Tag Archives: family

One Year Later, Part 2: The Drive

The morning I got the call started off fairly uneventful. The sky was overcast, with just enough of a chill in the air to require a jacket. I had started my new job on October 6th, and just a week later I could already tell that both the position and the company were going to be a good fit for me and for our family. I can’t tell you how reassuring that was. Things felt like they were falling into place, even though we knew there would still be difficulties ahead.

Michelle had an appointment that morning, and she had a bad feeling about it. I tried to reassure her on the phone the night before. I told her not to be afraid, that this was just a standard visit, and that there was nothing to worry about. I truly believed what I was saying, despite how wrong I turned out to be.

Around 10:30, Michelle called me, sounding more irritated than panicked. She explained that the doctor was sending her to the hospital; her blood pressure was elevated, and she needed to be admitted. They wouldn’t let her drive, so an ambulance was going to transport her and the boys to Vanderbilt. I told her I was on my way, and we hung up.

I put my phone down on the desk and took a breath. At the time, I was sharing an office with the COO of the company. He looked over at me and asked, “Everything all right?”

“They’re taking Michelle to the hospital,” I mumbled.

“Dude, go,” he replied. “You can call us later and fill us in.”

I didn’t hesitate. A minute later, I was in the car and heading up the highway. I actually think I left a half-finished cup of coffee sitting on the desk, though I can’t remember for certain.

Until that day, solo drives from Chattanooga to Nashville had always been quiet, calm stretches of time when I could think about things—usually whatever story I was working on at the time. In the early days of working for the Kirkland’s home office, I stayed in Chattanooga on weekends and drove up every Monday morning. It was nice to have that quiet time to myself. I didn’t always think about stories; sometimes, I just cleared my mind and enjoyed the scenery. The drive through the mountains just a couple hours after sunrise gave me plenty to take in. It was two hours of peace.

This drive was nothing like that.

Instead, my mind was racing. Is everything going to be all right? What are we going to do? What if he comes early? Who can take the boys for a few days so I can focus on Michelle and the baby? Dear God, what if he’s born today? No, that’s not going to happen. But it could happen, so we need a plan. Damn it, I don’t want to be thinking about this. This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen. This isn’t what we planned.

Normally, those kinds of thoughts would be limited to some kind of inner monologue. That day, it was out there in the open. I spent half the drive talking to myself. It was one of those moments where, looking back, I probably looked somewhat crazy to anyone who happened to be driving by. But, at that time, I didn’t care what other people thought. I cared that the plans we had made for baby number three were in cinders, and that we needed to come up with a new one.

Sprinkled throughout my ramblings were prayers. Some of them were in the form of questions, asking God why this was happening. Some were one part of a dialogue, with me imagining the other side of it and trying to make sense of the discussion. Most of them, however, were pleas—pleas for Michelle to be safe, for the baby to be safe, for all of this to be over soon (but not too soon), and, maybe most of all, for me to make it to the hospital in time to be there when my wife needed me the most.

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Status Update.

Hello, dear reader. You may have forgotten who I am. It’s certainly been long enough, hasn’t it? I’ll try to keep that from happening too often. You see, life has been busy. Unbelievably busy. Crazy busy. So busy that I need a word longer than “busy” to accurately describe it. But it’s also been exciting. And scary. And fulfilling. And a whole list of adjectives that would more than likely begin to bore you after the fourth or fifth.

So what has happened? Let me explain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I got a job in Nashville. It paid much more than my last job, and promised to take me places that my last job seemingly had no intention of taking me. That was exciting. That was scary. Getting a job with a growing company where I would be helping to rebuild their e-commerce marketing from the ground up was exciting. Moving to a new city where I knew no one and starting a job where I knew no one and experiencing change after change after change was scary. As anyone who knows me can attest to, I am a creature of habit, and I tend to both fear and abhor change. But change is necessary. Change is healthy. At least, that’s what I tell myself when my thoughts slip and I lose my breath. Regardless, the job is going wonderfully. I feel respected, and I have made several contributions to the company that have my supervisors singing my praises and constantly telling me how “phenomenal” I’m doing. It’s a good feeling, and, professionally, I am very happy.

I am taking a break from school this semester to adjust to the new location and the new job. Because of this, I have more time to write and spend with my family — both of which I have been doing a lot of. I’m hard at work on several different things: my first novel, my web serial, and a bible for a fantasy series that I’d love to write someday. It’s an exciting time creatively for me, and I hope I can have something ready for submission soon. I want to capitalize on this time away from school and work on actually getting some work published.

The family is doing great. We’re all adjusting to the new home, and we’re working on actually adding home-type things like furniture and internet. But we still have our pizza nights, complete with bean bag chairs and family-friendly movies, and we have our book readings and our library trips. Things are slowly settling into a routine, which is rather marvelous and awe-inspiring considering the situation.

Also, our family is growing. This summer, Liam will have a little brother or sister. We should be finding out very soon which it will be. I have my theory, Michelle has hers. Once we know, so will you. We’re way too excited to withhold any information.

So . . . that’s what’s been happening. Hopefully, I can keep up with current events and there won’t be a need to do this again.

It’s good to be back.


This Actually Happened.

Sometimes, something happens that you just can’t quite believe. You need time to process it in your mind. Now that we are nearly a month removed from it, I feel I can adequately tell the story. Ready yourselves, Dear Readers. You are in for quite the tale.

On the night in question, I was in bed attempting to sleep through the return of the sickness that seems to take a perverse delight in ravaging my stomach every few weeks. For a decent idea, read this entry and take out all of the emergency room stuff. Same basic thing. On this particular night, Michelle had decided to sleep on the couch. Supposedly, she did this so I would have more room in the bed to relax and get comfortable. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that the real reason behind this seemingly good-natured act was that she wanted to get some semblance of actual sleep — an impossible feat when sharing a bed with her sick Writer.

The time was around 1:00 in the morning. I can’t be certain, because I don’t remember looking at any clocks. I do, however, remember Michelle bursting into the bedroom, panicked and in tears.

“There’s someone outside,” she said between sobs. “They’re trying to get into the house.”

She crawled into bed while I got out of it, assuring her that it was probably just the wind blowing the screen door open. I walked to the living room and looked out the side window, and I saw that it wasn’t the wind. Our screen door was open, and a man was standing there trying to open our front door.

I stepped back in shock, unsure if this was actually happening or if it was just some strange dream. I heard the man’s muffled voice from outside the door say repeatedly, “It’s locked, it’s locked.” I had to figure out what to do.

I went back to our room and told Michelle that there was someone outside, and if they were trying to get in, we needed to get out of the house and away from the area. We hatched a plan: grab Liam and escape into the backyard through his window. Once our would-be home invaders were inside, we would get into our car and leave. While driving away, I would call the police and get them out to our house. I grabbed my keys and my phone, and we put our plan into action.

Staying as quiet as possible, we went into Liam’s room and woke him up. He was delighted to see us and quite happy to be awake. Michelle was the first through the window, and I handed Liam to her once she was out safe. I followed her out the window and lowered myself into our backyard. I told Michelle to stay there while I checked on our escape route. At that moment, Liam thought it was a fantastic idea to start a conversation with his panicked Mama, and Michelle made a futile effort to quiet our little boy. Meanwhile, I walked around the side of the house, my phone and my keys in hand.

I peeked out from behind the fence and saw a man walking onto our driveway. I just watched him for a moment, trying to size him up. He was not very steady on his feet, walking very slowly … as if it was taking all of his mental capacity to keep himself upright. Finally, he stopped and leaned against the house — for a rest, it seemed. That was when he noticed me, standing at the fence in a t-shirt and my boxers.

“Everything okay?” he said in a drunken slur.

At this point, I still wasn’t sure what was going on. I was shielding myself with the fence door, hoping it would be enough to at least slow down any possible bullets coming my way. “Not really,” I said. “Is there anyone on the front porch?”

He straightened up a little and hung his head around the corner of the house. He turned back to me. “Nope. No one up there.”

“Okay,” I said. “Would you mind telling me what you’re doing?”

He leaned against the side of the house again. “Nothing.”

By now, I realized that this man was highly intoxicated and probably not a true threat. Still, I stayed where I was. “Sir, I’d appreciate it if you would leave. I called the police when I thought someone was trying to break into our house, and they should be here any minute now.”

“But… I’m just waitin’ for Dale.”

“Well, I don’t know who that is,” I said, starting to lose my cool. “The police are still on their way.”

“Oh. Well… okay.”

He straightened up again and began staggering down our driveway. He turned at the sidewalk and started lumbering away. I watched until he got to the end of our street, keeping an eye out for anyone that may have been with him or just using him as a distraction. But there was no one else.

Turns out, he was just a drunk who went to the wrong house. I walked back to Michelle and Liam and explained everything, then cautiously led them back inside. We put Liam back to bed, and Michelle crawled into bed with me, no longer caring that my illness would probably keep her awake for the rest of the night. Even though I was in no condition to be defending anyone, she still felt safer with me beside her.

And in a properly heartwarming story, that knowledge alone would have healed my body within seconds, allowing me to perform superhuman feats at a moment’s notice. In reality, I was asleep within minutes, exhausted from the events of the past fifteen minutes.

I was sick, after all.


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