Exciting news! A couple months ago I was interviewed by Ronit Plank about my book “Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry” and grief as a young man! I share my walk through cancer with my first wife, her death, the aftermath of grief and my healing.
The interview aired recently on January 12 and is still available. Click the link below to listen to my story and know that you are not alone in whatever kind of grief you may be experiencing.
He looked at me with a look of both sadness and resignation, his voice low and measured, “That is what I am focused on.”
I nodded in agreement, and he turned and walked away. I watched him stride down the hall his white lab coat flaying out at his sides. Standing for a moment alone, I collected myself midst the noise of the corridor.
Forcing myself to turn, I slowly walked back into the hospital room. I plastered a smile on my face and buried the fear so far down where I believed it could never be unearthed.
I will be interviewed by Ronit Plank for her podcast ‘And Then Everything Changed’ this Wednesday, October 28th. The episode will be aired at a still to be determined date.
In preparation for my interview with Ronit I have binged listened to many past episodes. I encourage you to take a listen to great stories of resilience, courage and hope. Ronit is a skilled host and interviewer. All past and future episodes, including mine when it becomes available, are available on her website and many podcast platforms including:
The conversations Ronit has with her guests are real and vulnerable. Talking about personal history; those pivotal moments of their childhood and adulthood that defined them and the crucial and sometimes painful decisions they made that forever changed the course of their lives.
After listening to many episodes, my biggest takeaway is the all too often similar feelings and emotions that we all experience in life. Despite our often very different circumstances, beliefs, values and life stories the emotional toil often runs deep. Although, my life may often have little in common with many of the guests I feel a connection.
It is not a competition, and yet we all have or will experience pain in this life. #quote
The question and the test is what will we do with the pain we experience in this life? Listen to some Ronit’s guests tell their stories and you will be inspired by the strength, courage and the resiliency of the human spirit. Thank you Ronit for creating this platform that allows others to share their stories, reminding us each that we are not alone.
Stay tuned to this site and sign up for email updates for the latest and when my conversation with Ronit will air on her podcast!
The journey has begun from draft manuscript to published book.
Please Note: This is most likely not the final cover only a draft I created.
The manuscript, about the author bio, back of the book blurb and foreword have all been submitted to the Editing Department. Next steps is comprehensive edit with suggested changes submitted back to me for further editing and approval. It is a little nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time.
The foreword was written by a good friend of mine who I first met through a professional relationship many years ago. The following is a short excerpt from the foreword he wrote for my book, which I absolutely love. He captured the theme, tone and purpose of my story perfectly. He knows my journey intimately and I am honored he would do this for me and very appreciative.
“This book is for people who have had real pain. People who have loved and lost, and are struggling to move on.” #Memoir #Foreword #UpcomingBook > ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed To Cry’
I have also submitted ideas to the Cover Design Department to begin the process of creating a book cover. I look forward to the creative ideas from the cover designer. More to come on that progress in a future post.
I will leave you with this – if I can write a book so can you if you want to. It took me over 25 years to finally complete the manuscript. Many years of contemplation, learning, living and healing until I could pull it all together into a whole over the last 3 years. And now I am a mere months away from having a published book in my hands and maybe yours!
You can > Reconcile your Past, Embrace your Present, and Redeem your Future! #LiveYourDreams #JustBelieve #HopeLives #Memoir #Grief
The blue sky is beginning to darken as night approaches and I watch you lying there. Your head on its side resting on the ground. You stare straight ahead past your nose, eyes wide open.
We both stay in the silence of the moment, only a faint rustle of leaves in the trees. Slowly I watch you lift your head and look around before you stop and stare off into the distance. Your dark nose crinkles as you sniff the evening air.
“What do you see?” I want to ask, I open my mouth to speak and the words catch in my throat. I swallow hard, my heart beating loudly within my chest.
I close my mouth and sit silently conjuring images of the unknown that may be floating through your mind. I sit helpless to ease your pain, wanting to comfort you as each second ticks by.
If you could only speak. To tell me what you see, what you are thinking of. For I would do whatever it is you ask or need. The world around me swirls, a strong breeze rustles the leaves, and a voice in my head from long ago breaks my reverie transporting me back.
“Please shove the pillow down lower, closer to my hip here…”
Your shrill voice rings loud in the silence of the late evening. I quickly jerk my hands away coming off the pillow as I back pedal a few steps watching your pained expression.
“I am sorry.” I speak slowly in a trembling voice as I slowly move back closer to the chair. Your head is tilted back resting hard against the back of the chair, your breath deep and labored.
“I know, … it’s okay. It just hurts so bad, ya know. I just can’t ever seem to get comfortable where it doesn’t hurt.”
My mind whirls as I stand swaying on unsteady legs unsure what to do next, not wanting to cause you more pain. I stand staring not knowing what to say waiting until you speak.
“Okay, let’s try this. Put that little pillow down behind my lower back. I will hold this one here at my side and we’ll see if that works.”
Okay I say, tentatively moving forward treating you as a fragile porcelain doll instead of the courageous strong woman that you are despite the circumstances. Inside my helplessness screams at the absurdity of it all.
Several minutes later after many machinations and adjustments you are finally somewhat comfortable for now. Breathing a heavy sigh you sink deeper into the chair closing your eyes.
“Okay that will work, thank you love.”
I fall onto the couch next to your chair my own exhaustion overtaking me. Our eyes meet for a brief second as you open your eyes and you faintly smile. Then you turn away from my gaze to look out the window at the darkening sky. I watch as you sit motionless, your pale arms resting on the arms of the recliner.
Your short dark brown hair barely touches your shoulders now as it hangs framing your face. I can still picture your long locks that used to cascade down your back and over your shoulders. I see your eyes gloss over, focused on something that only you can see. I wonder are you seeing beyond the veil that separates the worlds.
“What do you see my love?” my mind asks as I swallow my words.
My head clears, I come back to the present. You are now on your side, head once again laying on the grass, eyes open staring. The dark brown fur of your coat in sharp contrast to the green grass of late summertime.
You seem at peace with whatever may come and I envy you. My mind again asks “What do you see girl? Do you see the end?” I wonder.
A chorus of memories run through my mind of the years together. The joy, the laughter, the adventures we all shared. You completed our family and made it whole. We watched you and her grow alongside one another becoming best friends. You have always been a loyal companion that shepherded her well into her teenage years.
I know your body is now weak and frail. Age or disease catches up with us all and I hope you know I will continue to try whatever that may mean. I truly will, my mind screams into the silence of the ever darkening sky overhead. To spare you and others from what inevitability will come. My helplessness looms large, again a mountain in front of me that I am once again forced to climb.
Your eyes now closed, I watch you breathing slowly, your chest rising and falling as you sleep. There is life left and I will do whatever I can to ease your days. Although I know that option is sometimes not offered. And so we live with the unanswered question of ‘What do you see?’
Sharing a little free write essay that compares the feelings I have watching our older dog as she battles lymphoma and the triggers of memories it evokes from long ago. You will be able to read more about those memories in my upcoming memoir to be published in early 2021. You can read about it here and be sure to sign up for email notifications to get the latest updates.
As I look back over my life, the questions haunt me, ‘have I succeeded?’ and ‘how do you define a successful life?’
Success by the worlds standards might include the following:
He who has the most toys wins!
Building wealth and showing it off!
Amassing a large social media following!
Having a perfect relationship and a trophy companion!
Launching a billion-dollar business that changes the world!
I am sure you can think of many others things that might apply as well.
If you don’t define success for your life, someone else will define it for you.
What mountain are you climbing?
How do you know if it is the right one at the right time?
When you reach the summit will you see your mountain off in the distance?
For me the idea of a successful life has shrunk over the years. Not in terms of impact but in terms of grandiosity and self-serving vanity. The Emerson quote has been a favorite of mine since the first time I read it.
To laugh often and much to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others to leave the world a little better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.
I have stood at the bedside as a last breath was taken and I have no doubt my presence made that breath a little easier. You can read about this in my memoir to be published in 2021 and an update in a previous post here. I pray that I have also helped others breathe a little easier in times of trouble, strife and pain. For what good is a life that offers nothing of value to other human beings, living things and the world around us?
It’s probably not surprising to paraphrase Emerson this is my definition of success >