Julie,

 

a note-within-a-note:

 

what follows is basically a stream-of-consciousness freeform typing from me.  it's long, it's huge, it's me.....raw and not really edited.

 

if you choose to read, i do appreciate it.  but given the length, you are under no obligation from me TO read.

 

that you'd ask, that you'd care enough to send the message this afternoon that you did.....

 

you've been a better friend to me than I to you, I"m afraid.  and for that, I do apoligize.

 

talk to ya soon, though, hopefully?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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so, hustled outta work today, cuz I wanted to catch the day's episode of "Adventures in Oddyssey."  Yesterday was part 1 of the 2-part "Whit's Special Adventure."  Whit's got this machine, the "imagination station," basically like a virtual-reality sorta thing keyed into one's imagination--whatever the program, it's still unique to the individual.

 

So, he winds up creating this program to show what death might be like--for a Christian.  He tries it out....and stuff goes downhill from there.  He's "out of it," and later succumbs to a heart attack.  His old friend Tom tries the program, and immediately shuts it down, and realizes what has happened.

 

Whit outdid himself on this one: he did it too well.  ANd Tom realized: even if only a simulated "taste" of Heaven...it  might be enough to take the fight from Whit--who might be more than ready to embrace it.

 

That episode ended with Tom sitting in the hospital at Whit's bedside, talking to his comatose friend.  As the monitor changes to a single, steady tone.

 

---------

 

through today's episode, Whit's son and daughter arrive (Whit didn't die, but did have a mild heart attack), and interact with Tom and the doctors.  Janna's mad at Whit for doing something crazy--she's always told him not to mess with stuff, that his tinkering was gonna backfire on him someday (he's an inventor, after all).

 

We also get Whit's point of view--where he is, he's with his wife--Jenny--and his son Jerry, who had died in Vietnam.  and so on.  He knows this isn't real, that it's just his imagination.  but he hadn't realized just how alone he's really felt, missing them, and all that.

 

Tom takes Whit's son to the Imagination Station, where they discover that Eugene (who is/has been missing since the previous episode) must have tried the machine.

 

Connie decides to check Eugene's dorm for him, having a hunch WHY he's been missing and not answering his phone.  On arrival, he tells her to go away.  She beats on the door, telling him she's not leaving, and if he'd like her to make a scene..

 

See, Whit got a taste of heaven.  Eugene--having never accepted Christ--got a taste of hell.  "I was all alone...like I didn't even exist!" he described.

 

Whit comes out of his coma, having said goodbye once more to his family (even if justin his imagination).

 

THe episode ends on Connie and Eugene.  "So, Eugene...what're you gonna do?"

 

His response...  "What, indeed, Miss Kendall...what, indeed..."

 

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I'd listened to these two episodes a couple months back--they were aired on sequential saturdays as part of the morning kids' block of programming. 

 

but something about 'em really hit close to the heart, and I'd have to say that even if "favorite" isn't QUITE the word...they're certainly (together) the most notable, impactful episode of the series on me.

 

and all the more today, I found myself near tears.

 

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When I was barely 9 (like, we're talking less than a month after my 9th birthday), I lost my grandfather.  Dad's dad.  That night was the first time I'd ever seen my father cry  (I've seen him cry maybe 3 times since--a personal health issue, when his mom died, and this past sunday).

 

I lost my grandfather at age 9....but I don't think I truly shed any tears until I was 18 when something finally hit me and I realized the loss.  (cuz at 9, I barely comprehended what death was, and had never been close to him, we'd see grandparents MAYBE a couple times a year, etc).

 

The summer after my Junior year at BG, went on a 2-week visit to the southwest.  the day i came back, we got a call from my aunt--my uncle was in the hospital, in a coma (mom's brother).  Mom got "the call" a day and a half later, that he'd died.

 

and still, not "much" of an impact, because he wasn't all that much a part of my life.  I ached more for mom, and my aunt, and my grandparents.

 

Spring 2004, almost a year after graduating from BG, I got a call from mom shortly after I got home from work one morning.  Grandpa (her dad) had been in the hospital for over a week.  He was gone.

 

at the funeral home, at one point, I had to leave the room for a moment, to compose myself.  It sucked, it hurt, I knew i'd miss him.  he was a bit bigger/more emotional part of my life--he's how/why I'm into comics...folowing a strain of events, I think it's safe to say that I am who I am today becuase of him and his introducing me to comics (winding up a pop culture major in college, continuing to love to read partly BECAUSE of comics, yadda yadda yadda).

 

But still, life went on. 

 

May 2006, my grandmother--who'd been battling diabetes, numerous cancers, heart problems, kidney failure, The Works, went.  I tried to hold it together, be strong.  knew how dad was hurting, and tried to keep it together for him.  part of the relationship i have with my dad comes from the countless trips that he and i would take, through the years, down to zanesville to visit her.  too many of those times were hospital visits.  I cried, and it hurt, and all that; but I'd been preparing myself for years to face that loss--when she "finally" did go, it was at least the 4th time in 6 years that we'd gotten "The Call" to GET. HERE. NOW.  We'd been down the week before, and as with numerous other visits, we'd parted knowing it might be the last time.

 

August 2006, my aunt's husband was in the hospital--complications due to cancer.  He died a few days later (mom and i were able to visit to say our goodbyes).  We were back the following weekend for the funeral.

 

and again, my heart ached for others closer to him; but he wasn't an integral part of my life.

 

Last summer, last July....my uncle Carlos died. (aunt's husband).  I still feel bad about it, but I didn't even make it to the funeral--i was barely two weeks into a new job...my only job in 7 months' job-searching....and Dad convinced me I wasn't obligated, wouldn't be ostracised/etc.  Still, other than the knowledge that he's gone, and that I won't see him when we're in zanesville....again, little impact on my life.

 

----------------------

 

three weeks ago, I picked up a dryer dad bought on ebay from some guy in macedonia.  Drove in to my parents'; they were out to dinner.  As I carried my computer case and printer bag through a tight hall, I had to step over Christy, one of our cats.  She didn't even pick her head up to see who it was.  I was slow getting over her, because usually, she waits til i'm stepping DOWN to bolt right under my foot.  I figured she was tired--she hadn't greeted me at the stairs (she wouldn't ALWAYS do so, especially if she'd just been fed or not been alone long. MIssing my parents by a half hour, figured she hadn't been lonely long enough to check the door).

 

But she wasn't using the back foot of the rocking chair as a pillow, which signalled "something" was "off."

 

I picked her up, and she was like a skinny cat with the flesh of the fatcat she's been for 12-some years.  Parents got home, and mom asked me if I'd noticed anything about Christy.  yeah.  she wasn't DOING much.  mom had already called the vet, had an appointment for tuesday.  Vet had asked her some questions to make sure it wasn't something to Bring. Her. In. NOW. or anything, and tuesday was what worked.

 

by weekend's end, the word "lethargic" was the only word to describe Christy.

 

i said goodbye to kayla (our other cat) (who had bulked up a bit--Christy lost weight, Kayla had an extra pound or so--we've been trying to fatten her up for a long time, and she's been a tiny little skinny thing with lots of fur).

 

and I patted Christy on the head.  SHe was laying at the top of the stairs, and I thought about picking her up to cuddle her for a moment, but she looked comfortable laying as she was, and so I decided to let her be.  I'd see her in a few days, anyway.  Still, I was concerned, and after my usual telling her to "be a good lil' kitty" I caught myself whispering as I turned to leave "...and don't die, y'hear?"

 

Tuesday, mom emails me and then calls me.  Christy was diagnosed with leukemia.  Some sort that's NOT "just" "feline leukemia."  She was gonna be at the vet overnight while he started her on chemo.  Vet didn't want to give us too much hope, but had said he's seen cats take really well to the treatment.

 

Wednesday, she was still at the vet, treatment wasn't panning out much, but she'd come home friday.  At the best, she'd have maybe a year.

 

Thursday, Mom called me right after work.  I knew something was wrong--when we'd talked Wednesday, she'd said she'd call Friday when Christy was home, and not to worry if I didn't hear anything Thursday.  (plus, she knew i had the DIve and all that).

 

So my mind flashed to the worst-possible scenario.  It was bad, and we'd have to make "that" Choice that weekend.  That I'd have to make darned sure to get in, to see my cat one last time.

 

I'd missed the actual phone call from mom--she left a voicemail asking me to call her at work.

 

"It's the worst possible..." she said.  "It's Christy...she's" (what? we have to put her to sleep? instead of a year, we've got a couple days with her? is Jen gonna come out to say goodbye to her cat? what's gonna be involved?) (all this flashed through my head in that moment that stretches so far in such a situation."

 

"...gone."

 

I nearly slammed on my brakes, but fortunately, managed to continue driving (thankfully, traffic jam also meant traffic wasn't goin' fast).

 

GONE?

 

SHe died Thursday morning, September 25th, 2008, at the age of about 13 1/2.

 

I didn't hold her, I didn't pet her....I didn't get to say goodbye.  THis cat was a daily, every-day part of my every-day life all through high school, and a "constant" in my life through colege and beyond.  she was "officially" my sister's cat, but that doesn't matter after 13-odd years when both siblings are living on their own away from parents.  Christy was a daily part of my parents' lives that entire time.

 

just being told she was gone hit me sudenly, and harder than any other loss I've ever faced.  noting also the grief of my parents, and my sister (who as mom tells me hung up on her) (she wouldn't answer the phone or call any of us back for over a week)......

 

That Saturday, I was supposed to head to my parents' in the morning.  but morning turned to noon, turned to afternoon, heading toward evening.  I hung photos. I cleaned my room. I did dishs. I cleaned the apartment.  I putzed around online. anything to avoid going home, going to face the reality.

 

and as I was shutting my computer down to get ready to go, finally, around 5....

 

I finally lost it completely.  I have never before found myself in such a state.

 

I could only reason that verse from Romans 8; that the Spirit will translate for us, when we don't know how we ought to pray.

 

because I lost my cat.

 

a cat.

 

CHristy.

 

I'd shed tears, I'd cried with other losses.  I'd never been literally floored, overcome with grief as I was in that moment.  I had to hold onto my chair to stand up again.

 

That night, at my parents', when I walked to the bathroom, I stopped dead in my tracks, as my heart broke even more, seeing the pet-gate OPEN in the bedroom doorframe.  For 11 years, we'd had Kayla's food back there, with a baby-gate (and for the lst 5-6 years, this pet-gate) across the door to keep Christy out--Christy had to have diet food, kept in the kitchen.  Kayla could and would hop the baby gate (Christy would not, nor would she knock it down).  and Kayla could fit between the bars where christy could not on the newer one.  but seeing it open? knowing it doesn't ned to be shut?  I nearly lost it again right there.

 

I quickly returned to the living room.  BUt later that night, I closed that gate.  I just could not handle it being open.  It wasn't RIGHT, that it should hang open.  It's suposed to be closed when no one's going in/out of the room.

 

last weekend, as I walked into the house, I found myself looking for Christy. 

 

My heart broke again when I found a piece of her (dry) food on the floor under a chair.

 

and so on.

 

-------------------------

 

A cat did this to me.  That I'd feel this way, that I'd be so impacted, that I have had to stop what i'm doing at work sometimes to blink back tears, and once even had to step into the restroom for a couple minutes when i lost a battle; and so on....

 

it's like i'm torn out from the grief of losing my cat.  and then THAT pain is compounded by knowing that no other (human) loss has ever impacted me so much. and so feeling bad about that, and like something's wrong with me on that front.

 

but of course, all that piles on top of other hurts, doubts, frustrations, and insecurities of late.

 

I went to the fall conference last friday--but immediately felt totally out of place and alone (despite my roommate being there--you know Steve, right?)  I had no purpose.  HE at least had the computer with the hookup for skype for the chat with the STINTers in Rome.  the "new" tech team was there, so i wasn't needed on that front (and have been very hands-off for the six weeks prior, so they were used to not having/needing me).  we didn't have the right equipment--mics included--to even record audio from the talks. 

 

seemed like the only people I "really" knew were all busy with staff-like stuff.  tech team (lappin, brittany, bill), staff (meredith, kathy, mike, eric, nicole, rovtar) or volunteer (michael). 

 

not sure how to describe stuff with Steve; we see each other all the time, most days, here at the apartment; he had plenty of reading material and seems to enjoy reading more than me; plus he had his laptop and stuff to grade from his students to work on, and was able to help with some sound stuff, etc. 

 

and ultimately, after securing a ride for the two people that rode with me, I left saturday afternoon.

 

I was just feeling so alone-in-the-crowd; while also somehow unable to or unwilling to bond much with steve--probably PRECISELY BECAUSE we are roommates.

 

-----------------------------

 

I'm afraid to open up to people, especially people I see the most.  I can do all this typing (i think I've been typing an hour or so now, in-between thinking and pausing to reflect).  cuz hey, right now, this is just a computer screen.  and i've been typing for years, for almost 13 years with rarely missing a day in which i've done some typing here or there.  I can even type in my sleep--as I've discovered when i've basically drifted off in a computer chair, but kept on typing, having actual words and sentences that were structurally sound if not entirely removed from a basis in context.

 

and I'm obviously not much of a phone person, much as I might try.  I'll do text messaging, but I have this fear of the phone, too, apparently.  cuz people might hear something in my voice that they have no visual to contextualize with, and .......yeah.

 

i'm hiding behind this computer screen, pouring my thoughts out however they ARE coming out, through just typing on auto-pilot.

 

-------------------

 

 

 

I've just backed out on seeing a play tonight. 

 

i think i'm also afraid lately of being social. 

 

other than co-workers and parents, and "forced" interaction at the dive and such.....stuff from being there rather than special/personal arrangements with people for something........

 

I can't remember the last time i was "social."

 

been probably a month or so, really, when some of us had a zombie movie night.

 

I feel like i'm distancing myself from people close to me.  it's a defense mechanism.  maybe it's because I'm afraid of feelings more than "just" friendship.  maybe I'm afraid of losing someone who might have to move just to get a job. maybe i'm afraid of being the odd wheel, amidst friends in steady, good relationships. 

 

maybe i'm just afraid of being "tolerated" or "put up with" like some............PUPPY or something.

 

put me in a room of people, and I feel like I have very little to offer, at least conversationally.

 

I can take photos, sure.  interact on a very SURFACEY level with a lotta people as I work the room, taking photos.

 

and perhaps i might be noticed, long enough for someone to say hi, ask how my week's been, whatever.  it's surfacey, simple stuff that doesn't go deep.

 

and it seems like other than being Christian, there's very little in common with so many people, for me.  I'm not that "into" sports or cars or music or celebrities or whatever.  It's been two years since I was a student; it's been 5 1/2 years since i was an undergrad; it's been 8/9 years since i was in the middle of college.

 

I'm not the charming guy who fits with everyone; i'm not the guy people seek out cuz he's just there, etc.

 

I"m nto the outgoing person eager/willing/ABLE to just simply go meet new people.  In my experience, the people who i DO make an effort to meet, remember names, etc are the people i never see again. or i do something socially stupid and such.  or whatever.

 

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I skipped the Young Professionals (YP) group this week at Hudson.  I honestly have no intention right now of going next tuesday.

 

yet, I don't know what/where my place is.

 

I am no longer part of the Dive--last week was my 6th and final week (I hung around 6 weeks too long, I think).  after 5+ weeks going to YP, not engaging, not connecting; just a strange, awkward limbo there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, I dunno.

 

I've been typing here way too long.

 

I'm wrestling with myself on whether or not to even send this to you.

 

 

 

but i think, maybe I should.  maybe even just sharing all these thoughts, maybe that'll do something. maybe it'll help, maybe it won't. 

 

maybe you'll "understand," maybe you won't.

 

but yeah.

 

I'll send this.

 

because you ARE a friend, and someone I trust, and ......you offered.

 

 

 

2 final angsty/emo thoughts for now:

 

- I'm so used to life being crummy/crappy/etc, that i'm like a dog chasing a car, it seems, when it comes to pursuing "happiness" (more than just a copule hours of shared time with friends or whatever).  even if I'd CATCH the darned thing, I wouldn't know what to do with it!

 

- ok, i forgot the other thought, because i just got a mental image of a car stopped at a red light with a dog sitting there staring quizzically at the bumper.

 

 

thank you for caring, for listening (reading)..........

 

thanks for being a friend.

 

so long as i haven't scared ya off with how messed up i am righ tnow and this total emotionally-typed dump of thoughts.....

 

just know that i appreciate it.

 

you're under no obligation to respond; and i do apologize for the sheer LENGTH of this.

 

most likely catch ya next friday or so?

 

~Walt