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.