Monday, April 20, 2020

Miracles ... Shelby, Cheryl, Tim ... A Quarantine Read

“A Miracle”
What exactly makes something a miracle or miraculous? I suppose that’s up to each one of us since one’s perception is one’s reality.
Does a miracle have a time limit? Can it be an occurrence that only lasts a second? A minute? An hour? A day/week/month/year? Or must it stick for eternity and always “be” in order to be declared “the big M word?”
What about when a miracle, or miracleS happen in the midst of tragedy? Does that make them MORE miraculous? Or does it diminish their “miracleness?”
Again, it’s your call to you, my call to me.

-By definition ( A miracle is an event so marvelous that it seems like it was sent from above.
Miracle, a noun meaning “amazing or wonderful occurrence,” comes from the Latin word miraculum, “object of wonder.” Dig way back and the word derives from smeiros, meaning “to smile,” which is exactly what you do when a miracle happens.-

I certainly smiled while writing this mini novel, but a tear or two was also shed. I saw (still see) and experienced many miracles which are documented below; however, none of them came with beams of light, trumpets sounding or glitter swirling. In fact, if one wasn’t paying attention, many of these miracles would have simply passed by, never receiving acknowledgement. And, well ... that simply cannot happen ...

I’m not sure where to begin this story.
Possibly, it started on February 27, 2020, when I received a call about a very special woman in my life, Cheryl ... A surrogate mother to me. I typically do not answer unknown numbers, but for some reason, that day, I did. The voice asked if it was me, I answered, “It depends. Who is this?” He stated his name.
Though we knew each other, went to school together, and I had cut his hair many years ago… He had never called me, and there was only one reason he would. I knew it was regarding Cheryl and immediately burst into tears. She was not doing well, and the end was drawing near. As upsetting as it was, I was thankful he wasn’t saying she had died. She was still here and I had time to get to her.

But, this story could have begun on Thursday March 05, a week later, minutes before Cheryl died, when I saw her daughter’s boyfriend, Tim (who I really didn’t “know,” and hadn’t seen him in 30 years,) as we were both visiting Cheryl to say our final goodbyes. He still carried the 80’s/90’s rocker look, yet was very respectful and polite ... clearly distraught and saddened. I had called him the night before to let him know her feet were cold and mottled ... the clock was ticking.

Cheryl died that day. Her funeral was five days later, when I saw Tim again. (*I had originally planned to change the names, on behalf of Tim’s identity, but when I mentioned it, he said, “You don’t need to change my name. I have nothing to hide, and anyone who knows me already knows this stuff. “ He is aware of this writing and was the first to hear it, receiving his approval.)

Or ... maybe it began Sunday, four weeks ago, when I received a desperate call from Tim a little before noon. He was NOT well. I/we spent 7 hours on the phone from noon until midnight as he was on the edge of the ledge. Cheryl’s death had clearly stirred emotions from 30 years ago ... ones he had buried ... but they reared their ugly heads once again. Such a strange irony ... that LITERALLY burying a person can dig up buried memories, feelings and emotions.

However, I think it REALLY began on December 21, 1990 ... when Cheryl’s daughter, (Tim’s girlfriend/love of his life,) Shelby, died in a tragic car accident ... which happened in my mother’s front yard. My mother was a nurse, and was on the scene within minutes. Because of that accident, my mother and Shelby’s mother, Cheryl, met. Shelby and I were the same age and went to the same school, though she was a junior and I was a senior. She was 16 when she died.

Going back to 1990 ... I did know Shelby, but we were not close friends. Though she hung out with a different crowd, (one I would consider a bit wilder/rougher,) she was a delicate soul and an ABSOLUTE BEAUTY. She was known for that ... Blonde hair, blue eyes, along with her dimples and that gorgeous smile. She played volleyball and was on the homecoming court. I knew she had an older boyfriend (Tim) who was very well known as a wild child, partying/rocker kind of guy. Think, “AC/DC, Ozzy, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, Faster Pussycat, Guns-N-Roses, Mother Love Bone.” (No idea who that last one is, or, “Faster Pussycat,” but that’s what he said.) EVERYONE who knows him knows, even 30 years later ... he ALWAYS has and ALWAYS will love Shelby ... AND he is no stranger to the bottle, cigarettes, and possibly a few other things. He has Shelby’s face tattooed on his heart and her name on his arm. Though he has never been one to walk the “straight and narrow,” he has taken flowers to her grave every year on the day she was born, the day she died, and holidays ... for THIRTY YEARS, even when he was married. He very well may have been intoxicated/under the influence of something while doing it, but he still did.

Shelby’s death affected and changed many lives. Her Mom, Cheryl, always came across bright and upbeat, but the veil of grief never lifted from her. I remember in 2015 ... 25 years after Shelby died, Cheryl said THAT Christmas was one of her most difficult ... just as much as the first ones, 2 1⁄2 decades earlier. The loss of a child carries a pain that never goes away. Time does NOT heal that wound.

And then, there is Tim. It would be an understatement to say he never got over Shelby or the loss of her life. Who knows how their relationship would have turned out if she were still here? Maybe they would have lived happily ever after ... maybe they wouldn't have made it at all. It will obviously never be known, and matters none. Because in Tim’s heart and mind, Shelby was the one and only love of his life. That’s something that has been a truth for 30 years, and will likely be that way until he takes his last breath. He’s been told, “It’s been (5,10,15,20,25 get the point,) 30 years. Time to move on.” And, most teenage romances don’t continue, so maybe it’s assumed they wouldn’t be together anyway. It is irrelevant what anyone else thinks regarding this topic. It simply is what it is.

I got to know Shelby’s mom, Cheryl, by doing her hair. I’m not sure how or when that began, but it has been over 20 years now. She was one of those people who could read me within minutes. Whether it be in person or a phone call. She also understood the struggles I had with my mom. So, we kind of connected in a strange way ... both NOT having that mother/daughter relationship we wanted, though it was in different ways.

Cheryl was a devout Christian, and was clear about it, but she loved the broken just as though they (we) were not broken ... rather, “special and important.”
Over the last 20+ years, she has spoken mainly of some guys in Shelby’s crowd who still keep in touch with her. They remained precious to her. One was/is a guy who wrote a poem on Shelby’s tombstone (the one who called me a week before she died.) One was a former wild one/ turned pastor, and of course, Shelby’s boyfriend, Tim. Also, there was Dale, Tim’s best friend.
Those guys might be/have been a little rough around the edges, but they loved her and she loved them right back.

In 2018/2019, Cheryl was different. I started seeing changes. The last time I saw her was late in 2019. She had lost a lot of weight and a friend had to bring her to get her hair done. She wasn’t one to talk about personal things, only briefly. We spoke about her health, and I said, “Worst case scenario, you are eaten up with cancer. You just have to decide if you want to go through with the treatment or not.”
She agreed ... and said that she knew if Shelby was still here, Shelby would be taking care of her ... which was sad. Somehow, I knew that day ... Cheryl would likely never be in my salon again. And, she was not.

Cheryl had always lived in a trailer, and told me her son had bought/built her a house. She lived in her house for about one month before things got bad, so I was told. She was quite excited, to say the least.
As more and more time passed, I heard through the grapevine that she was in the hospital and had been diagnosed with cancer. I waited, and tried to call her several times, only to get a quick beep/disconnect. I didn’t know her sons, so I had no way to know what was going on. But, I still kept calling ...

That brings us to Thursday, February 27 when I received “the call,” the one from the guy who wrote the poem on Shelby’s tombstone. He said Cheryl had told him to make sure and call me.

At that time, I knew I MUST go to Cheryl ... but I have anxiety/panic disorder, and feared I would have an attack. So, I asked a friend (Chad) to take me because I didn’t know how I would respond ... or if she would even know me. He drove an hour to get me and took me to Cheryl at the rehab center. She DID know me. In fact, she called me by my maiden name ... the name I identify with and love.

I went to the nursing home/rehab facility every day for the next week. Sometimes twice a day. She was soon placed in hospice care. Her life here was coming to an end, and a new one was about to begin. Those days within that week are priceless, precious memories to me. They showed me things about myself I never knew I had within me. Chad was part of every visit except one. The last one.

I think it was the Tuesday before she died, I had clients scheduled, but Cheryl wanted me to stay with her ... and she wanted green/lime ice cream. I cancelled my book, told my clients why, and called Chad to tell him what was going on. He drove an hour, got her green sherbet ice cream and asked if she meant key lime yogurt. I said, “I don’t know. Get both.” Then I text, “She wants her nails done like mine. Please also get glitter nail polish, but it must be pink.”
He did ...
The oxygen had been taken from her nose, along with the feeding tube, leaving her perfect little nose clogged up. During the time as we waited for Chad, I brushed Cheryl’s teeth with a sponge thing, cleaned her nose with a warm Q-tip, brushed and braided her hair, then cut her nails. When Chad arrived with the goods, I painted her nails and we all ate green ice cream. She was so happy. Her nurses said that night was the best she had ever eaten. (I did some smooth talking to get 4 or 5 bites of the nasty pureed food down. But the jello, yogurt and ice cream were a breeze.)
Then, I realized her roommate had a comforter and Cheryl only had a white hospital blanket. I had Chad go to my house and get a fuzzy purple/twin size comforter. He did ALL of that for US.
The strange thing is that Chad is a fireman. He has seen death, performed CPR ... but said he had never seen death like this. Not in the way I did it ... I crawled in the bed with Cheryl, held her while she cried, and spoke of the awesome wonderfulness that was coming ... she was going to see God and Jesus ... and SHELBY ... Shelby was waiting for her Momma! It was bittersweet ... so sad, but soooo glorious. I asked Cheryl, “Are you scared?”
She quickly responded, “NO! No, I’m not scared!”

I explained to Chad what HE had done. Possibly, he only saw that he went to the store and bought ice cream. But, that was FAR from the truth. What he had done was grant a dying person a final wish, which happened to be green ice cream. AND, since she said he could have a bite, he took the time to sit by her bed (picnic style) and enjoy it with her. Though one would think HE was the one who gave ... Chad would testify he was the one who RECEIVED.
I think he sees it differently now ... He sees a hidden miracle, and watching him experience time with Cheryl as his eyes opened to things in a new light ... that was a miracle I got to witness. Each time we left, he kissed her on the forehead and said, “See you soon Ms. Cheryl.” It didn’t take long before “I love you” was added in his farewell forehead kiss.

As I said, Wednesday night, I called Tim. He vowed to go the next morning even though he couldn’t drive ... no license, no car. Somehow, someway, he made it there. I never asked how.

Thursday morning, March 5, I went to the nursing home. When I entered the room, I saw a chair, back to me, and a long haired guy sitting silently, facing Cheryl. It was Tim, Shelby’s 1990 boyfriend. He quickly got up to respectfully give me his spot. He was somewhat nervous and uncomfortable. I greeted him, and with shaking hands, went to Cheryl. She was still breathing and alive, but was not very responsive. Obviously slipping away from this side, in transition to the other side. Her eyes were crusted and her mouth the same ... which made me feel panicked, upset and want to cry. The fact that she would never look like that and she couldn’t do anything to help herself ... her helplessness broke my heart. I immediately got a warm cloth to clean around her eyes, then tried to do her mouth/teeth ... my hands still shaking. Tim was near the foot of the bed, watching in some sort of awe, and was extremely quiet. He knew my name and kind of knew who I was ... just no specific details ... so he asked if I was a nurse, if this was my profession. I found a bit of humor in that since I am about as far from a nurse as one could be. I tried to keep it light, like what I was doing was a normal, everyday thing, and responded, “Oh heavens NO. I am only her hairstylist, and this just needs to be done.”

I knew who Tim was when I saw him. He looked the same, just with a few years added to the look I remembered ... exactly like the rest of us. He had quite a few tattoos, but the same long hair. I guessed he was a smoker from his cough, and wondered if he still liked the bottle, not that it mattered or that I even cared. None of that was important in the moment we were watching and living. Anyone who knows Tim will say he is and always has been untamed and parties on a regular basis, but will also say in the same breath that he has a heart of gold. Would do anything for anyone. Honest and kind-hearted. I could see that ... his spirit was definitely NOT dark. In fact, I would describe his demeanor as gentle ... which is certainly not what I would expect myself to say.
I could tell he wanted to be there that day, yet didn’t. Like, he didn’t want to see what was before our eyes, but it was something he needed to do.

Cheryl’s granddaughter came while we (Tim and I) were there. The hospice nurse, (who I coincidentally knew) asked if Cheryl liked to be surrounded by people or alone/private. I had that thought earlier ... and I said, “There is no one more private than Cheryl.”
The nurse said that people like that will wait ... You can stay with them 24/7, and they will pass when you leave to go to the restroom.
Soon after, Tim left, her granddaughter left, and there I was ...
The other hospice nurse said I could stay and she would come back later. I said, “No, I think I should go.” I kissed Cheryl goodbye ... and that was our final farewell. She crossed over within 15 minutes.

The following Sunday, I went to the funeral home and did Cheryl’s hair. It took me 3 hours. Chad stayed with me the ENTIRE time, thank God. I was beyond thankful. He didn’t make me feel crazy for asking him to play Guns-N Roses, “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” while I worked. That was always a “Shelby song” to me and it needed to be played to honor BOTH of them.
I cut and styled Cheryl’s hair, and covered her color regrowth with EYESHADOW. Sounds crazy, but worked perfectly. Another “first” for Chad. He had certainly never been in a funeral home prep room for 3 hours, helping someone style a deceased loved one’s hair while playing Guns-N-Roses. But then again, neither had I ...

Visitation was strange for me. I knew and loved Cheryl deeply, but did not know her family, other than Shelby. Then, the funeral was the same. I simply went through my own emotions ... alone. I was “just a hairstylist,” which I quickly realized is the case with several of my beloved clients ... I never really had thought about it until this happened. Chad and I sat in the back during the funeral/memorial/celebration of life (whatever the proper term is now,) and all of “Cheryl’s boys” were there. One spoke (the pastor,) and the others were on the front row. They were her pallbearers. I wonder if they saw the truth and beauty of everything? Like how much they meant to her, that they had somewhat “emotionally carried” Cheryl through some very difficult times by merely staying in touch, and now they were physically carrying her ... STILL taking care of Shelby’s Mama. A “miracle” would be declaring how a tiny little woman could own the respect of that crowd of guys, get them in dress clothes and sit quietly. Now, THAT’S a miracle!

After the burial, I asked Tim if he would like to go to lunch with me/us. He said, “No thanks, I’m going to have another pint.”
I jokingly asked how much he already had, (not that it was any of my business) ... He said, “A pint of Jack.” But I would have never known because he seemed fine. I would have been unconscious.

I’m not sure what happened within me from that point. I knew Tim had “good energy,” in spite of the alcohol. He was a wounded soul. Dealing with some sort of pain I never have known. So, I kept in touch with him periodically over the following weeks.

Then, it happened ... Sunday March 22, 2020.
My phone rang just before noon. The screen said, “Tim.”
I answered to a slurred man saying ... “Do you have a minute for a drunk person? I just wanted to hear a comforting voice. That’s all. Can you just talk to me until I pass out?”
Me, “Yes, of course. What’s going on Tim?”

That was the beginning of a 12 hour on-and-off discussion that changed two lives ... maybe more. Many times, I could barely understand what he was saying between the slurring/stuttering words and the coughing which sounded like a lung (or both) soon to be projected out. Tim had been drinking since 4 am ... A pint of whiskey, shots of Jager and tequila, plus a case of beer. His drinking (and such) has been the norm for over 30 years. (He drank beer at breakfast!) But, at this point, he had exhausted all of his people ... They’ve all heard it before. He was alone, intoxicated and scared ... his brain cruelly hitting the replay button to every painful event of his life. He couldn’t push stop, or even pause. Like, “You can run but you can’t hide.” He had done everything he knew to do in an attempt to silence and still the chaos within. No luck. So, it was back to the bottle, drink until everything is numb and you finally go to sleep (AKA: pass out.) Homemade anesthesia. It works wonders until it wears off, then what one runs from is right back, but accompanied by a hangover from Hades and occasionally a regret or two waiting to be discovered while sobering up ... Making one want to drink again to forget about what happened last time. A vicious cycle.
Not to that level, but ... I could relate, though others may not know. I have been in the pit of despair, where the teeth and claws of darkness had me in their grip so tightly I could barely catch my breath. Sometimes, it was also fueled by the demon of alcohol. Thank God someone answered my call. Therefore, I lovingly listened without judgement. We spoke several times that day. Him revealing his hidden pain and demons all the way back to his youth ... Me, encouraging him, “You are a good person. God made you for more than this. You are stronger than this!” ... Along with some tough love. Like ... “It’s time to get your $#!+ together! Maybe you should sober up and head out to the front lines to fight the coronavirus ... Then you can die a hero/legend instead of drowning in booze and dying a drunk ... because that’s where you are heading right now and will be your legacy. So go ahead if that’s what you want to do. I can’t save you. Only you can.”
His response, “This is why I called you ...”

After questioning his daily consumption of alcohol and cigarettes (a case of beer, pint of whiskey and THREE packs of smokes a day ... which I calculated the estimated monthly expense of such. Unreal... ) I asked if he had ever seen a counselor and if he ever REALLY spoke with friends about all of this.
The conversation became VERY real at that point. This guy was very likely not going to make it out of this alive, not at this pace. Every avenue looked grim and my only option was to focus on that moment, minute, hour and getting through the night, hoping the morning brought answers, clarity, peace, hope ... SOMETHING, ANYTHING!
The universe had shut down due to the coronavirus, so rehab was likely not an option ... not to mention, affording rehab was also an issue. Detoxing from that amount of alcohol could be REALLY bad. Death would be a possibility, and honestly, a blessing in comparison to the other possibilities. He knew that because he had seized a while back when his body was detoxing due to withdrawal.
I told him during our conversation that I thought he was trying to numb his emotional pain in a physical way, and he said, “Yes, that’s what I do. I drink to escape it.”
I was like, “Well, how’s that working out for you? Doesn’t seem like it’s going too well hearing you right now ...”

One of the last calls from Tim that night was different ... “I think I need help.”
Me, “Ya think?!”
He gave me permission to reach out to a pastor ... (his teenage buddy-turned pastor... The one who lead Cheryl’s funeral) ... so I did. He kindly gave me over half an hour of his time, even though he has genuinely given of himself to Tim for over 25 years. Tim told me Cheryl had taken him to church with her after Shelby died, and he would be drunk, passed out in the chair with a pint of vodka between his legs, IN CHURCH. This friend/pastor’s father, who was also a pastor, simply patted Tim on the shoulder, saying, “Man, if it’s going to be like this ... you are in the right place.” No judgement.
I think I’ll always remember that, though I wasn’t even there.
*Miracle Alert*: An almost 50 year old alcoholic remembering that instance and repeating it three decades later while inebriated. People are quick to judge and condemn, but not extend grace, love, compassion and acceptance unconditionally. Obviously it matters and is not forgotten.

The REALLY big hurdle for Tim would be, EVERYONE in his circle drank and smoked. It seemed hopeless. But as I told the pastor, our mutual friend, “Maybe others may see him as a lost cause, but I don’t. I can see/feel good within him.”
Pastor’s response, “No one is a lost cause until their last breath. He really is a good guy. No one would deny that.”
My soul smiled in agreement, and I continued this unusual journey that I was not qualified to be behind. I am thankful I did.
Though I’m not typically one to do such, I asked Tim if I could pray with/for him. He said, “Yeah, but I don’t know if it will do any good.” So, I did. It probably wasn’t a great prayer, but he was plastered drunk, not likely to critique ... Therefore, I didn’t sweat it too much. Somewhere during the conversation, I told him to pray. No matter what, PRAY. Even if he couldn’t find the words, just say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” over and over. But, he gave it a shot. His drunken, slurred self, who is as valuable as any other being, prayed to the same God who hears us all. And, that same God heard a drunk, broken/broken hearted man’s prayer. No matter if the voice is righteous or broken ... the message is delivered. I know that to be a fact. Oddly, I don’t remember one word he said in that prayer. It is as though it was deleted ... Now, it’s just between Tim and God. Kind of “cool,” as Cheryl would say.

That night, Chad was with me as I spoke to Tim. Chad’s life has been somewhat sheltered and he couldn’t relate to Tim. In fact, he said he couldn’t ever see himself hanging out with someone like Tim. As many others think, “Tim CHOSE this life.”
But ... maybe he didn’t ...

The next day, Monday, passed in silence. I assumed Tim was drunk ... or worse. Tuesday came, but by midday, I simply HAD to call him. To my surprise, he answered, was coherent and speaking clearly, in full/understandable sentences. I tried not to sound too shocked, and asked how he was doing. He said, “Yesterday was rough, but I have only had 2 cigarretes and 2 beers so far today. I gave all the liquor to Dale.” (his best friend.)
Two beers, not two CASES of beer. Two cigarettes, not two PACKS of cigarettes. I was in complete and total SHOCK, immediately calling Chad as soon as the call ended with Tim. In an instant, something within Chad changed. I don’t know how or why, but it did. All of a sudden, Chad became “TEAM TIM.” Even though Tim was only approaching 2 days/48 hours without his best friend/worst enemy vices, Chad said, “That’s two days of his life that have been good, and that matters! Awesome!”
I asked Tim if it would be okay to share his number with Chad, and vice versa. Tim said, “ABSOLUTELY! I need all the help I can get.”
They have talked and text since that day ...

Jumping forward a week from that Sunday, three weeks ago ... yours truly had a bit too much. I was a mess. Everything with Cheryl had caught up with me ... that I would really NEVER see her again. I could no longer call her ... and my own personal realities became bigger than me. Who did I call? Tim.
I locked myself in my room and he talked me through my misery for approximately three hours. Chad was in the house, but gave me space. That night is likely when he and Tim REALLY got to know each other. Strange, but true. Sober Tim explained part of me to my friend who knows me well, but got to know another side of me. Though Chad and I had spent far more quality time together than Tim and I ... I guess the best way to describe it would be sitting beside someone (a stranger) on a plane as it is going down. You suddenly form a bond within seconds/minutes that will last a lifetime ... IF you both survive the crash. Just like Tim’s tattoos, only these are not on the skin, but tatoo “memories,” in the heart, soul and mind. Never in a million years would I think I would turn to Tim, or that he would successfully be helpful and encouraging ... No offense meant toward him, but that’s mind blowing. *miracle*

After a long night of snot crying, waking up with eyes swollen shut ... the next morning, my spirit was awakened. “WTH just happened?! I need to get MY $#!+ together! I can’t be one upped by TIM!!”

So, the journey began, and here we are ...
Last week (Easter weekend) is when I started writing about this incredible journey, three weeks after that phone call. 3/THREE has many Biblical meanings. The Trinity, etc. But, the fact that it fell on Easter Sunday when the world seemed dark due to the 2020 quarantine/coronavirus, brought MUCH light! HE has risen!!! ... And so has Tim!! *Miracles*

Today, SUNDAY, is four weeks since Tim last drank or smoked like he has for over three decades. *Miracle* He quit smoking for a few days, however, that was too much at one time. He still smokes, but tries to keep it near or under ONE pack, and limits drinking to 6 BEERS, though he has only hit that once. Other than that, 3 has been his max. (I’m no expert, but would assume his body is still going through DT withdrawals.) But, the big rule and boundary: NO LIQUOR. NO EXCEPTIONS.
4/FOUR (this week mile marker) has meaning too, and coincidentally, is a Sunday.
 “The 4th of the Ten Commandments is to remember and keep God’s holy Sabbath day.” (Exodus 20:9)
But it has MANY more meanings, just look it up!
Wanna know what Tim did on that 4th Sunday? He helped install my garage door opener while practicing social distancing and drinking WATER🙌🏻

Chad and I have been in almost daily contact with Tim. We both know he COULD end up a statistic, and fall off the wagon. BUT, what if he DOESN’T?!? What about that?? I asked Tim WHO he knew who had done what he has done without professional help (because it simply wasn’t available at the time,) OR who he had ever heard of doing such.
“No one,” he said.
“Exactly my point, my friend. YOU are stronger than ANYONE I have ever known. YOU are my hero. Oh, the people you can help because you actually understand these struggles!! That is something I could NEVER do because I have no knowledge of it. YOU can ... and I believe ... WILL change lives.”
THAT is MY response!

Not to mention, the many who have said to me, “Don’t get your hopes up or expect it to last. Most people always go back to their old ways…”
I understand and agree with that, but I choose to look at the other side. If you don’t believe in him, why not just keep that to yourself, because no good will come from such a statement. Maybe, just maybe, he will be an exception to the rule!

If Tim slips up, I pray he picks himself up, dusts himself off, and starts over. If he doesn’t, and goes back to his former life, the one he’s always known ... I will still ALWAYS be proud and in awe of him, NEVER forget what this “lost soul” has taught me, and continue to strive to fight through what seems impossible ... proving it wrong ... because I have seen it done with my own eyes. Even if it was only for a month, it was one h*** of a good month of victory. He IS one of My Father’s People. He is worthy and valuable. Just like the prison ministry, Men of Valor, has taught me, we are to love those as Jesus did ... NOT ONLY “the one’s following the straight and narrow,” but, ALL. Society teaches us that a prison record deletes one’s value and worth, Men of Valor teaches otherwise. The ones who may seem “beneath” the righteous are usually the one God places in our lives to teach us the most.

I love how different we all are and how we process in our own unique ways. For example, Tim sends me links to songs because he strongly relates to music. This is how he tries to tell me what he thinks or how he feels. Granted, a majority of the songs make me a nervous wreck and I have to watch the lyric version on YouTube so I have a clue what is being said, because understanding what Ozzy is saying really puts me on the struggle bus. After I listen, I have to ask for Tim’s translation, what he hears. Then, I learn to listen past the screaming voice and the heavy metal instruments, until I hear what Tim hears.
Like, “One is too much.Ten is not enough.” Ozzy reassured Tim of that one night when a bottle of whiskey was staring at Tim, calling his name. Tim said the moonlight was literally shining in the window directly lighting up that bottle. He sent me the song, “Demon Alcohol.” It kind of scared me, didn’t comfort me ... and would actually make me want to drink. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I listened from start to finish, for Tim. When we spoke, he explained the song and it’s meaning to him. He said the night before, as he was fighting the strong temptation of the nearby bottle, he played that song over and over and over ... until it passed and a new day began. Somehow, that kind of music is soothing to Tim ... “comfort food for his soul.” Interesting. From now on, I won’t interpret that music as a verbal headache anymore. (Insert *Miracle* here.)

If you have made it this far, I have a favor to ask. Whatever your language may be: prayer, words of encouragement, sending positive/good energy, meditating ... whatever works for you ... Throw a little of it Tim’s way as he continues his journey, would you? (And to others who are fighting the demon of addiction.)

Tim is stronger than he knows. No, I do not think he is perfect, nor is he better than another ... but he is not bad or evil. He thinks I saved him. I think he saved me. Maybe both are true, maybe neither is true ... but, I am CERTAIN Cheryl is proud of him, and me ... and she is rejoicing in heaven with her Shelby!! I can imagine her beaming like the sun after waiting thirty years to see her daughter. With very little effort, I can still hear her laugh, and see her wink with that “Cheryl smile” on her face, because ... she knows she got to play a part in all of this.

© Kasi

P. S. Thanks Tim😊


  1. This is beautiful. I remember you guys, not sure if you do me. I was in Shelby's class and on the basketball team with her. I remember basketball practice that day and us leaving saying bye to one another for Christmas break. I never saw her again until her funeral. Tim, I remember only coming to one of your parties, but I remember it was awesome and it was a sleepover lol! I knew Cheryl as well, but I did not know that she had passed. I just recently (like maybe 2 weeks ago) reactivated my Facebook account after MANY years! There are angels all around us, I'm sure of it. You two are powerful, I watched the video and read every word to the last emotion. I felt very compelled to reach out to y'all. Miracles...everything happens for a reason. I had a hard time accepting that years and years ago, but now, you can't tell me otherwise. I have had many personal losses, too many for my age. I too have had other losses. I am an RN, I've seen things that would absolutely blow your mind, I get it. Death does not scare me and I'm glad it does not you either. We never know. I believe we have lots of "things" happen that are clues as to when our time is approaching. Tim, you get to go out your way. I love your attitude, your ownership, your deep heart, just genuine-what ya see is what ya get. You love hard! The both of you will now be in my hearts and thoughts. I am so touched. I live on the West Coast now in Portland, Oregon, but I wish I could hug you both. Sherry, so impressive you are. Y'all are so lucky to have found each other and the way that you did. I believe in those "coincidences" at certain times, y'all both probably have experienced that or maybe not. So, Tim, if when that time comes, you make sure you tell Shelby I loved her and you both will be together forever, like you were meant to be. I'm not sure what I can do, but let me know. I want to follow the test of your life here. You are so inspiring, I hope many people learn from you. I know you are loved and well taken care of by the video. Warms my heart, especially in the world where we live now. I have mad respect for you! Now hang in there and keep being as awesome as possible, you're in charge!!


    Lisa Mitchell (Class of 1992)

    1. This is such a meaningful comment, Lisa. Thank you so much. Tim and I greatly appreciate the thought and time you put into your words. So very heartwarming ❤️
      Blessings to you

    2. Awwwww❤ You guys are awesome!

  2. Good deal Timbo!!
    I’m so proud of what you have done. You have always had a heart of gold!!! I’m gonna pray for you and damn you are one strong dude!! Day by day and hour by hour!! Love ya Tim
    Tammy Smith (Tip)