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             And so, we leave behind another year and start anew…

             First of all, I hope the picture I posted offends noone. I decided to insert it in this post as a nod to the past and to the fond memories that have brought me to this point in my life.

              No, I have never stood on a train track, naked with only my beloved cowboy hat or the twin, Roy Roger’s guns in their holster, strapped on, ready for what was to come. But, I actually did, in my backyard, more than once ! Noone witnessed it, however, or I might have been disciplined.  But now I’m digressing. Again.

             Perhaps the train bearing down on me, at that point in my life, had the momentum and the power, but I had something on my side that it could never comprehend– pure will. The will to be human. To laugh. To love. To find my way through this life, despite the terrors that awaited.

               It has been a long journey. One that I described in an email I just wrote to a reader in Boise.  I hope he won’t mind if I share a  portion with you…

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           … You have been thru a lot and it may take a long time for your spirit to heal and for your new life to finally take control over your former life, and put that finally where it belongs– in the realm of  the ‘Others’, where darkness holds sway and the things that make us less, reign. It is where the things that children should never see, find refuge.
             I lived there once, and for too long, mostly because the shadows wouldn’t let me escape. I sought the ‘light’, but was surrounded by treacherous cliffs… jagged precipices that became the walls of my prison. I peered out from my hiding place and waited for the day of my rescue because I felt powerless to fight… alone.
             Over time, I started to understand that  which the voice inside of me told me, over and over again… I was NEVER alone, even as I cried for help. That the reason for my salvation would be made clear some day, and that the path to that understanding would be a journey shared by the people I chose. The people I loved who would stand beside me because of who I would be. The rest was illusion wrought in the fires of hell, designed to test me. To test my will and the reason for my existence. To mock me when I was sad, and to torment me when I felt weak.
            At first, I doubted. How could something so seemingly powerful be illusion? How had I accepted its role in my young life?
           In fact, the words became puzzles to me and I struggled for years to decipher them, until I took the chance to peer out from my place of refuge one day and feel the warm breeze of love wash over me.
           It would change everything.
           It was only then that the light was able to find me. I started to trust once more. To let certain people touch me in ways that I had once vowed to be too dangerous.
          The journey from there has been incredible. At times I find myself marveling that much of it has happened. I look back and much of it seems like a dream that has been lived in minutes, yet it has happened over decades! It is almost inconceivable to me that I opened that door, but I did. Slowly, and in stages, but I did.
         Your journey is just beginning, ******. You will find your way, just like I have. You are in control of who will be by your side. The rest must fall away into the darkness where it belongs. Always reach for the light and live with hope. Joy. Remember, but do not go back. The years will pass quickly. Savor every moment of love and use the darkness to guide you to the light. Always.
          Nothing can hurt you in the light.
          You will become stronger and stronger as you take those first steps…
          That is my wish for you. I believe that is why we found each other.
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         That is the gist of the email I wrote and it left me deep in contemplation… Looking back, over the past year or so, as my journey has taken me to places I never conceived, but have done my best to embrace.
          As recently as last week, I found myself celebrating the Christmas holiday with friends instead of the traditional way I have for so long. As I sat there at the lovely dinner my dear friend put together, but of which I could not physically consume, due to my looming surgery, I felt the warmth that only acceptance can bring… Full acknowledgement of who I am and unconditional love despite that. Maybe even because of that…
          So, I sat there, eating the soup I had brought with me, and enjoyed the affectionate jabs from my Godson who was to be my chariot driver in the A.M. as I made my way to the West Haven VA, where the surgery was scheduled… He seemed jubilant that I had asked. I had hoped he would feel that way.
           My surgery was something petty compared to what most people endure, but I had no illusions that it would be easy or fun. In fact, because my digestive tract was involved, I felt like the recovery was going to be a challenge. I love to eat, especially around the holidays, but to get a realistic time where I could rely on my friends to transport me back and forth, I chose a date when they would be on holiday and able to help w/o the financial burden of taking time off from work.
              That translated into a date with destiny on December 26th. The day after Christmas.
              And so it was. That morning came quickly after the get -together at my friends’ house. It was a bleak and raw kind of day as we exited the Prius in West Haven, and hustled towards the huge facility on the hill. I had noticed the sparsity of cars. Usually, the place was teeming, but this looked more like a ghost town than the usual chaotic city it had become recently…
                I said my goodbyes in the waiting room, after getting dressed in a dark blue johnny and the pants with the snaps that always seem ready to pop. Open, that is!
                James and Edie gave me big hugs and I padded away in the grip- type socks that accompanied the other garb, slightly self conscious, but eager to get things under way. I have suffered from these doggoned hemorrhoids for far too long now!
                 So, I followed the slightly built Asian lady down the hall until we reached the doorway to the operating room.  To be honest, I was a bit surprised that I wasn’t already on a gurney but shrugged it off and followed her through the swinging doors and into the triage area. I’m calling it that, because it wasn’t the actual area where the operation was to be performed. That was only 25 feet away (roughly) through another set of swinging doors where I assumed sterile conditions were maintained and prioritized.
                  I had walked into the triage area only 6 feet or so when I saw the first staff awaiting my arrival… OMG. Wayne. lol
                    You see, it had only been three or four weeks since my last screening procedure in that same facility, only that time, it was down the hall in another room, and that was where I first met Wayne as he prepped me for the colonoscopy. We had clicked right away, and the last thing I remembered that time, were twisted jokes about the anesthesia I was about to experience. I had him in stitches and he had me groaning at the double entendres and the witty comebacks… A funny guy. Genuinely fuuny. A ‘people’ person.
                    Never to miss an opportunity, I turned on my heels, like I had been taught in the military and headed for the exit doors, looking back at Wayne and rolling my eyes. “Why me?” was what I offered.
                     Wayne had his own take… “Oh my God! Not you again! You must like having things shoved up your ass! Merry Christmas, buddy!”  He stood there, grinning away, while I feigned mock horror and reluctantly reversed direction once more. The Asian orderly froze in her tracks, unsure what had happened 😛
                      Oh dear… That begin a half hour of laughing and banter. Some of it absurd. Most of it just fun, as we enjoyed the final moments of levity before I took the ride through the other doors.
                      Just as that was about to happen, Wayne leaned over me once last time, to ask me once more about any possible sources of metal in my body… I reminded him about the crazy mechanism in my left arm that was designed on the fly by an orthopedic surgeon as he reconstructed my shattered arm. “Ahhh… that’s right… We DID talk about that. So, to put it in a nutshell then… Assholes and elbows…”
                      I almost fell off the gurney. I reached up and patted him on the shoulder. “I gotta remember that… it’ll make a good heading for my next post. Remind me, if this anesthesia erases it, OK?”
                      “You bet, buddy… ”  We were in the room now, and the intravenous was taking control as he and the other orderly rolled me off the gurney. My johnny unsnapped and I think I mooned everyone in the room. {sigh} Wayne giggled and draped the warm blanket  over me. That’s all I remember.
                        I came to in the recovery room and realized that darkness had settled in… I could see the street lights through some high windows and there almost seemed to be snow flying in front of them.
                        There was… The snow I was worried about had just pushed into the area. It would ultimately dump about 8 inches around here. My hope had  been that I could complete my recovery and get ‘out of Dodge’ in a timely fashion, BEFORE the worst of it hit. All of us wanted that, altho James seemed unfazed. He liked driving in snow, having lived in Vermont while attending Middlebury College…
                       Well, we did make it back, and without incident. I spent about an hour in recovery and the staff couldn’t have been nicer. James was all smiles and so was Edie. It was nice to have them by my side. And, when I sent them on a ‘mission’ to intercept my prescriptions at the pharmacy, it gave me time to get dressed and to get my bearings again. I thought back, trying to recall anything during the surgery, but to no avail… The place was almost empty as I slipped my socks on and started to tie the laces on my sneakers.
                       “Assholes and elbows, buddy.”  And then laughter, as the curtain parted and a familiar face came into view, followed by a snappy salute that I returned, grinning the whole while…
                       It has been an interesting journey, to say the least!  There is a long way to go from here, and I hope you will come with me, full of the hope and joy I feel right now!  2013!! It’s gonna be a GREAT  one!
                        Love to all,   tman
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