Monday, June 25, 2012

Drop Dead Fred

David found me on FB a few years back and the night we friended each other we stayed up chatting until 2 a.m.

He was 3 years older than me, and we knew each other mainly from church. His parents were very nice people, very active in the community (small as it was). Dave was a good guy, but pretty much had a one track mind--Leave our small town as soon as humanly possible. He attended a small Christian liberal arts school several hours away. Met his lovely wife, had two lovely children. After we had caught up for an hour he asked a question...

'Did you hear about Fred'?
A lump formed in my throat.
'Yes,' I typed. 'Nothing happened to you, did it???'
'Hell no. He only went after the 'privileged' boys' he typed.

The privileged boys....those who were 'lucky' enough to get Fred's attention. Those boys who were allowed to spend the night at Fred's house, go to the movies with him the next big town over, to have Whataburger with him after church. As a kid, this all seemed like privilege. And a lot of parents trusted him. He was our youth leader for chrissakes. A man of God. Never married. Was committed wholeheartedly to his faith. He had a way with kids. He was an advocate. A liaison between the complicated adolescent and their frustrated parents. He stepped up and became a father figure to those boys that had no father.

Then my junior year, he was asked to step down as youth leader. The deacons had made this decision. It seemed horribly unfair to us in the youth group. He said tearful goodbyes, and we were all heartbroken. There was no explanation given. They hmmmed and hawed when the young people demanded answers. Told us that they were wanting to bring in a new leader, someone with fresh ideas.

Fast forward to 2005, and my father called me telling me that they had arrested Fred for sexual molestation of a child. The 'child' was actually an adult now, and was a younger kid in my youth group. With the support of his wife, this now adult man decided to speak up and end what probably would have been an on-going cycle for years.

With bile in my mouth I Googled the story from the local paper and found the semi-sordid details. As I read, things that I didn't pick up on when I was a young girl suddenly became evident in the light of being 30-ish years old.

Fred only hung out with young boys.
He had sleep-overs at his house with young boys.
He took young boys on trips.
He slept in hotel rooms (in the same bed) with young boys.

'Apparently he was assaulting {young boy} during our rehearsal dinner at my wedding, the son of a bitch' Dave typed.

I didn't type what I wanted to type. I let Dave talk about the betrayal to the families, the trust broken.

But I was thinking WHY WHY WHY was Fred alone with {young boy} on so many occasions?

Maybe it was because I was raised by a cop and I know the creepy crawlies that exist, but I would never in a gazillion years let any adult that was not family (and hell, even then I would be wary just a little) spend an excess amount of time alone with my young (or older) child. I wouldn't. Back then when I didn't have children, I always thought it was strange that people let their kids hang out with Fred to the extent that they did. It did seem odd. And I knew and loved Fred just as much as the next person. It hurt like hell when I read this. Goddamn this man for destroying these kids' lives. I felt betrayed too-- and ashamed that I loved and adored a pedophile for all those years.

But in light of the Sandusky insanity, I have to re-ask the question---Why.The.Fuck. would you let a stranger (famous or not?) take your son anywhere without you? Why would you let your young boy SPEND THE NIGHT ALONE with a SINGLE MAN???? Even though he was from your church! Even if you thought you knew him. How do you blindly trust people with your children? I cannot even fathom such a thing....

I know {young boy's} parents didn't intend for this to happen to him. It was an unfortunate misplacement of trust that turned horrid. But I would be remiss if I did not state that we can never ever rely on the goodness of people anymore---we must stop putting ourselves/our children in potential danger.

I always have hope for the good of people. Deep down I do---but you best be believing I have eyes in the back of my head. ALWAYS.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nota Bene

Work is, um....what's the right word here....

Challenging?
Gut-punching insanity?
What's the word for everything is thrown at you because you're the most 'sane and level-headed person they know'?....
Oh that's right....sucker.
Logical, they argue.
Complete chump, I say.

I need to step back and run my own section without getting caught up in drama above and beyond our group. I grow weary of taking on problems and responsibilities that are so ridiculously outrageous that I find myself laughing or I would be crying hysterically into a wine bottle every night. I need to remind myself to shrug off more, and curse less, because its getting me no where fast. If everyone else is sleeping at night, it must not be too bad of a thing....Right?

Right?!?!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Third Born




His face is beautifully chubby, with cheeks that look like they are hiding a meal for later. He has my eyes, dark brown and sincere. His hair is light like his sister's. His favorite pastime is smiling and melting strangers' hearts. He is everything I thought and hoped he would be. He is love, joy, and happiness in a 15# package. His toothless grin tugs at something so deep that it splits me in two. Grateful yet yearning. Happy yet sad.

I imagine they would have both had that gentle way about them. A similar smile. My eyes. Ronan had his daddy's feet, but Henry is shaping up to be like my father, flat footed and stocky.

I watch Henry sleep peacefully by me. I take in his smell, and in that moment where my eyes are forced closed, capturing a moment to embed in my memory bank forever, I get a glance of me holding my firstborn that cold morning in January. I used to mark that day as the moment in which the old me died and the new me emerged. What I am learning is that when Henry was born I suddenly have a shadow--true glimpses of what raising a boy is now, and what should have been in 2008.

These feelings I have are complex, and I try not to sit with them too long. Because physically, my sons are already different---so I have to tell myself they probably would have had different personalities as well.

My Shadow Babies that turned 4 this year remind me that time has moved on. There is no promise of kindergarten next year for us, but rather the beginnings of pre-school for my sweet girl (who can't wait to go)!

My little guy is 7 months old. Seven months old. Before I know it he will be running around raising hell just like his sister.

And all I have of my first son is a shadow of memories of what he could have been.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Boys, Interrupted

A military retirement is truly a lovely sight to behold. There are crisp dress uniforms with shiny medals, flags, General's speeches, plaques and shadowboxes filled with patches and memorabilia that mark a career all within the confines of a 3x3 space. I have attended a LOT of retirement ceremonies in the last couple of months. Two of the retirements were those I felt pretty close to. One was for someone pretty high up the foodchain and included media, and everything prestigious that you can imagine that goes with it. I find myself focusing on the retiree during these events. Their faces are usually kept in a neutral manner, a wondrous mixture of finality and resignation. But as the distinguished speaker begins to tick off the list that is the retiree's 30 year career, their faces always change again. It finally occurred to me at a ceremony yesterday that it must be the equivalent to seeing your life pass before your eyes, all within the span of 15-20 minutes.

How can you realistically sum up a 50/60 year old's life in 15 minutes? A career that included wars, shifts in the hospital where good kids died on your watch, or the miraculous cases where they should've died but they lived? How you describe the joy of going into work everyday to people you loved to work with-- or hated with such a purple passion that you prayed to Jesus every night for a duty change to come quick? Can you describe the thousands of birthday lunches and birthday cakes you ate, or do they just blur into a sweet mess? How about the children you knew in their mothers' womb who are married now with their own children.

Can 15 minutes truly touch upon the amount of sacrifice an officer has given--to be deployed to a third world country for a war that may never be won, leaving their spouses behind to raise children alone, who grow so much in a year away that you pray that they will recognize you when you return? Can it accurately describe how hard it was to uproot your children from a school and community they loved every 3 years? Does it touch upon the friends you had to leave, and how you had to learn quick to make new friends wherever you went just to make the new assignment bearable?

How many get up and forget they don't have to wear their uniform anymore? How hard is it to not lead thousands of men and women--to walk into Wal-Mart and not be saluted?

We joke about retirement, pray for it to come quickly, but I'm convinced that I will always work in some form or fashion until the day I die, because I don't think I want my life to be condensed into Cliff's Notes. It's just too sad...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bless You.

My Aunt is a unique bird.

Clinically, she seems a little repressed, trapped in a time and place in life where all people are good, nothing bad ever happens, and she is still perpetually 12. I love her dearly, but find I am at odds with her life choices. Instead of shaking my head at them like a mean circa 1950s parent who can't come to terms with their eccentric child (like my father treats her), I find myself channeling my 12 year old self to try to connect with her. It has worked for years.

Lately I have been including her in the every other day photo text of the boy, and she has been responding the same way."You are so blessed and lucky, count your blessings"...

And I am finding myself more and more annoyed when I see that.

Part of me is like Durh....I know I'm blessed, stop beating me over the fricken head with it.

But truth be told I feel like I'm quasi blessed, the Diet Coke of blessed because I am missing my firstborn son. And this portrait of my life that I am showing her via text messages is a snapshot of 4 fricken years of picking up the pieces--hard work! Not just some random bomb blessing that landed on my lap while I was driving to work someday.

What constitutes blessings anymore? Is it gratitude that all my children lived after the first one died?!? That doesn't feel like blessings inasmuch as what felt was owed to me. Call me cynical. Call me crazy....

Or is she saying that I am blessed because I have a husband, kids, dog, house, career--- and she doesn't?

She dated the same man for ALMOST THIRTY YEARS and never got married or had children. She always told me they would 'some day'. But then fast forward to 2000, when one day his liver went caput and that was all he wrote.

She happily plays the field now, flying off to Hawaii with a man she just met (innocent, I tells ya! {stupid, my father says!}). But the more she declares how blessed I am the more I feel that blessings come from a series of events put in place by actions, good and bad--sometimes intentional. Sometimes not.

Or maybe they are just random mutterings from a woman who still dots her "i's" with little hearts...