Pity Party II

YOUR "bad", as the young folks say. (Actually, their use of the "bad" term is usually in the context of "MY bad"...accepting, in their own way, responsibility for their actions. Hey...that's a vast improvement over the total denial of responsibility that normally accompanies the actions of teenagers!)

But, if you are here, reading this post (as you obviously are)...after reading the original...then I do NOT accept responsibility...I offer no apologies!

Today was "catch up" day...the day that Julie was no longer 6 years younger than Ronnie.

Today is Julie's birthday...

Just got through reading Rachel's "upbeat" blog, "A Very Special Day". If you have been reading my posts sequentially, then you've also read my upbeat memory, "Do You Love Me?" (Actually, I "cheated"...wrote that entry a couple of weeks ago when my disposition was a little sunnier.)

The usual digression...

As a response to one of my earlier posts (THEY Are The Champions), friend Kathy was moved to remind me of a poem that she always read to her classes...a poem about how people tend to hide their true feelings from others...

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
"We Wear the Mask"

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

So, the next time you bump into Rachel or I, thank your lucky stars if we don't give you a brutally honest answer to your cordial query "Hey, how ya doin'?"

Also got a message on the CHS Alumni Web site from a former student...remembering what today was, sending me her best wishes, and recognizing what Julie meant to me..."what a gift it was to have her in your life." Julie was certainly that...

So, on Julie's birthday, I'm sure you won't be surprised to find me in a "morose state of mind".

Actually, my current "mind set" began on August 12th...MY birthday. Following my julieanewell.com post, I received an e-mail from a dear friend...offering apologies for not being able to attend my combination birthday/retirement bash. It seems that one of his sisters had passed away that very morning after a long illness.

Well, yesterday was the funeral...

Can't say that I was in the mood for a funeral, but, then, when is anyone in such a mood. My friend had stood by me during my darkest hour...how could I do less?

When I put on my suit jacket, I checked the pockets...usually lets me know when I last wore a suit, which is not very often. When I reached into the two outside pockets and pulled out the contents, I had to give a wane chuckle...two handkerchiefs. It reminded me that I had gone prepared to Julie's funeral...one for me and one for Rachel. My chuckle quickly faded when I reached into the breast pocket and found the "In Memory" card from Julie's funeral. Oh, well...

I had a chance to visit with my friend and his wife prior to the funeral and feel that my presence had a positive effect...allowed him (as he had allowed me last October) a chance to share a bit of the sorrow at having to say goodbye to one held so dear. When the service began, he and his wife joined the family and I took a seat with the friends of the family.

The funeral itself was traditional...scripture readings, musical tributes, acknowledgments and condolences.

The eulogy (or "words of comfort") was given by the brother of my friend...brother of the deceased. His remarks were, again, traditional...the theme that the dearly departed was "going home"...returning to God. His remarks resounded even more with me when he described his sister's final years in all too familiar terms...the pain, the suffering, the physical constraints brought on by a deteriorating body. For those so situated, the physical death (so dreaded by the loved ones) actually brings blessed release. She was now free; she was now happy.

May she rest in peace...

After the funeral, I remembered Rachel's lament about not ordering flowers for Julie this birthday. Feeling down and helpless, I decided to "do something"...to make a trip to the florist, get some roses on behalf of Rachel and take them to Julie's grave site. As I began the drive, I plugged my MP3 player into the car's stereo system. Well, can't say that it was surprising that Eagles would begin to sing, but, why, oh why, did the first words outta their mouths have to be "It's comin' on the end of August..."

So, yesterday, I took my walk "through the fields". This morning, I decided that it might help my day to walk "on the streets of town."

Nah...just gave me the opportunity to reconstruct another song...another Eagles' song. As written, the song is obviously about a man lamenting a departing love...who is leaving him for another.

However, play that tune for one such as I who sat on his deck last October and offered up the love of his life to God after finally realizing that, unlike so many times before, this time there would be no reprieve. Play that tune for one who has stepped aside and allowed God's "gift" to walk away, to make a new start...to go home.

"What Do I Do With My Heart"

You don't have to say a word
I can see it in your eyes
I know what you wanna say
It's so hard to say goodbye

I can hold back my tears
And try to be strong
While our love is fallin' apart
I know what I'll say
If you walk away
But what do I do
What do I do with my heart?

I'm not gonna say a word
I know I can't change your mind
You know where you need to go
I know I'll be left behind

I won't hold you back
I won't stand in your way
If you need to make a new start
But I still wanna know
When my arms let you go
What do I do
What do I do with my heart?

Oh, girl, don't you remember?
It was not so long ago
We were makin' plans for two
Just me and you
Now you tell me that you've found somebody
Someone who loves you better
No one could ever love you
The way I do

Tell me you're not leavin' now
Tell me you're not leavin'
Tell me that you're gonna stay
Please say you'll stay with me, baby
Tell me that you love me still
Say you love me still
For this and this alone I pray
Fall down on my knees and pray

I'll do anything
Yes, I would
To save what we have
To keep you by my side
I'll love you 'til death do us part
But what do I do
What do I do
When I'm still missing you?
What do I do
What do I do with my heart?