Day three….

Day three of my recovery is not going well.

My pain seems to be spreading throughout my lower jaw. The fever is back, I beat on it with antibiotics and Percocet. So far, nothing is working. “Day three is always the toughest” my mom tells me. It has proven to be true. I sleep fitfully, sometimes an hour, other times ten minutes. I am sure this will be a boon for my sleep schedule when the pain disappears.

Thinking has been a chore. Writing is not easy when the medication is flooding my body. I have several half-written blog posts on my computer. I suppose if I ever get around to writing A Walk in Darkness, I will have another novel to write called The Percocet Diaries.

I hope this finds you all doing well. I am going to try to slay this fever demon.

Freeman out.

23 August 2019

Fragments….A Walk in Darkness….

20 August 2019:

The white walls of the dentist office is not comforting. I sit in the dental chair, signing pages of documents allowing the dentist to perform the procedure. However, as I read and initial the documents, my thoughts are jumbled into an uncoherent scattering of madness. “I should get up and walk out right now!” To quiet my mind, I ask questions about the procedure. “What is the recovery time? Am I on a liquid diet again?” My doctor provides me with the answers to my questions and I hand back the documents.

He stands and pulls on his coat and mask, then he sanitizes his hands and puts his gloves on. “Open your mouth and try to relax.” I try to speak but he swabs my gums and prepares to insert my implants. I close my eyes and pray that the procedure is over quickly. To be honest, I don’t know what type of tools he used to insert the implants, but some type of object was placed in my mouth and the drilling begins. The smell of burnt flesh floods my nostrils and I am transported to Fallujah. “Oh God no, please forgive me. I’m sorry.” My heart races furiously and I have a hard time breathing and swallowing. Suddenly the blaring of the alarm sounds and I feel rough hands pushing on my chest. “Larry, you have got to breathe. Come on, breathe!” I struggle to find my breath but finally, I can breathe again.

There seems to be no limit to my tears, or my remorse. Will there ever come a day when I no longer feel stained from the war?

Freeman

21 August 2019

An encounter with the Reaper….

Today, I thought I was a goner.

My surgery was today and as the nurse and doctor prepped for the procedure, I was given a series of shots to deaden the pain. Normally, this is no problem. However, for some reason today, I had a reaction to the medication. My heart raced and I began to sweat profusely. Breathing normally became a chore. As I sat in the chair, it seemed my time on Earth had come. “The Reaper is at the door! Are you prepared to meet your Maker?”

I’m not ready.

I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. Each ragged breath seemed to push me closer to the broad expanse known as eternity.  “God please have mercy on me. I do not want to die in the dentist chair.” Gradually, I was able to breath somewhat normally, and the procedure was completed. Currently, I am resting in my recliner, but the horror of knowing my soul is not right or as right as I would like it to be, bothers me. Death comes for us all, but the realization of the finality of it put the fear of God in me today. I have survived combat, and never once did I give it anything more than a casual thought. It seems I have had a come-to-Jesus moment, and I need to do more than be a causal Christian.

Take care,

Freeman

20 August 2019

MCWA feature article….the rough draft…

“I don’t know if I am ready for this, I have never been to a writer’s conference before.” My heart feels like it is in my throat. A couple of friends and I are on our way to the Southern Christian Writers Conference which is being hosted by Main Street Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa. Regardless of what situation I find myself in, I always react the same way. First, I become nervous (don’t let my calm exterior fool you) and then I deal with the stress which is generated by my nervousness. I have never been a fan of crowds and sitting in a room full of strangers puts me on edge. “You will be learning something new, relax, it will be fun!” My nervousness must have been apparent because I was asked to drive to our destination. I am thankful for the opportunity to drive as it gives me something else to focus on instead of my nerves. 

We arrive safely, and I quickly become immersed into the classes. From one class to the other, I find myself wondering if I am up to the challenge of writing. A writer who specializes in the outdoors gives the final speech on Saturday and he boldly exclaims “you can get paid to write!” My friend, Rachel Embrey taps me on the shoulder and simply states, “You can do this!’ I decide on the spot, without any experience in writing or website design, to start a blog when I return home. My mind is abuzz with ideas and I have found my inspiration. 

After our return home, I crawl into my recliner with my computer and start to research on how to create a blog. As I visitsite after site, it seems everyone wants money to assist me with launching my recent dream. Finally, I stumble upon a site called Blogger. It is free and I decide this will be the launching pad formy writing endeavor. Freeman’s Front Porch Musings is born in June 2017. After writing over 300 blogs in a year, I decide to move my site over to WordPress. I kept my blog’s name and moved my 300 blogs over to our new home. I would like to say my writing career started on those hot days in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but that would not be true. Unfortunately, writing was a tool I used to express the dark feelings and thoughts during my sojourn through darkness.

Late October 2011:

“Freeman, you must let go of the bitterness you are feeling. Whether you are right or not in feeling this way, bitterness will eat away at the good inside you. Find a way to purge yourself of this vileness.” I detest coming to therapy. All we ever do is rehash the past, talk about emotions, and schedule a follow up appointment for the following week. My psychologist is a Native American woman named Joy. Bless her heart, she is trying to reach me, but I am resisting every effort she makes. As I sink deeper into depression, I am valiantly fighting off the people who are trying to help me. 

“It gives me an edge Doc! I need it to keep me alive!” My bravado is a lie, I am hurting. My divorce is final, my career is quickly coming to an end, and to top it all off, I have gained 100 pounds in seven months (not to mention the daily struggle with recurring seizures).  Joy shakes her head, and I know she isn’t buying what I am selling for one moment.

“No Freeman, it is what keeps you angry. Why don’t you try this: Buy a tablet and write down everything you feel about what you are going through. Write down exactly how you feel. Do not sugarcoat your emotions. If you want to strike someone, write it down. If you want to burn all your ex-wife’s possessions, write it down. Let your poison flow through the pen but get it out of your system before it destroys you.”

From that moment on, I fill up tablet after tablet. Each writing exorcised the poison in my heart. As I heal, I write fewer dark thoughts, and I can make some semblance of peace with the loss of my marriage and career. During one counseling session, Joy asks about my writing. I explain I am writing less, and she tells me to burn my books of bitterness. I take my notebooks to the burn barrel and set my bitterness on fire; the emotional release I feel helps me realize how deep my depression is and how it hasimpacted me. This small exercise is a temporary reprieve from my depression but my journey through darkness is not over. I have many more miles to go before I find my way home.

08 January 2016:

Standing on the cold front porch, I take stock of the upheaval which is my life. “I never thought I would be back in Mississippi! I was perfectly comfortable in Colorado!” Alas, it was not to be. Between child support and rent, I am unable to afford groceries. It is with a heavy heart; I call my parents and ask if I may come home. Of course, they tell me to come home. One 24-hour bus ride back to Memphis, TN and I make the trek home to Mississippi. There is a void in my heart that entertainment can’t fill, nor can worldly possessions. However, as with therapy, I bravely fend off any assistance from people who love me. Shivering from the cold, I walk into the warm log cabin where my parents live. 

“Son, you need to go to church with us.” I glance at my mom. In typical mom fashion, she isn’t asking me if I want to go to church, it is a polite demand. I go to a few services, but the longing in my heart does not recede . Then slowly God starts toplace people in my life to help me find my way to Him. I am failing College Algebra II and I start my search for a tutor. Finally, I am put in touch with an educator who can assist me with my course. We set an appointment for the following day. As I enter the small trailer in Iuka, Mississippi, I instantly recognize that my instructor is a Pentecostal lady. “Great! This is all I need!” She begins to help me catch up on my schoolwork, and as we start to spend time together, she asks me to visit her church. “No thanks!” is often my response until finally, I relent and go to a Wednesday night service.  The Holy Ghost is all over me, but again, I valiantly resist. It takes me a couple of weeks to recover from what I felt that night, but gradually I make my way back to church.  As I start to frequent the church, I find myself becoming more at peace with being at home. 

Reverend Shane Burns was a guest minister who came to preach at our church in Iuka. As I sit on the pew, my tears streamed down my face. I stand to my feet, lift my hands and God re-fillsme with the Holy Ghost. As I speak in a heavenly language, I can feel the peace of God wash over my soul. After service, I drive home, and I feel weightless. As I walk into my house, I notice my dog has torn out my trash.  I clean it up, and a small voice whispers, “This is how I found you. Dirty, and in the sin filled gutters, but I picked you up and cleaned you.” Tears fill my eyes and the power of the Holy Ghost fills my house. Later,while driving back for evening service, the small voice whispers, “Iraq was a long time ago son. You don’t have to carry your burden alone. Cast your cares upon me, for I care for you.” Writing may have been the tool I used to express the darkness in my heart, but restoration was the eraser that wiped away the stain of the darkness from my soul.

Freeman’s Front Porch Musings: www.rantsandravingsbyamadman.blog

 

 

 

Dimensions…..

Regardless of space and time, my soul would search out yours. Dimensions, parallel or altered, would not stop me from finding your love and warm embrace. If I must spend years searching the entirety of the universe to find you, I would gladly seek every inch of space so I can spend one moment with you. Time means nothing to a man with nothing but time to spend. Space, time and dimensions are powerless foes to be conquered when my heart yearns to be with you.

Afternoon showers….

I am astounded by the natural beauty of Mississippi.

Today, the sun shines beautifully through the lush green leaves of the sweet gum and poplar trees that stand in my front yard.  The leaves are a deep green that is nigh indescribable.  At 1430, the clouds grow dark and the rumbling of far off thunder sounds to the east of my cabin. “Here we go again.” For the better part of this summer, there has been an afternoon shower. I walk out onto my porch to my favorite rocker, and I wait for the cloud burst. It doesn’t take long for the heavens to open and send the deluge to the earth.

Under the tin roof, the pounding rain sounds like cannon fire. “Mother Nature is practicing her drums.” The 50-foot pines bend and sway in the breeze, the oak and black walnut trees stand firm against the oppressive onslaught of rain. A ferocious roar of thunder shakes my cabin, and the crack of nearby lightning makes me decide to head for the shelter of my abode. Water streams off the roof, each stream appear to be individual rivers flowing into my flower beds.  As quickly as it appeared the storm quietens and the woods fall into a wet silence. The soft pelt of lingering rain taps out a rhythm on the tin, as the thunder moves west.

As the storm lessens and moves on its way, I head back to my porch to watch Mother Nature bless Mississippi with another shower. We Mississippians may not have much, but this land is blessed with some beautiful sights. All I must do to remind myself of this is look out my front door.

Freeman

09 August 2019

Mistakes….

Inside my mind there are two competing voices who want to call the shots in my life. The first voice is loud, obnoxious, and cares little for anyone or anything. I would probably label this aspect of my personality SGT Freeman. Without feeling, or regard to the consequences, this voice wants to dictate every response to every situation. “Say this and see what happens!” Perhaps at one time, this was the right fit for my life. After all, fighting the nation’s wars requires a certain mindset, however, as I grow older, I see no reason for this mentality.

The second voice doesn’t raise its voice to be heard over the shouting of the other. Instead, it drops tidbits of information into my spirit. “Don’t overreact to it, not everything requires you to respond with force.” As I grow older, this voice seems to help me mellow out. Perhaps, it is the voice of maturity finally seeping through the rusted iron of my mind, or maybe it is the outset of a nervous breakdown. However, I attempt to listen to it when it provides sound advice.

Through the years, I haven’t always said the right thing, nor have I always done the right thing.  Some decisions haunt me, but my philosophy has always been to try to learn from my mistakes. After all, if I am learning from my mistakes, I am receiving a great education. Mistakes are part of life, none of us live perfectly. As hard as we try, we can’t help but overreact to certain situations. However, overreacting opens the door to stress, and stress can and has proven to be fatal.

 I would clearly state years ago, that I once thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken. However, this little statement is full of lies and deceit. I try to be a good man, but life often causes me to be less than a good man. The world has enough bad boys, and worse men. Try as I may, my human nature doesn’t allow me to be the man I should be. However, part of growing is getting up when you have been knocked down. The lesson of life can be found in the movie Rocky Balboa. “It’s not how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going.”  I may have misquoted the great philosopher Rocky, but the point is the same. Mistakes are often made, but they can’t define us if we don’t let them.

Freeman.

August 13, 2019