Yesterday, I watched an episode of Bull where they were defending an abused wife who shot her husband in the back while he was sleeping. Then she slept next to him while he bled out. Yeah, I guess she was done being his punching bag. Whenever we watched shows or movies with abused wives and/or kids and sexual assault, you would always get so angry and say, “I wished he picked on someone his own size. Let’s see how powerful he feels then!” Sometimes, if it was very disturbing, you would even get to the point where you would say, “I wish I was there so I can knock him out, so he knows how it feels!” I can’t even imagine the pain, the suffering, the fear, and the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness each victim must feel and undergo on a daily basis, especially when the perpetrator is someone they love, who’s supposed to love and protect them for the rest of their life. I have to admit, if there was one thing you took very seriously in life, it was my safety!! I think a lot of people can attest to how overly protective you can be when my safety was involved. (I think you would cringe if I told you, I accidentally left the front door unlock for days without even knowing it. I would have gotten a lecture about this for days if you were still alive.) If I came home after it was dark, the porch light would always be on and if it took me longer than 3 mins to get inside the house, you would open the door and watch me get out of my car and into the house. If I drove to So Cal by myself, you would check all the fluids and lights on my car to make sure there were no issues, and you would also make me take your backpack with all your search and rescue stuff just in case something happened on the drive (you made it seem like I would even know how to use half the stuff in there). Me, on the other hand, I could barely remember to lock the doors, so your safety was the last thing on my mind. You would get sad and mopey whenever you felt I didn't care about your safety. If you came home and the porch light wasn't on, you'd say, "I guess you don't care if I get through the door safely or not." And I would say, "What are you talking about?!" You would say, "You don't even care enough to leave the porch light on for me!" Then I would say, "Babe, you're 6'4", I don't think anybody would try to grab or kidnap or rape or molest you. If anything, they would be scared you would attack them back if they tried." Then you would say, "That's not the point. The point is I always remember to leave the porch light on for you when you come home late or after dark!" So, to settle this dispute and not have to hear you tell say I don't love or care about you, I bought smart light bulbs and set-up a schedule, so I wouldn't have to remember to turn on the porch light everyday and you would know that I do care about you and your safety. Another secret to a happy and successful marriage!!
As you know, I’m erratic, I wear my emotions on my sleeves, and I have no control whatsoever over my words and emotions when I’m upset or mad. I’m always on the defensive with my boxing gloves on, ready for a fight. I would argue with someone for cutting in front of me in line. (I blame it on being raised by a bunch of alpha-females. It was survival of the fittest in my family. There are two types of personalities in my family. You’re either aggressive and have your boxing gloves on all the time, ready for a fight or you’re passive and get trampled on. There’s really nothing in between.) You, on the other hand, was always calm, cool, collected, even keel, and mindful of your words and tone, even when you were mad or upset. You rarely raised your voice and never call me ‘out of my name.' I think you yelled at me twice in the time we've been together. And, when I say “yell” -- you raised your voice like 2-3 octivals and spoke very calmly an succinctly, most of the time, it was just to tell me to ‘calm down’ or stop calling you ‘out of your name’ when I’m unleashing my “SY craziness” on you. I wouldn’t care, I would call you whatever name comes to my mind at that instance. Your famous line to me whenever I got a little too crazy was, “SY, I don’t call you ‘out of your name,’ so don’t call me ‘out of my name.’” You even threatened that one day you were going to call me ‘out of my name’ just so I know how it felt, but you never did. I think the only time you lose your ‘cool’ is in the car. You had some serious road rage issues, maybe that’s where you let it all out at.
I think that’s why we rarely fight, it was no fun to fight with you. You never lost your cool. I would be full of passion, yelling and screaming. I would try to get you all riled up, so I can get a reaction from you, but it never really happened. I’m not saying you never said anything harsh to me, cause you have, but it was always delivered calmly and cooly. One thing we never did was ‘hit below the belt’ when we fought! We always fought fairly when we were in the ring together. I did most of the punching (that’s just how my personality is, remember, I always have boxing gloves on) and you would sit and listen and asked if I was done so you could speak. I think you wore me down over the years; I lost the ‘fight’ in me, and I became less argumentative and more chill and laid back. I remember one time when I was home visiting my family, one of my aunts got in my face. It was the first time I sat there in silence and shock without a comeback. I was no longer a survivor, I was being eaten alive by the wolves. Let’s just say, I never let that happened again, but I also learned how to ‘tame the beast’ when I was visiting my family, so it helped me stay out of trouble as well. Yes, I know, you get the credit for teaching me how to 'tame the beast' within me. I don't know how you did it but you did. (I think my mom should thank you for taming me, she always tried but never could.)
It’s funny to hear stories about when you were younger. Your family said you were very quiet and just read all day long when you were a kid. Your mom said it was hard to punish you, since sending you to your room never felt like a punishment since would just you read all day long anyways, so it didn’t bother you at all. Your cousin RJ said, “S read so much, we thought he was going to be a rocket scientist when he grows up!!” (You know I was rolling on the floor laughing when I heard this. To me, you were always the jock, never the nerd, so I can’t even imagine it!) Your aunt JJ says that you would read underneath the bunk bed (like on the floor under the bed) to get some peace and quiet while the other kids were playing. Your step-mom said you were quiet and didn’t blossom until you discovered girls, who starting flocking all over you when you became a rising track star in high school. She said all the girls would be shouting your name at the track meet. (Like I said, if you were a pro baller or professional athlete, we would never have met or you would never have noticed me since you would be too busy with all the ‘groupies.’) I’m sure it’s hard for a lot of people to see you as quiet and nerdy since you have such an outgoing and boisterous personality now. You light up any room you walk into!
I, on the other hand, was a rebel child growing up. I was always testing and pushing the limits of my boundaries. I always had to have the last word and never let anyone step on my toes. My mom said I was the hardest child to raise; she could never break me (and I assure you, she tried very hard also). I was a wild horse she couldn’t tame. If anyone said anything I didn’t like, I would always talk back, even to my elders. I refuse to put up with anything that I thought was ignorant or nonsense. You were shocked when you found out I was a crazy rebel child, but in my defense, my sister exaggerated a lot of the stories to make me seem even meaner and crazier than I really was. She only told you what I did, but never what she did to provoke me. It’s really hard to believe how tight my sister and I are now if you knew how we tortured each other when we were growing up!! I call it fighting for shared resources, remember, it was survival of the fittest in my family!!. Anyways, I spent most of my adolescence and young adulthood on some sort of spiritual quest or journey. I always trying to ‘find myself’ and search for ‘the meaning of life.’ This was the part of my young adulthood that you always like to make fun of. Whenever I tell you stories about my college days, you would always laugh and say, “Why is every story you tell me about college always about you and your friends trying to find yourself?! Was it really that hard?! Did you really not know who you were?!” I would just give you my sarcastic look whenever you said this!
Yes Babe, I’m always trying to figure out the meaning of life. Like why are we here? What is our purpose? Why do we suffer? Why do we have to die? Why does life and death have an inverse relationship? Why does our mind, heart, and soul grow stronger with wisdom and knowledge while our body defies us and grows weaker and more tired as we age. I feel like I’ve spent my entire adolescence and 20’s trying to find the answers to these questions, but I never really made any headways on answering these questions. If anything, I started to lose steam and stopped questioning when I was in my 30’s. I started to become more of a realist and a cynic in my 30’s. I went from questioning life to just existing. I think part of the reason why I always wrestled with the idea of having children was my inability to find meaningful answers to these questions. I struggle with bringing children into the world when I can’t even find or understand my own meaning and purpose in life. It just feels so bleak to raise children in a world where they will suffer and die. It's the notion that you give death when you give birth, and the idea that each day you live is the closer you are to death. I know, so morbid, right?! But that’s how I feel and think when it comes to having kids. For you, you were always scared that if we had kids, they would be psychopaths or serial killers. (I think you watched too many Criminal Minds and CSI shows.) But, I think the biggest fear we both shared about having children was our inability to overcome the pain and sorrow if anything ever happened to them. I think this fear coupled with the knowledge and understanding of the great responsibility and sacrifice it takes to raise thriving and productive people was just too much responsibility for us. We figured if we were meant to be parents, it would happen; just like getting married. So, we didn't worry too much about being parents.
After you passed, for a brief second, it dawned on me that we would never have any kids together. We would have no legacy to leave behind. No one to continue our story or keep our memory alive. Nothing to say we existed together in this world. But, eventually, I came to accept that we made a conscious decision together, and we knew and understood the consequences of our decision. We always felt we had everything we wanted and needed with each other. We didn’t need children to make us feel whole or complete. And, to be quite honest, I can’t imagine being a single-parent right now, I can barely manage the animals on my own. I remember a scene from This is Us, where Mandy Moore’s character is scared of crossing the bridge, so she always closed her eyes when they drove across the bridge (yes babe, of course her husband was driving and not her). But after her husband died, she didn't have time to be scared. She had kids and she was now the mother and the father, so she found the strength and had to conquer her fear. She drove herself and her kids across the bridge and she didn't even flinch (this was shortly after his memorial service). I remember I could barely leave the house after you passed. I couldn’t even go to therapy. I cancelled a few times because whenever I got ready to leave to the house, I become hysterical. The therapist got to the point where she was determined to see me, whether it was in her office or at our house, but she was going to see me one way or another. Before I could leave the house, I had to mentally prepare myself for days since I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to come back if I left. Just coming home from the hospital after you died was such an ordeal that I wasn’t sure if I could do it a second time. So, in all honestly, I’m glad we don’t have kids. I think this experience would be a million times harder, just watching the animals grieve for you was hard enough. I don’t think I could deal with any of this if there were kids involved.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.