Archive - love RSS Feed

Grieving a love gone wrong (by Louise Gallagher)

Back in February I wrote a post for the blog carnival entitled Patiently. It was a fictional account of a victim of domestic violence. Today, I am grateful to have a guest blogger who not only knows first hand what it is to live that nightmare, but was able to escape from it.

Louise Gallagher has moved through Calgary’s corporate hallways to not-for-profit fund-raising and communications. The author of The Dandelion Spirit, A true-life fairytale of love, lies and letting-go, published in 2006, she is the producer/writer of At The Heart of Centre Stage, a one hour documentary for Global Television and numerous other video productions. In addition, Louise’s articles have been published in print and online and she has had several articles aired on CBC Radio.

Louise seeks to inspire everyone to make a difference, in their own lives and in their communities through creative expression in everything they do.

Grieving a Love Gone Wrong

When someone dies, we grieve. The process is well-documented, the steps clearly defined though seldom straight-forward. We each journey through the process at our own speed, in our own time. But, regardless of our pace, we must go through each step to come to that place where we can be at peace with only the memories of the one we loved to warm our hearts, as we learn to accept that they have gone forever as we move on.

We start with disbelief. It cannot be true. They cannot be gone. We are in denial. And then we move into anger. How could they have left us! Why me? Why them? Why now? Why? Why? Why? Anger gives way to bargaining, trying to find some way to reach peace with the inevitable truth that is edging away at the darkness, trying to bring light to the endless night we seem to have slipped into with their passing.

We’re angry they left us, angry they won’t come back. And angry there is nothing that can bring them back — though we keep searching for a way to make the pain of their going, go away. Until, finally, sadness invades our minds like fog drifting upon a river in the grey on grey world of a winter’s dawn as we wade through the pain of the truth seeping into our hearts with chilling clarity. We will never see or feel or hear them again.

As the truth settles in we learn to accept. They are not coming back. Sad, but true. But we have our memories. Those beautiful, jewel encased visions of who this person was and what they meant to our lives. And so we slip from the waters of despair into the memory banks and photo albums of their loving faces frozen in time, etching their images upon the page with our fingers lovingly caressing their smiles as we point and laugh and tell stories about them.

Remembering when. Remembering how. Remembering them. We hold their memory lovingly in our hearts and feel the breath of life return once again to our peace of mind. Knowing that whenever we need to, to have them near all we have to do is open a photo album, slip into our hearts and there they’ll be, forever and a day. And so we grieve as their memory turns into a poem of love we will cherish forevermore.

There is no poetry when grieving a psychopath

Grieving a love gone wrong hurts. Especially when the one we loved has been untrue. Has lied and deceived and manipulated to get what they want. In those memories, there is no place where it is safe to trace their image upon the pages of our mind as we carefully gather mementos in the book of love we are writing in their passing. For, no matter where we roam, the lies, the deceit, the cruelty and desperation we felt in loving them tinges our minds with the ashen silt descending from the volcano that erupted in their passing through our lives.

Where once love blossomed on every branch and flower strewn vistas of happily-ever-after cast a sweet heady aroma of bliss upon our minds, burnt out memories lie etched in stark relief upon the black and grey landscape of our dreams. We are not safe to grieve wrapped in the memories of their love and so must find a way to release the tears without falling into the river of despair as anger and hatred and revulsion invade.

And so we grieve

In anger we turn the pain of having loved a phantom onto ourselves. We search for answers to their duplicity in our own naiveté. We blame ourselves, we find solace in trying to keep alive the image of what we wanted so desperately for him or her to be. We attach ourselves to the belief we love him as reality rises with our racing hearts pounding out the truth in a mind-numbing tattoo. He is the lie. Until finally, like Vesuvius erupting, the anger boils over the top and we are free to vent our tears and pain and fears and anger.

We were betrayed. Not because of anything we did. Not because of who we were, or how we looked or behaved, but simply because the abuser was who he or she was. We were betrayed not because we deserved it, but simply because we lost track of what we truly deserve when he betrayed our truth, our faith, our hope in love. We were betrayed because he chose to betray us and we were not expecting betrayal. We were expecting the love we gave in such breathless wonder to be returned with equal honesty. We were expecting to be cherished as we cherished him. But we didn’t know that upon that first sweet hello, we were targeted for betrayal. And betrayal is hard to grieve.

I grieve for the woman who was abused

When the man who promised to love me ‘til death do us part and who took the death part way too seriously was arrested and I was set free, I wanted to mourn the relationship that was too good to be true. I wanted to grieve the man with whom I’d fallen in love. But he did not exist.

How could I mourn a dream? How could I grieve a figment of my imagination? Where was the substance to the chimera of his being in my life?

When first I was set free, I tried to mourn the man I thought he was and ended up grieving for the woman who was betrayed. Me.

I grieved for the woman who believed in Prince Charming and awoke to her worst nightmare raging in the night. I grieved for the woman who believed no one could willingly, knowingly, consciously create such evil and who had to awaken to the truth. Someone could and that someone was once a man I loved. A man who was untrue.

I grieved the woman whose hungry heart led her into his unholy arms. I grieved the woman who had to give up on believing in herself in order to keep believing in him. And I grieved the woman who almost lost her life because she could not believe she deserved to live. I grieved for that woman who was me who was so wounded, battered and bruised upon the road of life she thought she had no choice but to follow her magical thinking into the nightmare of his lies. She was betrayed and lost her way.

I grieved the past. I grieved the woman-child who believed she deserved to be abused.

In my prayers, I let him go

I did not grieve for him.

I prayed for him. I prayed for him a miracle, for only a miracle will set him free. And in my prayers, I let him go.

And focus on me.

When first I stumbled off that road to hell I could not feel my heart within me, could not feel the warmth of the sun upon my face. I could not feel. In grieving, I shifted my focus from memories of him to memories of me. My life, my joy, my sorrow, my pain, my elation. In grieving, I mourned what happened to me and rejoice in the wonder, the beauty, the joy of being alive today. In living, I create my poem of love that says, this is my one and only life. And I am the one and only me that I can be living it up for all I’m worth in the rapture of now.

Becoming all that I am meant to be

In letting go of him, I catch hold of me and wrap myself up in my loving arms. For I am the wondrous, incredible, miraculous being who has been given this gift of her life to live it in freedom. In freedom, I know that whatever lies I believed, from childhood through to this moment, there is only one lie that could hurt me now – to believe that I am not worthy of love.

He was my worst nightmare. But in his passing, I have been given the gift of truth that has saved my life – I am an awesome human being, worthy of love.

In love with me and my life, I accept all of me. Beauty and the beast. Joy and sorrow. Tears and laughter. Pain and ecstasy. Perfectly human in all my imperfections.

I am not less than, greater than, other than. I am me. And as me, I have the gift of embracing all that I am meant to be when I accept, without equivocation, my truth. I deserve to live my beautiful life without fear of being anyone other than who I am.

To read more from Louise Gallagher, please visit her at Recover your Joy.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, please know that this is not the life God intended for you. Please visit There is a better life for you.

NightandIloveyou (by Billy Coffey)

A recent, and very early, Friday morning:

I hear it through a thick blanket of sleep, soft at first then clearer and stronger. Not the sort of noise one fears at night. Not a crack or a thump or a ring from the telephone. But the sort of noise that makes you wonder where it’s coming from and what in the world it means.

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

I grab the remote control and point it in the general direction of the television, thinking that I had dozed off in the middle of whatever I had been watching three hours earlier. I wave it blindly, pushing the ON/OFF button and then smacking the whole thing against my hand because the batteries must be dead. And then I realize that the television isn’t on. The noise, however, still is:

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

My head raises, using what can only be described as the human equivalent to sonar to identify the source.

It’s coming from my son’s bedroom.

I pull back the blankets, schlep into the hallway, and stand at his door. The soft red light from his Lightning McQueen lamp illuminates him in his bed. He is staring at the ceiling with his arms raised and his fingers doing some sort of magical dance.

“Hey,” I say.

He jerks and spins and stares at me with a look of terror. He has been worried of monsters under his bed lately, and ghosts in his closet, and the bad guy from Toy Story. I just may be all three.

“Just me,” I promise.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“I am.”

“No, you’re singing.”

“Sorry, Daddy.”

“Let’s get some sleep, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy. Nightandloveyou.”


Back through the hallway, back into bed. I pull the blankets over me and roll to my side. Then, just as I close my eyes:

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”


Back out of bed, back into the hallway, back to his door.

“Hey, bud,” I say.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Quit singing and go to sleep.”

“Okay, Daddy. Nightandloveyou.”

I turn to leave, satisfied that my tone of voice has said what my words did not: don’t wake me again.

“Daddy?” he says, more to the shadow I cast against the wall than to me.

“Yeah, bud?”

“Mommy says to sing when you’re scared.”


I move into his room and onto his bed. “Mommy’s a smart girl,” I say. “Maybe the smartest.”

“She says singing makes the shadows brighter.”

“It does,” I tell him. But I don’t think she meant to sing a song from a commercial, and I’m fairly sure she didn’t mean to sing in the middle of the night.”

“Do you get scared, Daddy?”

I mull that one over, biding a few precious seconds by rearranging his covers and pillow. This is a murky question, one best considered in the light of day when I’m alert rather than the dark of night when I’m-not-so-much.

I weigh my options. Tell him that I am scared sometimes, and that may make things much worse. Because if Daddy’s scared, then there must really be some bad things out there. Things worse than monsters. Don’t tell him, though, and I risk much worse. I risk lying to my son.

Because I do get scared. A lot.

“Yeah,” I tell him. “Sometimes.”

“What do you do when you’re scared?”

“Pray, usually.”


“Because that’s even better than singing.”“Does it make the shadows brighter?”

“Better,” I say. “It makes the shadows go away.”

So we pray that the angels will chase away all the monsters. He speaks of the ones in his room, and I think of the ones in this world. Because I know the truth: the ones in the world are real.

We sit alone in the quiet stillness of his room, two people determined to find peace and rest regardless of the shadows that surround us. “It’s not so dark with a father here,” he observes. With me there beside him, rest comes easier. “Nightandloveyou,” he says, and then is asleep.

Back in my own bed, I stop to consider the shadows in our world. I am aware of many more than my son, and thankfully so. I worry about my family sometimes. I worry what will happen next. Tomorrow used to be a word of hope for people. Things would be better then. But I think that too many would rather cling to the present or even the past now. For a lot of us, tomorrow’s just too scary.

Then I remember what my son said. The darkness doesn’t seem to dark when your father is there. Yes. The shadows lessen. Rest comes easier.

I close my eyes and say my own short prayer.

“Nightandloveyou,” I say to my Father. And I sleep.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Love still holds on (by Billy Coffey)

image courtest of

If you were here last Monday, then you’ve already read Part One of this story. If not, check out Holding On.

Here’s Part Two:

“You’re gonna have to write about this, aren’t you?” she asked.

I nodded and said, “I’m afraid so.”

She looked down and toed the concrete. A faint smile crossed her mouth. “Awesome,” she whispered.

And it was awesome. The sort of story that I like to tell, part II of what will hopefully be a trilogy, complete with a “happily ever after” at the end.

Last May I wrote a post about her, her boyfriend, and their impending and involuntary separation. The college year was over and she was heading home to Utah, leaving both her love and her desire here. Her boyfriend lived and worked about three miles from campus.

Neither had ever believed in love at first sight. Not that they were jaded, mind you. Just practical. It takes time to fall in love. Time and effort and more than a little doubt. At least in their experience.

But experience isn’t always the best teacher, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Love is a power unto itself. It cannot be bottled for study or manipulated for experimentation. It simply washes over you and leaves you breathless.

Which is what happened to them.

The problem with that sort of thing is that it temporarily suspends all rational thought concerning some of the bigger issues. The fact that she was basically a visitor here and he was a permanent resident didn’t cross their minds until a few weeks before the school year ended. Which is when she approached me with this question:

Could their love survive the distance that would be between them?

I answered yes. Of course. Because love is all-powerful. The force that moves both world and man. Love conquers all.

That’s what I said then. And this is what I can say now—I didn’t really believe those words at the time. Not in general of course, but for them specifically. Because as powerful and conquering as love is, it is also an exceedingly fragile thing. Especially when you’re barely out of your teens.

So yes, I had my doubts. But I hid them as any good person should. After all, the general theory still holds—despite it all, love truly can hang on.

When I saw her this afternoon for the first time in four months, she was smiling. A good sign. And I noticed that she still wore her boyfriend’s class ring on her necklace. Another good sign. Yes, she said, they had made it through the summer. In fact, they made it with very little effort.

“So modern technology held you together?” I asked, remembering her prediction that emails and phone calls would never suffice.

“No,” she answered. “I mean yeah, sure. But no, too.”

I wrinkled my brow.

“We wanted to keep in touch,” she said. “I felt like I had to talk to him every day or I’d just go crazy. But honestly? I think if we had to go the whole summer without ever hearing from each other, we’d have been fine. I’d have come back here and we would have been just as much in love as before. Maybe more. Know what I mean?”

Yes. I did.

I knew husbands and wives who were at that moment separated by thousands of miles because one or both were serving our country. I had a friend who because of work was about to spend three months away from his family. And just mere months ago I attended the wedding of two people who had only seen one another four times in three years.

How can this happen? Beats me.

Is it any wonder why we have such a hard time describing and defining love? Faith seems easier—“the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” Yes. That’s it exactly. And hope has been defined as faith holding its hand out in the dark. Perfect.

But love? You can’t define love. Love is simply one of those things that must be experienced instead of pondered. It can be expressed but not explained, bent but not broken, and tested but not found wanting.

Which is why it’s the most wonderful thing in the world.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Holding On (by Billy Coffey)

image courtesy of

This story was originally posted on What I Learned Today back in May of last year. Some of you who read it back then had asked for an update, which Billy has assured me will be forthcoming next Monday. Stay tuned…

But for now, here’s Part One:

I listen as she talks, nodding and smiling and saying “Uh-huh” every few words so she’ll know I’m getting ready to say something wise. The softball glove I had been restringing is now in front of me on the desk, put there so she knows she has my undivided attention. This is serious stuff. Especially when you’re twenty-two.

“So,” she asks, “what do you think?”

“I think you should ask your boyfriend,” I say.

“He says he’s not worried. We can still keep in touch.”

“He has a point.”

“But I told him that’s not the same.”

“You have a point, too,” I concede.

Then, she repeats: “So what do you think?”

A year’s worth of accumulated college stuff is packed into her battered Ford outside. It’s been a long year of studying and cramming and writing, enough to make even the most ardent student eager to turn tail and run home for the summer. But she’s stuck around, unwilling to leave because of what she will leave behind.

“It’s not that far, you know,” I offer.

“It’s Utah,” she says. “That’s a long way from Virginia.”

“Could be worse. You could live in California. That would add a few hundred miles.”

I smile, but she doesn’t smile back.

“Why did I have to fall for a guy here?” she asks.

I shrug. “The heart knows what it wants,” I answer. “Rational thought is sometimes left out of the equation.”

“But he’s here, and I’m going to be there.”

“But you’ll be back here in three months,” I say. “That’s not a big deal. And there are plenty of ways to keep in touch until then.”

“But I can’t see him,” she says. “Talking over the phone and emailing isn’t the same as seeing him.”

“Because you’re in love?”


The nod I give her isn’t a sarcastic one, but an acknowledgment of the truth. They are in love. Truly, madly, deeply in love. Love in its truest sense is not solely the domain of people who have been around for longer than twenty-two years. I see them on campus and I know. Love has a look.

“I don’t want to go,” she says. “I want to stay here. With him.”

“But you have to go, right?” I ask.

I get silence as an affirmative.

“And you want to know if your love for each other can withstand the distance between you?”

More silence.

She sits across from me, chewing on a fingernail. In the background the radio is playing Alan Jackson’s “Small Town Southern Man.” Fitting, I think, because that’s exactly what this city girl from Utah has found. And though I don’t know him well, I know enough to think she’d better hang on to him. Because it’s always been my opinion that those small town Southern men are worth keeping around. My own bias of course, since I’m one of them.

She breaks her silence and says, “So what do you think?”

“I think yes,” I say. “I think if you love him as much as he says he loves you, then distance is irrelevant. I think that wherever either of you are, the other one will always be. Faith is a powerful thing. Hope, too. But love? Nothing stops love. And if it’s as strong as you say it is, then that love will always be something you can stand under whenever the rain starts pouring.”

“We’ll be all right?” she asks.

“As long as the two of you don’t give up on each other.”

She smiles at that. She has hope now. Hope that life and circumstance do not have the last say when it comes to matters of the heart.

That in the end, love always holds on.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.


If you’d like to read another story by Billy Coffey, he’s guest posting over at Coffee with Marty today. While you’re over there, read a bit of Marty’s writing. He’s a great young writer, and you’ll be hearing more from him soon.

Speak to us of Love

An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you, follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you,

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in the their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.

He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;

And he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.
Or to be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

~ Kahlil Gibran
January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931

Keeping the Peace

We do that, don’t we? Keep the peace; allow things to go unsaid. We don’t rock the boat. Instead we keep our mouths shut and harden our hearts in the process. Thing is, these things left unsaid? We choke them down, hiding them deep. They fester. They grow. Spreading like a cancer, and if we don’t treat the root cause they begin to affect every aspect of our lives.

Are you really mad at your wife because she left dishes in the sink?

Is it such a big deal that your husband forgot to pick up the dry cleaning like you asked?

Funny how everything becomes all or nothing: “You NEVER keep this kitchen clean!”

Or: “Why do I ALWAYS have to remind you twice to pick up the dry cleaning?”

Really? Tell me in honestly if your wife has never cleaned the kitchen or that your husband always has to be reminded again and again to run an errand for you. Bet you can’t.

But it’s so much easier to bitch about dishes and dry cleaning than to be vunerable and say “I don’t feel loved. I’m not important to you.”

Worse still is not expressing love because you make the assumption that they already know. They might, but everyone needs reassurance.

And remember: Love is a verb, not a noun.

This post is part of the Blog Carnival – Peace – hosted by Bridget Chumbley over at One Word at a Time.

Choosing Love (by Billy Coffey)

I worked with Jenny for about two months twelve years ago, just another face that walked in and out of the revolving door of the town’s gas station. She was a nice lady, Jenny. Always smiling. The smile is what I remember most. Well, that and the bleached jeans she always wore that rode high on the waist and had tiny denim bows in the back near the ankles. Jenny was a joy to be around, but she was no fashion maven.

She was, however, considered quite the catch. At thirty-five, Jenny was still both unmarried and unattached. Rare for these parts. And it wasn’t for lack of options, either. It was no secret that the busiest nights at the Amoco were the ones when she worked the cash register. Every available guy in town would suddenly get the urge for a can of Copenhagen or decide his tank needed to be topped off.

They’d show up in their best boots and hats reeking of Drakkar Noir, tough guys with big trucks and mustaches. But then Jenny would smile and say “Hey there” and they would transform from Bo Duke seducing an unsuspecting girl to Opie Taylor crushing on his teacher. It was both hilarious and sad at the same time.

Jenny seemed genuinely ignorant of the whole thing. She dated here and there but was content with her life. She lived in a double wide on the edge of town with her Australian shepherd and her growing collection of Garth Brooks CDs, sang in the church choir, and had a weakness for the Saturday morning sales at J.C. Penney.

In other words, Jenny had a good life. And even though she had her share of lonely nights, they weren’t chilly enough to convince her she needed a man to keep her warm.

But then one Friday night in walked Chad, who was neither dressed for church nor smelling like a gigolo, but tired and dirty and heading home from his job as janitor at the elementary school. He said nothing beyond the usual niceties of “That’s it” and “Thanks” and made his way out the door, but Jenny did something I’d never seen her do. She watched him leave.

The two saw each other again the next Saturday, this time for dinner at Applebees. To this day I don’t know who did the asking. I suppose it doesn’t matter. They weren’t serious, but they spent their fair share of time together.

It was around their fourth date (which, as it turned out, was bowling) that the stars aligned one more time for Jenny. That was the night Aaron stopped by because his Mercedes was a quart low.

Jenny, I noticed, watched him leave too.

Aaron spent more on Jenny on their first date than Chad made in a week.

You couldn’t find two men more different from one another than Chad and Aaron. One pushed a broom all day, and the other traded stocks in the city. One lived in an apartment behind the 7-11 on Main Street, and the other lived on twenty acres in the country. Neither had quite captured Jenny’s heart yet. Both tried desperately.

The heart abhors competition, and the time came when both demanded Jenny make her choice. She was torn. Aaron was distant and sometimes cold, but with him Jenny could have the comfort she never enjoyed in life. There would be no more nights at the gas station, no more bleached jeans with denim bows in the back. There would instead be dinner parties and fine food and more security than she ever thought possible.

It was a life she knew Chad couldn’t provide her, but he could provide her with everything else. The things that both Jenny’s mom and her preacher knew were important. The things that mattered. Chad loved Jenny, pure and simple. And promised to do so always.

I saw Jenny the other day. She works the register at the grocery store now. Still wears those bleached jeans, too. Her smile and extra makeup couldn’t quite hide the sadness and bruises that were underneath. Chad’s a drinker. Jenny didn’t know that until it was too late.

She’s confessed to some that she often thinks of Aaron and the life she could’ve had. A better life. A better love. But I don’t think so. I think Jenny had it all wrong. I think Aaron would have left her just as miserable and hurt.

Because I don’t think you can choose who to love. I think love chooses you.

“It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations” ~ Kahlil Gibran


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Loving thy neighbor (by Billy Coffey)

(This is a repost from What I Learned Today, April, 7, 2009)

My friend Pete loves everybody. It’s a matter of pride to him, I think. He’ll tell you that he loves you the first time you meet him. Doesn’t matter who are or what you look like, either. “I’ve never met anybody I didn’t love,” he’ll say, “’Cause I love Jesus and Jesus loves me. So I gotta love you, too.” Then he’ll grab you in his gargantuan arms and lift you off the ground, shaking your bones like a pair of dice.

That’s Pete.

Pete is also as traditional as they come. Church every Sunday and Wednesday, and not a morning goes by without scripture and prayer. The combination of the two has infused in him and his family a bedrock of faith that for years refused to be shaken by anything life could throw at him.

Until the other day. Until my phone rang and he said in his breathless, forty-four-year-old voice, “You gotta get over here. Now.”

Pete was on his front porch when I got there, rocking back and forth in a lawn chair that was not made for rocking, looking thoroughly displeased. He offered me our usual snack—a Coke and a bag of peanuts. I proceeded to dump the latter into the former and take a sip of the salty sweetness.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

“Don’t believe it,” he said. “Don’t believe it, don’t believe it, dontbelieveit.”

“Don’t believe what?” I asked. Another sip.

“Johnson house sold there, across the street,” he said, pointing.

I turned around and followed his finger. Sure enough, the FOR SALE sign on the house across from his had been topped with another that said SOLD. The Johnsons had moved three weeks ago, and everyone figured that the house would be empty for a long while given the economy.

“Great,” I said, facing him again. “You have new neighbors. What’s the problem?”

“Dontbelieveit dontbelieveit dontbelieveit.”

“Pete, you swallow something you weren’t supposed to?” I asked. “You been in the moonshine?”

“Lookie!” he almost shouted, pointing again. “Lookie there and see what the cat done dragged in. Dontbelieveit!”

I turned again. Standing on the front porch of the Johnson house were Pete’s new neighbors. Older lady, slightly younger gal. They were attempting to arrange an assortment of rocking chairs and tables just so and not quite getting it. An aggravating situation for some, though they seemed in bright enough spirits.

“Pete, I don’t—”


The older woman, now utterly confused by the configurations of her new porch, simply gave one of the rockers a hard shove into the younger lady. The act of frustration was met with laughter from both, who then proceeded to fall into one another’s arms and share a very long, very deep…kiss.

“Dontbelieveit,” I said.

Pete buried his head in his hands. “Lawd,” he said. I wasn’t sure if he was praying or merely dumbfounded. “Lawd Jesus God help me.”


“Lawd, why’d You do this to me?” he moaned. “Thissa sort of thing that happens out in Hellywood, Lawd. Not ’cross the street.”

I shook my head in amazement, and the sheer irony of it all made me laugh. Pete, God-and-mama-and-apple-pie Pete, I-love-everybody Pete, had gotten a gay couple for neighbors.

“Huh,” I said. “Ain’t that something.”

“Somethin’?” he retorted, raising his head to look at me. “Don’t you know this ain’t good? Ain’t you read your Bible, boy?”

“Yep,” I said.

“Well, there then,” he answered, as if that explained things.

“You a little homophobic, Pete?” I asked, with a sip of my Coke and a smile.

“Homophobic?” he said. “Homophobic? Boy, I gotta eat a corndog with a knife and fork.”

I snorted out my drink and bent over, wiping it from my mouth and blue jeans.

Pete stared at me, unsure of what had just transpired that would cause me to make such a mess of myself. “What am I gonna do?” he asked. “What. Am. I. Gonna. Do?”

I thought about that. What was Pete going to do? Fume and pout, I supposed. For a little while, anyway. But then Jesus would come calling. The Jesus Pete loved and Who loved him more, Who said that hate was never really any good for anything other than eating up your own insides. He would come calling and tell Peter that it’s easy to love those who are like you, that everyone does that. But that love Jesus wanted from Peter was the hard love, the kind that’s not easy.

It’s okay to not like what they do, Jesus would say, because He didn’t like it either. But Jesus also loved those two women, and He wanted Pete to do the same. Because Pete had faith, and because that faith just might be the closest thing to Jesus those two women ever see.

“Just wait,” I told him. “It’ll come to you.”

We stared across the street. The two women resumed their rocking chair arranging, then stared at us.

They waved.

We waved back.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his new website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.


And be sure to stop by Nick the Geek’s blog and wish him a Very Geeky Birthday and check out my little tribute to him over at
The Fellowship of the Traveling Smartypants.

The Neighbor (Repost)

The girl sat at home alone; at least without human company, but the family cat was there.

At 10, she had become an expert at faking a sick day. The truth was she didn’t want to go to school. She had always been a bit of a square peg, and now with her family still reeling from a bitter divorce, facing her school friends with their in-tact families seemed a bit too daunting for a Monday. Money was tight for a single mother of four, especially when said mother happened to be employed as a waitress. A day off to care for a sick child was not really an option when you worked for tips.

Her mother reluctantly left her youngest child home alone, knowing there were neighbors next door and across the street the girl could call in case of an emergency.

The girl was enjoying her solitude. She was ordinarily a talkative, outgoing child, but lately wasn’t really feeling that way. She was perfectly content with the company of the television and the family cat, Nicky.

Nicky was another matter. After an expensive series of treatments for feline leukemia, he was finally in remission. He represented the life before her dad announced (on Christmas day, no less) that he was leaving. Nicky was a reminder of a family unbroken – Dad, Mom, sisters, brother, dog and cat. Perhaps that was too much to expect from a cat, but as the girl sat there with the cat purring in her lap, she felt comforted.

That is, until the cat fell from her lap and onto the floor. He began to pant and become limp. Terrified, she did the first thing that came to her mind. She called Mrs. Jones.

The Jones family lived two doors down. Their youngest daughter was friends with the girl’s older sister. They were a good, Christian family who always seemed to be doing something for someone else. Mrs. Jones was one of the kindest, most sincere people that the girl had ever met in her young life. Even though the neighbors obviously knew what was going on in that house, the girl never felt judged or pitied by Mrs. Jones – only loved.

The girl dialed the Jones house, said something incoherent into the phone through her tears and hung up. Mrs. Jones was there in a matter of minutes. She embraced the young girl and told her it was going to be okay. She then calmly wrapped the cat into a towel, and walked with the girl and the cat the short distance to her driveway.

The girl sobbed quietly on the way to the vet. She knew that Nicky would not be making the return ride home in the car. Alas he did not, but Mrs. Jones was there. And somehow that made the ride home much more bearable.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, that little girl was me. As I sat at the funeral of Mrs. Jones over 30 years later, I reflected upon how on that day and on countless other days for countless other people, her kindess and love reflected the Love of Christ. She really understood about that kind of love. I am so grateful for people in my life like Mrs. Jones.

The Things we do for Love (by Jeanne Damoff)

Today’s post comes from my new friend Jeanne Damoff. Just in case you missed my post from last Thursday, you might want to check it out. It gives a glimpse into who this lovely woman is and why I asked her to guest blog for me: The Picture inside the Picture. And now, here’s Jeanne:

This is my first-ever guest post for the lovely and talented katdish, and–even though she pooh-poohs the significance of such an endeavor–I’m slightly intimidated. So here I sit, wondering if that was a good first sentence and contemplating what else to write, when suddenly I’m transported back to 1964.

I’m standing behind a closed curtain on the auditorium stage at William L. Cabell Elementary School in North Dallas. I’m all alone, a tiny waif in a blue dress, white anklets, and Buster Brown oxford shoes. The light is dim and dusty. The curtain is heavy, and it towers far above me. I’m waiting for it to open, and when it does, I’m going to sing. A capella. (I don’t know the term “a capella” yet, but that won’t stop me from singing that way.)

I’m doing this for Miss Carras, our first grade teacher. I’m doing it because I love Miss Carras truly and deeply. You would, too, if you had been riding your bicycle to school, and it started to rain, and your sister and friend took off on their bigger, faster bicycles, leaving you to pedal your tiny, waif-sized bicycle as fast as your tiny waif-like legs could go, all the while watching your companions slowly disappear from sight, and feeling the rain sting your skin and the tears sting your eyes, and then hearing the tardy bell ring when you’re still a block away from the school, and arriving at an empty schoolyard, and seeing your sister’s and friend’s bikes neatly parked at the bike rack, and running through the deserted hallway to your classroom, the pounding of your Buster Browns on linoleum a mere pitter pat compared to your heart as you wonder if you’ll be sent to (insert ominous music) The Principal’s Office, where bad kids go for “licks” (and no, I’m not talking about ice cream), which ranks near the top of your list of worst first-grade fears (you’ve heard the legendary tales of suffering and woe–everyone has), and then finally bursting into the classroom, trying to keep your cool, but catching Miss Carras’ curious eye and dissolving into rain-drenched, late-to-class sobs, because surely she’ll despise you forever and make you bang erasers until eternity or fourth grade, whichever comes sooner, but then . . .

Miss Carras pauses her lesson and scoops you into her lap. She rocks you and asks what happened and dries your tears and, for those few moments while your sobs subside, she doesn’t worry one bit about the twenty other kids who arrived dry and on time. Nor does she call CPS after hearing your story, because this is 1964, long after the invention of kidnappers and perverts, but long before the advent of internet stalkers or Amber Alerts, and frankly, suburbanites don’t worry about that sort of thing.

If Miss Carras tried to call your mom, you never heard about it, possibly because this was also long before answering machines, and Mom wasn’t able to answer the phone due to the intense concentration required to apply false eyelashes, which she had no choice but to wear if her face was going to be enlarged for a billboard that all of Dallas would see as they drove down I-35 S toward town. One cannot expect ordinary eyelashes to suffice when one intends to visually extoll the virtues of a two-storied loaf of Mrs. Baird’s Bread, gently cradled in one’s gigantic manicured hands and held aloft for the viewing pleasure of the Metroplex. No indeed. Which explains why you rode your bicycle about a mile to school. In first grade. In the rain. But, in all fairness, it didn’t start raining till after you were on your way, and your sister had been charged to keep an eye on you, so don’t blame your mom. If you have to blame anyone, blame Mrs. Baird.

That’s why I’m standing on this stage. I don’t know whether to be nervous or excited, but before I can decide, the curtain creaks and groans and then slowly begins to open.

Miss Carras brought our class to the school auditorium today to introduce us to its parts and purposes. We all filed down the long aisle and seated ourselves in the first two rows. The wooden seats are on springs, so you have to hold the seat down and crawl into it before it pops back up. This is no small challenge for miniature waif-like folk, but once we were all seated with our legs sticking straight out in front of us, Miss Carras pointed out the various features of the cavernous room. After talking about the stage and its accessories, she asked, “Would anyone like to go up on the stage and perform for us?”

My hand shot up. I didn’t even pause to think about it. Miss Carras wanted someone to perform on stage, and by golly, this was something I could do for her. She smiled her approval, took my hand, and escorted me up the side stairs and behind the curtain. She pointed to center stage, told me to stand there and wait till the curtain opened, and then she disappeared.

Now that I’m up here and the curtain is opening, it’s all a bit overwhelming. But what else can I do? This is for Miss Carras, after all. At least I know what I’ll sing. That’s a no-brainer. I’ll give them the old classic, “I am a Pretty Little Dutch Girl.” (This is for you, Miss Carras. I’m gonna slay this audience.)

When the curtain creaks to a stop, I gaze out at a vast expanse of seats, all empty except for two rows of first graders and Miss Carras, who is smiling like the sunrise. I smile back at her, open my waif-like mouth, and sing with gusto–even tossing an innocent (bold? brazen?) grin at a classmate named Tommy when the lyrics link him romantically to my pretty little Dutch self.

The song ends. The crowd goes wild. The curtain closes, and I exit stage right, back into the embrace of Miss Carras. Back into my first grade world. Back into a time when motives were pure and love begat simple love with no strings attached.

That’s what I’m thinking as I contemplate this post for katdish. I wonder what I’ll write . . .


To find out more about Jeanne Damoff in all her wonderfulness, you can find her at one of these places:

her website
her blog
her photo blog
or on the twitter

Page 2 of 3«123»