Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 5 – Death Is Only the Beginning

It was another lifetime in another place when she stood next to me in a world that does not exist anymore.

Chapter 5, Death Is Only the Beginning, Page 51 – Mark W. Schutter

So begins the first sentence of this chapter of my memoir, Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry. This chapter is unique in that the first few pages I quote four lines from a poem I wrote entitled The Young Girl That I Long Ago Wed and Who Drove Me Mad, originally published in September 2018, long before my memoir came out in 2020. In the chapter I follow-up each four line stanza of the poem by expanding on my thoughts and meaning of those four lines.

Grief, pain, loss, and trauma often leave you feeling as if you are going mad. Sometimes there is nothing you can do except to endure it for the moment as the succeeding minutes become hours, days, weeks, months, and years. The pain sometimes fades yet the madness continues to dance around the edges of our sanity. The world that was, that we believed and hoped would be, is no longer and never will be. It often doesn’t make sense and I surmise that is where faith comes in.

Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11:1

Thank God for my faith in a life after the trauma and in an afterlife, that is what often keep me moving forward. I was in a fog for many months after her death as the world just seemed so wrong and yet, I soldiered on as best I could.

How can we be so surprised when someone dies when everybody already knows we are all going to die?

Chapter 5, Death Is Only the Beginning, Page 58 – Mark W. Schutter

And then the world tells you that…

𝐂𝐨𝐰𝐛𝐨𝐲𝐬 𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐂𝐫𝐲

I struggled to weave this event into my life in a way that made sense because I had as her death was only the beginning.

Read my thoughts on the first four chapters of my memoir, links below, and watch for the next one in the series – Chapter 6, To Love What’s Leaving

You can order your print copies and the e-book today, and one or two or three… as a gift for some else who is struggling. PAY IT FORWARD!

You can also contact me here on my website using the contact form to purchase signed copies. God bless!

Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 3 – Walking Away

Sometimes you have to walk away…

Chapter 3 began taking shape in my mind following a conversation with my therapist. As usual we were discussing Luka’s death and the impacts on me, when I mentioned that in the moments after she died. I spoke about remembering standing by her bedside where she lay. Thinking to myself, there was nothing else I could do. I had to and needed to walk away. Yet, I stayed for several moments by her bedside.

I knew I needed to walk away. To turn from this lifeless body that lay in front of me that had held my whole world. There was nothing left for me to do for her.

I recall my therapist staring at me in silence for several seconds before he spoke softly. “It’s interesting in all my experience you are the first person to talk about that. I mean we talk about the death and then we jump to the funeral proceedings and all the logistical things around death. No one has ever mentioned before, those moments immediately following someone dying and what those left behind have to do.”

I swallowed hard and responded, “Yeah, her death was peaceful and calm but then what? I stood there, knowing she was dead and then realizing that was it. I had to turn away from everything I knew and walk away, leaving her there alone. That was hard.”

I don’t recall if I thought about all those things that would never be again or just the among of willpower it took to move my feet and leave her behind. Our time together in the physical world was done.

“Time together was the only thing, just being with her, sitting talking, watching movies, and holding her hand, so many things that I now believe may have helped her breathe a little easier in those moments.”

CHAPTER 3, WALKING AWAY, PAGE 40 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

There would be no more talks, no more movies, no more time together. Only the memories of what once was. I still carry those memories, nothing can take them away, although the edges of my memory may have frayed and faded a bit. That is just time eroding what once was. I was heading towards my 29th birthday…

“I was lost at sea with on wind in my sails. I had the freedom to do, to be, to go anywhere I wanted, and I did not want that freedom. I was free to walk away. How do you reconcile that?”

CHAPTER 3. WALKING AWAY, PAGE 42 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Here are links to my thoughts and revisits of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Order your copy today, and one or two or three… as a gift for some else who is struggling, 

You can also contact me here on my website to purchase signed copies.

PAY IT FORWARD!

Grief, memoir, Stories

Revisiting Chapter 2 – A Far Better Place

Alone into the Alone

A far better place—the phrase echoes through my mind, and my faith tells me to believe in this. As a Christian don’t the words of our God tell us there is a far better place?


Yet I ask, what does that mean, and how do we know? We don’t know I often want to scream back. Instead, I and nod in a feinted attempt at agreement, holding onto hope, that there is a far better place.

An interesting chapter and maybe the most philosophical of the entire book, as I ask the questions that many have asked before me. The theological questions of life after death, what happens to us, is there a heaven and if so isn’t there a hell? Even atheists and agnostics with no faith in a god or a higher power have asked the question, wondering what is there after we die?

The last paragraph of chapter 1 of my memoir Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry speaks of Luka’s belief in a far better place. (You can read my thoughts and revisit of chapter 1 here.)

Luka was the one facing her own mortality, not me. She was the one who must venture alone into the alone, not me. I wonder even now what thoughts ran through her mind that she did not share with me. Or worse still those thoughts she did share and I have long forgotten. Her words tossed aside as if they were of no more importance than a scrap of garbage. What are you supposed to do with that?

Believe… in life after otherwise what’s the point?

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes
Stories, Writing

A Conversation – What is truth?

Sharing a piece of writing I did recently below, let me know what you think in the comments.

“What is truth?”

The words like honey slowly covered me in the air around me. He sat quietly, his eyes soft and inquiring. Simply waiting as if he had all the time in the world, which he did.

I averted his loving gaze as my feet scraped the linoleum floor beneath the table. I fidgeted in my seat and running my hand over my head and through my hair before looking back into his clear eyes. Eyes that carried so much emotion, strength and power. Like the ocean waves that never ceased washing up on shore it was hard to look away once our eyes locked. My upper teeth bit into my lower lip as it curled inward and I swallowed hard. I felt the lump in my throat like a huge wad of dry bed I could barely get down.

And still he waited his hands clasped in front of him, fingers intertwined, as they rested on the table top. I stared across the dark wood of the table and took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. His expression did not change. My voice trembled as I began to speak, the tone carried none of the sarcastic authority that I had intended.

“What is truth?”

He continued to stare, his eyes softening a little at my remark causing my anger to rise and leaning forward I spat out the words.

“You quote those words back at me like I am the villain here? You have no idea what I have been through. How hard this is.”

I sat back in my chair as shame washed over me as soon as the words had let my mouth and hung in the air between us. And yet his loving gaze never changed. My mind swirled and I felt myself feeling light headed. I grasped the edge of the table to steady myself before softly saying.

“I don’t know what you want from me.”

He only stared, as small smile played at the corners of his lips. We sat staring at each other for several seconds, his eyes never leaving my face before he said in a soft voice.

“You can trust me. You know that don’t you?”

I swallowed hard again my throat was dry. I reached for the glass of water on the table and before I could reach it, he swiftly reached out his hand and gently pushed it towards me. I smiled through clenched lips and nodded a thank you as my fingers closed around the cold glass. Bring it to my lips I drank deeply the cool clear water cascading down my throat like a waterfall over the edge of a cliff.

I set the glass down heavily back on the table with a loud thud as it slipped from my grasp. I quickly glanced up at him in surprise at the sharp clack of the glass with the wooden table top. His expression still did not change and as our eyes met, he said.

“You have not answered my question.”

I feigned what I hoped was a surprised ignorance and spoke in a voice that I hoped conveyed a non-interest, “What question is that?”

“I did not come here to play games with you. Time is short and there is much to do.”

His response was immediate and pointed his voice rising only barely from the soft-spoken words of earlier. Although, I could feel the emphasis that emanated from his comment. I hesitated knowing he deserved an answer to his question but afraid of my own response. He sat back in the chair and continued to speak and although subtle his tone seemed a shade softer.

“You remember the stories I have told?” He questioned, continuing not waiting for me to reply.

“I use them to communicate truth. I know, I know we are back to the beginning now. What is truth? Right? The age-old question that has haunted man, driven him to seek, and even caused him to go against his very nature at times in the quest for truth. There truly is no depth of depravity for the truly wicked. But that is not what we are here to discuss. So, I let’s get back on topic, shall we?”

He paused for a moment staring intently at me. I nodded slowly, my throat was now dry again and I glanced quickly at the now empty glass on the table top, licking my lips as I did so. He continued to stare at me and if his gaze had not been so unobtrusive it would have been unnerving but rather it felt oddly comforting.

“I am, and all I am asking if for you to believe and if you trust me.”

I felt the swell of anger explode like a volcano spewing lava and clouds of ash into the air as I grabbed the table edge hard with my hands and shouted.

“What is truth? Do you trust me? Why the questions, why the damn questions! I am so tired, tired of trying and yet, I don’t know what else to do. I am seeking this truth you mention and also trying to trust. I least I think I am but it gets me nowhere. So, I ask you who do I trust? If I trust you are there others also? What then? What then!”

“Is it too much to ask that I find some solace and answers to my questions. Living in this dungeon of mystery is almost too much. The darkness seems overwhelming and suffocating. I wander through the days each no different from the one before and on and on it goes.”

“You say trust me, what then? You are the only one I trust and still… it seems to get me nowhere. You see that don’t you? How could you not understand? How could you sit there just staring like it doesn’t matter? What is wrong with you? I always believed you cared, I always wanted to believe that you cared. Now it seems I don’t matter? What am I supposed to do with that?”

“Every inspirational Hallmark card couldn’t make this better nor fix things. It is what it is.”

My voice trailed off as I shrunk back in my chair exhausted from my outburst my eyes averting his gaze. Finally, after several seconds of silence I slowly looked up and the love and concern emanating from his eyes overwhelmed me. The strength of his gaze would have knocked me to the ground if I had not been sitting in the chair. As it was, I felt my back press tighter against the wooden slates behind me.

“I only ask that you trust me. The rest is often irrelevant and often inconsequential to this story. Your story. For you see you can only read a book one page at time, on word and one sentence at a time. This also applies to your life. For it is only lived forward, not backwards and not all at once. One step, or one page at a time. And we don’t see what is on the next page until we get there.”

He smiled and I felt the warmth of his love wash over me. I nodded suddenly so weary it was all I could do to hold my head up and keep his gaze. Leaning forward he reached a tanned arm across the table and gently took my hand in his. It was warm and comforting, soft and rugged at the same time. I bowed my head, my chin to my chest as the tears began quickly rolling down my cheeks and falling onto my leg causing dark blue spots on my jeans.

Continuing to hold my hand he said nothing. I cried, the tears flowing easily and effortlessly and I let them come. It was cathartic and if I had wanted to, I don’t know if I could have stopped them. After a few minutes the tears ceased to flow and I lifted my head to see his eyes still staring at me with the same look of compassion and love. I heard the sound through the open window of the last autumn leaves rustling in the trees. It was a melodic wind chime sound of nature. For a moment I was transported.

The meadow in front of me was vast, the tall golden grasses waving in the breeze. On the far side of the meadow was a stand of aspen trees. Their leaves were still in full glory and they flashed as golden coins suspended at the end of each small whiteish branch. The sky overhead was a canvas of blue as the sun was sinking behind the mountain range far to the west. I scanned the scene reveling in the solitude and quiet. Nothing here that troubled me mattered and all was as it should be. I felt the last rays of the sun’s warmth on my arms and I relished the embrace. I stood motionless listening to the soft rustling of the grasses. It felt like home, or at least what I imagined home to be like, for I had never known what a real home was.

Warm, comforting, and inviting.  Most of safe, a place where one could go to retreat to escape to and also to move forward. My soul yearned for just such a place and I felt the warm tear roll down my check before it touched my lips and I tasted the salt on my tongue. The voice came from nowhere and everywhere at once. It surrounded me and held me fast in an embrace.

“Do you trust me?”

I slowly nodded my head as and heard the shriek. Quickly glancing up into the sky I saw the red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead across the meadow. He circled once before flying off towards the aspen grove and disappearing over the tree tops.

“If you want to know, what truth is you must trust me.”

My eyes shot open and he was still staring at me with love and concern. As I stared into his eyes, I would have sworn I saw a hint of sadness there also.

Grief, Writing

Page 1 – Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry

#UpcomingBook #PageOne

The edits are complete and hundreds of pdf pages of words now looks like a real book. I am so excited to get this story out into the world. I pray it helps others dealing with grief to know they are not alone.

#LiveYourDreams

Be sure to sign up for my mailing list to receive the latest news first. Upcoming giveaways, announcements and such as we get closer to an actual publication date.

Grief, Life, Stories

No Turning Back Now – Podcast Interview

Airing this Tuesday, January 12 on the And Then Everything Changed podcast. I was blessed to be a guest and interviewed by host Ronit Plank, her intro on IG is below.

⚡️Next week @mwschutter joins me to talk about nursing his first wife through cancer, becoming a young widower, and what he’s learned about the man he was all those years ago and who he is now.

You can listen in on all the podcast platforms – ITunes, Apple, Spotify and so many others.

This spring you can read more of my journey in my upcoming memoir ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry‘.

Life, Stories, Writing

New Novel – No Title Yet!

I wrote a first draft of a new novel during November’s National Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) creeping up on 70k words. I have no title yet, but here are some teasers of the story.

“I breathed a huge sigh…”

This is the line in the story that put me over 50k words and made me a winner in #NaNoWriMo for the third year in a row!

A silver shekel

The story revolves around the discovery of silver shekels in America that come from the time of Christ in the first century.

The book blurb!

So tell me what you think? Interesting or not?

I still have a lot of editing, along with working on my memoir ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry’ and The Chronicles of Faith’ series. Even with the lock downs and such, 2020 has been a busy year.

So what have you been up to?

Grief, Stories, Writing

“What do you do with that?” – Memoir Update

“What do you do when the waves of finality wash over you and cover you in a different reality? Can one single moment define your entire life? A life is made up of a series of events, some happy, some sad, some magic, and some tragic. The tragic moments, the events filled with trauma, pain, and loss irrevocably change us forever. There is no going back from these events. We are undeniably not the same as we were before, so the question remains,— what do you do with that?” ©Mark Wayne

The above is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry’ due out next spring, exact date still to be determined. Here is a short list of updates of what has been happening:

  • The first round of edits has been done on the manuscript, waiting on the second round from the editing team at my publisher.
  • Received some permissions and fair use for quoted material in my book, other material has been rewritten to avoid using copyrighted material.
  • I recorded an interview with Ronit Plank for her podcast ‘And Then Everything Changed’ the date for interview to go live is January 12, 2021.
“What do you do with that?”

Grief and loss changes us, how could it not and what do you do with that? #WickedQuestions #BlogPost #Memoir #UpcomingBook

Grief, Poetry, Stories, Writing

Separate Journeys – Why Do We Bury Our Fears?

A short excerpt from my upcoming memoir ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed To Cry to be published by Christian Faith Publishing in spring of 2021 (emphasis below added).

“I only want her to not be in pain.”

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.

~Mark Wayne ©2020

What have you buried?

What if it were to be found?

Life, Stories, Writing

Book(s) Update – ‘The Chronicles of Faith’

Please note this is not the actual cover.

I have completed the ‘shitty’ first drafts and edits of each novel of the series – ‘The Chronicles of Faith.’ Each book was completed in 30 days during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November where the goal is write 50,000 words. If nothing else NaNoWriMo motivates you to get a story out of your head onto the paper.

I wrote the first book:

  • ‘The Beauty of the Stars’

Back in 2014 and then let it sit. My wife and daughter both persevered through reading the rough, I mean rough, first draft and encouraged me to continue the story. (Truth be told I didn’t let them read it for a couple of years, it just sat collecting dust.)

Thus, in November of 2018 and 2019 I wrote the next two books in the series:

  • ‘The Stars are Falling’ and,
  • ‘The Judgment of the Stars.’

The title of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ came to me for few reasons. One, I love Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Second, I have always loved the idea of writing a series myself. Third, the main character’s name is Faith and she, as well as other characters each go through their own journey of faith.

The Chronicles of Faith – book quotes                                                                         

Beauty is all around and our pain distracts us from seeing the truth. (The Beauty of the Stars – Coming soon Book 1 of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ by Mark Wayne)

Falling is inevitable and only fatal if we choose not to get back up. (The Stars are Falling – Coming soon Book 2 of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ by Mark Wayne)

Judgment finds us all, the only question is when and how. (The Judgment of the Stars -Coming soon Book 3 of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ by Mark Wayne)

A Snapshot Teaser

Faith is a loner and she knows she is different. As an evolving drone technology is unleashed on an unsuspecting populace she longs to find connection. Charles Davidson, head of The Group, is intent on building an empire, letting nothing stand in his way. Faith and Charles are both driven and their fates intertwine in ways neither understands.

Supernatural powers are driving an agenda of epic proportions. Forces of good and evil collide inside the human hearts of two people who seem to have nothing in common. Others join Faith in her quest to kill Davidson, while each is forced to answer the questions of who they are and are they good enough? The destiny of each hinges on the challenging choices that each must make, especially Faith, and the consequences of which affects them all.

Please note this is also not the actual cover.

So What’s Next?

I am leaning towards self-publishing the book series in the near future. If you have any advice or resources for me I would welcome that. Please either leave a comment or email me at info@markschutter.com

In the meantime I am hard at work writing, actually editing my memoir. The book captures my experience of grief and loss as a young man. The book will be for anyone who has experienced loss and who hasn’t? Grief will touch us all and changes everything.

Stay tuned for future updates on both my novels and my memoir.