Monday, December 5, 2022


 I don't have the ability to sculpt. I can't paint a picture or even draw for that matter. I do not possess the talents to write a song, a sonnet, or even a lullaby. But I do have the ability to write. So I made this for her. This is my sculpture, my painting, my song to her.

Outside of my family this is the best thing I have ever done, and its the best thing I will ever do.

I hope it lets those of you who knew her have some comfort to know just how much I loved her. And those of you who didn't have the pleasure of knowing her can get to feel her radiance, even if just a little bit of it.
Please feel free to share.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Epilogue (July 10, 2022)

Today is six months since Cyndi's passing. Not a day goes by where I don't spare her a thought. Most days I still shed a few tears. Every now and then, I have a full on breakdown.

But the days get better all of the time. This is my first experience with any sort of real loss, so I don't know if am doing a good job of navigating this or not but I know that I wake up each morning and face each day as best I can.

I thought I would spend a few moments and write out some thoughts and feelings about how this process has gone so far. What I think about it, how I feel. How life seems to be going as both a means to further help me heal and a mechanism to share.

The Kids:

I guess the biggest piece of all this has to be the kids. In fairness to them, it is very difficult to tell how they are dealing with all this but they seem to be doing well. It is easier for them to talk about her than it is for me. They constantly say "Mom would do this" or "Mom would do that", usually as a means to insult my cooking. But, they are able to talk directly about memories or feelings that would otherwise make me cry. I love that they are able to do that. I try to talk about her as often as I can but sometimes it just gets emotional. Twice on this weekend someone has asked if I was single or married, in front of the kids. I said "single" both times, and both times I wanted to reach across the counter and slap the person who just asked. Like does it fucking matter if I am single or married for my goddamned Hilton points!!!

The big kids had the hardest time with all of this emotionally at first. Being a little older, I am sure it hit just a little bit harder. Carson is as level as ever, that kid rarely goes up or down. He is sweet though, not a typical 15 year old boy. On a long drive at a truck stop gas station he asked me to buy him a Winnie the Pooh stuffy, which of course I did. He will occasionally do these deeply sweet things that express a deep emotional connection with his Mom. Little things like the way he folds the blanket we made of her shirts, or he draws hearts on our calendar for dates of emotional significance. Later this month, I am taking him and a friend to NYC to see his favorite artist in concert (Mitski). It will be a great chance for me to see him in his element without his brothers.

Becks is my typical 14 year old kid. I am super excited that he is playing football again, not just because I like football but because at 45 I am still thankful for what football did for me as a high school kid and I hope it does the same for him. He is a very emotional kid, and the kid who is most like me. His attitude and actions remind me of 14 year old Eric. He seemed to have a very hard time right after his Mom's passing. I didn't know how to best help him, but he mentions her the most now out of all the kids. He talks about her with such fondness. I love that. He has the strongest friend network of the boys, and I think that helps him. Although, I could do with a little less of his gaming. 

Grant is unique animal, I see these little bits of both Cyndi and I in him. He is thoughtful and sweet and funny. He has a go with the flow mentality that screams of his Mother, and then just like his Mother there are certain things that HAVE to be a certain way. His personality is the perfect compliment to his twin, who wants everything his way. I was amazed at how the twins dealt with all of this, I can't imagine what this all must have been like for them. Having to see her get sick, going to see her in the hospital. Can a kid understand what is happening around them in all that shit?  

Gabe has been the most challenging of all the kids. He is not only physically the youngest (by a minute) but he is emotionally the youngest. He has anxiety and some odd ticks when it comes to physical feel and eating that stress me out. Grant has many of them too, but his are more straight forward and easier to overcome. Parenting the twins are where I miss Cyndi's guidance and calming influence the most. She had a way of dealing with the kids that I just can't quite replicate, and sometimes my frustration boils over and I yell about the damn grilled cheese or the fact they are terrified of flying insects. But I will admit, I calm down much faster. I get back to center, I apologize to whoever got yelled at, and I try to talk it out. She must be working hard on my shoulder.

All in all, I am really confident that the kids are going to be OK.  Not just OK, they are going to be exceptional. We have some work to do, but we are fine to do it.


I am doing OK too.  Really, I am. The biggest "problem" I guess is that I get lonely sometimes. But I don't really want do anything about it, I just want to be alone in that feeling. I know that may sound odd, but it is how I want to process it. I am never really alone, I am surrounded by the kids, family, friends, neighbors, and even a sometimes sweet cat. But there are times, moments, when you look at that spot on the couch or the passenger seat of the car and it "looks" empty. Not just like no one is there, but that something specifically is missing. It is a deep emotional feeling of loss, like a blackhole of happiness. But, I think that is OK. Its a way for me to acknowledge what I have lost, to get lost in those feelings, even if only a second or two.  Then I smack myself in the face, say some Batman type shit, and get back in the game. Really... I do that all of the time.

I don't feel like I am married anymore. I am also 100% aware of those around me that loved Cyndi too, and I don't want any of them to feel like I am being disrespectful to her memory or my feelings about them. If I say that out loud, people will say stuff like "that is not your concern", but let me tell you.  IT IS! Her legacy, her memory, her honor is a guiding light in my existence. I will go way out of the way to make sure that I am respectful of that. At the same time, I am aware that I am 45 years old. I am aware in perhaps a deeper way than most can understand, that life is short, and I will not dwell in loss and loneliness. 

The first few days and weeks, after I lost her, all I could do was envision this sad old lonely Eric. Dying alone in a hospital bed with no one there to hold my hand. But I don't have those thoughts anymore. I will get married again down the road, and that will be one lucky lady! I am a motherfucking catch, if I don't say so myself. 

This whole thing has narrowed my focus a bit too, which is good. I am now painfully aware of what matters to me and what does not. I am not going to spend any of my remaining time left on the shit that does not matter to me. I am going to take care of my family, my people, and myself in that order and I am going to watch the rest of it burn and I will smile while I watch it.

If you read this, thanks for taking the time. I will try to write more. I have wanted to put so much out there but I was just too emotional about it, and I was worried about hurting other people's feelings. Good news is I have gotten past most of that.  :)  

If you need anything, I am around. 

Know that we are OK, and we will continue to be OK, and I will protect her memory and her kids with everything that I have.

- Eric

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Chapter 10 (part 3)

On October 8th we came home after two rounds of chemo and a BMT thinking about how the worst was behind us.  For about a month that seemed to be the case. Her counts were good. A biopsy showed no leukemia. All that was left was to rest and recover and take her life back.  

By November things had started to get complicated. Her bilirubin was going up, which is a sign that her body and in particular her liver was having trouble with her new immune system.  We would go to the outpatient clinic almost every day in November. She had scans and tests to make sure it wasn't something else, but her levels kept creeping up. Her skin and her eyes were slowly turning yellow. On November 29, just a couple days after Thanksgiving they wanted to put her back in the hospital.  As they told us, its just easier to treat her inpatient than outpatient.

Over the course of the next week, she seemed fine. She was a little bummed but she was OK. Her levels were going in the wrong direction though. I started to sleep with the phone on my chest in case the hospital called at night. One morning, the phone rang at 6 AM. It is not usually good to have the phone ring so early. She was in bad shape, something happened overnight and the hospital wanted me to be prepared when I cam in to see her.

It turned out that one of the medications she was on was causing swelling on her brain. She would spend the next few days medically sedated to prevent her from hurting herself. 

It is December 10. Her liver continues to not respond to treatment and now her kidneys are starting to fail. That morning as I arrive at the hospital, the entire team approaches me and I knew I was in trouble. We go down the hallway to talk and they tell me that she isn't going to make it. I won't try to use a word describe what that felt like. I quickly made plans to get the kids up to the hospital to talk to her. I sat there with my children as they told their mother they loved her and she returned the love. Again... I can't explain that feeling. It hurts so much to think about.

I sent the kids home and prepared to stay with her. But, she would not back down. She looked me in the eye as I told her they don't think she will make it. We cried together as I again profusely apologized for failing her. As time passed and the emotion of the moment dulled, she just kept persisting. Hours would pass, she was still there.  Before we knew it, it was morning. As I sit here typing this today, I swear to you, the staff was shocked to find her still alive that next morning. 

She kept getting better. Her kidneys took a turn for the better. The hospital staff thought she was stable enough to get her home for Christmas. So we tried to get her home. I won't post the picture here of the day that we left because she is so sick, but its on Facebook if you want to find it. You can see from the look on my face that I am not thrilled. The truth is that I am terrified. Just a week before they were telling me she would not survive the night and now I was supposed to take her home and care for her, by myself without the facilities of a hospital. They gave us a wheelchair and a list of prescriptions so long they sent me home with a binder. 

We had an OK night at home, and by OK I mean we made it through the first night. The second night, however, did not go very well. Cyndi was not able to go from sitting to standing on her own.  As I tried to move her from sitting to put her in bed she passed out. I felt her body go limp in my arms. I have never been so scared in my life. I called 911. I called her Oncologist. She came to fairly quickly but it was evident that we needed to go back to the hospital. The EMTs picked her up and put her in my van. It would be the last time we would be together in the house that we worked so hard to have. The kids came down to tell her the loved her as I tried to reassure them that everything was OK.

The funny thing about that night is that when we got to the ER, they tried to send us home. We had to beg the hospital to keep her.

But like everything before... she managed to recover. She got a little bit better and a few days later we were once again talking about trying to get her back home.  But fate just was not on our side.

A few days later another crisis would rise. As I slept at home, the hospital called in the middle of the night to tell me they were having trouble keeping her blood pressure up. I called my Mom and asked her to come to the house but I just got up and ran out the door. I arrived to find a team of physicians and nurses in her room trying (again) desperately to save her.  For the third time in a few days I had to discuss how much we were willing to intervene. I was not ready, so I made sure we intervened. This event was the worst yet. She would manage to get better enough to have a few more days with me, and to be able to say "I love you" to our kids one more time, but she just never recovered from this event. Trying to save her took such a toll on her body, she was just unable to heal.

I was sure she was going to get better. The morning she passed, I walked in that hospital ready to here the staff tell me that the worst was behind us, and its clear sailing from now on. But that just was not the case. 

One of the things I have heard a lot of people say over the last few days and weeks is that Cyndi lost her battle with cancer. If you take anything from this last chapter, please take that she did not lose to anything. We lost. We lost her. My kids lost their mother, I lost by best friend, and many of you lost a dear fried. But she did not lose anything. 

I said goodbye to her on the evening of Jan 10. I spent the last few hours with her telling her many of these same stories that I recounted as part of this effort. I hoped it brought her soul a little peace as I hope it brings you a little peace to know how much we loved her. As I promised her on that day, and as I continue to say to her everyday, I will do everything in my power to make sure she has a legacy. I will raise young men that would have made her proud. I will make sure there are a dozen grandbabies and that first girl has (at a minimum) Cyndi for a middle name. I will live a life that will make you proud.

I Love You. I Miss You. 

- Eric


Chapter 10 (part 2)

Most of the first week of Cyndi's care at Jewish Hospital passes with her out of it. The only way to deal with her pain is keep her doped up out of her mind. She would later tell me that she was having crazy dreams about fairies and how she did not like the feeling the drugs gave her.

By the first couple days of the second week the chemo had started to do its job. She was slowly coming off of the pain medication and she was slowly coming back to me. It is important to note that during this time the hospital never really told me that she wasn't going to make it. They were supremely confident in her treatment at this stage.

The chemo at this stage was only 4 days long. And by the end of day 4 she was pretty much back to her pre-crisis self, at least mentally. Her body was physically damaged from the crisis and she was starting to feel the effects of chemo, but she was awake and could talk to me.

Chemo begins to really kick-in about two or three days after you finish taking it. I remember thinking, well this isn't so bad, she seems fine. Chemo must be nothing. Oh my young one... You don't know.

By day 6 of her treatment she was chemo sick. She couldn't eat. She felt terrible. She would dry heave constantly throughout the day. Cyndi hated vomit. She could not handle the sight, smell, or thought of it. I was always the one who took care of the puking kids (at least when I was home), but she was trapped in this body that didn't want or couldn't do anything else.

She was sick for about 10-14 days. The hospital kept trying to get her to eat, and she would try but her body just wasn't up for it. So they would try to supplement her diet with Ensure. They would pimp that Ensure so hard, and she hated it. One day the dietician put an Ensure on her tray and Cyndi grabbed that drink and threw it across the room. She looked at me as if to say "I told them, I don't want it!". All I could do was nod my head and laugh... She did tell 'em.

Her hair started to fall out in clumps, one night after I had gone home she asked the nurse to shave her head. I arrived the next morning with a pair of clippers to fix the hack job they did. Losing her hair hurt her. She had such beautiful hair. She was down in the dumps for weeks after losing her hair. The difficulty of all this had set in and to make matters worse the hospital psychologist was trying to cheer her up or manage her mental health. Cyndi hated the sight of that lady and she hated talking to her. I would beg the hospital not to talk to her without talking to me first, so I could prepare her for conversations about diet or mental health, but they didn't listen. Sometimes they got a pissed off patient. Chemo has a way of bringing out a side of you that you would rather not display.

All together including her first hospital, Cyndi was inpatient for 37 days the first time. As we took her home, she still could not walk, she could barely eat, and couldn't take care of herself, but she was home. I remember as we tried to walk into the house she fell going up the stairs. She was still so weak. It was awful, I didn't know what to do. We managed to get her to the couch and there she stayed for two weeks. She couldn't go upstairs to get to bed, she barely had the strength to make it to the bathroom. I slept on the couch next to her for two weeks. But after two weeks our backs were just killing us, so I ran to the furniture store and I bought a cheap mattress and frame and I made her a bed in our living room. She slept there for another two weeks.

We had worked out a system for everything. She could walk with a walker but she could not stand from a sitting position, so we had a routine for getting her up from lying to sitting and sitting to standing. We got pretty good at it over that first month. Like I have said throughout this whole ordeal and our whole 20 years, we can do anything together. We drove 35 miles each way to see her Oncologist every other day. It was a 3 hour trip, unless she needed blood or platelets in which it was a 5 hour trip. I missed a lot of work. I have a subscription to satellite radio and we would listen to 90's grunge on the drive there and home. She would often just sit there quiet, like a warrior getting ready for battle. You should all be so fortunate as to get to spend time with someone so amazing.

It is now August 2021. She has gotten well enough to walk on her own with out a walker, although only for short trips. It took physical therapy to get her there. However, now we were planning the next phase of her care. Her Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT). Cyndi had several matches, so all we really needed to do was to get her back into the hospital for another round of chemo and then the BMT. She checked back in on Sept 7th, the day before my 45th birthday. She would undergo a week of chemo and the BMT by Sept 14th. Her 42nd birthday was Sept 16th.

She would be in the hospital for 32 days this round. The chemo was worse, the after effects were worse. But this time we knew what to expect. We knew to watch her lab values to see when they rebound. We knew what foods she could sort of stomach. We knew what would help her mental health, which by this point was frayed to its end. 

On October 8th, she walked out of the hospital. Walking being different than the last time. She rang the bell signaling the end of chemo. We were so optimistic. We were once again planning for our future. They told us the next 100 days would be rough, and the next year will be challenging, but we all believed she was cured. Her leukemia was gone and her life to begin to resume.


Next... Part 3.

Chapter 10: Cancer (part 1)


This is probably the most important thing I will ever write. Yet, I struggle with how much to let everyone in. I want the world to know and to understand what she went through and what she endured. But, some of it is just not meant for the world to know. She deserves the dignity that comes with her fight, but cancer does its best to rob you of your dignity.

I will leave out some of the details, but I will tell the story as best I can.

In November of 2020 my wife went to see a doctor. It was an attempt to get a yearly physical, because we were trying to be healthy. She and I had spent the summer tuning up our bodies, and let me tell you we looked good. We were both in as good or better shape than we had been in since kids, that is (at the time) 14 years.

A couple of days later she got a call. A non-descript call from the NP to pack a bag and go to the ER. It sent a shiver down my spine, but we complied. She packed an overnight bag and went to the ER. A couple of hours later she called me. "They think I have cancer". We scheduled a confirmatory biopsy for a few days later, but they think it is CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia).

Those first few days were weird. I was freaked out, and I am sure she was freaked out. She managed to keep her cool though. I never saw her panic or outwardly worry. I remember going for a run and breaking down crying on the run. I went with her for the biopsy and I went with her for that first appointment with an Oncologist. Both seemed like out of body experiences at the time. Like you are watching a movie that you can't turn away from. This kind of thing doesn't happen to us, doesn't happen to me. This happens to other people.

The Oncologist gave us the confirmatory diagnosis but said something that instantly made us (at least me) feel better. "If you have to get cancer, this is the one to get". CML which was once a terminal disease had now become a treatable disease in the last few years. A pill a day, keeps the cancer at bay. We talked with the Oncologist about the treatment plan and starting the medication. I know Cyndi was worried, she had to be, but again... outwardly... to me... to the kids... she maintained this air of fearlessness. 

After a few minor squabbles with the insurance company we got approved for and were sent her medication. It is a drug called Sprycell. It retails for $15,000 a month. I work in pharma. I spent many years working for companies making similar drugs for similar costs. I live in a nice house, I drive nice cars, I have money in the bank. The irony that what has provided me such a comfortable life, is something that could drive us to bankruptcy was not lost on me. We made jokes about moving to Canada.

But right out of the gate the drug worked wonders. Her WBC (white blood cell count) which should normally be around 3 went from 300 (diagnosis) down to 3 in a couple of months. A blood test would no longer be able to identify any illness. She had some minor side effects from the meds, and I know the thought of being stuck on this pill for the rest of her life bothered her, but it seemed like it was going to work.

We went right back to normal life. She taught home school for our kids during our COVID year. She kept being a wife and a mom. We would go every two weeks and get labs, and I would plot out her lab values to track her progress. 

In April 2021 the family went on spring break. I rented an Airbnb in Orlando. I brought my parents with us too. All 8 of us in a house together enjoying the Florida sun and a little time together. She was healthy, and she was cute. 

The picture above is our last picture together healthy. In May, just a few weeks later everything changed.

It was the end of the school year, and you know that by the end of the school year the teachers are just toast, well it seemed to be the same for Cyndi. She was getting tired late in the afternoon. She would need a nap almost everyday. I distinctly remember thinking she was being lazy. A feeling that hurts my soul right now.

We thought it was just a side effect of medication or the CML. I wish so much that I had just taken her to the damned hospital for a check-in with her Oncologist. I would not have been able to stop the cancer, but I certainly could have made what happened next easier for her.

The tiredness just kept getting worse and then she started to get fevers. Low grade fever at night, that would pass in the morning. She would be good all day but by later afternoon, it was like all the wind was just sucked out of her sails. We thought it might be COVID, might be the flu. Its probably just the meds. One of the problems with our current drug marketing is that EVERYTHING is listed as a potential side effect. So much is listed that you can't identify the real problems, the forest for the trees kind of thing. But the fevers kept getting worse. One night I almost called 911, she was so hot I could feel the heat coming off her body in the bed. After that scare, the next morning we called the Oncologist and made an appointment for a biopsy.

It is May 20th, 2021. I took her in that morning for a biopsy. She felt awful. She was scared. At the hospital we convinced the staff to not send her home after the biopsy but to leave her in the Cancer Center so we could keep an eye on her. That night, I ran out to McDonalds to get her some chicken nuggets. The hospital and for that matter every hospital was in COVID protocol, which meant no one can stay the night. So as visiting hours ended, I went home. The next day, I got to the hospital and she was in good spirits. She was in a good mood. But something went haywire that night. Her body seemed to explode with cancer. Over the course of the next couple of days she would seem to get better and then turn around and get really sick. Her legs were swelling, she could no longer stand or get up out of bed. She had a good night one night, stayed up late talking with Ashley. The next night she was in so much pain we to start a continuous morphine pump. In the span of 24 hours everything had turned.

I was really emotional those first few days in the hospital. She appeared to be dying right there. The hospital was not giving me any information, they spent days running tests for her to see if she had Yellow Fever or other nonsense like that. It is the leukemia, we all know it is the leukemia. What are we doing about the damn leukemia? I recall one night where I sat on the floor next to her, sobbing my eyes out crying. She said to me "I needed to get help, that I can't try to do everything on my own". All I could do was say "I'm sorry". As a husband, as a father, as a man, when it comes down to it you only have one job, to protect your family. All you have to do is to protect the people that you love. I could not protect her, I failed her. You will say that I shouldn't feel this way, that its beyond the measure of my control. But what I think people miss is that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter the circumstance, it doesn't matter why, I still failed her. That will haunt me until I too take my last breath.

By May 25th the hospital had started letting me stay the night. I stayed out of sight, and I did not leave her room after visiting hours were over to avoid any unnecessary attention, something I would get very good at. Around midnight the attending physician called her room and the nurse told me to answer it. The hospital told me, she was beyond the scope of their care. She needed to be moved to a hospital that was specialized in treating her particular condition (they gave up on Yellow Fever as a cause). They asked if I wanted to wait till the morning to move her or if we should move her right now. I said right now. An hour later transport arrived to take her to the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati. She would spend more than 100 nights at this hospital over the next few months. The thought of that place makes me want to burn it to the ground.

We arrived at Jewish, it was the first time in the last week that someone clearly had a plan to address her illness. Her cancer had progressed rather suddenly, she was having a Blast Crisis. Her body was making white blood cells as fast as it could make them. The cancerous cells were killing her healthy bone marrow. She was swollen, full of fluid. She could no longer mover her arms or legs because of pain. They upped her pain medication and it essentially knocked her out. She would stay unconscious for the next few days as the prepared the treatment plan. She would start chemotherapy on Monday.

Next: Chemo 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Chapter 9: Back to KY


In April of 2016, we found ourselves getting kicked out of California. The cost of buying a home in Cali was still out of reach for us (we could not have put together a down payment even if we just robbed a bank), and our landlord was evicting us. Our two year lease was up and he had told us that he would not renew us, even though we had previously agreed that we would be in the house for four years.

We had two choices, to find a new place in Cali or to move to a place where we could afford a house. We could have moved anywhere but our home was back in Northern Kentucky. So home we would go.

As I mentioned in the California chapter, when we left for California we were in debt. Our family net worth was -$20,000. We had no savings, we had no equity, I was upside down on two car loans and a house. California was a risk, it could have ended very badly. It was very stressful on our marriage. Our families lost loved ones while we were thousands of miles away. But we were done here now, our little adventure was over. We had money in the bank, we were still a team, and we had grown in ways I would have never thought possible.

When we made the decision to leave I walked into work that next day and told them I was moving back to KY. They could let me be remote or I would resign. The choice was theirs. They tried to convince me I was throwing my career away by leaving California. Needless to say that was not a strong selling point for me (and of note later... the move did not hurt my career or my earning power.. at all).

So we have been evicted by our landlord. He wanted to sell our house and wanted us out of it to sell. In his defense, its awfully hard to sell a house with my family of six plus two dogs living in it. We had two weeks to find a home and move 2500 miles or we would be homeless. I put Cyndi on a plane with a price limit and told her to go find us a house. I had complete trust in her, I mean after all... look at her choice of spouse. 

She would FaceTime me as she walked through the houses, but to be honest I didn't care. She would not fail us. She did not. She found us a house in Burlington, KY. It was a new home, in the right county, close to the airport, in the right school district, and just slightly above the limit I had asked her to stay under. A theme my wife would repeat again in a few years. :)

The move was chaotic. I had written a great blog post about the move, that I think I may have accidentally deleted. That is a real shame. I will have to tell some of the story again for the book. But this Chapter and today is about Cyndi, so I will save that story for another time.

Getting back to KY is really when Cyndi came into her own. She hit "peak Cyndi" if you will. Maybe it is the 45 year old man in me, but look at that picture. She was gorgeous. The kids weren't babies anymore. We had a little more time for us again. She had more time for herself, for the first time in years. I was working remotely, but traveling fairly often. I know the weeks I was traveling were hard for her, but at least we had the weeks between trips where we were together all day. I don't know if I am looking back through rose colored glasses, but I don't think she got too sick of me. 

We got to do all of the things that we struggled with in California. She spent more time with her friends and family again. She got to spend some very important time with her Grandmother. We volunteered at the school and the YMCA. I struggle to think of singular events that took place between 2016 and 2019. It is like our life just suddenly became easy. It might have been even a little boring. But I am confident in saying that both of us would have gladly chosen boredom with each other than excitement without.

In late 2018 we decided that we needed to expand, we needed a bigger house. Having the twins in the same room was OK for now, but it was going to quickly start to become a problem. We shopped around, but builders don't build 5 bedroom houses. These mini-mansions we all see around us, still just 4 bedrooms. We looked at different neighborhoods, even discussed moving a little further away. However, we settled on a plot of land that was immediately 12 feet to the right. There was an open lot next to our current house. The builder had a plan for a 5 bedroom home that they could build on that lot, so again my wife made the call and we built a new house.

Moving next door has its advantages. The move was pretty easy. The kids didn't have to make new friends or start a new school. We didn't have to meet new neighbors, and I didn't need to hire a moving truck. We got to watch the house rise up out of the ground, like watching a baby grow.

This is Cyndi's house. She picked everything in it. The flooring, the paint, the furniture, the furnishings, everything was hand picked by her. It makes being in this house without her simultaneously joyous and painful. I see her influence everywhere I look. I see the good memories and the bad memories with equal clarity. Everyone tells me that with time, I will forget the bad ones. Maybe, maybe not.

It brought me great joy and tremendous pride to get this house for her. I always saw Cyndi as my personal version of Jackie O. She had grace and class that I don't have on my own, and it was nice to put her in a home that I thought matched that class. It turns out, we really needed the space too as we got into 2020 and COVID took over.

We took an anniversary trip to Mexico in January 2020, for our 15th. When we got back home from that trip COVID had its grip on the world. Its hard to find blessings in the midst of all this pain. But both that trip and the COVID year are clearly blessings. The trip to Mexico would prove to be the last time we took a trip, just the two of us. I wish we would have taken a moment or two to enjoy it just a little more. In February 2020 I took the last work trip that I have taken up to today. In March 2020 the kids would be sent home from school for home schooling. 

At the time this just seemed like a giant pain in the ass. But again, in hindsight. It was a blessing of time together. Cyndi became the teacher for the rest of 2020 and the entire next school year. That is four kids, in three different grades. Three of the kids had learning difficulties. But as Team Stary we overcame. She would handle the reading, the english, the literature, the art, the music, and I would handle the math and the science. Just like in the rest of life we even complimented each other as teachers. My weaknesses were her strengths, of paramount importance during this time included her patience. We would always tell the kids, we know this is hard. But we will get through it together. A sentence I find myself repeating to them all the time now.

Now... It wasn't all bad. After all... we don't like most people. :) 

We didn't mind a little space. We didn't mind a little distance from everyone, at least for a little while.

We decided to put in a pool that year. We had planned to do it before all of this COVID nonsense started. When we found a builder he told us there was a year wait. He told us he could get our pool done in August. He was the ONLY builder that would even return my phone calls. But COVID ran everyone off, by March that year he was calling me, begging me to get the process started so they could come put the pool in as soon as they get the all clear on the permits. I was terrified about the thought of dropping that kind of dough on a hole in the ground. Cyndi wanted that pool. She wanted that space. She was not having my cold feet. I caved.

The pool becomes this other blessing. We spent that whole summer in the pool. The six of us, together, in the back yard nearly every single day. It would turn out to be the last summer we had together with her healthy. Her cancer would become aggressive in May the next year, but more about that next Chapter.

During that summer we had both got in pretty good shape. She had lost weight. She was walking everyday, watching what she ate, and swimming around in the pool. She would get in the pool and do these silly little water aerobic dance moves. Just moving around in the water, but she would do it until that damn Apple Watch gave her credit for 30 minutes of exercise.

She had become the best version of herself. It was inspiring. She made me want to be the best version of myself. As a married couple and as a family, we had reached this place where life wasn't as hard anymore. We had money, we had our health, we had our dream house, hell I had even just bought her a dream car. I loved that I could provide her this life. It made me feel successful beyond any other measure. 

That joy was short lived... just two months after the picture above was taken we would find the cancer and our life would change again.

Next... Chapter 10: The one that will be hard to write.


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Chapter 8: California


It is late 2013. I rather unexpectedly get a job offer from a company in California. Their first offer is for me to be a contractor. They ask me to move out to Cali on my own dime, without benefits. I went back and asked for full employment, benefits and a relocation package. To my absolute utter shock they agreed. I guess I had better ask my wife.

To my surprise Cyndi was straight on board. I sat down to talk about it and she asked me if I wanted to do it. "Yes". She said "OK, let's do it". She almost immediately went into moving mode. She worked around the clock to sell stuff, to pack, to prepare. It was amazing. If she had said no, I would not have argued with her. She took the biggest risk by agreeing to this. It was a risk that led to tremendous gains for our family. My salary basically doubled as a result of the move. We went from being deep in debt to safety in a couple of years. The kids flourished. We grew as a family, but California was very hard on her. In this chapter, I want to try to describe how hard this was and how much our lives benefitted from her work.

If you are interested in can look at some blog posts from 2014, when I used to pay attention to this page. The are linked here...

We were not in Cali for more than two months, when Cyndi's stepmom, suddenly passed away. It was a terrible shock to the family and one that added an additional burden that she had to bear.

The first four months we were in corporate housing. This little 3 bedroom condo that was in walking distance to this little beach. We have tons of photos from the little beaches and parks around that condo, and while it was pretty it was cramped. In the four months we were there we completely destroyed that place. The twins tore the door of the fridge, the dogs tore the screen out of the doors, we had a terrible round of some terrible stomach bug tear through the family. I have never eaten Pizza Hut pizza since that terrible day, and I am 100% positive they had to pull every inch of carpet from that place when we moved out, that or they just burned it down.

We settled in a town that was 50 miles from my office. I worked for turd smokers that insisted I come into the office every day. In Northern California traffic that meant 14 hour days. I left each morning at 5AM and got home at 7PM. Cyndi did all of the work on her own. She did it with no safety network. She did it with no family. She did it with no friends. But she made friends. She built a safety network. She made our life livable for those two years, and she did it alone. I don't think I ever adequately thanked her for that sacrifice, but everything that we have and I mean EVERYTHING is a direct result of that effort. She saved us from a life of debt. She drove that struggle bus right off the damn cliff.

Now Cali wasn't all bad. There were some good times. It was great being able to drive to the beach and something we did dozens of times. Although those drives were not without their own struggles.  Linked here below is a post I wrote in 2015 about driving to the beach. I was published by a Men's magazine, the only thing I have ever written that actually got read.

Linked here:

We were really good about having date nights in California. We hired babysitters off and we went out. Two such stories are worth telling here. First, again, this some how all comes back to Applebee's. Our little town only had two sit down casual restaurants that you could get into without a wait, Applebee's and Red Robin. Both of which were right next to a movie theater and that was date night. We went to Applebee's so much that Cyndi's phone though she worked there. Every time we got in the car it would tell her she is 15 minutes from Applebee's. The second little tale was the night we told the babysitter to lock the twins in their room. As you could imagine, two and three year old twins are tornados of destruction. And after we would put them to bed, they would just get up and be crazy little people. So to deal with this we turned the knob around backwards and just locked them in the room. I swear, I wish I had taken a picture of this girls face when we told her the twins were locked in their room. I am willing to bet she strongly considered calling the police. I am also certain she never watched the kids for us again.

I may comeback and update this Chapter some more or break it into two.  So many good stories from California.

Next Chapter: Back to KY.

Chapter 7: The Twins


It is 2010, Cyndi and I have decided to try one more time for a girl. Like the first two times we are good at getting pregnant. I know many couples struggle with pregnancy, but her and I had no issues. I am pretty sure as soon as she told the Universe she was ready, boom... preggers.

The pregnancy was fairly normal at the start, except she got really big, really fast. We had our early appointments at the Ob/Gyn and everything seemed normal.  One heartbeat, thumping away. She often joked that twins ran in the family, but we were assured... just one baby. She would say, I can feel movement at the top of my belly and at the bottom of my belly and that is either two babies or one really big baby. For some reason they didn't do an ultrasound until 20 weeks. I don't recall if that is normal or not, I just remember that is what they did. The ultrasound had to be one of the weirdest moments of our lives. 

We came to the office for the ultrasound. The ultrasound tech was a middle aged lady, probably around my age now. She was a really bubbly person, and was saying bubbly things like "let's go take a look at baby!". She slapped that goo on Cyndi's belly and started to move that wand around. Now, I am not an ultrasound technician, but I know when I see a two-headed monster. Baby A and Baby B. The tech paused, put the wand down and opened Cyndi's chart. She looked at us with complete abject terror in her eyes. Cyndi and I started to laugh, hysterically. I am sure it was 50% funny and 50% fear, but we both knew right away. It was twins.

The technician's demeanor changed. As we laughed she said something of the effect that this was not a laughing matter, that the pregnancy had just become very risky. We continued to laugh. What were we supposed to do? Cry? Sure, we were a little freaked out, but like everything else we would be freaked out together.  Our little family was going to get a little bit bigger a little bit faster.

We went out that day and bought a minivan. We ordered a second crib. We started to think about matching names. 

Now, much like Beckham, these boogers enjoyed the womb. Cyndi carried two babies to 38 weeks and those babies only came out because the Ob decided to go in and get them. The pregnancy was really hard on Cyndi. It seemed to take more out of her than the others. I am sure growing two babies is a daunting task for any body to take on.

The caesarean was scheduled for April fools day, sharing a birthday with my Mother. This time the surgery went smoother, at least during the procedure. After, was a different story all together. Cyndi lost a lot of blood in the birth of the twins, you can see in the picture above how exhausted she was. I remember after the delivery they pushed on her stomach. It was beyond any shadow of a doubt the worse noise I had ever heard up until the last few weeks. That scream hurt my soul. She was in so much pain. She was unconscious for nearly two full days after the birth.  She would wake up, chat for a minute and then pass right back out. I remember remarking at how no one from the hospital asked if I knew what I was doing with babies. I guess I am lucky that I did, cause the staff didn't do a damn thing. That third day in the hospital, her doc said you might need some blood. And like a magic wand, she came back. 

The next day we went home. We were a full team of 6. 

Twins are unique creatures, they were really good babies. The seem to take care of each other, or at least to calm each other which makes for good babies. Now two year old twins were a different story and I will tell you all about that in the California chapter.

Next: California...

Chapter 6: The Middle Kid


Carson was very much a planned pregnancy. I can clearly remember the conversation about starting a family. Like most of the very serious things I needed to say to my wife, it came up after two or three beers.

Beckham on the other hand was a gift.

The funniest part of Beckham's story has to be the way she told me. As you can imagine, as first time parents we were stressed out of our minds. We were tired, we never got any sleep. Carson had a lot of tummy issues as a baby and he would sleep in bursts. Cyndi and I had to sleep in 4 hour shifts overnight because he was up all night long. Cyndi was still working after Carson, full time, and I swear this two year period aged us 10 years.

Anyway... I got home from work one day and Cyndi had just come in. We were in still in our Hebron house. I remember we had this little 4 person dinner table. Cyndi set Carson in his car seat up on the table and handed me an envelope. I looked at her perplexed. I proceeded to open the envelop and there was a greeting card with a cartoon of a sperm on it.  All the card said was "You did it!". I, confused, looked at her as if to say what is this. Then I noticed she had Carson in a onesie that read "Big Brother". At that moment I was truly, totally shocked. I bet I stood there for a good 10 minutes with my mouth open just unable to process anything I was being told. Oh my god, we are going to have another one. Mind you, Carson is only 4 months old.

As the shock and terror of having another child dawned on me, I am sure I stood there a few too many minutes and I probably freaked her out, with my mini-freak out, but... it was going to be OK.

Beckham's pregnancy was not all peaches and cream. Since Cyndi gave birth prematurely the first time, they monitored her very closely the second time.  She had preeclampsia nearly the whole pregnancy, so we (again) were worried the whole time. Every time we would go to get her blood pressure checked it was off the charts high and they would freak out. Every damn time.

But Beckham must have liked his cozy little over because he did not want to come out on his own. Even with the high blood pressure, they didn't want to induce labor. We just watched and waited. 38 weeks, 39 weeks, 40 weeks... nothing. Finally, after being at the hospital one day and her 40+ week pregnancy caused her BP to shoot up, they said those magic words every parent wants to here "Let's have a baby".

They sent us to the hospital to try to induce, but that little turd would not come out on his own. Again, it seemed we were destined to sit and wait but at shift change the obstetrician came into the room and said "we are going to go get this baby right now". A Caesarean would be had.

I don't remember much from this point, except sitting in the "dad' room that was just off of the operating room for what felt like hours. I had never done this, I didn't know what to expect. I assumed it was normal to get me all dressed up like a MASH doc and then leave me in the "dad" room for two hours. Turns out, that they gave Cyndi her spinal block to high on her back. This turned off the "perception" of her breathing. In other words, she could not feel herself breath.

There are many instances where the bad-assery of my wife was on display, but none so great as this moment. They brought me in and told me what was going on. The reassured me that she was fine, she just can't feel herself breathe. I leaned in to chat with her. She lie there crying on the table, but calm. The anesthesiologist came up  to me after and said normally if something like that happens they have to put the patient all the way under because the freak out. As Cyndi said, it felt like she had an elephant sitting on her chest. But my wife stayed calm. They were able to deliver a happy and healthy baby Beckham. 

This time that baby was fully cooked and in a couple of days we got to go home. We were now a party of 4. Our little family was growing and we could not have been prouder.

Next: The Twins!!!

Chapter 5: The First Born


It is 2006. Cyndi is pregnant with Carson. She is radiant when she is pregnant. I know the Pre-Eric version of Cyndi, may have not thought about herself as a mother. She thought she would be a designer somewhere, but she was born to be a mother. She somehow managed to get prettier when she was pregnant. I will admit, she was a little feisty sometimes, but hey what woman doesn't get a little feisty when they are lugging around a bowling ball in their body.

With Carson, she had a pretty good pregnancy. She didn't have many issues, which wasn't the same for the next two times. 

It is now early 2007. We are on our way to a couple's shower in our honor. We decided to grab a bite to eat at Applebee's. It is funny... I always though of Applebee's as sort of beneath our station, but that place such a weird role in our lives. More on that to come.

As we ate dinner, Cyndi kept saying her back hurt. She would be fine for a minute and then wince in pain for minute. Almost like a rhythmic pattern of muscular contraction was forming. As we started to work on her desert, a chocolate lava cake, the pain started to get really bad. I asked her what she wanted to do. Of course, as first time parents we didn't know what to expect. But the pain in her face just would not go away. We will go to the hospital.

We texted the gang at the couple's shower. You can imagine them laughing at us, oh those kids... she isn't in labor. They don't know what labor is.

We arrived at St. E, in the early evening on Feb 3. Carson was just 32 weeks baked, not quite done yet. They hooked Cyndi up to the monitors and the contraptions and the doo-hickeys. We sat there in that hospital for hours. Every few minutes she would wince in pain. The pain was coming from her back, this isn't labor honey.

Thankfully, they didn't try to send us home. They kept her in a room and kept a watch on her. The pain did not stop. It kept coming. Nothing showed on the contraction monitor. You are not in labor honey, its just cramps.

In the wee hours of Feb 4th there was a shift change. A new nurse took over. She was older than us, I would guess in her mid to late 30s. She was a mother and an experienced birthing nurse. But nothing showed on the monitor. So must not be labor, its just back pain. The attending would come in to see us, look at the monitor and say stupid stuff like "hang in there".  But don't worry, you aren't in labor.

Finally, in the early morning hours, after being awake and in the hospital for nearly half a day. The nurse slapped on a glove and checked my wife's cervix. Oh honey... you are 5 cm dilated and this baby is coming. In 30 seconds the tenor of the room changed from stupid couple who don't know what they are doing, to woman giving birth to a premature baby. People came running in and out of the room, they brought carts and supplies and were preparing to rush a baby to the NICU. All of the sudden it was organized chaos. The obstetrician was called in, and we were going to have a baby.

Now, at the time, I had never seen a birth. I had never seen a woman go through delivering a child. And, I was never more proud of Cyndi than in those moments. She stayed completely calm. Maybe my memory is fuzzy from time, but I don't ever remember her saying "I can't do it" or "I hate you", I just remember a her pushing. I was so amped the staff kept asking me if I was alright. Carson was born on Feb 4, 2007. Superbowl Sunday. At 45 I can now unequivocally tell you the best and worst days of my life. This day was the best.

As I mentioned Carson was not fully baked. He was premature and spent 11 days in the NICU. Those were some rough days. You are so scared for your baby. He has tubes hanging out of him and this thing they put on their baby arms to hold the IV. As I look back, we were very lucky. Carson was really healthy and just needed a few days to develop in a managed environment. Some of the other babies in the NICU were messed up. I have pictures of Cyndi, holding and feeding Carson in the NICU. I swell with pride as I look at them. What a warrior she was. Not just giving birth, but then turning around and spending 11 days with him in the NICU and the last several of which we had to go home at night and leaving the hospital without your baby is rough. I distinctly remember breaking down on a run back to the house from the hospital to get Cyndi some supplies.

He is as big as me now. I am sure he weighs a little more than I do. He is sweet, and kind, and wicked smart. His mother is so proud of him.

Next Chapter: The middle kid...

Chapter 4: Married


Why yes... I do have earrings in that picture. Two on the left and one on the right. If I were any cooler, my stuff would freeze. 

It is 2004. We are engaged and planning our wedding. And I use the term "we" loosely. If you know my wife, you know she was the epitome of style. And my girl could have planned the invasion of Normandy. She planned the wedding from top to bottom. The dress, the flowers, the reception, the church. I still consider myself lucky that she told me when to show up and what to wear.

The thing I remember the most about getting married was finding a church. We were not churchgoers nor where we very religious. Cyndi and I shared a belief that we don't know what awaits us in the great beyond and not knowing was OK with us. Something that has been present on my mind a lot over the last few days and weeks.

But no one would marry us. Every church we contacted said no. I wanted her to get married in a church. She deserved that, and her family deserved that. Her grandmother deserved to give her away in a church. We finally found a church that was willing to marry us, but before the would commit they wanted to interview us. I guess in some way to find out if we were marriage material, as if they would call it off if we failed their tests. I clearly remember the pastor asking us why we wanted to get married. I admit I was a bit offended by the question and I probably gave some jerk response. Hindsight would have me answer that question differently.

"I want to get married because this woman is my person. She is bound to me and I am bound to her. We want to make a family and to make a life that would be worthy of any church. I will love her with my whole heart for as long as I am."

I don't know that pastor's name. But I would like him to know that the couple he married, that cold January day, was married for 17 years. They made beautiful babies together, and they made each other very happy.

Back to the story... Once we finally nailed down the church, all that was left was to get married. I will save the story of the bachelor party for another time, but ask me... It is pretty good. And don't worry no one was harmed or irreparably damaged.

We got married on January 29, 2005. A date that I would forget every year. One year we were talking about going out to dinner for our anniversary and I was sure it was Jan 25. Again... I am so lucky she could see past my flaws. As you would expect, it was cold that day. It snowed that day, not a lot but enough for us all to notice. I was sitting outside before the ceremony with one of my groomsmen and we remarked on how cool it was to watch the snow fall on our ceremony.

I was really nervous about the service. I remember being terrified I would say the wrong name. You may recall that famous Friends episode where Ross says the wrong name at his wedding. I had gotten that into my head and like a bad dream, I couldn't quite shake it. I was back behind the wedding arch, in the pastor's office with my best man. He kept pointing out how nervous I was. I just wanted everything to go right for her.

When the ceremony started, I got all choked up. Knowing how much of a "softy" I have become I should have seen that coming, but I didn't. It was almost like an out of body experience. The pastor could have said anything, and I would have repeated it word for word. "Eric do you take this woman, to beat you about the head and neck from this day forward?". "I do". I don't remember what, but I do remember the pastor screwed something up. I remember it diffusing the tension. And just like that... "You may kiss the bride!".

The reception was small. Several people didn't come because the weather wasn't perfect. I still remember the people who didn't come. And no... I have not forgiven them. We entered the reception to Blur, "Song 2".  "Woo Hoo"!!!

Like I said the reception was small, but I remember having so much fun. Both my grandmas out on the dance floor dancing to "Hey-Ya". I told the DJ not to play country, and 5 minutes in he plays Cotton-Eyed Joe. 

Her stepmom and dad asking us if we were going to start a family right away. I thought "let's let them put the buffet away before we start making babies". They surprised us at the reception by paying the rest of the bill. Such a nice gesture, one I never forgot.

We didn't eat, we were too busy walking around shaking hands and collecting hugs. Cyndi had made chocolate dipped fortune cookies and put them on all the tables. At the end of the night it was the only food left. She and I walked around gobbling up these cookies. It was a tradition she often repeated on our anniversaries. Chocolate dipped fortune cookies for the win.

Mr. and Mrs. Stary would spend the next 17 years together. That pastor should be proud, he married a winner.

Next Chapter... Making babies... well... having, I will keep making to myself.

Chapter 3: The One.


We dated for several years before getting married. Those early years were great. I fondly remember sleeping in at her apartment. I had a place the first year, but once we really became an item, I quite literally only went home to change clothes and come back to her place. Her bedroom had one window and it faced the woods. My girl loved to sleep, and she had these curtains that blocked out every bit of light. At 45 years old, I can't recall a more calm peaceful feeling that sleeping in that bed till late in the afternoon.

I have a terrible memory for day to day stuff, it was always Cyndi's job to remember the little stuff and one that she did so well. But I do remember the big things, and that is what I want to share here.

The First Time I Said "I Love You".

We had probably been dating for a few weeks. I don't recall why but I was out with friends and she was out with her friends. It was probably the last weekend that we didn't spend together for 20 years. I had a few too many cocktails and instead of taking me home, I asked our least intoxicated driver to drop me off at her apartment. I specifically remember she wasn't home. I knew she wasn't home but I had them drop me off there anyway. I remember being a little too tipsy to stand, so I just sat down in the hallway by her door and waited for her. She arrived sometime later (could have been 5 minutes or 5 hours again), but she too had a few cocktails. She reached down to help me up and I distinctly remember just blurting out "I Love You". She said "I Love You Too". As a bit of an aside, is there any greater set of four words in all of language than "I Love You Too".

At Cyndi's service, one of her friends and one of the people she was out with that night, told me that she said she was going to get me. That she was going to marry me and have my babies. Now I don't know if this happened the same night, but for the purpose of this Lifetime movie I will just say it did. Them saying that to me was beyond a doubt the greatest honor of my life. Just to know that in a moment without me, she thought the same way about me that I thought of her.

Over the next couple of years we went to a lot of weddings together. I love weddings. I love "love", and there is just something about a wedding that is so hopeful, so optimistic. I am sure that going to all those weddings with her just made me every little bit more smitten than I would have otherwise been. I would sell my soul to have one of those nights back, to do over. Just to savor those moments when it was just the two of us. In love, no responsibility, no cares, nothing standing in our way.


We had been together for 3 years by the time I proposed. We already owned a house and a dog, so we were in a sense already married. I don't know why I dragged my feet before I put a ring on it, but I did. We were planning our life together, so it was going to be a bit anticlimactic but it was still the next thing to do. I reached out to one of Cyndi's closest friends and got some intel on what kind of ring to buy. I am 28 at this point and making less than $30K a year. I shopped for the ring on-line, and today that seems like a normal thing, I don't think in 2004 it was as common a thing. I was lucky I didn't get scammed.

I got the ring, a princess cut, 0.7 carat diamond. It was delivered to the house, the one we already owned together. I remember getting the ring and being so excited to give it to her. I had literally had no idea what to do or how to do it, I just wanted to give her the ring because I thought it would make her happy. After all... it was kind of a forgone conclusion by this point.

Did I put a trail of rose petals down that lead to the bedroom, where I waited in a suit on one knee? Nope. I got home before her. I took the ring out of the box and examined it. I waited like a kid who got up early on Christmas morning for her to get home from work. She walked in, and I had the biggest grin on my face, ear to ear. I pulled the ring out and in my most romantic voice I said "so... do you wanna?".

That is what I said. Again... I am so lucky she could see past the flaws. "Well...".


I was relieved to have it over. I was so nervous. Not that she would say no, but that I would somehow mess it up.  And clearly... I delivered with the "do you wanna?".  I was so happy that she was happy. We were engaged... now to get married.

Next Chapter... Getting Hitched...

Chapter 2: Our First Date


So... Dating...

I was in grad school at NKU when we started dating. Pre-Cyndi Eric was notoriously late. I was late to everything. I once missed a Chemistry exam because I was so late getting to school. This first date was no different. I don't remember why but I was running behind, you can be sure it wasn't causing I was fixing my hair or ironing my clothes. But I was late none-the-less. I showed up to get her 30 minutes later than planned, she often told me how she was just about ready to write me off. As an aside, Cyndi was never late. I am also never late anymore, she managed to fix that.

I had one move on dates, I took all my first dates to Behle Street Cafe down in Covington. It was nicer than Applebee's, not as expensive as Ruby's and if the date sucked, at least I knew the food was good. I thought this place added a cool factor to me, that I didn't have on my own. I picked her up in my Explorer. I want you to close your eyes and imagine the grossest car you can imagine, and now imagine going to pick up the future love of your life knowing the car smells like someone took a dump in the glove box. Side note... I once lost an Arby's Beef-n-Cheddar in the car, how does one "lose" a sandwich in a car. You can imagine what that smelled like in a few days.

So... I have my future bride in my stank-mobile and we are headed to my idea of a bougie place where I plan to impress her enough to let me make out with her. If you remember Covington Landing it had this underground parking garage, with the large concrete pillars between the spots. I don't know why but I tried to back into the parking spot. I am a terrible driver. I scratched the side of the Explorer right down the side of the concrete. I put a 4 foot scratch down the passenger side of the car. Obviously, my date is impressed.

Just think at how the deck is stacked against me at this point. I was late, my car smells like rancid beef, and I just raked my car across a concrete pillar. Somehow, by the grace of God, she continued on the date. I don't remember what she was wearing but I remember what she ordered.  Chicken tenders and a Killian's. The moment she ordered that beer, I was in love. I ordered capellini marinara and a New Castle. 

The date went easy, you know what I mean? The conversation was easy, I didn't feel like I had to impress her and I am damn sure you didn't need to try to impress me. I don't think I ate half of my food, and this coming from a Board Member of the Clean Plate Club (25 year old Eric does not miss meals). We spent most of the date turned toward each other, not facing the table but facing each other. Our server, knew it was our first date and she kept teasing me.

About halfway through that second New Castle, I asked her if I could kiss her. I always used to ask. Better to ask than to lean in and have the other person lean back... remember paralyzing fear of rejection. She agreed and I leaned in for a solid PG rated moment. Right as we were headed to PG-13, the server comes over to the table and leans in to say "hey did I just ruin your first kiss".  We all laugh, and we went right back at it. 

We finished the date and I took her home. We kept it Hallmark appropriate on that first date, but I knew in that moment.  I was, as I often joked with her, trying to "date-around". I was trying (very unsuccessfully) to date multiple women.  But it very quickly just became Cyndi. All of those other women went on to find far better husbands for them than I could have been. The Universe has a way of taking care of those people that deserve to be taken care of. 

Next... Chapter 3. More dating... 

Cyndi and Eric, Prologue and Chapter 1

 Hey Cyndi,

Its been 19 days since I lost you and today just so happens to be our anniversary. 17 years of wedded bliss. We didn't have a perfect marriage, but it was really close. You were my best friend. You were my partner. We did amazing things together. We raised kids, we moved across the country twice, we bought 4 houses together, we raised and buried two dogs, and we fought cancer. We did it all together. I can't remember more than a handful of arguments, and I mean times you were really mad at me. Of course, I attribute this to how our personalities just meshed. We were both people, who wanted to be where we were and that always helped us get over those arguments faster. Given a night out or a night on the couch sitting next to you, I would always chose the latter. I think that is what I am having the hardest time with right now. I miss our time together. Just being in the same space, breathing the same oxygen. I miss your counsel, I miss your guidance, I miss your face. 

Over the course of the next coupe of days, or as long as it takes, I am going to write that Lifetime Movie that we talked about. You know I hate sad stories, so I will only watch it through one time. I want to try to tell our story. I will try to be funny (I know you liked it when I was funny), you obviously didn't go out with me due to my genetic prowess. I will try to articulate what you meant to me, to us, and to so many others. It has taken losing you for all of us to to say what we always thought. You were the glue that held many lives together. I promise that I will do everything I can to honor your memory and live a life that would make you proud. I will raise young men that go on to make babies and pass your legacy down for generations.


Chapter 1: How we met...

I always thought of myself as some kind of ladies man. In hindsight, and through the lens of time, I can see I was about as much a ladies man as Steve Urkle. I had two long-term relationships before I met Cyndi. I dated my high school girlfriend for 3 years, and let's call her my college girlfriend for 3 years. I thought I would marry both of them. Thankfully for all of us, those women had the balls to dump my ass when the time was right. I am especially thankful to my college girlfriend. She knew that she and I wanted different things out of life. I will always be grateful that she had the courage to end our relationship. It let the two of us go out and live our lives.

After she dumped me like a hot plate of Rafferty's croissants, I went a little lady crazy. I told myself I was going to "date-around". So I did, I went on dates. Some dates were good and some dates were bad. Some dates had nice conversation and some dates were awkward stares into space while both of us thought about how we can get out of this. One such awkward date was on the Sunday before Memorial Day in the summer of 2001.

I had recently moved into an apartment with a friend. It was the first time I had ever lived away from home with another dude. He was clean, organized, and ripped. I was disheveled, messy, gross, and not ripped. He kept the apartment immaculate, while my bedroom was literally a pile of dirty clothes sitting under a pile of clean clothes. On this particular night he offered to take me out. He had a date, and her friend offered to come along. Nothing like a charity date to flex my self-esteem. I don't remember much of her, only that when we were alone she would stare at me and not say anything. I assume she was silently chastising herself for not driving, and thus not being able to escape this awkwardness. This was before Uber. 

Now, on this night we went to a particular night club. The place was called "Annie's". It was some kind of dive metal bar, but on Sunday nights... it was Disco Night. The mullets and Skid Row t-shirts were replaced with backward ballcaps and Eddie Bauer polo shirts. The place was really busy and the line was really long. In front of us, in that line were two really attractive you women. A beautiful redhead and a this fine ass dark haired chick in leather pants. I don't remember how it started, but the 4 of us and the 2 of them struck up a conversation and we chatted each other up the entire wait. I don't know if it was 5 minutes or 5 hours, but it was long enough for me to know. That girl would be mine. Oh yes... she will be mine.

Some of you may have heard me say this before, but if I could have drawn my ideal woman (physically), I would have drawn 22 year old Cyndi. She had a beautiful face, spectacular hair, and curves for days. She knew she looked good in those pants too. Confidence is the sexiest thing in the Universe. The thought of it still makes me melt like cold butter on a hot biscuit.

Now, this could have been the end of the story. After all, I was in the middle of an awkward date, that I had to finish. I didn't get Cyndi's number, and I didn't know how to find her. I didn't have a glass slipper, and did not possess the courage to just ask her how to get in touch again. But, in this case the Universe saw fit to give me a second chance. A couple of days later I went out to a bar after work with some work friends. I didn't do this very often, but on this particular night I went out. One of the young ladies we worked with was already there at the bar and she brought her friend. And guess who that friend was... my dark haired smoke show.

They were playing pool and I was such a ladies man, that I wouldn't go talk to her. Something about paralyzing fear of rejection.  So, I just sat there at the other side of the bar creepy staring at her. I kept asking my coworker to go talk to her for me, and she kept telling me to do it myself. After a couple doses of liquid courage I managed to say hello. I don't remember how but I managed to get her phone number, or someone got it for me. Kids, this was back when you had to get a phone number.

So... where are we. I have now bumped into this Renaissance painting twice in the same week. I had her phone number and I knew her name. Keep in mind, I still thought I was going to "date-around", and that this was going to be a fun little fling. Little did I know, I was making the best decision of my life. I was about to ask my future out on a date.

Up next... Chapter 2: Dating.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Jan 22, 2022

 Hey Cyndi,

Good Lord I miss you. Today is Saturday. We went out to Dave and Busters last night to let the kids let out some steam. I think they had a lot of fun. I will freely admit, I cried a lot. I was sitting there in the booth while the kids were running around burning money just sobbing like a 12 year old after getting dumped. I managed to pull it together and ran around and played games with the kids. It was cute watching the boys all play air hockey together. It would have made you smile.

This morning has been terrible. I just keep falling apart. I got up at 4 AM, I had a stuffy nose from crying in my sleep. Today and this past Monday have been the worst and they were the days I had no plans. When I sit here alone is when I really lose it. I look at your picture and I cry. I open Facebook and I cry. I got some lunch and I cried. I don't know how long this is going to last but it does not appear to be easing anytime soon. I know you would not want to see me like this and I tell myself that, but it doesn't really matter.

I am still not quite sure how the kids are doing. I think the twins are doing OK, you were in the hospital so much toward the end, I think it helped them. Carson keeps everything so close. I got home the other day from dropping him off at school and saw he had filled out our calendar and puts hearts on the day you passed and the day of your service. I burst into tears. I can't imagine the pain they must feel right now and I don't really know how to get it out of them. Becks wears his heart on his sleeve and I can see his pain. It is easier for me to manage but it is awful all the same.

I am going to go back to work on Monday. I am not sure how I will do. The house will be empty, just me and your picture. I suspect I will spend most of the day talking to you.  Feel free to shoot some advice my way. I wish I worked at a job lugging rocks or something. It would be easier if I had something physical to do. 

I hope the sun is shining wherever you are. Its cold here, I am glad that you are not cold any more. I will write more next week. 

I love you. I miss you.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Jan 17, 2022

 Hey Cyndi.

It has been a week since I lost you. I don't know what to think or what to feel. I would do just about anything to drive to the hospital and sit by your side, to hear you say you love me. I hope its OK if I write and text you. I just want to talk to you so bad. 

We had your service yesterday. I hope it made you proud. I did what I thought you would want, you said to throw a party but I couldn't quite handle that. I promise we will do that later when I am not so sad. So many people came out to see you and to honor you. I am so thankful they could hug and cry with me. I chatted people with every slice of your life from school, to Homegoods, to Cengage, Babyzone, Twins Club, California, and Hunter's Ridge. You had an amazing affect on people. People love you.

The kids were great. They were so brave. They will help their old man get through this. I promise you, they will live a life that will make you proud. I hope they each have four kids and I see your face in their faces. I will try to parent with your voice. You were so good at it. You could move the kids to do anything with just a look or a word. I don't think I am going to have that power, but I will do my best.

I promise we will tell your stories, we will stop thinking about this last year when you were so sick and we will tell the stories of happier times. You were so beautiful. If I could have sculpted a spouse, I would have sculpted you. You were so kind, I will remember your voice the next time I am complaining about something and you would have told me to shut it.

I miss those Cyndi hugs from before you got sick, the real hugs that came from your toes. Looking through old pics have helped me remember how good I had it.  I was so lucky that you chose me to be your person. I promise I will make you proud.

I love you. I miss you.