  Although there was a chance of survival, the chances were not good.  The doctor said, with the requisite demeanor, that their son could expect two, maybe three more years of life.

The tears flowed freely.  The emotions got the best of both of them.  They did not know how to tell their son of less than five years and they were not even sure that he would understand.  As the doctor said the words, “Two, maybe three years can be expected” they let their tears fall in a dignified manner.  The doctor recommended medicine and chemotherapy, but acknowledged that these treatments would not cure Joshua’s disease; they would simply prolong his life.

That night, when they got back to their house, they put their son to bed quietly and with care.  Thomas and Julie had a very important conversation.  They were not wealthy, but they both worked very hard and they were well-off. 

“If Joshua only has three years left, I want to make them the best for him as they can possibly be,” Thomas told his wife Julie.  They whole-heartily agreed on this point, but did not know how to make the three years as special as they would like.

“I can quit my job so I can spend more time with Joshua,” she said.  “But, we need to have at least one of us working.”

They discussed the subject all-night.  They decided to put all other aspects of their life on hold as they celebrated their son’s life.  Thomas would work, but spend every weekend with his son.  He would take advantage of every vacation day and sick day from work to rejoice in the life of his son.

Two years later, his son was in a short stage of remission.  They lived in Seattle, but they decided to take the trip to Southern California to visit Disneyland in what they agreed would be a highlight in the life of their young son.  Thomas was able to get a week off of work to mark the occasion with a three day pass to the park and a survey of other tourist attractions in the area.

As they walked their son down Main Street in Disneyland hand in hand, he looked up at them with a grin of glee and amazement.  The smile on their young son’s face once again almost caused tears to escape from their eyes.  They rented a room in the nearby hotel so they could share with Joshua every attraction of the park.  They rode all the rides with him and they enjoyed his enchantment from the lights of the Electrical Light Parade

That was three years ago.  His son had proved the doctor wrong by two years, but such triviality of thinking did not make the wounds lessen. 

They sat with the rest of their extended family in church that day.  The preacher welcomed Joshua’s soul into heaven and their tears did not subsist.  The rest of the family, not nearly as close to Joshua, also expressed sentiment for the occasion. 

Nearing the end of the ceremony, after the preacher had concluded his memorial, and after Thomas had spoken words in remembrance of his son, Julie stood in front of the church to say goodbye to their son.

“Nine years ago,” she began, “Our son was born into the world.  To Thomas and me the occasion was momentous in itself.  The heart-wrenching emotions we felt were more than we had ever known.  From his first smile, our love for him grew stronger.  With his first step and first word, the love was palpable.”

She continued, attempting to not let the emotions take control of her.  “Barely longer than four years into his young life, we learned that God was going to take our child from us.  Rather than feeling resentment, we took it as an opportunity to celebrate a life.  It was with this outlook that we faced our son’s illness.  The time that Thomas and I were able to spend with our son will be close to our hearts forever.  It will not be a memory of bitterness, but a memory of joy.”

She concluded her words about their young son.  As the crowd walked out of the church, Thomas and Julie realized that it was truly a celebration of a life.  Their young son was indeed in heaven now with God.   Joshua had died far too early in life, but the feelings of adoration for him would never die.