Slyfoot said he was half deaf, half blind, and half crazy. He said I drove him sane…
I didn’t think anything he said about himself was true. I was a realistic, but when it came to people, one on one, individually, I was an optimistic.
People say all sorts of weird things about themselves on the internet to make thems sound interesting. I’m not sure all those particular ‘half’s’ are all that interesting, but I thought it was just an attention grabber.
I didn’t know Slyfoot, or Sam as I came to know him later, irl (in real life). I just thought he was some gamer/hacker/computer geek who was way too into Linux and rosaries. I never put it all together until we started talking in earnest–and that didn’t happen until after the dream and we were making plans to get married. By that time it was too late. God had already let me set my own trap and watched quietly as I walked right into it.
I couldn’t blame Him. I had given him permission. I’d invited him to in a flippant moment. Truth be told, I had practically dared him to. I didn’t think he’d take me seriously, and I never imagined it would end up the way it did.
It all started two years after my divorce. I was in my mid thirties. I had four children, but only the two youngest lived with me: Erin, my daughter, and Josh, my youngest son. My two older boys, Benjamin and Bryce, lived with their father in the same area we had all lived together before the divorce: Katy, Texas.
At that time, I lived in the northwest of Houston in a decent, inexpensive (relatively speaking), townhome apartment, struggling as a single mother still having a difficult time with my ex, even two years after we split.
My father told me to start dating. At this time, my father had been divorced three times and married four times–twice to my mother. I told him I would work on that, with no intention of doing so. I gave the appearance of respect. I didn’t tell him that he was the last person I’d take advice on romance from, or that I couldn’t understand why he and my mother decided to get back together with him. But being my dad, I did listen and I thought about what he said, but not much more than that.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) we have Wards instead of a Parish. And instead of a parish priest, we have a Bishop. You can’t switch wards or bishops, as some people outside the Mormon church do, with some special exceptions.
None of the clergy in the Mormon church is paid.
Temples are not like Ward buildings, where Mormons meet every week to partake of the sacrament, attend Sunday School and auxiliary meetings. They are sacred places where ordinances are performed that tie us to our families for eternity and give a glimpse of heaven. Only worthy members, those with a recommend, are allowed in the temple. To obtain this recommend, members have to adhere to the Word of Wisdom–a guideline to a healthy, God directed/centered lifestyle–pay their tithing–1/10th of their increase, be interviewed and found worthy by your bishop and your stake president, who is a little like a Bishop of the several parishes in his district.
Sometime after my father had told me to start dating, I went in to my bishop for a temple recommend interview and he,Bishop Slack, told me that I needed to start dating. I laughed nervously and told him that my father had said the same thing just a few weeks earlier.
I made no commitments and didn’t do anything more about that admonition than I had my fathers.
When I went into the interview with the stake president, I didn’t expect much small talk. Stake Presidents have even less time to themselves, and more appointments to get to, than bishops. It was a bit of a surprise then, after the stake president started with the question on how my life had been–the trials of single motherhood, how hard that is in a ward full of functional, intact families–that he told me that I needed to start dating.
I laughed and decided that I better take the advice before one of the Twelve Apostles called me. I didn’t want to take a chance on getting all the way up the chain to the prophet.
I started to take the idea of dating seriously, and tried to be open.
While I was trying to put together in my mind what I wanted from a potential husband (something I never really did when I was young) I kept writing and stayed in contact with most of my family and friends through email, livejournal (the precursor to “blogs”) or instant messaging.
Writing consumed most of my free time at this period in my life. It was a good diversion from feeling sorry for myself, my situation, being angry at the ex, and trying to adjust to being a single mom. I was delving into scifi, something I hadn’t really done before, and my first serious foray was a short story called: A Rock and a Hard Place. I posted on my livejournal and it went like this:
Richard “Rock” Klein
Captain’s Log 14.10.2665
Outside Uranus (isn’t that ironic)
Kerry Portsmith Station
Docking Bay 24
They say space is cold. But it’s not *just* cold. No one has ever really felt how cold it is and lived to tell about it. We know instinctively that anything so vast and so empty must be cold.
The irony is that all the things we spend time with while in space also make us feel cold and empty. We travel in cold metalic ships from cold empty space to cold empty space.
Machines have no disability like perception. Filled with Artificial Intelligence and hundreds of processors heating up their hard drives, they are still only metal and plastic. They don’t care if they sit in space or in a shipyard for twenty years. They do not desire warmth and companionship. They just exist.
If you have one of those new bioships it might feel a little more like a horse than a cold lifeless THING, but in the end, it’s still a machine. It gives out as much personality and intelligence as an animal and it only lives to fill it’s purpose. It knows exactly what it should be and do. There is no goal for a spaceship to one day be a station. It is what it is and will never be more.
We try to fill the spaces with ego or warm it with personality. Those of us who spend so much time in space hardly know what exaggerated bravado is. We believe the lies we tell ourselves. We believe all the fantasies we create about ourselves and the things… and people, we love – or maybe it’s just ‘want.’
I’ve given up trying to tell the difference between love and desire. I just want warmth.
We leave a planet’s atmosphere to be greeted by a sheet of black with pinpricks of light. There is so much empty blackness between each point of light, that space seems cold even without feeling the temperature drop. We spend much of our time trying to make it feel warm and filled.
The ship is cold and empty this morning, but it won’t be tonight. Tonight she comes.
Three years ago she warmed these halls. It was three years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. No one has ever turned me on, out and completely neutroned me like Sam did. We were good. No. That’s a lie. We were slammin’ fantastic. I know how good it can be between a man and a woman.
That’s why I hate her.
You might look at the logs from six years ago and come to the same conclusion I did: She could be a cold hearted bitch.
Still… a cold hearted bitch is better company than an empty starship.
It was just a little story told using the method of narrating from a captain’s journal, but there was a reply from someone who had never replied to my journal before and the comments after the story went like this:
Slyfoot: Hey, I’m a Sci-Fi fan!
You’ve really got me interested in what happens next!
I really am interested, it’s not just ‘coz it’s the polite thing to say.
Me: I believe you. You don’t normally drop me ‘polite’ comments just to tag my LJ, so I appreciate the attention. (and I’m serious about this story, so it’s good to have someone to help me gauge if it’s still interesting).
Slyfoot: Yeah, keep at it! Maybe you’ll be the next Orson Scott Card. 🙂
PS: I have a Star Trek tattoo, too, lol.
Me: Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.
I remember telling my new husband that love is not a pie. I told him this because there is always a worry with a widow that her heart is never wholy yours.
Love is not a finite resource that is doled out and diminished, like a cherry pie. It is an infinite resource that actually grows when given/used. You discover this when you have your second child… or your next husband.
There is no one who understands this concept more than God, our Heavenly Father. And I have never seen a scripture that says “love God more than your wife.” In fact, one could argue, “as Christ loved the church,” is an argument for loving your wife as much as God.
I think where people get confused is the phrase “Putting God First.” This was not meant to put God before your wife in your heart. While God is a jealous God, if you think of the logical gospel context (God is nothing if not logical) he would never object to you having as much love for a person as he has for you, and let’s face it, you’ll not ever get to that point in mortality. Even Christ shrunk from that responsibility.
When you “see” the scriptures or talks from modern day seers and revelators in ASL (American sign language ), you can see it is directional. It is simple. It is clear in a language that values clarity about e all else.
Putting God First is directional, not emotional. God is your navigator. Only he knows where you want to end up. Your spouse is as clueless about the final destination as you are. To follow your spouse or even ask them to lead you if you were not positive they were following the map of the only navigator available to you would be folly. It would be as senseless in real life as it is spiritually. That is, in fact, how you can testify of the truth of it. There is always a real world parallel to spiritual concepts. This is why parables are so effective.
I admit that I cringe a little when people say they put God first in their lives. The way I feel about it is my earth father would never expect me to put him before my husband, but in matters of life experience, he would necessarily expect me to defer to his earthly knowledge over my husbands.
In my opinion the gospel is not hypocritical. Concepts and precepts are applicable universally. If you wouldn’t put your earthly father before your spouse on earth, then God could not expect you to do it while heaven bound.
The phrase “I put God first in my marriage ” is too confusing to laymen, and leads communication problems in marriage itself between genders already prone to miscommunication. I think we need to defer to the deaf on this matter. “God above others. ” And it makes sense this way. It is simple, clear and does not put your spouse below you in order of importance, in fact it puts you with them, following God in the direction you should both be ne nessarily be headed if following God: upward and onward.
I had a friend, a widow, tell me that she had been sleeping on her couch for 5 years since her husband died. I had lost the bed my late husband and I slept in to the Memorial Day floods 2015 in Houston, Texas only one year after he passed away. But I thought, because I was sleeping in the same room I had slept with my Hobbit (my nickname for Sam), at least compared to my friend, I was doing pretty good with recovery. That was just sleeping spaces, however, and being inexperienced with grief of this kind, I did not know how long lasting and deep grief would be.
Life Goes On
I remarried in October 2015, and my new husband, John, knew I was still recovering from the loss of my late husband. Unlike other men before him, he never abandoned me when I cried, stopped me from talking about Sam or asserted I was comparing the two of them. John is in the Texas National Guard and I understood this would mean extended times he would be gone. I knew this, but I never thought about it. Not really.
Sam was once offered the chance to go and study at the Hellen Keller Institute. He refused because it meant too much time away from the family, and more specifically, from me. I do n’t know if it was the right decision, but because of the nature of my relationship with Sam, we were rarely more than 10 miles from one another and never more than normal business hours. For the last 9 months he was alive we were together almost 24/7. I thought this was a blessing, and it had been. Sam’s last post was how much he loved me, his wife. We had a great marriage. We both agreed on that. We were close and maybe that was a problem for my future husband. But of course, at the time, I had no idea I’d have a future husband. I thought and was planning old age with him. Now that I’m planning old age with John, these memories mixed with grief and unthinking fear have often come to a head without warning.
Johns First Trip Out of State
John is divorced (like me and my marriage before Sam) and his kids live in North Carolina with their mother. Recently he took a two week trip to see them…without me. I did not have anxiety leading up to his departure, at least none that I could discern, but the evening before he was scheduled to leave, I started to cry and I didn’t stop crying even after he left. I cried for nearly 18 hours straight convinced that John would never come back. It was an irrational fear that I could not dislodge with any amount of logic.
I understood what it was. I understood where it came from, but nothing could replace it. When John asked what he could do, I told him I didn’t think there was anything he could do. I needed to suffer through the fear and dispel it with the fact of his return. Did it work? I won’t really know until he has to leave again.
There are other signs I am still in recovery. I no longer write every day. I’ve not been able to finish my works in progress or even edit what I’ve completed. I haven’t been able to stick to an art project from concept to finish. My paper supplies like up, but the output has been extraordinarily low. Not to mention my lack of finished projects made me feel somehow dysfunctional or broken.
In an attempt to fill in blank spaces with John, I have taken many pictures and produced a Mixbook of our Valentines Day retreat, lots of little scrapbooks for John with a little storyline like comics because I knew her like them. It helps to fill the spaces I am so, knowingly, desperate to fill up with memories of John and me.
Though this is a familiar creativity, it is still not “me.” Its not what I normally do or did. Maybe I haven’t found my new normal. Maybe I am no longer a writer or artist of any kind. Death claimed my biggest fan and grief killed my muse.
Eventually I will find a new normal. My muse may be resurrected, reborn or rebuilt. But there is no question in my mind that grief is a much more potent and long lasting shadow than I suspected or understood. I don’t want it shadowing me, but the only way to keep it out of the shadows is to expose it to the light.
So now you know.
And then I cried.
God I love that man. I talk about him all the time. Still working slowly on that biography/autobiography. Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere how much I miss him, like today and everything feels fresh. Like it just happened yesterday…
My book has been published. It is available on ebook in Kindle/Nook and also hard copy. I truly believe that Sam had a hand in this being published and thought if I believed that, I should be offering it on our blog. If you would like a signed copy, send a payment of 12.50 to my paypal address (swampfaye at yahoo dot com) with a note that it is for “Martian Goods”. If you’d like it personalized, just let me know. I have a limited amount of copies at the moment, so order yours first!
Lights were a big theme in my marriage to Sam. Yesterday I took the lights in our room down. It made me emotional and moody the entire day. I tried to explain why to a friend, but Sam said it better:
Is this not a reason for tears if I shed them? Whether for joy, grief or just pure emotion, the tears are there because the memory is beautiful.
I have been repeatedly blessed by friends and friendships,and kudos to the internet for helping me make most of them, actually. Through friendships I have traveled to Ireland, paid for a messy divorce, met a spouse, learned ASL, paid for an unexpected funeral/death, been supported through widowhood, will have a book published and many many MANY more things. I hope I have been a good friend in return. I hope I have paid it forward and backward. I want, more than anything, to be a blessing to my friends.
I feel like I’m starting to come out of the fog of my hobbit’s death. I know it doesn’t make me miss him less, or love him less, but it does let me feel a little more like myself–and I need that. I haven’t been able to write for a while now, but I am starting to get back into things that I had set aside because I simply wasn’t myself.
Thanks to the efforts of my friends, we bring you an excerpt of the story “Martian Goods” (by me) in ASL!! Don’t forget to donate to the kickstarter campaign – follow the link for the video!
Lots of you guys know I was married to a deaf man, and so have done a lot of things and gathered many experiences form within the deaf community. Some of my characters are inspired by the deaf people I know (and even some of the dreaded CODAs ;P ). This excerpt below has been interpreted very excellently by Robert Gardner, one of the young men who served a mission to the Fallbrook Deaf Branch and did much service for my husband and I.
Please support the kickstarter project and get the rest of the story with a donation: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skyrocket/martian-goods-and-other-stories/backers
Here is a link to Robert’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQgGSmqwKqiZJfXiek86ZHA
My dearest Sam,
I left your meditation corner all clear and ready for you. The light is on. You can visit if you need a rest or a reminder.
Miss you much.