Well…here we are.
Well…here we are.
sitting standing in church last Sunday listening to the final part of a five part series about marriage. The pastor made strong notes to those in the congregation that were divorced; explaining that there isn’t guilt to feel, but instead hope. He noted that several people wear this guilt for years from a failed marriage, forgetting that God is good, forgiving, and loving.
We do forget.
A few weeks ago I left the same church quiet with my wife. After prodding for answers; I explained that I wasn’t comfortable because marriage conversations frequently bring up divorce. I feel guilt. I feel regret. I feel anger.
Explaining this to my wife resulted in the following from her:
I love you. It has been several years now. You have to start letting this stuff go and move on with your life. No one else thinks of you as the ‘divorced Christian’, many of our friends don’t even know your past to begin with. Stop dwelling on once was, and move forward with me.
In the immediate I wanted to argue with her, but after some time of thinking, the reality is understanding and accepting that she is right. We must move on. Mistakes, errors, problems arise and happen. They are messy, they are regretful, and they frequently cause a pain that is hard to forget. I won’t forget the night the bed disappear. The day my parents saw my living conditions. The text message that read it was over. The pastor who condemned my existence, sided with the option of divorce, and said these things happen. Memories don’t fade, but they can be placed where they belong; in the past.
FilingThePapers has been my source of humor, praises, and explanation of pain in times of crisis. It also has evolved with the passing of time; it has ushered out the memories of what was lost, and gave thanks with the excitement that has come into my life. A home, a community, a new sister in the faith…eventually resulting in my beautiful wife (4 years this year).
If nothing else, I want my life to be a living testimony of God’s grace. There is nothing that I currently have that I deserve. Nothing about this life should be mine. God’s grace is everlasting, never failing, and always full of surprises.
With all of that said; this is my swan song. FilingThePapers has come to a point where it is time to end the chapter. This is the final post, the final farewell, and I do so with excitement. Will I keep writing? Yes! Somewhere else for sure. Will I take down this site? Nope. There is fun nuggets of strange reality sitting in these pages. Maybe someday I really will turn some of it into a book.
With this conclusion; there isn’t enough time or space to give appropriate thanks to so many who have humored this endeavor of the course of five years, but a few have to be said:
I suppose this is the conclusion. So…bye?
I’m still working on a race recap to my recent adventure in Texas over the past weekend. Most often my writing in relation to those trips maintain themselves over on my running-specific blog. However, after the past week, my heart is so full that my passion and my life have truly intertwined into something beautiful that I feel compelled to share with the rest of the world.
Yes, this is a little emotional.
Two weekends ago my wife and I learned that her mother had passed away. Outside of the immediate sadness and comfort dedicated to my wife, it created some questions on what to do with the entire process. We’re both only children, my wife does not have a father to speak of, and her mother left this planet with no life insurance policy, estate, etc…Plus, Darco and I had already planned to go to Texas the following weekend.
First, I’m blessed to work in a school building with people that are genuine enough to care about your wellbeing, take over your classes, and help you fill out paperwork of bereavement so you can be with your family. I am so fortunate that my coworkers and supervisors were so easily willing to allow me time away from school in the middle of the school year. Only by God’s blessing did I wind up with substitute teachers that covered my classes, took my assignments home, studied them, and helped teach students while I was gone. I am indebted to so many people from this large brick building.
Also, my parents stepped up to do exactly what we needed them to do in such a tough situation: nothing. MC and Jim carried on conversations with us throughout this time acknowledging what had happened, but not dwelling on it either. In many ways, their house was a safe-haven for my wife to retreat to from the onslaught of emotion in regards to preparing the dead for burial. Additionally, both having lost parents over the years, were able to assist us in preparation pieces and expectations leading up to the ceremony.
My wife made a decision to ensure that the funeral was taken care of no later than Wednesday via the funeral home. This was not done in regards to expediting the process in order to head to Texas; it was done because my wife does not like to dwell on what was. As her and her family met with the funeral director some information came out about funerals. They are not free. Now, take that reality and apply it with the above mentioned piece of Darco’s mother not having anything to take care of moments like this in the event of her passing.
Darco stressed out.
The funeral home, as it turns out, has a ‘crowd funding’ site similar to gofundme and kickstarter, but solely to help offset expenses of the funeral. While we were hesitant, we figured it was better than nothing.
We are fortunate that my wife is employed through the company that she is. They take care of their employees in incredible ways. Due to the financial strain of this development; two things were able to take place:
Being able to have these two pieces were massive in the ability to show the funeral home that funds were available, and the process could go forward.
Her mother passed away on Saturday, this was all taken care of by Tuesday. My wife is strong.
The morning of the funeral I found my wife checking the account that had been set up by the funeral home to accept donations. It was at this point that God’s grace began to completely overwhelm us in emotional, tearful ways. Almost half of the funeral expenses had been covered by people donating; literally throughout the entire United States. A huge chunk of them coming from the running community that Darco and I have become a part of over the past year. Even to the point that one of the runners, the owner of a local coffee shop, asked if they could hold a ‘latte art throwdown’ contest in order to raise funds to offset the funeral costs. All of this combined allowed Darco the ability to not worry about the money, and instead mourn the loved one that she had lost.
The funeral was Wednesday. The substitute teachers had been checking in with me throughout the day via email to ensure my students were following instructions. After the funeral, my wife and I came home to a house to start packing for the trip to Texas. At this point it was not about running, it was about giving my wife a chance to get out, breathe deep, and just recover.
By Friday night we were laying in our hotel room, alarms set to 3:45 AM, and with the funeral still fresh in our minds we also realized that the next morning started another adventure; my first ultra-marathon.
Several months ago I had decided to sign up for this challenge. I wanted to run 31 miles in the woods, on trails in order to become an ultra-marathon runner (any distance over 26.2 miles). I had been training for months to get myself ready for this event, and my wife had been incredibly supportive through the whole journey.
31 miles, 9 hours and 38 minutes later under the hot Texas sun I crossed the finish line with a random lady from Denver, Colorado. My wife and our friend were able to get my finish on film, photos were taken, and water was drank.
The amount of congratulations flowing through my timeline looked like we had announced a pregnancy (no, by the way). My social media feeds were more active than my birthday. I had gone an entered myself into a statistic that places me with .05% of the American population. Truth be told; I accomplished something that I didn’t even know was possible.
More importantly though was recognizing the amount of people that were watching it happen. One of my coworkers went to get running shoes at the store that I frequent constantly for running gear on Saturday. When she walked in she noticed a group of workers surrounding a computer, while she was walking up to them, one of them yelled, “Shawn only has 7 miles left!” They were watching my race updates live 12 hours away from the race.
My heart has been so full as of late.
There is not enough to be said or enough to be done to thank so many people that have done so many amazing things for myself and my wife. From being with us in our lowest moments preparing for sorrow and mourning, to being with us from the happiness of accomplishing something I once thought was impossible.
We are blessed in ways that neither one of us could have ever predicted. This is a life that both of us can agree on, that we don’t deserve. God has shown us so vividly over the past week how vital it is to have fellowship with others around us.
Thank you, everyone. I wish I could do better to share my heart’s joy with you all.
Reality is frequently unfortunate, and rarely kind to the heart. The atmosphere today was set at the point of waking up, something was off with the world I live in.
10 mile run in the woods was difficult, painful, and cold. Yet another forewarn of impending devastation.
While enjoying a cup of coffee my wife called me. We both know that if we’re calling each other instead of sending a text, something is usually off…
Hey, what’s up?
We knew it would happen someday, and it finally did.
Oh my gosh. Where are you? I’m on my way to pick you up now.
I hung up the phone and stepped back into the shop.
I’m sorry. That was Darco, I need to go.
Is everything alright?
Her mother just died.
I never knew that you could love someone so much that their own heartbreak you could feel yourself. I feel so overprotective at the moment. She’s sleeping in our bedroom, and I won’t even leave the room.
I’m blessed to have this marriage. I’m blessed to be able to hurt with my wife in this saddening time.
I am not starving to death.
My home is still in one piece.
I can worship where I want.
I can dine where I please.
Recent weeks and months have changed, so slightly, the landscape of my own life. Nothing traumatic, dangerous, or depressing; just change. The world is slightly more united, the world is slightly more volatile.
Piece by piece my reality starts to crumble.
I have slept through two nights without waking up once. While this calls for a moment of joy, it also calls for a moment of concern. What could be going on within one’s life that would cause them to sleep with such ease?
Unknowingly of course.
It started with my wife being curious about the current political landscape. It then continued into a united school building divided by legalistic opinions. It was added to from the fears of my students, and it was nearly finished off with stress outside of a rather grim world.
My students are my single ray of hope on a daily basis.
I have not had stress like this for years. Daily I have a headache as I head home from work, by 9:00 PM I tend to be ready to sleep, and 6:00 AM turns into 6:30 AM almost instantaneous. People are mean, whispers are used as murder tools, and the landscape of the reality I call home changes with each passing day.
If I complain out loud; I’m merely complaining about my status as ‘some white guy in America’, if I keep it to myself my heart just aches that much more.
I guess, summed up, put simple….even in my own chaotic mind. When looking at life in general…
I am not having fun anymore.
In case you’re interested in the week of a teacher…
All sorts of weird stuff, but all of this activity makes me grateful to be busy in a blossoming school.
Cool moment today: First day back in school from Christmas Break, and staff had to stay late for professional development.
Why is that cool?
Because after being in the building for the past couple years, I was asked if I’d like to work with another teacher and teach a professional development class on Twitter.
Instructors teacher instructors. Not to mention is was about using Twitter in the classroom. It was really neat, and it made my heart happy that I got to contribute to the world of education in a way that wasn’t directed tied to my students.
While being easily distracted during this peaceful Christmas Break, I’ve spent the past several hours sipping coffee and reading over several years* worth of yearly recaps on this very website. It is fun to reflect on what has happened over the course of five years, and just like those entries in the past, I look forward to sharing with you our lives in 2016.
I think friendship is the key term to describe 2016. Truly the year was split in half for Darco and myself. The first half from January to July, and the second half from July to December.
I continued to teach in 2016. By God’s grace my contract was renewed for the 2016-2017 school year. Teaching the same grade, working with the same people, and hanging out in the same school. Darco had a rougher start to 2016, the numbers for her store weren’t exactly what she was looking for, and this resulted in some serious stress for both of us. As anyone with a significant other could tell you, seeing someone else suffer because of stress is a hard thing to handle. Thankfully, we were still getting accustomed to our new home near the lake, and outside of her job, it was rather peaceful. I was
running races on the road each month, all part of a giant statewide circuit, and somehow wound up winning the state title for the 5K in my age group. Darco also hung out with me while I tried a 44 mile relay race with some local runners. Naturally, for the safety of everyone, I ran the shortest legs on the course. One of the runners though; she was nuts. She had ran a 50K the day before out in the middle of Kansas, signed up with our group, ran around 14 miles, and then decided she would go home and go to bed. Did I mention that she also was one of the top finishers of the 50K?
So peaceful that when June came around we decided that we could potentially host people in our home if they came to visit. Meaning, opposite of 2015, our friends from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania came to visit us. With a catch…there was three of them! True story, we found out a few weeks prior to their visit that they were expecting their first child. Hanging out with them while visiting the city south of us continued to demonstrate to myself how strong friendship ties can be, and how important they are for the overall health of an individual.
July brought about the heat and summer break. I spent most of my days planning out lessons for the upcoming school year, looking at road races, and going to training sessions throughout the city. Darco was knee deep in her store; slowly by mid-year she was starting to see a change in the sales pattern of her store. A deep breath for her for sure, and the passion of what she was doing was reignited.
It was after our July 4th annual road race, the things started to drastically change for the
two of us in the running world. I had been admitted into a running ambassador program for one of our local running stores. Because of this I was around all sorts of runners; 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, all sorts of craziness! These people were obsessed with time, nutrition, and shoes. Realistically they were a positive group to be around, both for myself and for Darco. That was until one of them, during a speed session at a local high school, suggested that I join them on a Monday night run.
That changed everything.
That night run wound up being in the woods with about 15 other crazy people. They weren’t runners, they were trail runners, and some of them were ultra marathon runners. All of sudden, in the middle of the summer, I was exposed to this world of running through the woods, on random trails made of dirt and rocks, and having fun in the process. I had originally thought it was just me that this new adventure was going to affect. Originally I hadn’t noticed my wife quietly watching from the sideline…wanting to join in. We both ditched road running for good and decided together we would try this trail thing. It was hot, hard, and probably deadly. It was fun though. I ran my first race in July, Darco ran her
first race in October. Combined we have run the following distances: 5 Mile, 7 Mile, 10 Mile, 25 K, 20 Mile, and 21 Mile.
The most amazing part was what it did to us on the social level. Suddenly we were on the trails with groups of people 4-5 days a week. We would eat dinner together, travel together, and motivate each other. The person who got me started, I was even able to watch them finish their first 100 Mile race. We wound up in the middle of Missouri, Nebraska, and Arkansas through the second half of the year. Sweat pants have been switched out for tech shirts, and shoes have become as important as our food. It is hard to express in words what trail running has done for us. Partly the physical side of things, partly the social side of things, and partially the marital side of things. We have had several trail dates that involves walking, running, sweating, and just enjoying each others company. I never thought I’d say it in a serious tone, but trail running has benefited our marriage in incredible ways.
Along with our extra-curricular activities Darco was notified that she would be getting a new store. Due to the increase in sales, she will be getting a new building two blocks from my school. She is extremely excited. Her sales are beating last years numbers and she is even looking at additional ‘advancement’ in her company. Trust me, I married an incredibly smart, young woman. Her ability to conduct business is amazing to watch. God has such a unique talent for this lady. There have been moments that I’ve sat in her lobby just watching her; jealous of what is capable of doing. It is humbling. School is back in session for the 2016-2017 year. My kids are amazing; each one of them is an incredible gift. This year I’ve made a stronger effort to work better with my peers inside the building; I contribute some of that to the assistance of our running friends working with my social miscues.
We have bounced around churches in the area. Ironically, we have wound up in Darco’s hometown for church on more then one occasion. Our home church kind of came to an abrupt end when the leader announced that him and his family were relocating to Colorado to plant a new church (God has done amazing things in their lives since heading
out). We are still working on where we belong, but we’re not giving up.
I know in the eyes of many, between deaths, elections, and a combination of both, 2016 has been a rough year. I think this year, personally, is a testament to God’s unfailing love and grace. My wife and I are living a life together that neither of us could have ever imagined. Our financial debt is getting so, so small, and we are looking at realistically purchasing the house that we are currently living in. This is a life that neither one of us deserve, and we know that, but we are grateful God has been so good to us in 2016.
As with any year; thank you for taking the time to humor my random thoughts on this page. My heart is so full this year; I’m truly in a place that I have never found myself before. God is so good.
Here is to a beautiful, God-breathed 2017
-D & Darco-
First snow day as a teacher. It was announced a few hours ago. Trust me, I love my kids. However, I’m blessed to be given one more day of recovery from the fall before going back to school. Mentally I need it.
Additionally, my parents amaze me. They braved the weather, came to our house, shoveled our drive, thawed out the cars, and cooked meals for us. Jim fell on the ice while shoveling, I nearly cried, just because seeing family doing work for my sake was humbling at the least.
I don’t deserve a life like this. I am blessed beyond reason.
After a long week of preparation and execution of a major project for my students; the weekend was a well sought attempt at relief and relaxation.
Entertainingly though, mother nature, ice, and my lack of coordination had other plans…
Disclaimer: This is a story about injury, humor, and a lot of firsts. Those with ‘squeamish’ stomachs have been advised.
For a few years now, we (myself) have complained about the lack of overall winter in the area. There hasn’t been ice, snow, or anything else that is conceived as fun. Only bleak, gray, frigid winter days. This year was set to be different with our first introduction to ‘freezing drizzle’ on Friday. As it turns out, the freezing drizzle quickly translated to black ice and allowed the entire metro area to plunge into an absolute disaster of epic proportions.
Saturday morning was our in-between period of weather; we had the freezing drizzle but the snow was a few hours away. Knowing this, at 11:00 AM I decided that I still had time to grab a cup of coffee from our local coffee shop and some salt for our icy sidewalk and driveway. I was bundled up, I stepped out the door, and I thought that I spotted ice-melt on our sidewalk. I thought that our neighbor had surprised us again (not uncommon because he is amazing). Sadly, as I took my first step down from our patio to our sidewalk I realized, too late, that the white little specks that I thought was salt…was sleet instead. Meaning, my sidewalk was straight ice.
My feet shuffled three times, trying to gain my balance on this downward spiral of despair, and up in the air they went and my head came down right on the concrete ledge of our patio. Naturally, while laying on the sidewalk moaning, I immediately placed my right hand on the back of my head only because of the pain. Mind you, it was starting to snow and was a balmy 13 degrees when all of this took place. After trying to get my bearings, I stood up, and looked at my hand.
My wife was at work. No one was outside in our neighborhood, and our doorway is tucked on the side of the house, so no one could see me. I grabbed my Mitscoots stocking cap, that I love dearly, and used it as a form of compression on my head with my right hand and with my left hand I grabbed my phone and dialed 911.
The first words out of my mouth was my address because as I sat down on the edge of the patio, my heart started to flutter, my breathing became weak, nausea was setting in, blood was running down my neck, back, face, everywhere, and I told the dispatcher that first responders needed to hurry because I was beginning to black out.
Realizing that blacking out was coming, made me realize this fear of collapsing in the snow, in the winter temperatures, and not being found. I’ll confess, the concept of death crossed my mind for a split second. The taste of blood was in my mouth, I coughed, trying not to dry heave in the process, and sat on the line with the dispatcher. Ten minutes passed inside this freezing, arctic concept of my own internal hell, and I saw the local police pull up. They nearly fell walking up the driveway. An officer started talking to me, a dialogue that could demonstrate that he was originally from California with the “yeah man” and “dude” interlaced between his professional statements and questions. My hat got replaced with an actual compression cloth, and I was wrapped up in a blanket as we waited for the ambulance to come. 15 minutes after I fell the local ambulance district showed up, I thanked the police officers and apologized to them for being terrified of the police most of my life. Needless to say, in cliche fashion, my perspective was changed that day. The guys from the ambulance and fire department loaded my body onto a stretcher, slid down the driveway, and loaded me into the unit. Truly, I picked the worst day, to decide to try my fate with other people.
After being loaded into the ambulance, the gentleman talked to me about what was going on, looked at the back of my head, inserted a needle, gave my anti-nausea medication (I already get car sick easily, an injury just adds to the misery) and we started making our way to the hospital. We past, by my count, five accidents along the road trying to get into the ER unit. I was told that since there was no bleeding from my ears or nose, that brain damage was not a major concern. I also learned that not losing consciousness prevented me from needing a CT scan upon arrival at the hospital. My blood pressure was high when the first got me into the ambulance, but after another reading twenty minutes later, the comment that came from the medics mouth was…
Are you a runner? Your heart rate is incredibly low.
Shoutout to the folks I run with, with that comment I’m now one of “those people” who runs.
While in the ambulance I did decide to take a selfie; this was primarily for my entertainment of how I was going to break the news to my wife. I sent her the photo, but afterwards I decided to call her also. We have a system in place that non-emergency contact is done via text messages and phone calls are only used in emergencies. Needless to say, when I called her, her voice was a tad distraught. It escalated rather quickly when she discovered that I was in an ambulance, on route to the local hospital (I picked the hospital closest to her store). She informed me that she would be there after she got her shift covered. While she had a great front, you could still here the stress in her voice.
Once I was loaded into the hospital, they started the process of getting my shirt off (showing how much blood had ran down my chest also), and proceeded to clean the wound. I was so tired at this point. I stayed awake out of fear, but sleep and hunger were playing a pretty epic role on my body. After a head bath of room temperature water and soap, I was informed that I had a one inch gash across the back of my head, slightly to the left. The doctor came in, about the time my wife arrived, and said he would give me a localized painkiller, two stitches to pull the gap together, and finish it off with 6 or 7 staples. This is the first time I have ever seen my wife walk out of a room because she was getting sick to her stomach. What that tells me: though my wife is very strong, she does not handle her husband being hurt very well. Especially with the amount of blood that was involved.
I learned that ‘staples’ inside a hospital also equates to standard, school style staples. There is not some ‘medical staple’, it is literally a staple like you would find inside the classroom. After the two stitches were inserted (stitches, another first for me) and the staples were added (6), I was cleaned up and allowed to leave the hospital.
What I learned:
That is my scary story. It sidelined me for the weekend, I did not get my papers graded like I wanted to, and again I’m sidelined for a bit from trail running. However, all things considered, I can handle those restrictions compared to the fear that I witnessed sitting alone in the winter with a head wound.
Always grateful that God is watching over me.