Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Blog Hop: Winter Holiday Blues

Welcome to Not Enough Time in the Day and the Black Friday Blog Hop.  If you leave a comment, you will be entered to win a framed copy of my poem Safe Harbor.   You can enter once each day this weekend and I will pick a winner on Monday 11/28/11.  At the end of my post is the list of the other authors involved in this hop. Please take the time to visit their sites and leave comments to be entered to win several fantastic prizes.


Winter Holiday Blues

Solitude by Idea go /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many people go through the blues this time of year due to the weather or the fear of being alone.  For many, the holidays are extremely sad and lonely time even when surrounded by friends and family.  For the last few decades I have suffered from severe depression from the beginning of November until February.  My friends and family have been there for me each time, but the depression still overwhelms me.  It’s not always about making sure you are not alone in a room, but about finding some way to not be lonely in your heart.

            Watching my younger brothers and sisters get married first, become parents and basically have entire lives away from our family, made me feel like an outcast.  It wasn’t easy hiding those feelings.  I didn’t want to bring down anyone else.  Who wants to be known as the fifth wheel or the odd person at the table?  My family was always really supportive of me and I remember one Christmas when my Great Aunt Mary took me aside and said it would be okay if I brought “a friend” over for the family holiday parties.  I was always alone at these functions so my aunt assumed I was gay and not “out” yet.  Imagine her surprise when I said, “Thanks, Aunt Mary.  I’m not gay, just fat.”

            Yep, I was that overweight, extremely shy, smart girl who buried herself in books and classes until I graduated with honors from veterinary school.  It was much easier to hide behind those books and my weight than to admit to someone I was interested, only to have them “let me down easy.”  I was good enough to be their friend, but never a lover or a wife.  My heart really took a dive when I fell for a family friend.  I tried to work up enough nerve to tell him one summer after I lost a hell of a lot of weight.  He was always over our house for parties or just hanging around.  After seeing my transformation, he told me he was proud of me for setting my mind to it.  He already thought I was beautiful, but not my inner light shined for everyone to see.  He was a smooth talker that one!  I was head over heels in love with him and still too shy to confess.

            It was our annual July 4th pool party/barbecue.  Our house and yard was filled with family and friends all day.  I was in major flirt mode and it seemed to be working, but I was kidding myself.  The object of my affection was interested in my cousin, and I was soon forgotten.  I found out later that he knew about my crush, but adored me more as a sister.  That was a bitter pill to swallow for a bit, but his friendship came to mean a lot more to me over the next few years after that party,  More importantly, I came  to love him as a big brother too.

            His name was Paul and I can still hear his bawdy laugh and see his devilish smile.  He was there when my Dad’s Marine reserve unit was activated for Desert Storm.  I was in veterinary school at that time and unable to get away, but Paul was there for my family seeing Dad off at the airport, promising to watch over all of us until Dad came home.
           
            Paul was there when Dad took me back and forth to Michigan State my first year in veterinary school.  Both men wore their University of Michigan sweatshirts each time driving back to “enemy” territory, aka the Michigan State campus.  Sitting between the two of them for a couple of hours trying not to be embarrassed was a chore, but one I would gladly have back again.

            In the wee hours of Thanksgiving 1992, a drunk driver speeding well over 100 mph took Paul away from us. I still cry thinking of that phone call from my Mom telling me he was gone.  At this point I was in my clinical rotations of my senior year in vet school and could not get home for the funeral.  I didn’t get through the grief over losing him for a hell of a long time, and over the years the melancholy during the holidays was all the more raw without him.

            I didn’t think that pain could get any worse until we lost Dad on Thanksgiving Day 2005.  John McInerney was my stepdad in name, but Dad to me.  He was there for all of the growing pains, heartaches and joys.  He was there when I graduated from vet school and moved away to Detroit to work as an emergency vet.  He was there when I thought I had found the man I was going to marry and decided to give up everything in Michigan to move to the unknown…California.

            He was there when that all fell apart and was ready to come out to help me move back home if I needed him.  Dad was there when I decided to make it a go all alone in California for just a little longer, and he didn’t make me feel like I was a failure.  During that time, I met another man who I did marry.  Dad was honored to give up his right to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day in order to be the one to perform our ceremony.   He would joke to his coworkers that he was going to marry his daughter.  That got a few tongues wagging until he told them to get their minds out of the gutter!  He was performing the ceremony since the state of California allowed anyone to be an “officiant for the day” for a small fee of course!

            Dad was the rock of our family, retired Marine Corps sergeant, and computer geek.  He hid his pain for a bit before he had to admit that the Non-Hodgkins  Lymphoma was kicking his ass. Eighteen rounds of chemo and the cancer kept growing.  The doctors promised to get him to Thanksgiving and he held them to it.  Only ten months passed from the time he was diagnosed until he left us, and it’s still a bit raw.

            I lost myself in all of this, buried myself in my work and refused to see what was going on around me.  My marriage was over before it even started but I didn’t want to end it at first.  Dad married us and it seemed like it was disrespecting him to end it even though I was miserable and dying inside.  I had to remember what he always told us growing up.  “Do what you need to do to be happy.  Don’t do what you think other want you to do. That is not your path.  Follow your heart.  It will never steer you wrong.”

So I did.

            Now I have found quite by accident, the one my heart has been searching for all of my life, and every lifetime.  He is my Muse, my life partner and the part of my heart and soul that was missing.  Now the holidays are a time of joy. I’ve rediscovered my Wiccan faith and the happiness fills my life once again.  The holidays are no longer a time where I am depressed and melancholy, but a time to remember those I’ve loved and lost and be thankful for the time we did have together and the lessons I’ve learned from them.  It was Paul who showed me that true friendship never dies.  They are always with you, encouraging you along the way.  It was my Dad who encouraged me to follow all of my dreams wherever they may lead.  Both men would’ve had the biggest kick out of the fact that I’m a published author of erotic romance.  They would have been my biggest fans.  Well, I know for a fact they are “up there” smoking a couple of Cuban cigars, sipping scotch, and smiling down on me. 

            This holiday season, take the time to remember those who have made lasting impressions on your lives whether they have left this world or are still with you.  Light a candle or two for them at sunrise and allow it to burn until sunset.  When you see that light burning bright, smile.  Your loved ones are there with you now and forever.


This was one of Dad's favorite songs. We played it at his funeral at his request.  Every time I hear it, I remember my Dad.  For those of you who have read For the Love of Quinn know that this song plays an important roll in the story.  Quite a bit of my own life ended up in one shape or form in Quinn's story.  Curious? Read for yourself and you tell me!










Black Friday Blog Hop Participants

Christine Ashworth  http://christine-ashworth.com/








24 comments:

  1. Tammy,
    I'm so glad your story has a happy ending.
    cmr

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  2. Tammy, it was exquisite and beautifully written !! I loved reading it !

    kellie Herold

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  3. Penny Daniels-KellerNovember 25, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    Tammy - your stories are always so touching! I only wish we had known each other back in high school, it sounds like we were a lot a like. You have been through some very tough times, as have I, and you have come out even stronger, you are an inspiration! Keep up the writing and blogging....I love the vet stories you tell too!

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and look forward to reading more!

    Penny

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  4. How beautiful! I loved reading your post. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

    Kimmyl

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  5. That was a touching story. <3

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  6. Beautiful post, Tammy. It sounds like life has taught you some valuable, although painful, lessons. I am glad you have found your Muse and hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you for the giveaway!

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  7. The heart is so resilient! Thank you for a poignantly beautiful story.

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  8. Thank you Kellie, Penny, Kimmyl, Natacha, Pam and Patricia! It's been a long, tough journey for me but oh so worth it! I've learned when things seem the darkest to try to hang on just a little longer and suddenly the path is clear and bright. I'm finally in a place in my life where I am very happy and content and thankful for all who I've met along the journey. Without them, good or bad, I would not be where I am today. I'm keeping my contest open for the whole weekend so people get a chance to stop by with the holiday rush. I'll pick a winner Monday and post the winner that evening when I get home from work.

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  9. Beautiful story, Tammy. Now, of course, I'm going to have to read your book!

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  10. A beautiful post. Thank you for letting us in to your story.
    ~Chelle
    http://chellecordero.blogspot.com/2011/11/black-friday-blog-hop-2012.html
    Visit my blog hop post at http://bit.ly/rKnRSr

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  11. That was a brave and moving piece. I think your dad and Paul would be very proud of you!

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  12. What a beautiful post, Tammy. Thanks for sharing it. So happy you found your joy within. So sad so many people don't realize it's often there all along.

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  13. Thank you all for stopping by. This was a great experience and I hope to do it again!
    Christine: My mother will tell you that Quinn is definitely me. LOL

    Chelle: Thank you for posting your URL. I've corrected it in my blog so more people can continue to hop along at will!

    Coleen: I feel Dad and Paul with me every day, especially when I am feeling down and having a writers block. They are right there prodding me along. I sort of took their characteristics and developed two Angels who are watching over Quinn and those in her life. I will be posting that extra short story during Dec 16-18th for the Christmas blog hop. It's a three parter and I will keep folks posted on the details!

    Joanna: I so agree with you that people are always feeling that happiness is out of their reach when it's right there under their noses all along. My boyfriend is my rock and truly my heart and soul. If I would have given up and gone home to Michigan, I never would have met him.

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  14. Tammy,

    When I read your story, I was bawling like a baby. For it's so much my story. I was and am still kind of the outcast of my family. I'm 49 now and still not married. I'm overweight, not by a lot but enough. I've watched my siblings get married and there happy in their marriages and have beautiful children.
    I have a 23 yr old son who is beautiful and talking about getting married himself. I still feel like the fat girl outcast.
    I go to law school and keep my head in book just so that I can at least have my happily ever after.
    Don't get me wrong I have a lot of friends but they mostly live out of state. I could have my share of men if I wanted to sleep around. It's just not worth it.
    I've accepted that my soul mate is not out there so I deal with it. Sometimes I would like to come home to a companion and be able to snuggle up on the couch and just talk about my day. But the Creator just doesn't see that way.

    I'm Native American and my religion is very similar to Wiccan. So I try to keep positive and enjoy and surround myself with positive people to keep the depression from setting in.

    Thank you for reminding me of how important that we see what we have, and not what we don't. Your father & Paul sound like they were such a treasure to you in your life. Your very lucky for there support. That's something I never had with my family and it's something I make sure my son does have in whatever he does.

    My family have accused me of being gay also. Isn't that so funny that's the first thing they say. Or your beautiful you just need to lose some weight.

    I hope you and your husband had a great Thanksgiving and I wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to you. Thank you for participating in this blog tour.

    Teresa K.
    tcwgrlup41(at)yahoo dot com

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  15. Wow, that's a lovely story, Tammy--thank you for sharing with us! Hope you're enjoying this weekend!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

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  16. I loved reading your post, Tammy. Thanks for sharing your story, and I'm so glad you're happy now.

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  17. Teresa, I went for so long thinking that my always and forever was only a fantasy. I pretty much gave up on ever finding it, so I wrote about it and gave that dream to my character Quinn and the characters in the next books in the series. Funny thing is that when I stopped looking and found my inner peace, my boyfriend found me. No one was shocked more than the two of us! The unconditional love and support that I have now is simply amazing. You seem to have a wonderful soul and are making sure that your son has everything he needs to be one too. Your true heart will find you. Trust me!

    flchen1 and Shelley, thank you both for stopping by today and allowing me to share a bit of my own story with you.

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  18. What a lovely tribute to your father. brought tears to my eyes. You are so lucky to have had him in your life.

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  19. I have no words after reading that. It does echo one thing I'm fond of saying. Make sure you let your loved ones know how much they mean to you.

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  20. Thank you, Louise and Lynn!
    Due to the great response, I've decided to pick a winner from those that have commented up to this point AND a second winner on Monday night. So two prizes will be awarded. This has been so fun!

    Today's winner....Teresa K!

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  21. i think many people can relate to the loneliness you write about. i am glad that things are different for you now, that you are more than happy. you deserve all the kudos that come your way.

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  22. Thanks so much for sharing your story. My sisters and I suffer from SADD. You'd think we'd move to sunny California :)
    As I sat here reading with tears I thought to myself how important it is when we acknowledge how loved and thankful we are for the people in our lives. You were blessed to have your Dad and Paul. Some people never have that kind of love. :) I'm happy you met your soul mate. Thanks again for sharing.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  23. Winner number 2 for this Black Friday Blog Hop....Pam Asberry!

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