Archive | July 2012

The Red Scrunchie Salvation


I wrapped my arms around the pillow (his pillow) upon which he took his last breath.

     I have written much about my exhaustion, but not about my sleep. My husband and I shared a queen-sized bed for many years. It is so empty now that I often find myself sprawled across the entire bed as though searching for him during my sleep. I average about four hours of sleep each night. I want to sleep. I really do, but I can only sleep for short periods at a time. My initial problem with sleeping began the day after he died. I went to bed that night and found that all I could do was hysterically sob. I wrapped my arms around the pillow (his pillow) upon which he took his last breath. I clutched that pillow so tightly that my arms ached. The pillow was not enough though.

I began to try out different belongings of his with which to sleep, believing that would help. I tried his wallet. That did not work well. I rationalized that he always had his wallet and it was so much a part of him that it would comfort me. I dozed off only to discover the wallet was not in my hand. I panicked and had to turn on the light to locate the wallet. The exhausting pattern of crying into his pillow while clutching his wallet lasted about a week. I had to find a new object with which to seek comfort.

I tried his cap. He always wore his cap. Only two occurrences prompted him to remove his cap—one was sleep and the other was, well, that is no one’s business. I do not know how many of you have tried sleeping with a cap before, but let me be the first to tell you—that brim is a lot more stiff than you might imagine. I would wake with it stabbing me painfully in my side. I dozed off, clutching the cap in a death grip but again, I woke in a panic to locate it. Another week or so of embracing his pillow and clutching his cap and I realized that was not working either.

If you have never slept with a black belt (literally)—do not try it.

     Next, I tried his Taekwondo black belt. It, too, had spent many years embracing him. His black belt is worn and tattered from years of teaching and sparring. If you have never slept with a black belt (literally)—do not try it. That lasted about two nights because I nearly strangled myself. Apparently, I do not sleep peacefully. I may pass out in a vertical position in my bed and wake in a horizontal position. I have found blankets wrapped around my neck and broken vases on my headboard from my nighttime flailing.  Somehow, I managed to get his black belt wrapped around my neck. Flop. I had to think of another tactic to get sleep.

Perhaps I have a subconscious desire to die, but I am not intending to take my life.

     I took two of his tee shirts from his dresser and cuddled with those and his pillow. The tee shirts would find their way to my feet or end up in a heap on the floor. I just could not keep them in my grasp. In case you are wondering, yes, I nearly smothered myself with one of his shirts. Perhaps I have a subconscious desire to die, but I am not intending to take my life. The wallet did not work. His cap failed to comfort me enough so that I could rest. His black belt tried to kill me and his tee shirts escaped me. It was then that I experienced an epiphany.

I went to the restroom only to return and find him frantically trying to trace the intricate web of wires attached to his chest.

     During his last days, he had so many wires and tubes plugged into his body. He was on a continuous morphine drip that impaired his judgment. According to his doctors, he was also in an incomprehensible amount of pain. I failed to realize that because he never let me know. He became fascinated with all the wires and tubes in his morphine-induced state of confusion. I turned my head for one second and he had removed his oxygen mask and was busily working to remove the PEG tube from his navel. I went to the restroom only to return and find him frantically trying to trace the intricate web of wires attached to his chest. I realized that I had to find something with which to entertain him and prevent him from removing the very things that were keeping him alive and mildly comfortable. I dug through my bag and found a red scrunchie.

One would think he was studying the complex mechanism of a carburetor.

     I dangled the red scrunchie in front of his eyes to get his attention and he reached for it as though in slow motion. His eyes lit up like those of a small child. He was fascinated. He worked for hours to understand how the threads joined to form that elastic circle. One would think he was studying the complex mechanism of a carburetor. Perhaps he was. Regardless of what he saw, the red scrunchie kept him occupied and prevented him from playing with wires and tubes.

I will never forget that image of him with the red scrunchie on his nose.

     The red scrunchie even entertained us because once, he was so busy tracing the threads that he sat up in bed and removed his oxygen mask to work. I failed to realize he had removed his mask until the oxygen alarm began blaring.  His oxygen level was dropping rapidly and I ran toward him, scolding him to get his mask back on his face. He panicked. I startled him enough that he shook with confusion as he tried to understand my words. He shoved the red scrunchie onto his nose and proceeded to put his mask back on over it. It was priceless. Once I got the red scrunchie out of there and the mask on him properly, we laughed about it. I had forgotten that I could laugh. I will never forget that image of him with the red scrunchie on his nose. I still smile when I remember that moment. We needed one moment to laugh during those dark days.

Nevertheless, I fondle the red scrunchie with my left hand, closing my eyes while tears run down my cheeks, knowing that he is somewhere out there smiling at me.

     I knew the red scrunchie would be my source of salvation. I removed it from the jewelry box in which I had placed it and wrapped it around my right hand, climbed into bed, embraced his pillow and slept. It was the first time I slept for hours in what seemed like decades. I dreamed of him that night. I continue to sleep with the red scrunchie and his pillow. I cry into the softness of his pillow, knowing that I will never embrace him that way again in this life. Nevertheless, I fondle the red scrunchie with my left hand, closing my eyes while tears run down my cheeks, knowing that he is somewhere out there… smiling at me.

©2011-12 Relinda R.






















After years of watching a world spin in which she had no place, she decided it was time to surrender to fate. She asked the rock if her absence would change its plight. It replied, “No, you are gone from my sight.” Still in doubt, “Will I be missed,” she inquired of the tree and the tree replied, “Not in this life.” So she screamed to all the people who could hear, asking if her presence mattered at all. They all screamed in unison, “You have nothing we need at all.” She hung her head but there were no more tears. She teetered on the edge of the cliff with one foot in the air and wondered if it would hurt more than the last few years. She had her answer right away and knew that it could not so she took that last step into the air and flew. She flew right into the embrace of the one she loved, who had been patiently waiting for her. And she smiled again.


©Relinda R.

Free Speech or Financial Gain

“ I realize how depraved it was to instill false guilt in an innocent child’s conscience, causing a distorted image of life, God, & self, leaving little if any feeling of personal worth.”
Mary Griffith

I think much of the current problem regarding the Chik-fil-a controversy is that Dan Cathy is using a business to promote his personal religious/political stance. I use the term “political” because this declaration comes on the heels of the president’s public acknowledgement not to discriminate against gays. Of all the “attaboy” posts I have seen on Facebook, only one commends Cathy on exercising his right to free speech. However, he is not exercising free speech as an individual; he is exercising free speech as the spokesperson for a 2 billion dollar business. When we try to insert religion into government, the result is many people arguing about God and what the Bible states, rather than individuals researching the spoon-fed political propaganda they are consuming. We will be witnessing many politicians jumping on the big Chik-fil-a controversy bandwagon to help promote a political agenda. Appealing to self-professed Christians to cash in on their religious convictions is an excellent tactic for political sparring. In the meantime, a war is brewing between those who support gay marriage and those opposed to the concept.

I commend Dan Cathy, but not for the same reason as most. Personally, I think the manner in which he declared his opposition to gay unions is unethical, but I will spare you that rant. I commend him because he just wittingly managed to persuade many people to support his business, along with all the organizations to which he currently contributes funds and they do not even realize it. I am curious about what else his “biblical” perspective includes. He is treading on a minefield of prejudices and judgment that threatens the fabric of society. This is precisely how cults originate. He just gained a massive following by asserting his religious stance on gay lifestyles and promoting those beliefs as those of his business. I wonder which political party he supports and how much money he contributes to that party.

Cathy created an even larger platform for those seeking to make abortion illegal and countless other ideas, which I shudder to consider. The problem is that the majority of those jumping on the Chik-fil-a bandwagon, believing they are supporting a Christian idea will have no idea of exactly what else they are promoting. They may fail to recognize that they are practicing discrimination at its ultimate, which eventually leads to war. Few people are supporting Cathy from a stance of protecting free speech; the majority is only doing so because of the biblical stance of condemning those who practice homosexuality. They just are not realizing that they are also opposing many other things, including sexual equality. I have never before considered a restaurant owner’s religious or political stance as I ate there because I did not think it was relevant, but this whole debate may make me reconsider my choices of where I eat.

I emphasize that this is merely my personal opinion and I am not promoting a political agenda. I am a concerned individual because I fail to see how Cathy’s revelation contributes anything positive to societal woes. We are all stuck on this planet together and divisions such as these threaten our security. These divisions rarely “work themselves out.” Diversity is a wonderful thing, but when it reaches a boiling point and civility gets lost in the madness, warfare looms dangerously close.

©Relinda R.


Sometimes rainbows explode and float just out of reach. Sometimes there is only barbed wire stretched out to scar you. Sometimes dreams come true, but sometimes the wire snares the dreams and tears them to shreds. Sometimes poetic justice hides in the trees, waiting to slither just out of reach. Sometimes the emptiness you feel is real. Sometimes…it is time to go home.

©Relinda R.

“Life is Accomplishment”

If you are on Facebook at all, you cannot miss all the jokes about the president’s “you didn’t build that” comment taken out-of-context for the Romney campaign. It really makes me feel bad. Allow me to explain why. I received an Associate of Arts degree in May 2010. Since I was the president of the Beta Beta Omega Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and the “Cossatot Chronicle” editor, I was asked to write and deliver a speech on behalf of the graduates and I did so. My speech centered on a motto that I suggested for my high school senior class. The motto represents an idea that life is much more than just existing, it is about growing, learning and achieving dreams. It was also my Dad’s senior class motto in 1951 and I thought it best expressed an idea for those of us who were graduating. The motto reads, “Life is accomplishment, not mere existence.”

Considering that one idea, I built an entire speech on the way none of us accomplishes anything alone. I recognized the faculty members, families and friends who helped us along the way. I do not know of anyone who can say, “I did this all alone.” Somewhere along the path, someone helped. I could not have accomplished all that I have in college without the help of others. Each time I do well on a test or submit an outstanding literary analysis, I think of the people who contributed to that accomplishment. It certainly is not my achievement alone. If I make it to point in which I earn a B.S. degree and further, even to the point of PhD, I will not be thinking, “I did this alone,” I will be thinking, “Thank you to everyone who stood by my side and helped me reach this point.” I will especially be thinking of my husband because were it not for his encouragement and sacrifices, I would never have even given college a shot.

Perhaps it is amusing to some and downright infuriating to others that President Obama used this idea to make a point, but I completely understand what he was trying to say because I tried to make the same point in 2010, a little differently, but same concept. Seeing all the jokes makes me feel somewhat foolish and perhaps many believed my speech to be stupid, but it was a proud moment for me. Perhaps some people do believe that when he or she does something or builds something, it is solely his or her accomplishment, I do not. I think it takes many people to build a dream and I will always be willing to recognize that. I have not accomplished anything alone, have you?

Image©Relinda R.


Today, listen to your conscience and follow your heart. Your heart knows right from wrong. Sometimes, you just have to shake your head and keep on going. There are always those who wish to bring you down because they do not like you, for whatever reason, but you cannot let that alter your path. Just smile, keep on going and hope that one day, they can distinguish their own voice from that of the crowd.

©Relinda R.Image

Rock on, Muppets!

I am very disappointed in what I am witnessing in society. Throughout history, racism and hatred have been promoted under the guise of Christianity. I find it so disturbing that people can promote hatred by proclaiming they know the mind of God. Homosexuality is a big target right now because President Obama has announced that he supports their rights. I have seen people going ape-shit crazy commending a certain restaurant for standing up for what they believe by saying homosexuals have no rights because they are in violation of God’s word, yet I have not seen one thing commending the president for standing up for his beliefs in believing that every man and woman has a right to live. So, do we, as a nation, think it is fine to stand up for what you believe as long as it is what everyone believes? I do not know how to tell people but if they are opposed to companies that support gay rights, they should do some homework. Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Apple and even the Jim Henson Company recognize that every citizen of the world have rights. Are we really going to condemn the Muppets to hell because they think homosexuals deserve the same rights as heterosexuals?

I will be the first to admit that I am not a theologian who has spent my entire life studying the Bible and understanding how things are often lost in translation. However, if memory serves me correctly, there is also something in that Book about not judging others and one sin being equal to another sin. I also seem to recall something about Jesus declaring the importance of love. I do not recall him saying, “I’m going to pick those of you who condemn everyone who is different from you to live with me.” Really people, get a grip. I remember something about a bunch of wars beginning because of twisted religious fervor.

I think someone needs to remind these people promoting hatred that the Bible was written by men and the books were carefully chosen by what best promoted a political agenda. There was many other books denied inclusion in the Bible because they demonstrated that women were independent. That displeased some rulers. We certainly do not want women thinking they have rights.

If everyone would just recognize that we are all in this thing together and stop arguing about who is going to hell and who is not, it might be a much better world. I was recently discussing religion with someone and told him to follow his heart. You know in your heart what is right and what is wrong. Listen to it. Stop listening to the same voices that said witches were running amuck and must burn or was it float. Live and let live. When you say, “Oh, I am not judging that person, only his or her lifestyle,” you sound like an idiot. If a group of gay folks comes to your house demanding that you be gay, then you can practice your right to protect yourself. Otherwise, what is it that disturbs you so much about homosexuals or anyone who believes they are human beings too? How are they such a threat to you? I am always hearing how Christians are such wonderful people. Right now, I am not feeling it. Please stop choosing certain verses and taking them out of context to promote hate. Look at the whole picture. Stop listening to TV evangelists who make millions of dollars telling you what to think. Think for yourself. Your heart knows the truth, listen to it.

If you are reading this right now, you are experiencing one of two emotions, anger or agreement. If you are angry and believe that, I am going to hell, oh well. If you are hoping that I will insert an apology for offending you at this point, then continue to get angry because there is not going to be an apology. I know myself well enough to recognize that I have no right to judge anyone based on his or her sexual preference. I have no right to judge anyone based on anything. It was not that long ago we wiped out Native American Indians because we wanted their land. It was not that long ago that we thought it was just fine to kidnap human beings and sell them into slavery. Two-hundred years from now, someone will be saying it was not that long ago we actually thought it was just fine to condemn others because they were different. Listen to your heart. Your heart knows the truth. If we are basing hatred purely on the Bible, unless I missed something in there, Jesus never said to convert and kill all the Indians, make African Americans your slaves and hate your gay neighbor and anyone that does not hate him too. Rock on, Muppets, rock on!

©Relinda R.