Saying Goodbye to Peppy

There are times when the only thing you can say is, “Life sucks!” Yes, there are the expected ups and downs, but sometimes those downs take us to very painful lows.

In May of 2000, my wife’s father passed away. His battle with Cancer cost him the bones in his leg, but eventually it was the Cancer treatment that cost him his life. Shortly after he succumbed to his illness, God sent Lee an angel in the form of a cat. Peppy became an instant guardian of the still grieving young woman who also happened to be a cat lover. As crazy as it sounds, Lee is convinced her dad’s soul found a home in Peppy’s furry self. And I am convinced, too, given how protective Peppy has always been around Lee.

Of all the previous cats she had before, Peppy was quickly and uniquely her favorite. After a tough day, Peppy would be there to take away the stress. Propped like a baby on her shoulder, Peppy would quickly make everything better.

20141219_142916

This evening, Peppy’s magic remedy is greatly needed …. and he is sorely missed.

Diagnosed with feline Cancer, Peppy stopped eating and drastically dropped in weight.  Having seen a previous cat suffer with illness not too long ago, Lee made the difficult decision to have Peppy put to sleep this morning. As painful a decision as it was, she definitely did not want to see him suffer any more than he already was, and she did not want her last memories of Peppy to be a skeletal shadow of his former self. To say she is devastated is an understatement. In the midst of her ‘life sucks’ mourning, the only thing she’s been able to do is to curl up in bed and forget about life for a while.

I will admit, it wasn’t until I met and married Lee that I was able to understand the impact of pet loss on most people. I love animals and grew up with dogs and cats, but I was never devastated with what I knew was the eventuality of losing a pet. I was flabbergasted when I realized, at the age of thirty, that Hallmark makes condolence cards for a deceased pet.

And this sense of distance came in handy today as my wife needed a rock to lean on in her grief. It would have been clumsy and awkward if we both had the same level of distress today in dealing with Peppy’s passing. Instead, Lee was able to focus on those final moments with him and not have to worry about much else but dealing with the pain in her heart.

I know our life together will have its ups and downs, and I can only pray the good times far outnumber the bad ones (and in the past 10 years since I first met Lee, they certainly have). But in addition, I pray we will always be this great team together, balancing each other out, and lifting each other up when needed.

My wife lost her best furry friend today, but at least she has the shoulder of her best human friend to cry on.

Rest in Peace, Peppy. You were a character, you were unique, and you will be missed.

IMG_20140130_212612

Advertisements

The Gift of Sexuality (W@HBC Day 3)

Some of my notes and thoughts from attending Wild at Heart Boot Camp – August 17

My journey through infidelity began with my desire to feel like a man. I realize now that in my younger days, I accepted the agreement from Satan that I was not a man. I accepted his lie that I could find my manhood in the arms of women who found me desirable.

Part of the enemy’s deceit was making me feel bored and neglected in my first marriage. It’s amazing what you can justify when you’re lead to think you deserve more. Satan set the scene and placed in my life a series of women who gave me attention, excitement, and the thrill of sexual desire. It all culminated with me falling head over heels for another woman and engaging in a long-term affair with her, all the while maintaining the double life of devoted husband and father.

I was all in with my feelings. I was having my cake and eating it too. Just when I thought I had everything I wanted, a plan to live happily ever after with my ‘soul mate’, I had everything taken out from underneath me. My marriage ended and soon thereafter so did the affair. I had been played by Satan, and through my selfishness, recklessness, and straight-up stupidity, I had given the enemy a victory over God.

I was lost.

In that time of darkness and desperation, I succumbed further to Satan’s destructive plan by finding comfort in the arms ofwoman after woman. As I look back on that time, my shame lies not so much in my whoreish behavior as it does in the pain, hurt, and disgust I inflicted on those women. They offered themselves to me, and I vandalized their trust and intimacy.

It took a long time for me to emerge from that period in my life. It was through God’s grace and the help of the angel He sent me that I was able to painfully move out of that darkness. The first step was overcoming my own self-loathing and learning to forgive myself.

What I’ve learned and realized this weekend is that my sexuality is a gift from God, and it is my job to protect and cherish that gift. It is my responsibility to reject the ideas from the enemy that attempt to taint and spoil that gift. Lust, impulse, stray desire; they are all ploys that I consciously reject.

God is a romantic, and He wants me to enjoy the intimacy I share with my wife. He’s given me a partner with whom I can connect in mind, spirit, and body. He’s opened my eyes to the truth that a lifetime of completeness is so much more beautiful than a couple of minutes of sinful indulgence. As a man, I need to ensure I protect this gift of sexuality and celebrate the beauty of my wife, who is, after all, a reflection of God’s image.

“Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights! You are slender like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit. I said, “I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like grape clusters, and the fragrance of your breath like apples. May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine, flowing gently over lips and teeth.” -Song of Solomon 7:6-9

Chekirov Talantbek
Deep Emotion by Chekirov Talantbek

110/365 Hair Did

I never get tired of the unplanned, spontaneous moments I get to share with my wife. Tonight, after we we both had our hair cut – hers at her favorite salon, mine at the local, neighborhood Great Clips – we met up and had dinner. We went for broke and headed out to ……….  Applebee’s (we love the fact their menu has Weight Watchers specific items).

But the best part was being able to have a conversation with my wife (and partner and biggest fan and best friend). It never gets old having those moments of realization where I am reminded that I am sharing my life with someone I can’t help but be in love with.

I love nights like tonight.

 

083/365 M2M: Congratulations

Lee and I, along with the kids, met up with our dear friends Matt and Michelle (aka Mattelle) for dinner tonight. It wasn’t just a normal dinner get-together, however. In addition to meeting up to discuss travel plans for our trip to Mexico this summer, Mattelle were also celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary.

That longevity in a relationship is something to be commended, especially when you consider that 22 minutes with Matt can seem like an eternity (love you, too, brother). Yet through the ups and downs and ins and outs of life, Mattelle never falter from the relationship they share, and I am so honored to be able to call them my friends. In fact, they’re much more than that. They’re family. And I am sure 22 years from now, we’ll be getting together once again over dinner and celebrating the beautiful marriage they continue to share.

Matt and Michelle, congratulations to you both.

019/365 Man of the House

I’m lucky. So very lucky. You see, my wife is not the type of woman who expects much from her man when it comes to most things domestic. Specifically when it comes to work in our around the kitchen. Sure, I take care of the laundry (I have a tattoo that reads “Fluff and Fold King”)*, and I am handy when it comes to fixing things around the house. But when it comes to meal time, my prowess is limited to dialing for take out. Anything that involves preparing a meal and actually cooking it …. that’s totally Lee’s area of expertise.

So imagine her surprise when she came home from work and dinner was ready. She walked in and the house smelled finger-licking good.

Turns out I CAN read instruction, CAN preheat the oven, CAN line an oven tray with aluminum foil, and CAN stick that tray in the oven (and wait 8 minutes, flip the chicken, and wait 8 more minutes).

And once she was done with her meal, what was her way of thanking me?  With a big kiss and a whisper in my ear. “I expect you to have dinner ready when I get home more often.”

*I really don’t have a tattoo.

Soapbox Tuesday

Every now and again, I come across articles or blog posts that just set me off. Having been raised Catholic, this one post stirred up those emotions in me that made me literally stop what I was doing and just start writing.

The igniting blog post can be found here and is copied below. I left a long and verbose comment which I wanted to capture in my own blog given the moderator of the original post can simply delete my comments at their discretion.

In a letter to President Obama this week, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, writing on behalf of the U.S. bishops, said the Obama administration’s fight against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, would “precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.”

From the archbishop’s letter:

I write with a growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken by your Administration that both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage…
The Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by you and your Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace…

I know that you treasure the importance that you and the First Lady, separately and as a couple, share in the lives of your children. The Mother‟s Day and Father‟s Day proclamations display a welcome conviction on your part that neither a mom nor a dad is expendable. I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father.

The institution of marriage is built on this truth, which goes to the core of what the Catholic Bishops of the United States, and the millions of citizens who stand with us on this issue, want for all children and for the common good of society. That is why it is particularly upsetting, Mr. President, when your Administration, through the various court documents, pronouncements and policies identified in the attached analysis, attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing.

We as Bishops of the Catholic Church recognize the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person. Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality.

My comments were as follows:

It is sad and upsetting that Archbishop Dolan has done such a poor job in presenting his argument for DOMA, and although I disagree with his argument regarding what marriage should be, he really could have done a better job in presenting his case to the Obama administration,

“We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace…” NOT defining marriage as being a union between a man and a woman does nothing to impede religious freedom. If anything, it serves to strengthen the concept of separation of church and state.

Christianity is the majority religion in the United States, but Christianity should not think itself as the vehicle to define marriage for every person living in this country. In Christianity, marriage is covenant among man, woman, and God. In the eyes of the US government, marriage is simply a contract between two individuals that is sanctioned by the state in which those individuals reside.

“I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father.” I think the goal should be for every child to be loved period! A male and female parent figure does not guarantee love. The proponents of DOMA need to stop with the implication that same-sex parents cannot provide adequate love for a child. Bad parents are bad parents, be they straight or gay. The Archbishops point on this matter is grossly flawed and should be summarily dismissed.

“The institution of marriage is built on this truth (that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father).” This is not a truth but rather a teaching based on Christian dogma. Again, this argument is flawed and the Catholic Church is astoundingly arrogant in its attempt to subtlety impose its belief on all Americans.

“..no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides.” Again, completely subjective and not, in my opinion, remotely correct. Raising a child, be it one parent, two parents, or, as what happens with divorce, four parents, can be the single most important effort that provides for the common good. Children who are loved, nourished, and encouraged tend to become responsible and productive adults. I would argue THAT is much more important to the common good than whether or not a husband and wife love each other.

I do not believe the Catholic Church is seeking to be discriminatory, however they are caught in the grey area between their teachings and the diversity of the American public. They are intolerant to the idea of same-sex marriage, and they are trying to promote this idea to a public that thrives in tolerance. What the Catholic Church needs to do is recuse itself from the discussion of DOMA as it has no place trying to fold its beliefs into the legislation of this country. To do so – to blur the line that defines the separation of church and state – would be the action that would truly precipitate a national conflict.

Panna

Colloquialisms are cool. They’re relaxed, informal forms of language that at times form a level of intimacy in dialogue. They can also be terms of endearment. In Spanish – specifically the Spanish spoken in Venezuela – the word ‘panna’ is a colloquialism. It means friend, but more so in the context of ‘buddy’, and it’s derived from the English word partner.

I was thinking of the word partner this weekend following a wedding my wife and I attended in Puerto Rico. During the ceremony, the minister made the statement, “Don’t try to find the perfect partner for your life. Rather, try to be the perfect partner to someone else.” It’s one of those quotes that made me look at Lee, she at me and forced us both to hold back a tear. I also think it perfectly defines what one should strive for in a marriage. After all, a marriage is, at its core, a partnership.

This quote stuck with me the following day as Lee and I ventured up and down the streets of Old San Juan. If you’ve never been, the best way of describing Old San Juan is New Orleans meets San Francisco meets St. Augustine. The Spanish influenced architecture is prominent and made more stunning by the vibrant, deco colors of the buildings that are set on oftentimes steep hills. The balconies of the buildings are adorned with wrought iron and there’s no escaping the presence of the fort and protective wall that once surrounded the entire city. It’s an enchanting destination with a world of history, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to return to Puerto Rico. Still, the best part of the trip was being able to share that experience with my wife and my partner. Or should I say panna.

I am so lucky and blessed to have the relationship I do with her, one where the formality of a partnership is purposefully ignored in favor of the comfort and intimacy of a true friendship. At its best, we finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. It’s no longer surprising to either of us when we do, but I will admit it’s still a little freaky.

At its worst, the fights we seldom have are quickly resolved because being mad at each other usually means being apart from each other, and being apart from each other almost always means being alone inside. This is not good for either of us. The relationship Lee and I share is one where we can only achieve together those things we cannot achieve individually. Our marriage is a working example of Aristotle’s concept of holism whereby the whole is more than the sum of its parts. That being said, Lee will tell you that at its worst the ‘hole’ in the equation is 100% me.

As we come off of Thanksgiving and gear up for the holiday season, I am so very thankful for my wife and everything she’s given me in the nearly six years I’ve known her. It’s hard to remember my life before I met Lee. It’s certainly impossible to imagine a life without her. As I think about all the things I want for Christmas, I know I already have the greatest gift of all. I have a panna I get to discover anew and enjoy every day of the year. It’s truly wonderful. Or should I say, colloquially, awesome.