Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For Steve

October 3, 2013 the national news was broadcasting day three of the government shutdown. For the Arundel community the news we awoke to, our old friend Steve Casto had died the night before in Los Banos, California. Newscasters were questioning why the World War II memorial was closed to visiting veterans. The questions that swirled through my mind and many of our friends were the how, the where and the why? It was several days before I was able to process what happened, let it sink in, accept his death and be able to write about the boy I knew, the man he became, the person I loved so dearly growing up.

Steve was a fierce competitor in athletics but inside was a gentle soul. His smile and good looks melted many hearts, but it was his character, who he was on the inside, that we all fell in love with. Steve wore many ‘hats’ in high school. He was an artist, an athlete, a flirt, a teammate, classmate, mischief maker and brother but to me he was simply my friend.

I know many who are reading this will have different memories of Steve, these are mine and I hope you will share yours in return. Steve would love the memories, smiles, laughter and conversation.

I first met Steve in Girl Scouts. Yes, crazy but true. I was in 7th grade, Steve was in 8th.   Our Cadet Girl Scout leader was Mrs. Cislo, her son Jeff was a good friend of Steve’s. The two on occasion would crash a few meetings. Much to my father’s dismay, Steve and Jeff even accompanied our troop on a few camping trips.  They amused themselves by scaring us through various tactics while we slept in our tents. My Dad. as a chaperon, spent most of the night chasing them while trying to keep calm and order at the campsite. After finally cornering them, he threatened to send them to Leavenworth if they didn’t go to bed and let him sleep.  

What I remember most about Girl Scouts and Steve. The ‘ruckus’ they would cause hanging outside, waiting for the girls to exit. I was never one of the cute girls Steve and Jeff hoped to talk to as they left Girl Scouts, they barely noticed me.

It wasn’t until late summer 1975 that Steve and I became friends. It of course happened after a Girl Scout meeting. My sister (who they both had a crush on) left with a friend. Steve noticed I was heading home alone. Even though I did not live that far away he was not letting me walk by myself. He rode his bike in big circles around me, back and forth, the entire way from the church to my house. Instead of taking off after I was home safe, he stayed. We sat on the sidewalk, eating ice cream and talked until well after the moon rose. With the stars as our witness, Steve appointed himself my protector that night.

My family lived on Rita Drive, the same street the Cislo’s resided. On his way to see Jeff Steve would often stop by to say hello, see what I was doing. We were definitely an odd couple. I was a scrawny teenage girl, with long hair and glasses. Steve was a well-built heartthrob, great athlete and artist. Somehow this ugly duckling formed a bond, a beautiful friendship with the handsome Prince Charming.

His hugs! I loved them. I remember them so well. They were far from the standard embrace, nothing romantic about them. Steve would stand beside me, wrap his arm around my neck, pull me in close, squeeze and give me a nuggy on the top of my head. Many times his singular goal for the afternoon was to somehow make me scream and/or run. If I did both it was a bonus day. He had succeeded. 

I have so many wonderful memories of Steve floating through my mind right now.  I remember the bounce in his step as he carried me home piggyback style from school. I had tripped wearing platform shoes and turned my ankle. I was sitting on the sidewalk, removing my shoes when he came to my rescue.

I remember the first 'Casto artwork' he ever drew me. He stole my Government book as I walked by him on the way to class. I yelled at him to bring it back. He held it up high and said later as he quickly walked away.  He returned it three periods later. On the book cover, a hand drawn bouquet of flowers with the words, ‘Good Luck’ arching around them.  (I was trying out for Poms that afternoon)

So many vivid memories from Steve’s wrestling days; the trash bag suits he and all the guys wore to lose water weight.  The meets, I remember how he looked standing in the circle ready for the whistle, bouncing back and forth, shaking his arms loose. His exhausted but happy look as his hand was being raised in victory. How he would almost collapse on the sideline after a long hard match. His protective head gear dropped at his feet, half sitting up, half slouched in the folding chair, as he squirted water in his mouth from the bottle. I remember how he and his teammates would sometimes get on all fours, lean in close to the mat cheering on a teammate as they wrestled.

Steve had a mischievous side. After congratulating him on an Arundel football win, I made the mistake of teasing him. I held my nose as I told him he stunk. He laughed, said “really” then proceeded to give me the biggest, longest hug. I probably looked like a rag doll as he spun me around in his tight embrace. Like a big bear he shook me a few times, rubbing his jersey against my uniform, before finally putting me back on the ground. I can still see his grin as he laughed and walked toward the locker room.

There was the time when school let out early due to snow. I hid behind a car in the high school parking lot and waited patiently for him to exit, commence my surprise attack. After I hit him with two rapid fire snowballs, I ran. I made it to the edge of the baseball field before he pinned me and jammed snow down my coat.  After I called Uncle three times and promised never to bean him again he let me up. I broke that promise the next snowfall with the exact same result.

In tenth grade when the guy I had a crush sent me a note breaking my heart, Steve made me smile. On my way to lunch as he passed me in the hall he handed me a folded piece of paper. Inside were only three words, “He’s a turd!”  His note made me laugh and reminded me I had a friend who cared. 

Steve knew how much I hated being called Debbie’s little sister and at times he had fun teasing me with the fact.  If I was sitting outside on the steps when he ran by he would turn, run sideways and ask, “You’re Debbie’s little sister right? Is she home?” 
My playful answer, “Yeah, Yeah, Keep moving!”

The one memory/story that best illustrates the relationship Steve and I shared happened right after my 14th birthday. July 1977.    

It was one of those hazy, hot and humid summer afternoons. My sister was at her boyfriend's, I was home laying out in the backyard. I was half asleep listening to the radio when I was startled by a sudden spray of water. I quickly tied the back of my bikini top, grabbed my glasses, looked up and saw Steve. His face had a huge smile on it as he continued to drench me. With not much success I tried to take the hose away. He locked his arm around my waist and held me tight as he held the nozzle over my head, soaking both of us in the process. 

As we were drying off Steve confessed he came over because Jeff wasn't home and he was bored. He asked if I wanted get a Slurpee. Well actually he said I had two options, walk with him or continue to get drenched. Naturally I said let's go walking.  I threw on a pair of shorts and off we went.

After leaving 7-11 instead of heading home we decided to take the paths through the woods and head to the Little Patuxent.  We hung out on the small bank in the middle of the river. I laid out on my stomach, while Steve reclined on his back. We soaked in the rays and talked, every once in a while Steve would walk in the water and splash, trying to convince me to join him. He finally got me to move when he placed a frog on my back. I screamed, jumped up and ran into the water so quickly I knocked Steve on his butt.

We headed home when the sun started to drop below the tree line. The two of us laughed and playfully bumped each other as we headed home. We were about a half a mile from the river when a snake dropped out a tree and landed in front of us blocking our passageway. I was so afraid nothing came out as I tried to scream. Instinctively I hid behind Steve. I stood with my head buried in his back, begging him to make the snake go away.

At first he laughed, asked me what I was afraid of. He went on to say there were hundreds of snakes in the woods and we had probably walked by dozens on the way there without even knowing. I told him it didn’t matter how many hundreds of snakes were in the woods, I couldn’t see them. This one I could. Further explaining, in my mind when the snake dropped from the tree it was attacking. A few minutes later, probably tired or our banter, the snake slithered off the walkway and curled up in the woody brush.

With the path clear, Steve started to walk forward but I stayed frozen. When he realized I was not following, he turned around and asked what was wrong. My eyes were starting to water as I explained to him I was afraid the snake would come back, wrap around my leg and bite me as I walked by. I didn't want to die. He tried to convince me it was a harmless snake, it was more afraid of me than I was of it.

At first frustrated he reminded me only way to get home was in that direction. He promised me the path was clear. I didn’t care until I was sure the snake was far, far away and could no longer get me I wasn’t moving.  

I am sure my babbling was ridiculous but Steve didn’t laugh, or leave me.  Instead, he scooped me up and cradled me in his arms. Told me close my eyes, turn my head into his chest so I would not see the snake.  As he carried me through the woods, he held me tight and said, “You’re safe. I got ya!”

That was Steve, if you were hurt, scared or you couldn’t make it any further, he simply ‘carried’ you, he was that kind of friend. 

Steve graduated Arundel in 1980 and we no longer passed each other in the hall. We didn't see each other as often as before. On occasion through out my senior year and then during college I would come home to find Steve sitting on my steps. He always greeted me by playfully teasing, “Are you Debbie’s little sister?”
Steve joined the Air Force in 1984 and the distance between us grew even further.  Through the years I would discover a post card, Christmas card or letter from Steve in my mailbox. He would tell me about his exploits in the Air Force and ask how I was doing. His correspondence stopped 1988/1989.

Sadly, back then life had a way of distracting me from my old friends that went missing. Steve was one of them. I thought of him often but never followed up to find out where he had traveled or what had happened to him.

It wasn’t until he found me on Facebook that I discovered why the sudden end to his postcards and letters.  In 1988/89 Steve was in a car accident that left him a quadriplegic. 

The first time I saw a photo of Steve in a wheelchair I cried.  The man who carried me in his arms, who ran up behind me and yelled boo, pinned me, lifted me, threw me, squeezed my neck with his arms, could no longer move, walk, or feel anything from his neck/chest down. His hands that once penned beautiful drawings lie silent by his side. I believe Steve sensed my sorrow for him. He assured me life was good.

Corresponding with Steve I discovered he was the same man, actually a better man, more alive, more loving than when we last saw each other. Steve was happy, in love and had the family he always dreamed of.

Life had not taken the path he had imagined or dreamed of when we were in high school but he was blessed by God and lucky to be where he was. He was thankful every day he was alive! 

The last correspondence I received from Steve ended with the words, “I do enjoy your writing my friend. Keep yo' chin up.”

I hope Steve likes what I have written. All the memories we shared keep me smiling when I feel a bout of sadness coming over me.

I miss Steve but in my heart I know he is no longer bound to his chair, he is standing, walking and dancing in Heaven. That gives me solace. 
Rest in peace Steve, I miss you!! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


After Monday’s bombing in Boston, the anniversary of Virginia Tech and Oklahoma City, it is easy to understand the conversations I have overheard, the tweets and Facebook posts I have read. Friends lamenting over the future, worried about their children and grandchildren; pondering what has become of society? Pregnant moms standing in line at the local grocery store wondering what kind of world they are bringing their child into.  I am surprised by the tone of surrender and the doubt in their questions and words. My response to those who question, who seem to be conceding to the wicked, look around, breathe, the world we live in, is beautiful; full of hopes, dreams, promises and love.

Boston, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Columbine, the World Trade Centers, Oklahoma City, Pan Am flight 103 (Lockerbie), the 1972 Olympics, Saigon bombings, the 1920 Wall Street bombing, are but a small compilation of heinous acts.  The list is long and horrific. Terrorist attacks are nothing unique; they were not contrived in modern times, history abounds with atrocities.  Boston sadly is another footnote in the history of barbarity.

Since man was first born on this earth, depravity has always walked in the shadow of good. The two have been a part of humanity since Cain killed his brother Abel. There is no defining evil. There will never be an acceptable why to hate.  No matter what we do or say the damnable will always be lurking in the darkness, waiting for a chance to strike, hoping to instill fear and hate in the marrow of love, honor and integrity.

Yet no matter how much damage they inflict, how many times they knock us down or attempt to destroy us, they cannot.  Evil and hate never have and never will win.  For every evil act there are a million plus generous acts.  Hearts and souls thought to be silent, sing, shout and act when faced with the malignancy of mankind. Love's harmony will always drown the noise of malice. 

We have endured Nero, Attila the Hun, Ivan the Terrible, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Mengele, Mao Zedong, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hideki Tajot, Chang Hsien-Chung, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden; monsters that have walked this earth, laid their destruction, spread their hate but we have persevered.  Man will always survive inhuman barbarians. My heart knows this to be true. I have no doubt because I have faith in the goodness of man.

How? The truth is demonstrated by the men and women who throughout time have run into danger to save those in peril, evident by those who serve in uniform (military, police and fire), affirmed by the men and women who throughout history have stood up to injustice.  My belief strengthen by the people who leave home, travel to poverty stricken areas, places of disaster to help at their own expense, giving freely their time, love, and devotion. It is exemplified by men and women who volunteer on a daily basis to make the lives of our children and society better, Scout Leaders, Boys and Girls club volunteers, Big Brothers and Sisters, Coaches, Advocates, food banks, shelters.  Don’t let the images of one evil act diminish the panorama of good.

Love’s ember is stronger than hate’s firestorm.

We are a people, born not to hate but to love and give freely of ourselves. Evil is an abnormality that will always be outnumbered by the compassion of humankind. Strength must acknowledge its weakness, love’s is hate, faith’s is doubt, hope’s is fear and virtue’s is blindness. In the past, these failings have allowed evil to rise and these are what we must temper now. It is important to continue to be who we are, a society of free and equal people, unafraid to own our lives.

Fear should not give way to blind submission. Legislation should not be allowed to pass that lessen our freedoms. Laws cannot prevent hate and evil; only determine the consequence it must face when it arises and causes harm.  Only fools believe there is a solution, a happy harmony that can be won.  History has taught us evil will always be present. When it attempts to emerge we must be unafraid to confront it and move forward like we have always done.

Most importantly we must continue to pray, live and love.

God bless us all! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Part 1 Permission to Grieve

The anniversary of Bobby’s death is less than twenty four hours away.  The restless nights have begun. The memories profuse, my dreams vivid and alive.  This year I decided to write on a subject some people find uncomfortable, grief.  For a few, the most aggravating, my sorrow over losing Bobby. 

Never wanting to burden anyone with my problems, before now, only a few people knew of my plight. The ability to write about the intense sorrow, making my way through what I have dubbed my ‘just shy of crazy days’, is only possible because I survived. After twenty three years, I finally allowed myself to drown in my loss and with the help of some amazing friends, was able to surface and once again breathe. 

Along the way some people recognized my pain for what it was; grief, delayed mourning. They patiently answered my questions, allowed me to cry without thought and helped me find closure.  Because of them I was able to let go and heal. 

Others whispered, questioned my tears and mocked my pain. A few friends even stopped talking to me. My silent tears, what I had written upset them. When asked why, they never answered.  Intentional or not, their words and actions added to my sorrow. They will never comprehend the hurt they inflicted during some of my darkest days.  It is because of their blindness and lack of compassion I decided to acknowledge and write about what I went through

Bearing my soul, stupidity or courageous, that is for the reader to decide. My prayer, that the emotional journey I traveled will help people recognize grief. Understand if not addressed properly at the time of a loved one’s sudden passing, can reoccur and continue years later. My hope, we will all learn to reach out when confronted with another’s pain instead of dismiss or mock what we cannot comprehend.  

Let me begin with part one.

What was true in my past is still true today; sharing what I feel is a rarity. Writing has allowed me to express what I fear to express verbally. Avoidance is a subject mastered. Only one person has ever broken through my emotional barricade. There was no denying the instant connection we shared. 

A year after his death, one sunny April afternoon I lie next to his grave, with my hand resting on his headstone, I confessed my love and said goodbye.  Believing that was enough to end my pain, I left Restland and tried to move forward with my life. Years later I learned accepting his death and letting him go would take longer than I ever realized. 

“To understand what was and accept what will never be is a journey wrought with tears.”

Unresolved Grief:  Denial of a loss. The pain is present, but the brain suppresses it, refusing to accept the death. Major factors, guilt over unresolved issues, words not spoken and the death is sudden.  Unresolved grief is compounded when no support system is in place; others consider the person’s loss insignificant and do not understand the magnitude of a person’s pain.  Unresolved Grief usually transforms and combines with Delayed Grief.

Delayed Grief:  When a person is not ready or prepared to deal with the loss of a loved one. Grief is avoided and/or stopped due to the unbearable intensity of feelings towards the person and the manner of loss.  It is postponed for many years rather than felt, experienced, understood and properly expressed at the time of the loss.  Ties and reminders to the person and loss are severed. Avoidance allows the person to hide their sorrow. Over time grief/pain may surface but is pushed back/denied with self-scolding until an unforeseen trigger happens.  When the grief is finally allowed to surface, the pain and sorrow is magnified from years of denial.

Permission to Grieve
21 November 2010
It was the twenty third night I spent curled in a chair next to my Father’s bed.  As I had done every night before I spent the long midnight hours reflecting, remembering, writing and watching over Dad. I looked at the clock it was a little past 2 a.m. It was time to stretch my legs and clear my brain. During my midnight strolls the whispers of the hospice house could be heard; sounds of muffled televisions, soft music and nurses quietly talking.  The usual hush was present but there was an ineffable silence as well.

Walking down the hall I found myself peering into each room as I passed.  Sadness filled me. Every patient slept alone; there was no one there to watch over them during the tenebrous hours.  The soft glow from their night light illuminated their faces as they slept.  Death awaited them yet their expressions were peaceful, welcoming.

At the end of the hall I stopped next to the last room and was still. Looking up, I searched desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of an Angel. I needed to know at least one was there waiting to take everyone home at their appointed hour. Praying for reassurance we are never truly alone. Physically and emotionally exhausted I headed back.

From the hall I could hear Frank Sinatra softly playing in Dad’s room.  Leaning against the door frame I continued to pray as I watched my father sleep.  Cancer had silenced him; he hadn’t spoken in over a day. No more words of comfort or reassurance would leave his lips. My solitude was broken as his nurse brushed by me and announced her arrival.  Snuggling into my blanket, hugging myself with its warmth, I settled back into the recliner.  

The nurse checked Dad’s tubes, administered his medications and began a conversation about her oldest daughter.  After years of dating the wrong men, her daughter had finally found love with a good man, a midshipman.  One of the day nurses had mentioned I was married to an Academy graduate. She was curious what life was like married to a man in the military. Smiling I informed her she had the wrong daughter; it was my sister who had married a Navy man. Life was good for them, they had been married for twenty eight years.  Her expression saddened when I told her I never married.

On the way out the room, she paused next to my chair, patted my hand and said, “As beautiful and loving as you are. I’m sure you had a bunch of midshipmen chasing you. I bet there is a man out there who regrets letting you go.” Then she concluded, “Such a shame you never fell in love and married.”  The fortress built long ago to protect me from similar sentiments began collapsing. To hide the tears that were forming I looked out the window.

Wanting comfort I reached for Dad’s hand.  Tired, sick, happy, angry, sleeping; no matter what state my father was in, he always squeezed my hand when he felt it inside his. There was no response; the warmth was leaving his fingers. The reality could no longer be denied, he was going to be leaving me soon.

The somber atmosphere from the hall entered the room. The strange absence, emptiness, encompassing me was present yet wasn’t.  The last of the Frank Sinatra songs played and my iPod turned dark and grew silent.  Rising from my chair I stopped when I witnessed the screen come back on and watched as my iPod shuffled. 

The opening flutes, with a gentle orchestra background gracefully danced from the speakers and diffused the room with its longing melody. I closed my eyes and held my heart as I listened to Elton John's combination of "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Our Love is Here to Stay."  The Gershwin song I dreamed of dancing to at my wedding brought tears to my eyes. Others may think differently but in my heart I know who that dance has always belonged to. The arduous what ifs began to circulate in my heart. The nurses remark, the music, and the sensation I felt caused me to reflect on a conversation I had with my father when he was in the hospital. 

Dad had read my blog and needed to clear his conscious before he died. He told me of a handsome very excited, newly winged Naval Aviator that stopped by the house the beginning of June 1985.  When told I was not home, undaunted, he asked if he could leave a note.  Dad handed him a pad of paper, stood at the door and watched as he sat on our front porch writing. 

Dad had witnessed my countless tears over the previous two years. Believing this man would be like all the others in my past, hurt and leave me, he never gave me his letter. Instead, he tucked it away in his dresser.  Two years later, my nightly sobs tore at my father’s heart. His fears were confirmed when he unfolded the piece of paper and saw the signature. He realized my sorrow was over the man he had sent away. Afraid I would not forgive him if I learned of Bobby’s letter; he returned it to his dresser.   

Dad’s confession hung in my mind as a slide show of forgotten memories started to play on fast forward in my brain. The room spun and I could no longer breathe. Love, regret, passion, sorrow, panic, loneliness, a mixture of emotions overwhelmed me as my past rushed to the forefront of my mind.

Remembering was causing a claustrophobia of sorrow; it began to suffocate me. Insanity was but a moment away. Hoping to escape the memories, get away from the song that triggered my new affliction, I rushed out of the room. Walking to the kitchen I wiped my tears and prayed for a reprieve. 

Bracing myself, leaning over the sink, I repeated out loud, “Breathe Robinson, just breathe.”  Words were failing me, my brain was letting go and my heart was crumbling.  Hot tea would surely calm and comfort me. The cups and tea were above me, the microwave to my left.

The water flowed over the top of the cup and washed over my hand.  Staring at the scene, I was trapped in the moment. My disorientation compounded by the sound of a shock trauma helicopter flying overhead. The lonely rhythmic vibration of the blade chopping through the air, something I had heard often in my life, was now a haunting reminder of what should have been.  With each rotation, I could feel a piece of my heart vacate.

Reality was escaping me. Frozen, unable to regain control, in slow motion, I watched my cup drop and shatter at the bottom of the sink. My legs gave way as I fell to the floor in a crumpled mass of tears. The exclamation I cried shocked me, “Oh God, Bobby where are you?”   

The sound of shattering glass, my anguished cries brought my Dad’s nurse to my side. No words would form; I couldn't think, the pain so fresh it crippled me. She held me, urged me to let it all out.  Refusing to relinquish control, I fought the desperation trying to engulf me.

With mastery I had gained since Bobby’s death I quelched my tears and pulled free of her embrace.  She handed me a tissue and asked if I wanted to talk.  I shook my head, how could I? My father lie dying in the next room yet the tears I shed were for a man who had died twenty three years earlier. There was no reasoning away this betrayal against my father. How would anyone understand what I could not explain?

My tears were halted but my body was still trembling. The last thing I wanted was a witness to my meltdown. If she left, I could let whatever this was pass and pretend it never happened. My voice quivered, I thanked her for her concern, told her I would be fine but wanted to be alone. She refused. She insisted talking was necessary to heal. Expecting her to confirm my treachery and bolt in disgust, I confessed my cries were not for my father. Her reaction astonishing: she hugged me, had faith my father would understand and assured me I had committed no sin. Her reasoning; grief adheres to its own timetable. 

A few hours later, half asleep I was awakened by a knock on the door. Through the haze, I rubbed my eyes; a woman introduced herself as a grief counselor and invited me for coffee. Cordially I declined; afraid she would confirm the ‘whispers’ made by friends after I had written about Bobby, I was crazy. No was unacceptable to her. One cup of coffee and after I could decide whether or not to keep talking.

Relief and answers were sought over Folgers and deli sandwiches. Sharing a bagel, I acknowledged my defenses first weakened in May 2010. The actual beginning was Facebook  I had reconnected with lost friends. People I had purposely avoided in the past were now constant reminders of what could have, should have been. Through Facebook an invitation was sent and accepted.

Almost twenty years had passed since I had attended a Navy function.  My reintroduction to my old life was a retirement ceremony for one of Bobby’s lacrosse teammates. The empty chair next to me a stark reminder he was gone and how much I missed him. Looking at his old friends, in my mind I could hear myself tell him, "Bobby you should be here." I questioned God why he wasn't. The speeches were lost to the memory of a conversation Bobby and I shared; at least one of his boys would play for Navy and they would win the lacrosse championship that had eluded him in 1983. In the audience were several teenagers, none his. Bobby died before his dream of children could be realized. 

A few days later I began writing the series of blogs on Bobby. Believing if I let go of some of my memories, it would be enough to stop the tears that were beginning to surface after a long absence. With the conclusion of the series, after the last word was written, I thought Bobby was once again safely laid to rest in my heart. Dreams began to confuse me; not sure if I was remembering in my sleep or wishing.

The answers I knew could be found in my journals but I refused to seek them; terrified I would discover the dreams were real and not fiction. Not understanding how can you love someone yet lose so much of what happened? Bury so many beautiful memories?

The counselor's conclusions were reassuring; I was not crazy. To survive my brain hid what I was not prepared to handle in 1987. The mind has a way of protecting the heart. I needed to read my journals to find the truth. My peace could only come if I allowed myself to finish grieving. To complete it, I had to acknowledge who Bobby was to me and no longer hide what I felt.

Over the next few months whenever I felt overwhelmed we shared coffee. With her help I came to an important realization; in life and in death I have always been consistent with Bobby.  In life for a time I ran from him, convinced I was not good enough for him, afraid of the secret he kept, scared I had no control over my feelings and terrified of the intensity of it all. 

Since 23 March 1987 I had been running from Bobby, specifically his death; hiding from the overwhelming sorrow. Through the years I ran to protect myself from the immense guilt and regret that haunted me. To cope, I hid what I felt, denied my tears, buried memories. Slowly I cut off all ties to everyone and everything that reminded me of Bobby.      

Reality is often hard to acknowledge. To understand everything, my assignment, I had to take a very painful examination of whom I was and who Bobby was to me. Relinquish my sorrow and give myself permission to grieve. 

End of part one
next a look back