The Scrambler

At the end. Not really. There is no terminus.

We’re at the end of this line and it’s time to change tracks. Not sure if I’m going by train or plain or bus, on foot strolling or if I’m just going to stand here a while.

The funny stuff doesn’t end here. Some of it still continues. But, there’s this:

Last week someone I don’t know said something that changed everything.

Truly. Everything.

The technical base of this pre-recorded shared philosophy branches out beyond where we normally go.

Merriam-Webster: Addiction 2: a strong inclination to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly.

The point of the moment was that addiction isn’t limited to drugs or alcohol. Food, gambling, smoking, shopping, sex, video games, internet, social media.

The scrambler? “You can be addicted to sadness.”

Well, then.

I’ve felt this way for so long; too long, I admit.

And while it’s comfortable here, cocooned and non-expanding, I don’t think I want to be here anymore.

It’s been way longer than you think; then you know, too.

I’ve been writing pain since, always. I remember sharing a piece I was particularly pre-teen proud of, brought up short by the question: Does everything you write have to be so dark?

Of course, I’ve changed. I write about life: the known, unknown, bad, ugly, cliché.

I didn’t write for a few years. Guess which ones those were? Yep, that short little span of Jeff years.

I don’t think I’m incapable of happy prose. I’d like to think I was just too busy living happy.

Maybe. I don’t know. I just didn’t write. Much. I’ve found a few notes which are entirely inexplicable….

So, the shock of that. That word. Addiction.

I’ve wrapped my head around it, and yeah, I am completely sure. It is what I never considered it could be or would be or was or is.

I’m not nearly in the same spiritual place as when I was misunderstood 14 years ago.

I’m further away now then when I wasn’t at all.

I’m not sure how I’m gonna do this/how long its gonna take.

But, I’m kinda happy with my decision. And that feels … new.

Quote for the Week:

song list for this sort of thing: talking to myself, talking to the sadness.

Billie Eilish IDon’tWannaBeYouAnymore

Blue October Movin’ On

Chrissy Metz Talking to God

Snow Patrol This Isn’t Everything You Are

The Unexpected Ministry in Misunderstanding (Time to Eat.)

I never fessed up because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take away the meaning they’d assigned.

What I’d said was, “Five years ago today was the happiest day of my life. Today is the second happiest day of my life, because I can see how very much (emotional throat glitch) he was loved.”

From what I’ve been told, miss-hearings varied from, “how very much Jesus loved him,” to how very much Jesus loves us.”

Our United Methodist Church Pastor was one of the misunderstandees. His own throat-closing confession to an entire sanctuary of mostly unknown-to-him funeral attendees that the decision not to marry Jeff and me was the greatest regret of his ministry career, sealed my lips.

Shortly thereafter, the minister invited everyone to fellowship after the conclusion of the celebration of life for Jeffrey Korte. But, before the dismissing blessing, he also asked if there was anyone who hadn’t had a chance to speak but would like to now.

There was such a complete and awkward silence that if I hadn’t known there were people behind me, I wouldn’t have suspected anyone was there.

Then, it happened.

In a 100% Jeff moment, his picture leapt off the communion rail and tumbled over backwards. The people murmured, the tension broke, and Pastor David took it as a sign.

Paraphrasing, again, it was something that included ‘going’ and ‘eating’  like, “I think Jeff’s sayin’ it’s time to eat,” or “I guess Jeff’s ready to go eat.”

There was laughter and a blessing and then it was over. The funeral had officially ended.

I was advised to stay where I was for a few moments, because there were likely people who would not be joining us at the Masonic Hall who may want to have a word before they left.

So, I stood there, and said thank you and goodbye to some; hello and thank you to others. But, the only ones I remember were the four-in-a-row.

“It gives me great joy that you believe in our Lord and Savior.”

“Jesus was with you up there today and he will continue to be with you.”

“What a testimony to your faith! Jesus loves us -Hallelujah and Amen.”

“Your faith in Christ surpasses mine.”

Then, the witness.

Making our way to cross the church lot, the witness, my mother, spoke.

“You’re not going to become a minister, are you?”

Quote for the Week:

What I Said Not What I Didn’t Say.

So, I’ll tell you, again. I have no idea who I was writing to.

I’m at a loss really. I’m not sure who I was addressing, but I have thought a lot about who I wasn’t addressing. The ministers covered so much about family and friends, without some of the more questionable parts, but still with enough give to allow for a watery smile or a grimaced chuckle.

I didn’t really decide to add humor to my thoughts. I wasn’t going for a lighten-up-the-atmosphere effect. I just did what I always do. Wrote in my speaking voice. I just wanted to say aloud to as many people as possible, to explain – the importance of him. And the importance of him + me.

I started out steady enough. Halfway through the second sentence, I strangled – I ran out air. I choked emotionally. I blinked the blurriness (that I refused to let fall) into evaporation, gulped and pushed out the rest in a very short-of-breath fashion.

I’m a little hard to understand on regular days. My natural tendency tends to cause confusion. Speaking softly was never a stylistic choice. I will make an effort to overcompensate when alerted to the need.

Much, like the sex-talk Nannee thought she and I had had, but hadn’t – soft speaker vs hard of hearing.

What I said next was similarly interpreted widely off the mark. Terribly misunderstood.

Yes, I had microphone. But, no. Apparently, that didn’t help.

I never fessed up.  

Some very important people in my life sought me out that afternoon to say that the words they thought I’d said had made an indelible impact on their hearts. Not in those words and not collectively, but there were 4 of them, plus 1. The first four were one right after another. The fifth was present for all of the others, but reserved comment for a bit.

Following the logic of lyric interpretation – in the old days, at least – when “so fine” was the precursor to “a bangin’ #ut#” – I respect creativity and adore the creators who, very sincerely, decline to explain their work.

What it means to you might be a world away from the aim. The important part is that it gave you something, whether intended or not. The gift is that it moved you, made you more determined, opened your eyes, changed your mind – for the better, for you, whatever.

Sometimes, there’s just no need to correct the notion.

Interpretation is a beautiful thing.

Quote for the Week:

If God Swore

Until then, I’d never experienced our church from the pulpit view. I’d done a reading once, down a tier at the presenters’ lectern. I once made a nervous mission announcement from there, as well.

I don’t know how many seconds passed before I began to speak.

There may have been no delay, at all.

Maybe my mind was moving faster than time. Or, maybe time truly suspended giving me a moment to catch up.

Being caught in that living still frame isn’t something I’ve ever been able to escape. Nor the feeling of being yanked back to the conscious present based solely on the physiological need to breathe.

This is what I saw: our church – our house of worship – filled. Surpassing Christmas, surpassing Easter. Standing room only, was truly that.

People lined the outer walls, the back walls, stood in the lobby, 2-3 deep in respectful rows, sat shoulder to shoulder. Hands clasped, eyes turned, a hush-filled quiet uncomfortably questioning what was about to happen.

So unexpected. So. Many. People.

I don’t know what I thought I’d see from up there, but that wasn’t it.

Someday, I want to paint the way I felt: far-away shadow figures, vague- shaped contours; impressionistic forms. It’s not that they don’t deserve to be individualized. It’s rather that they were one cohesive group, for the first time, for the last time, forever.

I’ve run the scene so many times; replayed when I need to feel stronger. I remember I did that and remind myself if I got through then, I can get through now.

I have an issue listening for God or to Him. I’ve gone way too long in some situations and found myself happily or unhappily God-smacked.

Like upside the head, like, “Hey, dammit (if God swore), pay attention!”

Like a physical push, showing me out of a situation that has long since run it’s course.

It’s easy to glance back and see the dozens of times the message almost got through to me. Last week, one actually did.

GOD: Dwelling. Places.

ME: (stubbornly) How. Many. Heavens?

Suddenly, I saw it so clearly. I knew.

In that sea of souls, right there in our Father’s house of worship, there were many dwelling places.

Down here, we call them hearts. Each person there, took him all the way Home in theirs.

Quote for the Week:

ketchup was his friend

So little of the sharing has stayed with me.

Specific stories, short strings of words. Things I heard from behind me, close and far; one at my knee.

“He was my Uncle and I loved him.”

“The closest thing to a brother I will ever have.”

A short story told by a woman Jeff trained as a delivery driver, driving toward Detroit. “One thing has always stayed with me,” she shared. “I was nervous and needed to get over a lane and couldn’t. Jeff was calm and patient. He told me to use my signal. Then, he gave me this advice.”

“Always signal your intentions,” Jeff said. “On the road and in life…’ ”

I’m sure there were more, but lastly, a drily humorous heartfelt summation both true and appreciated by all. “Ketchup was his friend.”

In the few moments’ gap, while volunteer speakers I was still dwelling on “dwelling places” when it happened. So fast I don’t know that anyone else caught it or could have caught it. An ever so slight chin bob, a direct look. Within the same second, I mirrored. That is how it came to be that I would, in fact, be reading my eulogistic … tribute (I guess).

I slid from the pew, stepped up with the help of our minister’s hand. He spoke softly, slightly offering the microphone.  “Do you want to stand here?” he asked, then immediately continued, “… or…”.  

The following “… would you …” was accompanied by the float of an upturned palm. It was the sort of go-ahead gesture offered at a held open door, only it was offering me something more. Significantly, the pulpit. Pastor Dave must have had quite the confidence that I would command myself. So, must have I, only I don’t believe mine came from me.

I’m not at all a public speaker. I say as little as possible whenever possible. So, I wasn’t considerately thinking, showing confidence, displaying emotional control or anything that could be ascribed to … anything.

I didn’t stop to consider. I don’t recall even the barest hesitation. I just continued on to where I would be.  

I liken it to arriving at home, shifting the car into ‘park’ and not recalling if you actually stopped to pay the necessary exit toll. You must have, though, because there you are in the driveway. No flashing lights to be found.

Since then, I’ve self-rationalized. Only because it seemed everyone’s interpretation of the step-up was getting out of hand.

I’ve believed for years that I made a choice based on the perceived comfort of the podium; separating myself from the situation, hiding my girth and assuring I had something to hold onto if I couldn’t remember not to lock my knees.

That belief was shattered, last week.

Quote for the Week: