He Didn’t Answer the Phone

IMG_5747He didn’t answer the phone, so I eventually called someone else.

I waited and called again.

Then, my sister Leah called. She spoke one sentence, calmly and quietly.

I didn’t believe her.

The phone rang. It was the “law man,” calling me personally. That’s the beauty of being from a small town in the South.

With compassion, he spoke and told me the news. Still half dressed, I collapsed to the floor, emitting a moan from so deep in my soul that the sound was inhuman. I remember the coldness on my chest being something I wanted to crawl into so I could escape this terror.

I had been wanting to get on the road before all of this, but I didn’t know. Yet, I did know. Sometime between the waiting and the pacing and not knowing but knowing, I had packed a bag and even a dress.

I had to get there.

“We have to go, now!”

And so we went, and despite the short two-hour drive from Indiana, it was the longest drive of my life.

Once in the passenger seat,  I called to make arrangements for our daughter who was sleeping over at a friend’s house. Sleep quickly cleared from the other mom’s groggy “Hello” when I told her the news. Honestly, my husband Brent should have called, but I was insistent, irrational. Undoubtedly, he would have waited to call until at least the sun kissed the earth, thus softening the shock to this mother.

I remember calling my brother Eli at least 20 times and every single time moaning, “Why aren’t you answering the phone! Please answer the phone! Answer the damn phone!”

It was no different yesterday when I called my Daddy all afternoon and evening, but he wouldn’t answer the phone either. I wasn’t worried, though, because Leah would be with him that evening . . . but she wasn’t.

There had been plenty of times I had worried—but not about this. I’d even called my high school friend, now chief of police, to check on Daddy— in the middle of the woods, in his home he saw in his dreams and built with his own hands.

I remember driving into town and into that parking lot that I had not legitimately visited since 1993. We arrived, but had to wait. We had to wait, and I had to see. My insides were convulsing, like every organ, every cell within me needed to come out and breathe and escape. Nothing felt real, nothing. It could not be real.

My husband’s presence kept bringing me back to reality. He was with me. He made the drive in the hours after midnight and before dawn. He made the calls to family and friends. He cancelled the trip to California. He was there because I could not be. I could barely function or think or speak.

Once I saw, I didn’t want to leave. I had to be removed. I was warned about what I touched, but my lips and caress ignored the warning. What does it matter now what I touch! With knees buckled, my stomach in my throat, and shards of my heart falling on the floor with every step I took, my husband helped me exit.

After leaving that lot, I remember parking at the gas station and calling Mom. It was 7am by now, and the sun was shining on the streets of my hometown, shining on everything except my spirit.

“Well, hello!” Mom’s voice chimed, excited to hear from me but confused about the time. Through sobs and tightened breaths of pain, I told her the news, and her excitement and confusion quickly vanished.

“Yes, I will meet you. Anything. Anything at all, I will do,” she said like a mother would say during a time like this. She’s all a mother should be, and I am thankful for her, despite not being born to her.

Still no answer from Eli or his wife!

“I need you to answer the phone! I need you to call me!”

I really have no idea what I said on the voicemails but am certain that I gave no details. No one would want a voicemail with those details.

So, we went to the next parking lot, a lot I had never visited but that my high school friends Clarissa and Todd owned. I truly believe Clarissa might be an earth Angel, for her way is so comforting and peaceful and kind, despite the bombardment of sadness.

We were there in that building on that lot, but I was there alone. My husband was there and Clarissa and Todd were there, but I was alone. Feeling alone, surrounded by people is a feeling that still hangs with me today.

Mom showed up shortly after we arrived. She sat with me, holding my hand. I listened to Clarissa but can’t say that I heard her. It was like the words of Charlie Brown’s teacher. Nothing made sense. It was only noise, and I was waiting, waiting for someone to answer the damn phone or to tell me this wasn’t real or to give me an instructional guide.

An instructional guide would have been helpful because to this day I question the decisions I made and try not to regret. I do not regret, however, inviting Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan and of course my long ago friends Russ and Stacy who shared Amazing Grace with us.

I remember Leah and Erik showing up, and they sat down with us too. So many questions still remain in my mind and heart for my baby sister. Yet, I remind myself that our relationships with him were different, and I remind myself that we each have our own way of untangling the webs of life. When she’s ready to talk, I will be ready to listen.

My phone rings.

“Eli?!” Static. “Eli, are you there?!”

My phone rings. It’s a number not in my contacts.

“Hello. Eli?!”

“Hey, Sis. What’s up? We’re at the lake. Reception is bad. I’m calling on a friend’s phone.”

I told him the news in one short sentence–at least I think that’s what I did.

“What!” my baby brother choked out, not understanding and not sure he heard what I said through the crackling reception.

So, I had to repeat the sentence. Then, I had to tell his wife because he couldn’t speak. I remember he cried out and then I was talking to April, and I told her. I remember.

They were 5 hours away, and so we had to wait.

And then, we were all together, and we had to make decisions. We had to decide and agree, the three of us, because there were no instructions and there was no money. There was only shock and numbness and complete and utter heartache, and I am confident these do not make for solid decision making.

At some point, we went to Grandma’s and Uncle Greg’s, but I don’t remember our first visit. Upon visiting the second time, I opened the door to my Grandma lying on the floor.

“She fell on the porch, and I pulled her in,” Uncle Greg said.

“Are you serious!?” I said as I looked up to the ceiling.

Grandma’s fall jolted me into reality. We—I’m not sure who—carefully moved her to the couch, but something wasn’t right. Someone called 911—it might have been me, but I don’t remember—and the ambulance arrived shortly after the call.

Someone answered the phone this time.

This time, the ambulance drove a few miles in the still shining sun to the hospital a few blocks away, instead of the ominous lot in the middle of town. Once there, we sat again and waited, and when we were called back, the doctor was Daddy’s doctor from a few years ago.

Another look to the ceiling and then I exchanged the proper pleasantries.

As for Grandma, my initial diagnosis was confirmed. A broken hip. She must be taken by ambulance to Nashville, with surgery soon after her arrival.

And the day of disbelief continued.

Later, Eli and April quietly announced they are pregnant. I’m serious. They did and they were and they now have a wonderful, handsome one-year-old son named Dylan.

So, after five days of muddling through it all, handicapped by heartache and exhaustion, it was over, but it wasn’t.

Despite my Daddy being my hero and training me up in the way I should go and teaching me to serve God in all I do and to be observant and humble and kind, he decided not to answer the phone.

More specifically, in a Western Kentucky county around 7pm—according to the medical examiner’s report—on the evening of May 24, 2014, he pulled the trigger and escaped his earthly world of chronic physical and emotional pain, and in doing so shattered his daughter’s soul and the world as she knew it.

The sound of amazing grace is not always so sweet, but grace will always lead you home.

“With Much Ease”

with much ease

a woman can be pleased

a morning kiss

a morning embrace

a whisper in the ear

a steamy message

on the bathroom mirror

a midday call with

simple thoughts of longing

fresh petals picked from the yard

or a late afternoon stroll

or a picnic dinner in the park

a massage of the neck back or feet

a surprise date

in the bath

or an offer to wash her hair

a pallet on the floor

a soft stare of seduction

a slow undressing

an intentional caress

of her nakedness

One Simple Sentence

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. She wrote it in her journal and was determined to make the last simple sentence of her last paragraph be the first verbal sentence she spoke to her husband tonight.

Dropping the match on the soaked charcoal, she stares as the bricks ignite and wonders just how hot it will get tonight. Sitting on the deck and basking in the extra hours of daylight, she sips her glass of cabernet, hoping it will calm the warring butterflies.

It seems it’s not only her nerves that have been warring this unseasonably, warm March in 2012. The good people of the midwest have taken shelter at least three times this month from what seems armageddon style tornadoes and storms that have killed 33 people.

The screen door slams–as it has for the past 2 years–and even though she should be use to it by now, she is robbed of any sense of calm. It seems the things she should be use to after 15 years are the things that mount and bother her the most lately.

In an effort to greet him, she stands and turns toward the patio screen door which leads into the yellow kitchen adorned with welcoming bursts of color and a shelf of Willow Tree Angels.

“Be strong,” she whispers to herself as she slowly breathes in and exhales.

“Hey, What’s up?” he says as he slides open the patio screen.


“You okay?”

As she looks at him, she answers to herself, “No, I’m not, but I desperately want to be.”

“Melissa. Hello?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, was in a daze.” Guess it won’t be my first sentence after all, she thinks to herself as she swallows yet another defeat. “How was golf?”

“It was good! I kicked-ass!”

“That’s great. You sure had great weather for it.”

“Yup. Hey I’m goin season the steaks and then jump in the shower.”


As he showers, she pours her second glass of warm courage and sends up a another prayer. Spanning the wooded back yard with its tire swing and dilapidating trampoline and shed, she breathes and exhales. It should have been said a long time ago. In fact, it was, but for a more concrete, justifiable reason. At 40, she can’t imagine another decade of loneliness.

“Man, that felt good.”

She turns toward him and takes in his chiseled features, sun-soaked skin and wavy salt-n-pepper hair. She still wants him.

“You got a lot of sun today.”

“I know. How was your day?” he asks as he pours his glass of cab, walks over to her and kisses her on the cheek.

The kiss shocks her to a response, “Oh, uh well thanks, my day was pretty uneventful.”

“Where’s Emily?”

“She’s at the Carter’s for Tiffany’s birthday sleepover.”

“That’s right.”

As the steaks sizzle and the wine warms, the two exchange surface conversation, and she longs for a cigarette.

“Mike, I, uh, I don’t want to”

“You don’t wanna what?”

“Just a minute. I’ll be right back.” She opens the door to her home-office, walks to her journal, opens to the last sentence of the last paragraph and takes it in.

She closes the book, closes the door, and walks back to the deck.

He’s texting and doesn’t look up.

“So what were saying? You don’t want to what?”

“Mike, exhale I don’t want to be married anymore.”

His fingers stop moving, and he looks up into her eyes for the first time in years.

White Spaces

Despite my Kentucky Baptist upbringing and my barefoot baptism in the muddy river that kisses the small country park in Cadiz, I joined a methodist church years ago because it was a church that my husband would attend. I thought it important that we church together, but years have past and our daughter is now 9, and we need more, more than the obese Methodist pastor who tells great stories on Sunday mornings but fails to follow through when a young impressionable girl proclaims Christ lives in her heart.

So, two weeks ago, Molly Jane had her friend Alyssa spend the night, and on Sunday morning, my husband went Methodist and we went rogue and attended Alyssa’s church,  a Mega church that could probably house 20,000. For this reason alone, my husband would not come with us. “It’s too big.” And that’s that.

After signing my MJ into the computer and walking her what seemed a quarter mile away to her Sunday class, I join Alyssa’s parents in the balcony and fall into the sweet music of the spirit that surrounds this stadium congregation.

After the singing, this new pastor from Texas walked out onto the stage in his jeans and sweater and began telling the story of Ester. Ester, I know the name, but in all my years of attending church, reading the Bible, and memorizing the key verses, I do not recall Ester and her story. As Pastor Jeff explained, though, it’s all about the white spaces and what we choose to do during this space. Will we fret, will we scream, will we sob, will we ignore, or will we trust and wait and make the best of the unknown?

It all just clicked while I sat in the balcony with my friend and her husband. I am in a white space and have been for quite some time. Perhaps this white space would have ended long ago, but my actions, my fighting the space, and screaming and crying on the inside while in this space has prolonged my visit.

How simple. The journey is about the white spaces. Don’t fight them. Embrace them. Curl up with them and listen and wait and learn and grow–all the while knowing that someone else is sharing your same space and choosing chaos or peace.

And the joy is believing that when the white space ends, the clarity begins, one way or another, whether you like it or not. It’s all about you, though, and if you are patient and grateful, you will see the clarity as an increment of your destiny, your path, your answers.

Be ready and accepting. The next white space, the next opportunity for pause and enlightenment, is happening right now.

My Journey Through a Toxic World: Cookware

After Dr. Bonnie Schnautz ND suggested I read the New York Times article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” I was appalled, saddened, and ready to spark an awareness that impacts positive change to our environment and our bodies!

This lawyer committed 16 years of his life to expose a company’s deception and use of the harmful chemical PFOA. The company, Dupont, knowingly used PFOA for over 5 decades, despite it making employees and community members sick.

“Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8, is another man-made chemical. PFOA has the potential to be more of a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that it is present at very low levels in just about everyone’s blood in the United States.” American Cancer Society

Additionally, PFOA made CNN’s top five list of toxins that are everywhere.

  1. BPA: found in water bottles, baby bottles, reusable food containers, etc
  2. Phthalates: found in shampoos, body sprays, colognes, etc
  3. PFOA (C8): found in teflon cookware, waterproof breathable clothing, etc
  4. Formaldehyde: found in particle board, paneling, plywood, etc
  5. PBDEs: found in televisions, computers, furniture foams, etc

Through my research of PFOA, I learned of the EPA’s reporting that PTFE, the chemical in Teflon, is closely related to the harmful PFOA chemical. Teflon (PTFE), a DuPont brand trademark, is still in many people’s kitchens in the form of a skillet. Most people have been warned about the harmful effects of Teflon skillets, but many of us still use these skillets for convenience, including myself.

Did you know, though, that convenience may be making you sick and harming your pets? According to EWG, “Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called ‘Teflon Flu’ or, as scientists describe it, ‘Polymer fume fever’).”

For our health and wellness, it is imperative that all of us rid our kitchens of teflon and introduce one of the following healthy cookware options:

  • Ceramic
  • Cast Iron
  • Glass/Corning-ware
  • Regular Stoneware
  • Stainless Steel

In conclusion, as I continue on this journey through a toxic world, I hope you will join me and help me create an awareness, an awareness that could ultimately improve our health! We have become a society spoiled by convenience. Unfortunately, these daily conveniences may be  hurting our health and causing illnesses that we never knew to associate with the products we

First appeared on brenewed.comhttp://brenewed.com/healthy-living/my-journey-through-a-toxic-world-part-1

%d bloggers like this: