Mar 23, 2017

Jason’s Dream


Since Laura passed I have been begging for some sign from her to let me know some things.
Are you still with me? Are you happy where you are? Can you  see Fiona growing up from your new home? Do you love me still?
Crazy, I know.
When we depart this world, those of us who are left behind can only hold on to beliefs of where we go when we pass, what we can see from our new home, etc.
Religion teaches us that there is a beautiful place that awaits us after we pass.
Science teaches us that life is an energy force, and energy cannot die – it only transforms.
Combining the two, I believe that there is a place where our life force goes after we leave the earthly realm.
Religion says that it’s called heaven, where we get to see long departed loved ones and the streets are paved with gold, and there’s no pain or suffering or tears. This would (or will) be a great place to reside.
Some science says that there is likely a parallel dimension that we trans-morph into, a world exactly like our own, with some subtle and some not so subtle differences.
Of course, no one has come from beyond to tell us which is which and what is real.

After daughter Ruth E. passed, the second night of trying to sleep, I had a most amazing and very real dream. I was awakened in the early morning hours by Ruth E.’s voice whispering in my ear. I turned over in my bed and opened my eyes and she was standing over me, big smile on her face, telling me “I’m home”. It was as if she were coming home from a date later than expected and was just letting me know that she was home and safe. As she turned and walked away from the bed I said “Wait – where have you been?”. She looked over her shoulder at me and said, in a way that only Ruth E. could say it, “Duh”. Then she laughed and kept on walking down the hall.
The dream was so real and so vivid that I immediately woke Laura up and told her about it. We both cried ourselves back to sleep that morning, and we never spoke of it to each other again.

It’s now early March 2017. I’m still reeling over the death of my beloved Laura, who left  just over three months earlier. I force myself out of bed on a Friday morning, off work and making plans for the day – laundry, dishes, scrubbing the sink, etc. My phone rings.
A little about the caller.
Jason Summers is a good friend, a super talented musician, a great father to his girls and all around great man. We met him through Michael as they were (and still are) in various bands together. Since meeting Jason, we started seeing him as another son. He was there through some of the worst times in our lives, was a pallbearer for Ruth E. and continues to offer love and support to our family, of which, like it or not, he is a part of.
I answered the phone that Friday morning with the fear that something may have happened to him or his family as Jason never calls that early in the morning.
Jason starts by apologizing for calling so early but he had to tell me about a dream that he had the night before. Seems that the dream was so real that it woke him at 5am and he couldn’t get it off his mind.
He dreamed that he was in his old apartment back in his hometown of Pittsburgh, walking out the front door. He looked across the street and saw Laura standing there – holding a red balloon. She had that large Laura smile on her face and he motioned for her to cross the street. She gave him the ‘mom’ look of ‘hell no, you cross the street to me’. Jason added  “you know, just like Laura would”.
Jason crossed the street and she met him with a big hug.
“What are you doing here?”, Jason asked.
Laura answered “Waiting on Larry to pick me up. We meet here at this time every day” Then, he drops me back off here as I have to go one way and he has to go another. But we meet here every day, same time”
Jason says that in the dream he turns and sees me driving down the street. I pull over and Laura, red balloon still in hand, gets into the car. She gives me a kiss on the cheek and turns back to Jason and says “everything’s going to be alright”. Then we drive away.
He woke up. He tells me over the phone that it was so real that he couldn’t go back to sleep. He wanted to call me and tell me then but was unsure how I would take hearing about the dream.
He says that it's the most vivid dream that he's ever had and that it was beautiful!
“She still loves you Larry”, Jason says through tears.
“Jason – you have just changed the entire trajectory of my day”, I told him.
We talked for a minute more and then I started scrubbing the sink. I cried, and scrubbed for almost an hour. Cleanest that sink has ever been, I did most of the rinsing with tears. Forget about all the other chores - I spent the rest of my time with her photos, with a grocery list that she had started, with emails that she had sent to me. And I grieved long and hard that day.

She had let me know that she was alright and that she still loved me. She had communicated this through Jason, a guy that called her his second mom and that she loved as a son. She had spoken through Jason as Ruth E. had spoken through me.
I choose to believe this. It makes me feel so much better.
And while I loved him as a son before that phone call, I’ll never forget what that man did for me that day.
He delivered some much-needed answers.
And that certainly helps me along with this grieving process and lets me know that there is a place where we all go after we die.

Mar 2, 2017

Good Friends

Laura had friends, as most people do. She had many-too numerous to mention in a post such as this.
We've had mutual friends throughout the years, the boys from the old school (think croquet), the Crowders from Mebane, the Jaycees in Newberry, etc.
Here, I'd like to touch on just a couple. While this does not discount any of the many people that she called her friends, these two that I speak of are ones that she held near and dear and kept in constant contact with.

Martha Suber
We met Martha in the early 90s while shooting a music video for the DARE program for the Newberry County School District Gifted and Talented Program. Martha had written a song called "I'm Too Cool" which was an anti-drug statement aimed at rural kids. Unlike most 'just say no' messages at the time, this one targeted kids who didn't live on the mean streets of a big city. While drugs weren't a huge problem for our county (thanks to programs like DARE and the excellent law enforcement this county has enjoyed), there was always a threat of drugs infiltrating this peaceful, rural community. A music video that targeted and featured local kids was the right prescription for getting the message out that drugs were not the answer. Martha had brought along a producer/director, Kimberly J Miller, recently from California into the project and soon we were rehearsing kids for the leads, scouting locations and gathering the equipment needed to accomplish our project. After many pre-production meetings, the shoot got underway. We had about 30 actors, singers and dancers rehearsed and ready to roll. While Kim directed and choreographed and I provided lighting and camera, Laura was assigned the ominous task of Line Producer. For those unfamilier with the term, a Line Producer's job consists of, well, everything else. Need a golf cart for a certain location? Ask the line producer. Need a crane for a certain shot? Ask your line producer. Need to ferry actors to and from locations? You get the picture. Laura was absolutely flawless in this position. Her proven sales ability allowed her to wheel and deal almost anything we needed out of local business owners and government leaders. For the crane, she had one day's notice. Next day the crane was parked exactly where we needed it. Awesome woman!
Martha, meanwhile, as the composer and guitarist/harmonica player, was also featured in the video. She had some downtime between takes and would stand with Laura to keep her company. They developed a rapport and soon became friends.
The shoot lasted over 30 days. Locations included the old Newberry Opera House (at the time still in a state of decay, Community Hall, a logging truck bed, basketball court, dairy farm, Wal Mart, an old barn, downtown Prosperity and Whitmire, SC and Martha's front porch. By the end of the shoot and edit, the four of us were exhausted. Kim and I worked on editing, finished the piece and picked a premier date and finally collapsed. It was decided that the four of us, by now fast friends, would take a trip to the beach to renew.
And so we did.
Since then, Martha and Laura became friends and confidants. When Martha moved to Virginia we would often visit her. While Laura and Martha hung out and caught up on life, I would travel the Civil War trails of the area. When Laura and I had some marital difficulties, Martha was her refuge. After Martha moved backed to SC, we often went over for 'graze and float', eating chicken and swimming. When Martha started playing gigs again in SC, Laura tried as often as possible to be there. I'd have to say that Martha was her closest friend since they had known one another so long. And then there's...

Rachel Moore
So Laura started working at a place called Medi Home Care as a receptionist. She got the job through her friend at a temp agency and the original offer was 25 hours per week while working for the temp agency. After that contract expired, she was to be offered a full time position with full benefits. Those assheads lied to her over and over and never gave her what they promised, which included health coverage...but I digress. There was a lovely young lady working there that Laura took a sudden liking to. She would come home with "Rachel" stories nearly every day, each story crazier than the previous one. Soon, I had to meet this Rachel. She was everything that I had heard and then some. Outrageous, outspoken, out there! Just like Laura. Soon, Laura was coming home with weird coincidence stories. "Did you know that Rachel and Dan lived in a log home? Did you know that Rachel has a sister near Winston Salem like I do? Did you know that her favorite food is..." Almost every day I would hear another strange coincidence that would link these two. They were almost like twins separated at birth. Next thing I know, Laura is calling her after work and chatting for hours. It became a regular thing. Next was "I'm going out for drinks with the girls". I was happy that Laura was doing more than just working and going home to TV. She had her regular Tuesday night trip with Martha to hear her and Freddie play in Union. The rest of the week was, if Fiona wasn't visiting, the girls were going out to dinner or drinks, or both. Laura was finally beginning to enjoy life again in a social way. When Ruth E passed away, Laura withdrew into a social shell. She was happy with family gatherings, and she was excited about her weekly trips and the occasional Saturdays with Martha at the pool. Now, she was getting out again, dining and drinking with new friends, bitching about work and I could see her coming back to life.
Just minutes after Laura passed away, I was standing in the ICU hallway next to the elevator. I was still in a state of shock and disbelief. I hear the elevator door open and  Rachel walks out, tears streaming down her face. "I'm too late aren't I", she says. I nodded. She grabbed me in a tight hug and we cried together.
Since then, we have talked and cried on the phone several times, and will continue to for the foreseeable future. Rachel and her husband Dan have found a place in my heart, thanks to the lovely Laura Reid.

Feb 19, 2017

Like Comets Come

The storms of life like comets come,
They bring with them the blues
They sting you with their mysteries
the scars they leave are clues

But when a whirlwind took my love
I could not turn the page.
My brittle heart had been laid bare,
to heaven fisted rage

Proverbial seasons - I'm aware, I'm aware.
But death is a season of despair, deep despair.

With the comet came the rains
The storm intensified.
With the rain came memories
brought tears to my tired eyes.

When that angel took my love,
I begged him for relief.
He said that I must travel first
to places dark and deep.

Grief has its stages - yes I know, yes I know
But death just enrages and it grows, and it grows.

The sky will once again be free
The signs will fade from view.
But I'll look to the heavens
In hopes that I'll see you.
Yes I'll look to the heavens
In hopes that I see you.

Thirteen Weeks

Since Laura passed November 30, 2016, roughly thirteen weeks have gone by.
There have been many changes.
I am on a new anti-depressant regimen that keeps me from having anxiety and panic attacks. This is good since it was such a panic attack that brought on a near-fatal heart attack for me. Don't need to add another one of those into the mix.
I have sought counsel from my doctor, who I've known for over 20 years and whose advice I trust. My last appointment, when asked the reason for my visit, I replied "I just want to sit and talk for a bit". My doctor is very good at listening and helping me with the stressers that one goes through at a time like this.
I have been working diligently on my home. Painting, moving things into storage, selling a few things, etc. But still not touching Laura's things. Those decisions will not be faced until at least June. I'm sticking by my promise to not make any decisions on her possessions for at least six months.
I cry a bit less now, not only because of the drugs, or the time that has passed. I'm getting to a point of remembering the good things that have happened for us over our forty years together. I'm remembering things that are near and dear to me, events that we shared, concerts that we've attended, family reunions, even some of the bullshit that we dealt with - together. The one phrase that constantly runs through my mind is when she would always say to me "we're a team - we'll make it through this together". It comforts me. I've known people who were married as long, if not longer than we were who never seemed to reach this place.
I still hear her voice. When I'm doing laundry, or trying to cook, I hear her guiding me (although she still has yet to reveal that secret ingredient that she used to put into her green beans). When I make a decision to move furniture in the living room I can hear her telling me to move it back a few more inches, or to the left a bit.
Some things that haven't changed - her stuff is pretty much where she left it. It was put there for a reason and I don't need to move it.
I still miss her very, very much. I'm still in a kind of shock that she was here and suddenly gone so quickly and unexpectedly. I still tell her daily that I miss her and that I'm sorry that I didn't know to get her to the hospital sooner. And I still let her have the last word when she told me "I love you more" as they were taking her into ICU that night. She did and I know it!
You can't just let go of forty plus years of a voice and a presence. And she was most definitely a presence!
I'm telling stories about Laura to some of my co workers and friends, some who had the pleasure of meeting her and some who didn't. She left many great stories for me to share; from her long-standing suffering as a Carolina Panthers fan and the obscenity usually screamed during the games to her legendary attacks on anyone who disrespected either one of her children (especially obnoxious high school coaches).
It's good that I can laugh when I share these stories. I also firmly believe that every time I think of her or utter her name that she is still alive, simply because she lives inside me.

There will never, ever be another like Laura Welborn Reid - and you can take that to the bank!