May 31, 2006

surely goodness and mercy.


moe and jim.
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.

james adcock 1946-2006


while helen and i toasted local brews with kevin at mccreary's pub in franklin, tn, our friend jim let go. he chose a saturday evening, when everyone was out living their lives to do it. a few weeks ago, while he was still lucid, he told us not to worry about holding vigil for him at the hospital. "you've got your lives to live," he said. "don't worry about me so much." this was the day he told us he was going to hospice.

jim still had fire in his eyes that day, and he held both our hands with a strong man's grip. he asked us to join him in prayer before we left. and with the eloquence of a longtime baptist, he bowed his head, closed his eyes, and prayed for his dear lord to help him "do this thing in a gentlemanly manner...with the grace you expect of me."

and then helen and i both kissed jim's head, and told him we loved him. his eyes were teary, and i wiped them away. he was afraid; he didn't want to die so soon, and suddenly he had a family around to hold his hand.

once he got to hospice, jim was allowed to be comfortable. tom brought moe, who was ecstatic to see his daddy and lick all over his hands and bare feet. helen helped him smoke one last cigarette, which he thoroughly enjoyed. but. jim declined quickly.

by the third or fourth day, he was no longer lucid. we brought moe, who quickly took to licking his hands, and sleeping at the foot at his bed. i spent one night on the couch. helen and i played cards, listened to merle haggard, and joked with jim. i read psalms. we whispered in his ear, "it's okay to let go." when he'd become agitated, our mantra became: "relax. let go. relax. let go..."

the hospice, called christopher house, is funded largely by donations. jim, a long time buddy of willie nelson, spent his last days in the willie nelson room. when tom told him this, his eyes welled up with tears we couldn't interpret.

we will have a memorial service for our dear friend, who died in the most gentlemanly manner, tomorrow, at the dog meeting. and after a very long month, i hope that we will all somehow relax. and let go.
Posted by bananie at 12:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 25, 2006

three years

three years ago, i made a new friend named helen by way of the internets. and what began as a 21st century penpal friendship has become the most meaningful relationship of my life. crazy how that happens, isn't it?

there are many reasons why i never shared that first year of our story realtime on the blog (but you can find it between the lines.) ours began as a relationship between just the two of us. (and jude and marlei, of course.) privacy was necessary, as i told my family and friends, one by one, that i'd met my match. and in that first year, my helen became my best friend through such monumental moments as:

[read in the voice of a devry commercial offering degrees in a/c repair, hotel management, butchering baking or candlestick making]

the long out-coming in nashville;
the ensuing dark night of the soul, as i asked questions like:

1. does God still love me?
2. am i an abomination?
3. can a loving God look down on us and ever say "it is good"?
4. etc.
that time i had to go to the hospital;
making the decision of moving to austin.

and she stayed with me!

in the short while we've lived together, we have overcome obstacles like plagues. death and illness and accidents and bankruptcy (mine, btw). hurricanes and humidity, fighting dogs, and weight gain. all this while living in texass.

but do you know what? when i think of us, all i know is love and gratefulness, relief and joy. we are a team. we are a family. (we are a beginning.) helen is my heart and home. and when you see us together, you know it: we're blessed.

[whoever thought i'd understand the love of God so much by being an abomination? joke's on me.]

so, schmelen: here we are. three years and a bazillion more to come. i love you.

even after a year of living together, we are still very in love.

happy couple

Posted by bananie at 7:45 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 22, 2006

life in slow motion

tell me how to tell the story of eleventh hour breaths, the counted rise and fall of a dying chest. tell me how to describe hospice, and sitting in the room in which you know your friend will soon die. help me find the words. because i don't know how to honor this gift of handholding through the ultimate transition. and in the moment i admitted i have lost my faith, he asked me to pray.

Posted by bananie at 5:09 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 17, 2006

hi. i'm moe.


hi. i'm moe.
Originally uploaded by ohchicken.
dear friends of bananie,

my name is moe. i am some sort of lab/chow hybrid with small, floppy ears, and a really great tail. i'm happy and swarthy and i'm about three years old. for the past year or so, i've been loved by a great dad named jim.

you may have read about him on bananie's blog. (isn't she a fabulous writer?) if you're unfamiliar with my story, i'll sum it up for you (since typing with paws is a little cumbersome): before he adopted me, jim was a reclusive kind of guy whom everyone was afraid of. he kind of gave off that drunk old guy vibe. and then he got me, and then he started hanging out with our neighborhood dog owners (aka the dog mafia), and soon, jim made fast friends with everybody, just because i'm that kind of dog. you know, friendly. and have i mentioned my ears?

anyway, what no one around here knew--including me--was that, all along, jim had been sick. for awhile there, just having me around seemed to be keeping him going strong. but. well. lately, he's lost a lot of weight. and he can't eat anymore. and now, he's in the hospital. i haven't seen him in two weeks. thankfully, the dog mafia is taking turns making sure i get all the loving and walking i need. but, i hear the whispers. jim is probably not coming home to me. jim doesn't have much time.

i guess the point of my guest blog entry is this: do you, or anyone you know, want to adopt me? i'm a very good indoor/outdoor guy. i never do my thing inside. all the other dogs love me, and i'm very good at frollicking, cuddling, and guarding my house with a big scary woof. (but my smile gives me away.) with a little training, i could probably get along with cats, but for now, i can't resist chasing them. i know all about sitting and staying and treats.

so, please let bananie know if i can come be your moe. i've been told that my presence saves lives. who can beat that in a dog?
Posted by bananie at 6:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 1, 2006

estrangement.

estrangement. the word on my lips as i fell asleep last night, after tossing and tossing like i usually do most nights, until my exhausted and tense body gives up to sleep. my days in austin are filled with inclusion, community: glorious love and dogs and laughter by the swimming pool. we can't sit on our porch for five minutes without a neighbor stopping by for conversation and a beverage. coffee in the morning, beer or wine at night.

estrangement. the weight of it tugs at the nearly sleeping parts of me every night, when i am quiet and the world is asleep. i'm quite estranged from my words anymore, as you can tell from the blank pages on the blog. part of it is inconvenience; i've got a broken ibook, and it's so damned difficult for me to write anything of consequence on a company computer (as i'm doing now), or even helen's computer. it feels foreign, and a little like intimacy with a stranger. awkward. and the words just stay where they are, rumbling in my belly.

even the camera is stymied with my lack of computer right now. i'm so dependent. it's salt in the wound to work for the company that makes my computing needs possible, and yet my little ibook sits at home, gathering dust, as i figure out how to make her power on again. [for the techies: a new logic board is most likely in order, which is about as economical as just starting over with a new lappy.]

anyway, the word is undeniably "estrangement", and i'm typing it here because it spoke itself so clearly last night. helen and i booked a flight to nashville for memorial day weekend (we'll be there saturday-tuesday), and there is a part of me that is afraid to go, because of the broken pieces there. God bless friends like kevin, who continue to call and call and write me here, even when the phonecalls and emails go unanswered for weeks. sometimes i forget what it's like to be myself--to reconcile the parts of myself i willingly left behind in nashville with the me i'm growing into here in austin--and i feel very awkward in conversation with the closest of friends. do you know that i haven't spoken to my dear marlei on the phone for months? MONTHS! the same can be said for nearly everyone i love dearly in nashville.

oh, and it's not just nashville, either: i haven't spoken to my sisters on the phone in ages, and my mother has to send me "are you alive???" emails, after numerous voicemails, just to get me to respond.

i don't know what to say.

it's not just the "hey i'm gay" thing. God knows everyone in my life has had over three years to deal with that fact now, one way or another. it's an old story. it's a given that nearly every bananie anecdote will include helen. (and our pets.) maybe it's because everything is in such flux right now: helen has now quit her job (sing hallelujah everyone!) and is beginning her teaching certification (and hopefully masters, fingers still crossed) this summer.

in the span of four months, i have gone from having NO healthcare to bringing helen onto my fabulous insurance plan. i have a 401k plan. i keep changing my hair color. we have gone from trying to adopt to deciding to wait on adoption to thoughts of IVF, starring bananie as babymama. we're serious about this. i'm serious about this. and we want to have a wedding ceremony. something small, but real. legitimate in the eyes of family and friends.

i think that's my biggest fear, the biggest thing that keeps me from writing, from talking: i'm afraid of not being taken seriously. that a schmelen/bananie wedding--or to be less threatening to the sacred institution: "commitment ceremony"--will become a political/religious quandary for the people i love. how much hope for the capital I important stuff do i get to hold out when it comes to the "estranged"? i wonder if i give my mother, my sisters, my friends enough benefit of the doubt? will they eventually be happy and feel like a "normal" family if my belly grows round with a baby? will i?

and so i've estranged myself because of fear. fear, once again. and as i fell asleep last night with that fearsome word on the tip of my tongue, music filled my ears. sarah's music. a song entitled "psalm 139" officially, but one she named "love can overcome estrangement".

her words are my words to nashville, as i fly my way back next month. they are my words to my beloved family:

do not leave me defenseless
despise me for my weakness
oh i'm gonna be found out
it's all gonna be released
and what we cannot see of love
is coming near.

Posted by bananie at 6:46 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack