On June 23, 2017, I was reading in bed beside Lori, my gorgeous and seemingly healthy 46-year-old wife napping beside me when she stopped breathing. In shock and disbelief, I ran to her side of the bed and tentatively started what I knew of CPR while calling 911 on speakerphone. She kept sinking into the mattress as I frantically performed chest compressions so I scooped her up and placed her on the floor to continue. The paramedics arrived within four minutes and took over her treatment. I steered our Jeep through town in pursuit of the ambulance. I think under different circumstances I might have thought it was cool to run red lights and have traffic part on our behalf, but not today. My only thought today was that I had to stay with them. I had to stay with her. We arrived at the hospital at 2:29 pm and the doctor pronounced her dead two minutes later.
Fast forward to August of 2019, I find myself living alone in Austin, Tx at 50 years old. I have an amazing apartment overlooking Lady Bird Lake and the downtown skyline. My 90 lb. Rhodesian Ridgeback, GiGi, and I walk around the lake often. I have a good job and have found a new family with the people One Chapel Church. 50 is a significant number in the bible. This is my year of Jubilee, my year of Pentecost. This is also not my first time to seek out new beginnings.
I had achieved the undefined goals of the American dream by my early 30’s: a wife, two kids, two dogs, two cats, two snakes and a Beta fish. (maybe, some of those things may not fall in the normal American dream category = )))
We were living in our second home meaning we had already traded up and had an SUV and a Toyota sedan in the garage. I didn't, however, have an amazing marriage. I spent the last five years trying to both hang on and also become the kind of man I was portably always supposed to be. But, despite my best efforts, I got divorced, filed bankruptcy and we sold our home on a short sell which meant we walked away with nothing.
Experience is the best teacher and with a much greater idea of what mattered, I prayed for someone with the qualities that had become important to me and when I met her, I quickly married her. We traveled the world together, built a new life and seemingly did everything I could have dreamed of in just nine short years. I finally had a partner in life. I discovered what it was like to be loved unconditionally and to have someone who wanted my love. But one afternoon, she had a one in a million reaction to her medication and passed away in her sleep.
At the the funeral, I told everyone that I was going to do the same thing I had done after my divorce. I was going to get back on the floor and cry a lot. And, then I was going to pray for God to put me back together, cast a new vision for my life and once again bring me everything and everyone I needed to complete the next portion of my journey.
David Thoreau said that. “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I believe it is the desperation of those men that cause them to finally cast off the societal restraints they live under. Inside them resides a passion, long pushed down too long, until they can no longer stay quiet. (expounded on from the movie, Shall We Dance?)
Often, people call this a mid-life crisis. I didn’t have a midlife crisis; I had one thrust upon me …and this is where I invite you into my story.
You may not have lost your spouse unexpectedly, but perhaps you’ve lost a job, had a relationship fall apart or had something you were chasing in life that either went away or you obtained it only to find out it wasn’t all you thought it would be. Who are you now without that person or thing that you thought defined you? Where do you go from here? That’s the question I've been exploring for the last two years and maybe some of the things I've discovered can speak to you.
I’m not in Kansas anymore but with my whole life still in front of me, I don’t want to go home