What Could Be

I had this great plan to put up some details about various hikes I like, to keep going with the “Yellowstone Practical” idea. I even started a post on that for today…

As you can tell from the lack of a morning post, I didn’t really follow through. Not because I couldn’t have, but because something else rose in my mind last night. Now, I’ve mentioned before one of writing’s primary rules: when an idea comes to you, YOU WRITE IT!

Last night I, err, did not write it. I didn’t quite forget the thought, but I did have to spend the better part of today reconstructing it while I worked in the store.

At any rate, here goes:

I spent some time reading the news on my day off. I know, I know…that is always a mistake. You’d think I would know better by now, but nope.

Most of the crap I was able to ignore, but something stuck with me: the whole damned NFL-anthem-flag controversy. How the hell is this still a thing?

Look, I realize I am not the most grown-up person in any room (including a room full of kindergarteners), but even I can see how stupid is this whole thing. And by stupid, I mean everyone involved. I know we’re talking about the confluence of politics, culture and sports here, but isn’t there someone who can be the adult in the room?

Apparently not.

So, what the hell, I’ll throw in my two cents. Actually, I’ve got two opinions/thoughts here, so I’ll round it all up to a nickel.

First of all: I am a sports guy. All of my life I have been a sports guy. More than that, I have been a team sports guy. Team sports are the everyday embodiment of self-sacrifice. Well…at least…they should be. In all of the bullshit, dating back to last year, I saw very little conception of team-first. I saw an awful lot of “me-first”, but not much else.

I will, however, call out for credit those that did put team first, that acted like the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. I think the Seahawks nailed it last year when they linked arms as a team. Much as I detest Jerry Jones, the Cowboys this year got it right, as well.

Those teams that had no unity? Truly sad.

And the cowardice of those that simply hid away in the locker room and hoped to bury their heads? Beyond sad, beyond weak, and well into the territory of truly pathetic.

Right or wrong, at least the other guys picked a side. I’ll always take someone who picks a side, whether I agree or not, over someone who tries to ride the fence and please everyone.

Okay, so that’s the first bit. The less important bit. Now comes the second part…

By definition, no society, no country, no people is perfect. To dredge up an old quote, “All are judged and found wanting.” The United States is anything but perfect. The flaws in our society today are manifold…and, in many cases, obvious.

Hell, I write about many of those flaws: about the exploitation of the weak, about the vast, indefensible chasm between rich and poor, about the evil one human can do to another for the smallest of reasons, about the suffering and despair that suffocate so many lives…

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think and dream of better. That doesn’t mean I think we as a species, as a society, as a country are irredeemable. If I thought that – if I bought that deeply into cynical nihilism – it would be time to just plain give up, and that I refuse to do.

To redeem ourselves, however, we need aspirations. More importantly, we need aspirations that can pull us together. We need symbols, and dreams, that we can all share.

I cannot comment on other countries, nor other peoples, but to me the dream of what the US could be is one of those aspirations. But to get there we have to value in common the effort and work it will take to get there.

The American flag is just a bunch of fabric stitched together, in one sense. It is nothing more than a glorified bed-sheet tied to a stick. In another sense, however, it is something very different: it is a symbol of what could be. It could/should be, when you get down to it, something to unify, something to symbolize all of our aspirations.

See the problems…speak out on the problems…give your time and your money and your life to fixing those problems…but dream and aspire together. Value what could be together.

You and I don’t have to agree. We can argue and debate and oppose each other all we want, IF we both believe in and value where we’re going…value what could be.

If, however, we hold nothing in common – if we share no aspirations or dreams – then we are doomed to strife and discord. And, eventually, to the disintegration of the little that still holds the many, many different strands of the US – as a nation and as a people – together.  In the end, all we will have left is the regret of what could have been.

From The Prosaic To The Profound

I was walking through Sears, back when there really was a Sears. Just walking through to go into the mall and do that most pointless and prosaic of activities: shop.

Still on my first cup of coffee, still disgruntled from being out of bed after having worked late the night before. I’m in the electronics section, not paying attention to anything in particular.

Then it strikes me: why the hell is the World Trade Center on fire?

I stop a minute, to watch one of the hundred or so TVs all showing the same thing. The sound is up, but — as usual— I just ignore the idiot talking.

An image, blurry and indistinct, of a plane. Of that plane flying into the second tower of the already burning, already doomed, WTC.

Then I did start to listen.

It sounds trite, it sounds like cheating to use a phrase so often tired and overworked, but everything really did change that day.

As ever, I keep myself and my own politics out of this blog…very intentionally. But…but…but, there’s always a but.

But, that day started a chain of events, and of stresses, that are leading very, very directly to that civil war here in the US that I think is so inevitable. Inevitable, and coming nearer.

Leaving aside Iraq and Afghanistan and the rest of the world, the US is beginning to tear itself apart. And this one won’t be the relatively simple two-sided affair of 150 years ago. No, this one will be seven- or eight-sided, with economics and geography and sociology creating a pool of hate, resentment and blood that will put the struggle of North and South to shame.

That is, however, not the topic of today’s post. Today’s post is here to pay my respects to those who are no longer around to type their idle and cynical thoughts sixteen years later. To the three thousand who died that day, and to those who died in the days and months and years since.

I’ve mentioned before that Naval History is a passion of mine. It is actually a mite more than that, and I have many good friends who were, and still are, in harm’s way.

A good friend was an officer aboard a destroyer that day, was headed back to port after a training exercise. No one believed the captain, at first, when he announced what had happened, announced they were heading back to sea.

My friend did not see the US for another nine months.

Another friend, ostensibly a “support” specialist who typically would live “in the rear with the gear”, was attached to an SOF element. He never saw home again.

Two examples.  Two examples of the dozens I could give.  Two examples just to offer some perspective. I could talk about the friend who never said “No” to a deployment, who is now paying with his soul for eight straight years of war and stress.  Of another, an accountant by trade, who did enough to make even the most hardened and cynical of veterans sit up and take notice…and has never said a single word about it.

I am, I have said before, a libertarian. I don’t care what are your politics. I don’t particularly care what you do, so long as you don’t hurt anyone else. But today…today I talk about what I care about.

Don’t tell some random person “Thank you for your service.” Don’t throw five or ten bucks at some feel-good charity like Wounded Warrior.

Be real, do something real.

Give your time, give your passion. Money helps…oh, yes, does money help…but so much more do people help. The disconnect today between the military and the rest of the population has never been greater…and that is part of the problem.

Go to a VFW and talk. Don’t offer platitudes, don’t talk about yourself…buy some drinks and listen. Listen to those who know, those who lost and who understand the reality. Listen and learn, and make sure your children learn.

Give your time to a charity/clinic helping those with PTSD. I don’t care if you’re cleaning the fucking toilets, do something to help. I have too many friends, too many loved ones, who still hate and fear the nightmares to give two shits about your pride. Just help.

Throw a fishing trip, or a tailgate party, or a backyard barbecue, for those in your area who served, and those who are still serving. Don’t go to your Rolodex, don’t go to your own pool of friends, go to theirs.

And, by the way, the spouse who is still at home, who is trying to do it all, is just as much a hero…do not overlook them. Those still in the sandbox and the rockpile do not, of that I can assure you.

I am going to do something I have never done before: I am going to steal from someone I admire.  This has nothing to do with politics today, with the White House today.  I have my own opinions thereon, but they have nothing to do with this.  Read the letter…read the letter and feel.  Whether you agree with his politics or not is of no import; this man knows.

From: Kelly LtGen John F
Date: November 12, 2010 10:23:20 PM EST
Subject: FW: My Boy

Family and Friends,

As I think you all know by now our Robert was killed in action protecting our country, its people, and its values from a terrible and relentless enemy, on 9 Nov, in Sangin, Afghanistan. He was leading his Grunts on a dismounted patrol when he was taken. They are shaken, but will recover quickly and already back at it. He went quickly and thank God he did not suffer. In combat that is as good as it gets, and we are thankful. We are a broken hearted – but proud family. He was a wonderful and precious boy living a meaningful life. He was in exactly the place he wanted to be, doing exactly what he wanted to do, surrounded by the best men on this earth – his Marines and Navy Doc.

The nation he served has honored us with promoting him posthumously to First Lieutenant of Marines. We will bury our son, now 1stLt Robert Michael Kelly USMC, in Arlington National Cemetery on 22 Nov. Services will commence at 1245 at Fort Myers. We will likely have a memorial receiving at a yet to be designated funeral home on 21 Nov. The coffin will be closed. Our son Captain John Kelly USMC, himself a multi-tour combat veteran and the best big brother on this earth, will escort the body from Dover Air Force Base to Arlington. From the moment he was killed he has never been alone and will remain under the protection of a Marine to his final resting place.

Many have offered prayers for us and we thank you, but his wonderful wife Heather and the rest of the clan ask that you direct the majority of your prayers to his platoon of Marines, still in contact and in “harm’s way,” and at greater risk without his steady leadership.

Thank you all for the many kindnesses we could not get through this without you all. Thank you all for being there for us. The pain in unimaginable, and we could not do this without you.

Semper Fidelis

John Kelly

Knob Polishing: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Norovius

“Honey, how was your day at work today?”

“Just peachy. I had to polish everybody’s knobs.”

Okay, so I probably shouldn’t find this as funny as I do. Ah, hell…who am I kidding? I found today hilarious…mostly because I was off work and didn’t have to actually experience any of the miserable crap.

A bus load of tourists, you see, came in carrying norovirus. Now, if you don’t know that particular little bug, it is…umm…pretty damned unpleasant. Take Montezuma’s Revenge and strip away all the fun and laughs and you start to get a picture of the results of norovirus. An optimistic picture.

And apparently this thing is passed by, well, pretty much everything. Just touching a surface can pass it to the next person who touches that surface…

So, today, every single employee at the store has been basically bathing in hand sanitizer from head to toe every two-and-a-half seconds. In between those baths, they’ve been wiping down every square millimeter of the store…including having one person clean every single latch and door handle in not just the store, but also the dining room and the dorms – hence my (juvenile) joke above.

I should point out that I took a random, extra day off today. And, yes, I did schedule it before this whole thing hit…even I’m not that cheesy!

As soon as my boss came into breakfast wearing gloves, and telling the kitchen that they had to go to “norovirus protocols”, I grabbed my pack and decided to go spoon with amorous bears instead.

I’m a goddamned history major, what the hell do I know about “protocols”?! I’m pretty sure the guy who does the prostate exams is a protocologist…and I don’t need that, thank you very much.

Keep in mind, I’m also the idiot who ignores common sense, and perfectly good trails, so I can go see what’s on the other side of that big hill over there… That means, of course, that I am currently sitting out in front of the store, at a public picnic table, and typing away.

I think tomorrow might suck…

C’mon, Sign Up…You Know You Want To!

There’s a month left. That’s it. A month left in the half-year I signed on for, up here.

What the hell happened? It seemed like such a looong commitment when I signed the contract.

Hell, a month ago it still seemed like a long commitment.

“Nah, not gonna think about afterwords. There’s plenty of time.”

Ahem.

By my estimate, I’ve hiked about a thousand miles total…I’ve had close encounters with five bears (three grizzlies, two black bears), and more distant encounters with half a dozen more…I’ve had to make my way around more bison than there are pigeons in NYC…and I’ve dealt with enough tourists to well-and-truly renew my loathing for Homo Touristus.

So, after all that, I figure it’s time I gave some thoughts and/or advice for anyone considering doing something like this (whether in Yellowstone, or elsewhere):

Overall/general stuff

First and foremost: do it. The opportunity to live in a National Park is the opportunity to know and understand that Park in ways that no tourist ever will. You will see and do things that most people never realize is even possible.

Second: be prepared. No, really…be more prepared, and plan better, than I did coming up here! I left behind things – for reasons of space – that never should have been left behind (more on this later).

Third: understand what you are in for…the environment up here is a whole lot like a mix of freshman year in college and summer camp, especially for the first two months. Relax and go with the flow, get to know your co-workers – the socializing and friendships you build are tied with experiencing the Park for importance in why you came.

Specific stuff

Okay, so you’ve signed a contract with one of the concessionaires in the Park system and you’re committed to coming. Here you go, the important shit.

  1. Pack smart. By that, I mean don’t pack shit you don’t absolutely have to. Whether you are driving up, or flying in and taking a shuttle to your new “home”, space & weight are very much at a premium. On one hand, I didn’t pack a whole lot of crap…but on the other, I could’ve left behind half of what I brought in favor of a couple of those things I left behind.
  2. Amazon is your friend. Basics like laundry soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc… can all be bought at (or near) where you’re working, but you’ll save money and frustration by just ordering it. This also means, of course, that it makes no sense to pack that stuff in the first place. Just bring enough for a week or two, then order what you’ll need for later.
  3. Do your research on the Park. You will be confused and out of sorts for the first month, so have ready a small list of the stuff you want to do in those first weeks. There is so much to do, and so many returnees who are already “experts” on the Park, that you will be overwhelmed…give yourself some structure to start with, then you can go free-form after you’ve settled in and mastered the basics.
  4. Do random shit. In spite of #3 above, when someone offers a midnight hike to somewhere you’ve never heard of, or there’s an easy group stroll to Bumfuck Falls, do it! You will regret neither the time nor the energy…even if the hike/trip/excursion isn’t your thing, the time getting to know your fellow inmates is worth it. As time goes by, you’ll have all the time in the world to do the “killer hikes”, or solo fly fishing trips, or camping outings, or whatever else draws your fancy.
  5. Don’t judge. The folks you work with will, in the main, be either young college kids or older, (semi)retired folks. The young kids are gonna go get drunk every night…and sometimes the older folks will, as well. Go with ‘em. Relax and enjoy life. Keep in mind, you will be working with international kids with varying levels of English and different habits, as well as with gay folks, social misfits, and even a few people so socially awkward (or just plain nuts) as to make you uncomfortable…deal with it. You have your own life, let them have theirs.
  6. An RV or trailer beats the dorms, every time. If you have the means, just go with me on this. I have my own room and my own bathroom, i am a hundred yards away from the employee dorms, and I still regret being this close. That being said, the best parties ARE in the employee dorms! (Ahem…there’s a future post there…oh, yes sir, is there a future post in that)
  7. Believe the horror stories. The “long-time” returnees will tell horror stories about weather and animals and rangers…and pretty much everything else you can imagine. Believe them. I can, err, well, confirm a lot of those. From getting three feet of snow in late June, to almost getting eaten by the biggest fucking grizzly you can imagine, I can most definitely now add my own “wisdom” to those stories.
  8. Be prepared to suffer for your fun. The hours can be long, and the work surprisingly hard. Specific to Yellowstone: the altitude can and will fuck with your system. It will also make your hangover MUCH worse…and, if you have even the tiniest of social bones in your body, you will get a hangover or two…
  9. Cell service, cell service, cell service. It’s still chancy, but it’s better than nothing. Research the main provider in whatever Park you’re going to – here in Yellowstone it is Verizon. Since I have Verizon, I get decent download speeds at night…in the day it ain’t worth it, since everyone and their five cousins are all hitting the same cell tower that I am.

And, finally…that which I dearly wish someone had given me before I left for Yellowstone: the packing list!

  1. You’re (presumably) a big kid – figure out your own clothing situation. Believe people when they tell you it can snow in mid-fucking-July.
  2. Bring separate shoes for work and play: I originally used the same pair of boots for work and hiking, and I walked through ‘em in three months.
  3. Bring a good daypack. You will either never hike a bit (about 10% of folks), or you’ll hike your ass off. A good daypack, and plenty of water, makes all the difference.
  4. Bring camping stuff. Your know: a tent, a good sleeping bag (small, for backpacking, and cold-weather-capable for, well, snows in June), a backpack stove, that kind of thing. One additional pice of advice: get a good backpack hammock and tarp. Trust me on this – it can actually take the place of a tent 75% of the time, and is a hell of a lot smaller and lighter.
  5. Don’t bother with a bike. I love riding…for the last couple of years, I’ve done a lot of it. Riding in a National Park just plain sucks: you can’t go on the trails, so all you have are the roads…and the most dangerous things in the park system are the tourist drivers.
  6. Equipment is more important than clothes. Since I got here, I have either been given (by my company) or bought (at discount) something like ten t-shirts, a couple of fleeces/sweatshirts, and a bunch of other stuff. I could have left a lot of stuff at home in favor of some equipment that I badly miss right now…
  7. Bring a laptop that has TV shows and movies loaded on it, or on a removable hard drive. You absolutely cannot count on the internet (trust me on that!), and DVDs take up a lot of space. A big 500 GB, or 2 TB, portable hard drive packed with music and videos will make you the most popular kid in school.

A Full-House

“Your bet…” prompted the transgender girl slowly turning into a boy, looking to the left.

A shake of the head and a quick reply from the big, straight guy in that next seat. “I need another beer, first.”

“I’ll get it.” This from the rail-thin gay kid on the other side of the table as he stood and stepped over to the ice chest.

“Keep betting like that and you’ll need more than beer,” laughed the blonde, tougher-than-she-looks ex-cop.

In the background, a tall and aging server – head shaven to hide receding hair – is still throwing his all into hitting-on the pretty girl from Romania. She laughs and shakes her head; she still has a boyfriend back home.

College is a long time ago for me…err, both stints are a long time ago. It has been, over the years, hard to remember the semi-forced intimacy of that period. That period when boundaries are expanded, when preconceptions are shattered, and when new ways of looking at life are learned. That time when you well and truly grow up.

Six months ago, most of my friends looked like me. Most thought like me. Some even acted like me.

Now?

Now I play games with a transgender girl-turning-into-a-boy. Now I have real, meaningful discussions with a rail-thin gay kid. Now I feel avuncularly protective of a tougher-than-she-looks ex-cop. Now I laugh (with all the empathy and understanding of the fellow-aging) at a trying-oh-so-hard server*.

Six months ago, not a single one of us would have spoken three words to the others. Hell, none of us would’ve so much as entered each other’s orbit, let alone become friends. I’m a straight, white guy who is addicted to hockey and writes in brewery taprooms…what the hell do I have in common with any of these people?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

*Note: there are far more characters – and friends! – up here. The cast above, however, illustrates better than anything the variety…and the chasms crossed.

The Apocalypse That Wasn’t

Overcrowding! Biblical traffic jams! Cats and dogs living together!

The eclipse was supposed bring it all out. From record sales to the crazies, we were gonna get it all.

We got nothing.

No, really…I walked over to a trailhead the morning of the eclipse and saw no cars. Not just a few cars, but none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The store did its lowest level of business in a decade. Apparently everybody did listen to all the warnings from the Park Service to stay away.

That being said, I still did my long-ass hike to get away from it all…then I did something very, very dumb.

Oh, the first part of the hike went well. And let me tell you, being on top of a mountain to watch the eclipse was seriously cool. The light started to fade, and to turn to that particular shade of orange-red that you really only get at dusk (which looked truly odd with the short, noon-time shadows!).

Then it got strange.

The more the sun disappeared behind the moon, the more quiet it got. I don’t mean a normal hush. No, by the time of totality (well, 98% for me) it was totally and completely silent.

Animals…birds…even the damned insects, they all went quiet. That was, honestly, the eeriest part. With this much life and activity around Yellowstone, it is never silent here. But it was yesterday, and it stayed that way for all three minutes of the totality.

That is what surprised me. That is what awed me.

Of course, none of that was the stupid part. I saved the stupid part for after the eclipse.

So, there I am sitting on top of a mountain. I had a perfectly good trail to go back down. Did I use that trail? No, sir. Not me. I’m the damned explorer. I’m the bear-whisperer. I go where I want, trail or no trail.

I decided to scramble down the opposite side of the mountain, and head to a lake I know a few miles away. I would just pick up another trail there, and head back home. Easy peasy.

Umm…no.

It sucked. No, really – it sucked donkey balls. I almost died (err, well, almost got severely injured, anyway) more than once on that particular little jaunt.

Where the mountain wasn’t trying to kill me, the bears were. Now, keep in mind, I do a lot of off-trail hiking. More than is good for me, in all honesty. But, in my defense, I am very good at it, and I very much enjoy it.

And, yes, I always carry bear spray with me. In all the miles of backcountry stuff I’ve done, I’ve never had to so much as pull that can of supercharged pepper spray out of my pocket. Yesterday, halfway down that mountain and walking through a meadow, I had the fuckin’ thing in my hand, ready to fire…and ready to GTFO as soon as I did use it.

Thank God I didn’t run into the (very large) grizzly who owned the tracks, scat and beds I saw, because he would not have been happy to see me walking through the very heart of his territory…and I almost certainly would not be typing this right now.

Yes, it was indeed one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.

With the nights in the thirties, and the days starting to cool, it is beginning to feel like fall not just to us humans, but also to the animals. The elk are ready to start bugling for their rut, and the bears are starting to really get after the food in preparation for hibernation in a couple of months.

I think my off-trail days are over for the year. There’s over a thousand miles of trails in Yellowstone, maybe I should check out a few of them, instead.

I will miss that backcountry stuff, though.

The End Is Nigh!

I’m not exactly ground zero for the coming eclipse, but I’m pretty damn close: the “line of totality” is only about an hour south of me.

Am I going to go down that way to watch the sun die?

Are you freaking nuts?

The Park Service is expecting well over a million people in Grand Teton park alone, and a couple million more along other parts of the eclipse’s path. The state of Wyoming (where Yellowstone and Grand Teton are located) normally has about 500,000 inhabitants…on Monday it is expected to have well over three million. Three fucking million.

Yellowstone itself is expected to be in total and complete gridlock all day Monday.

As if the damned bison jams* weren’t bad enough.

*Yes, they really are a thing…and I’ve been stuck in several. I am, however, pretty sure it’s just the bored bison fucking with tourists: “Hey, watch this, Bob…I bet I can make ‘em all stop!”

I am, I should add, quite happily not working that day. I am going to grab my pack early, pack some booze and a nice big lunch, and head to the top of a remote mountain to watch the whole show. Even if the animals go a little nuts (as the biologists predict), they’ll still be a damn sight better – and safer – than the tourists that day.

I haven’t yet run into any of the crazy “end of the world” whackjobs, but a lifetime of cynical experience tells me it won’t be long. And, no, I don’t want to repent, thank you very much, even if the end is at hand. What’s the old saying? Oh yeah: it’s better to regret something you have done, than something you haven’t.

By the way, I did make the mistake of reading the news today, and I feel dumber for it. Do I really want to go back into that day-to-day world in a couple of months?

Err, no. Not really.

Not at all, actually.

I like my simple life of blissful ignorance at this point. My biggest problem lately has been breaking in my new hiking boots…and I like it that way. The company I work for has several other properties in other national parks. Hell, they have winter jobs here in (well, near) Yellowstone.

-40 degrees and ten+ feet of snow? It still sounds better than the news I just read…

Grinding Tears Into Wine

I’m supposed to write about pet peeves today. More specifically, I’m supposed to write about those pet peeves that I have in regards to the writing.IMG_0163

God knows, I’ve got my share of ‘em. You’ve all already heard about my need to write in taprooms, and about the impenetrable shields that are my earbuds…

But I’m still not ready to write about that. I’m not ready to write the sarcastic, wry post I had in mind. My friend’s death is too near, and far too powerful: I still hurt, and I still mourn.

So, instead, this is a post about catharsis…about how I heal with the words, and about the need to write.

I’ve never mentioned before, but the first piece I ever got paid for was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was supposed to be a simple obituary, voluntary and unpaid. But it became something far, far more. It became an ode to pain, and an expression of my rage at the loss, and at the fucking uselessness of it all…and it got picked up for that.

It was the obituary for a seventeen year old boy who committed suicide.

Writing that was the only way I had to deal with the pain, the only outlet that preserved sanity. Just under thirty years ago, in similar circumstances, I hadn’t yet learned that outlet. I hadn’t yet learned the power of putting words onto paper. I hadn’t learned the healing that comes with storytelling. Instead, I internalized everything: the loss, the pain, the rage, and the complete and utter confusion.

Oz very much is the combination of those two suicides…of those two friends. Yet, even now, I still haven’t released it all. The pain and rage and confusion are still there, and still they shape who I am, and how I think. Every single word I write is part of the healing process – and part of the venting. Every single word is my own blood on the page…and the blood of those many friends I’ve lost. If I didn’t write those words, if I didn’t use the blood, I would go back to drowning under the weight of it all.

Sometimes I still do.

Most of the subtexts and messages in both Wrath and Silence are planned and intended. Most, but not all. Some…some grew organically out of the writing…grew out of my own subconscious telling the rest of me to fuck off and taking over.

Alone is worse.

For something I once thought a simple throwaway line, that particular phrase has taken on a hell of a lot of power.

Writing Oz’s death scene almost broke me….but with the writing also came a certain amount of healing. I had to write it, I had to explore that particular moment…almost as much as I had to heal.

That is why I write. That is why I tell people that, while I write this blog for others, I write the stories for me. That is how I cope, and how I heal.

And if, someday, something I write can make a difference to someone I never meet…then it was all worth it.