Musings in the Dark: A Story to Tell


A Story to Tell

It’s been over a month since I last posted, and probably over a year since I posted something like this.  My new life as an expat has its challenges, and said challenges have kept me away from my writing as a necessity.  But since writing is probably more a part of me than my career choice, you can probably imagine the slow metaphorical death I’m undergoing.  Living in the Kingdom is especially challenging in so many ways.  The only way I can deal with it is to (1) focus on my kids and (2) travel as often as possible.

I’ve said before that I’m living my dream.   As I write this, I am sitting in a lovely hotel in Rome, Italy.  I’m a block from the Piazza del Popolo and maybe 15 minutes from Vatican City.  Italy is and always has been #1 on the bucket list; the first place I wanted to travel to when I was a child.  Momma gave me a globe and I picked out the boot and said I wanted to try it on.

But then my life took a turn—as life does—and Italy became a dream, a mirage.  I spent 20 years of my life as a caregiver and caretaker to my parents.  I watched my friends go out, have fun, date, fall in love, get married, have babies, etc.  My life was different: countless hospital visits, learning how to distribute medicines, understanding the effects of ravaging diseases, surgeries upon surgeries, all while working (and later, going to graduate school).  I had minimal help.  I tried to date, but it was too much.  I knew my parents wanted me to have that life but between caring for them and working, I had no time for myself, and that included self-care.  At this time, I was undiagnosed, so my emotions swung like a pendulum. 

Daddy died in 1998 and Momma in 2008.  When she died, there was a giant singularity and I had nothing to stop me from swirling into it.  There’s nothing in the manual (in fact, there is no manual) that tells a caregiver what to do when the loved one(s) you’re responsible for is gone.  My life had always been about them, so I was completely at a loss on what to do when my last parent transitioned.  I was in so much pain, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  My dreams were dead.  I wasn’t progressing in graduate school and really didn’t give a fuck about finishing, since Momma was gone.  I had no life and my job was (with the exception of my kids) uninspiring.  I was sleeping entirely too much and was always tired (sure signs of depression).  I’m almost certain I had a nervous breakdown.

In short, I had nothing, and so I wanted to die.  I felt that God was indifferent to my pain and nothing mattered anymore.  It was a Sunday and I was debating whether to take a bunch of pills or use a knife.  I don’t remember how long this internal debate raged, but what I did instead (or was directed to do) was call my bff and ask for help.  She asked no questions and got to my house in less than 10 minutes.  And like a real best friend, chastised me for being selfish enough to consider ending my life.  I tried to explain that my purpose was complete; that there was nothing more for me to do, and as far as I was concerned, there was nothing else.  She read me from the table of contents to the index and pulled no punches.  I remember her saying, “Do you think your parents are ready to see you so soon? Do you think they would be HAPPY to see you?”

It wasn’t too long after that fateful day that I got the grief counseling I really needed and the proper meds to get my mind back on track.  I went back to school and graduated, published a couple of books, and as you’re well aware, got the opportunity to move overseas.  I released (almost) everything that tied me to the US and it freed me to do what I’m doing now.  I am so happy with my life choices and had I gone any other way, wouldn’t be where I am right now.

(**I am publishing at least two more books in 2016; I promise**)

One of my former pastors told me that my darkness was someone else’s light and that when I emerged from it, I would have a story to tell.  So I tell this story to offer hope to those deep in the struggle; especially those of you responsible for the care of another.  I thought my life had passed me by; that God had forgotten about me and my dreams in spite of the fact that I’d tried to obey by honoring my parents.  But that wasn’t true.  It was when I was at my absolute worst that I was reminded that I was loved, that my purpose had not yet been fulfilled and no, my job wasn’t done. 

So now I live in a very difficult place that requires regular respite in the form of travel.  When it was time to make a decision about where to go for winter break, I first decided on Istanbul.  But then Paris happened and so did Turkey and I changed my mind.  I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of Italy first, but that’s how far my dream had drifted away from me…like something I could never have even though it literally was right in my grasp.

Not anymore.

I think about the kids I’m working with now and how much I adore them and how much they love me.  I think about the kids I worked with in the past who are now adults and how we have impacted each other’s lives.  I think about all of the wonderful people I’ve met since that horrible day and how everything eventually turned out all right.  Is everything perfect?  Hell no.  I continue to sacrifice certain things to have other things, but life is meant for living.  I spent 20+ years not living, not dreaming, and it almost killed me.  Do I have any regrets?  Not really.  I guess I had to walk right up to Death’s door and knock in order to understand and appreciate where I am right now in my life.  A houseful of furniture, a car and a mortgage are nice things to have, but I’d rather have a stamped passport.

That, and a story to tell.

Happy Holidays from Rome, Dark Dilettantes!

The Trevi Fountain


  1. I like Italy better than China. I always worried about you getting tossed into prison. Make the same magic in Europe and you'll have 3 continents under your belt. Then it's off to Australia with you, mate!

    Wishing you everything great! Keep us posted.
    (This is Elaine, your fanfic buddy from the Hard Rock Atlanta.)

  2. Hi Elaine!!!! Shanghai is a fantastic city; Riyadh...not so much. But Rome is magical. MAGICAL.

    I promise to do my best not to get tossed in jail, tho! And yes, Australia/NZ is on the list of places to visit!

  3. thank you for sharing your struggles as well as your adventures

  4. Thank you for sharing. Your story will help inspire others to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.


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