Please forgive the nashville video-it really has great music and the song fits nicely.

It sinks in. It’s like trying to fall asleep. It happens slow, you’re not sure when it’s going to hit. Then it all happens. All at once.

Depression.

Now, moms (and mine especially), let me explain. It’s not clinically diagnosed or anything and I’m not entirely sure I would’ve been. There were a series of events that brought me to a place that I needed to wipe the slate clean and start fresh…with everything. This probably started around 3 months ago and today I’m feeling a lot better about where I am mentally. The fog is lifting and I don’t have to force smiles anymore. My energy is coming back and I’m excited about some new opportunities.

It really started, I think, when I had a job offer from a company here in Lincoln. I’d get to work with a good friend and the pay was unlike anything I’d ever been offered. The tradeoff was the shift in my work/family balance. There was a lot of after hours/on call stuff that I wasn’t completely ready to shake up. I turned the job down. The money would’ve been life changing. But it was work I’d never done and even though I knew I wouldn’t fail, I wasn’t ready to take that risk. The next week, Jack had some weird foreign substance in his eye that needed surgically removed. $2,000 later, I felt I made a mistake in turning down the job and the security that the money offered. My heart knew I made the right decision, my wallet filled me with guilt. I think that’s what kicked it off.

It wasn’t too long after that, that the unthinkable happened. Around 2:30 on the Monday after Easter, management at my work called everyone into the Board Room to tell us that our beloved Bettina had been the victim of a homicide at the hands of her husband. While that news in and of itself was tragic, it was the details that haunted my dreams. Bettina and I weren’t the best of friends, but friends we definitely were. The high fives, the smiles, her laugh, and her genuine eyes are missed and that is what has replaced the details that kept me from sleeping. The details that have forced me to nightly sleep aids, otherwise I would be up at 4:30 and be up for good.I suddenly felt it necessary to lock our doors at night and I gained a weird fear of dying in my sleep.  While losing gramps was extremely hard, the news of Bettina’s death was something that none of us could deal with. While I still have some minor set backs regarding the thought of my eventually inevitable death, it’s something that I’m slowly coming to terms with.

A year ago, I ran the majority of the Lincoln Half Marathon. I signed up again this year fully expecting to beat my time. I had gained about 15 pounds since I had last ran it, but I thought I could easily work that off and whip my old time. I had got into running after new years. I got up to 6 miles. While it wasn’t the best, I was running 6 miles and thought I was on my way to a successful half. Then the two above things happened and my training fell apart. I ate myself into temporary muted happiness. I finished the half, but I only ran about 5 miles total. I walked the majority of it. While I did it for Bettina and was proud to finish for her, my frustration with letting myself go only aided into my sadness.

About a month ago, things started to move in a better direction. A great friend of mine emailed me telling me that a job had become available with his company. A company that I had been hoping to get into. The interviews went great and I landed the job. I start on Monday. While I’m going to miss my foundation family dearly, this was the right time for me to go. The direction of my department felt like it was moving to a place that didn’t fit my skill set any longer. I made so many great friends there. I worked with one of my best friends for 4 years. I’ll miss the health insurance, the 401k matching, awesome vacation leave, and knowing the ins and outs of the happenings at the university. I’ll miss our pop o’clock gathering’s at UStop and one of our Network Admin’s complaining endlessly about how bad the Huskers are, even in the middle of a great game. But I’m looking forward to being a part of a team again. I’m looking forward to learning about Scrum and OnBase. I’m excited to work with so many of my old Fiserv friends. But I’ll never forget my 4 years at NUF. Ever. They are family. Plain and simple.

Being in I.T. afforded me the luxury of putting in my notice and getting 2 weeks paid vacation. It allowed me to take my family to KC to see a real life Thomas the Train, a great night with great friends on their back deck, and a night at Great Wolf Lodge. It also allowed me and my wife to go digging for the spark that got lost in my depressiony haze by spending 4 days in Colorado camping and relaxing in posh hotels.

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All of the great things that have happened in the last month brought me through the fog. Brought me back to me. I feel like myself again. And while I still have some unpleasant flashbacks, every little thing is gonna be alright. I’m going to be alright. We’re all going to be alright.

I consider myself to be so lucky. Lucky to have an awesome support system. An awesome new job and a beautiful family. A great support system made it easier for me to come out of the fog. To get back to me. I feel like I’m back home.

Please Come Home

Posted: April 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Oh, hey guys. It’s certainly been a while since I’ve last submitted my mental purging onto the web. I wanted to stay away from this form because I felt like it became a place for me to continue reburying my grandfather. While I still have issues, I think I’m growing positively in that department. So that’s the last time I’ll bring him up here unless it’s relevant.

Ok, now that we got that precursor out of the way, lets move onto another subject I’ve been wanting to avoid–faith. I used to be filled with the stuff. Grace, hands up during praise & worship at church, calling everyone “friend” and only reading books regarding Christianity. I even got some Christian tattoos to prove to everyone how Christian I was. Even after getting married, we found a couple of great churches to attend. We’ve loved the two that we’ve found together, Flatland in Omaha and Mosaic here in Lincoln. We used to go to Flatland every week. The drive got a bit old but the content and worship made it worth it. Jack was just a babe when we went and most weeks we would get interrupted with cranky bubba, so we slowly quit going, until we stopped altogether.

We then found Mosaic here in Lincoln and we liked it a lot. It had the same qualities Flatland had. Great content and fantastic (but sometimes too loud *damn kids and their loud music*) worship. The people all were genuine and we fell in love. We then had Miles who was a pup when we first started going. He wasn’t old enough to hang with Jack and they had a small room with a lot of people. Miles wasn’t a fan, so we would get pulled out. And we slowly quit going, until we stopped altogether.

Truth be told, I haven’t really missed it. My wife has some pretty deep scars from her experiences with a local group/church here in town. She has been slowly wanting to get back but wanting to do so with a peaceful, yet protective heart. Yet another reason for me to say “well, lets just go when things settle down.” I’ve been ok with not attending. And since we’ve stopped, my attitude and my overall general behavior have shown this. I’ve always had a potty mouth. I’ve always drank a lot more than a father of two kids should. I’ve always been super judgmental of people who gave ever “given me a reason to.” The pastor of a church quit following me on some social media sites after I had a stupid cursing outburst during a football game, and honestly, I have had a hard time wondering why so I’ve found reasons to stop attending-afraid of the judgment and being ashamed. Mostly being ashamed.

I have been Godless for a couple of years now. No anger about it. No hard feelings. Just haven’t been living with Him in my life. It wasn’t until we had to take my son to the hospital to have a foreign object removed from his eye that I found myself praying again. While I knew that I had no right to be praying out of convenience, it was natural to go there. Some of the old feelings started creeping back. While we were waiting the hospital visit, I was at work and listening to some old David Crowder that always made me feel a bit better. It got me thinking about the example I am setting for my children. Not only in my behavior but in neglecting to introduce them to some of the beliefs that Jenny and I agreed to when we started having children.

Having faith isn’t about living this perfect life. To me, faith is going towards Christ, even after a few years, a few mistakes, and a lot of pride. Maybe it’s still in there. It’ll take a while to get back there. But this time, I’m not going to force it. I am going to just take each day at a time. Each Sunday service, I’ll go and have a clear and open mind. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find my way back in His arms. Not only for myself, but for my wife who needs me to lead her. And my children who need me to hold their hand and show them the way. It’s time to come home.

 

I want to first start by apologizing to anyone who read my blog last night. I was in a pretty dark place and tend to go there. I need to learn to harness that stuff, turn it around and find the light. But in the middle of the darkness, it’s hard to see where you’re going. I always want to portray my true self in this forum. If someone can relate to my dark, then maybe it’s ok.

Today is better. I knew today was going to be better as I hit highway 34 on my way west to Lincoln. As I got on the road, the sun was slowly peaking and once the first hint of sunlight hit the purple sky, a feeling of warmth came over me. It is a new day. A day to put the dark behind, to make the day the best I can not only for me but for my family. Last night, I was sitting at the computer, pouting and drinking. Jack came right up to me and put his arms around me, slowly rubbing my back. I think that’s when my dark got a little less dark. He told his mom last night “I think daddy is really sad, but he loves me.”

That’s maybe what’s most important to me as a dad. I know I’m going to screw up. I’m going to fail my sons. But when they see me in my dark place, they know I still love them. I want them to know that I’ll always love them, no matter the current condition of my weak heart.  My boys make me happy, when my skies are gray.

Today is a new day. It’s bright, beautiful, and a chance to live like gramps.

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**Disclaimer: If you are not up for a downer blog, I would suggest clicking through.**

It hits you quick. Life is moving along fine. Work, kids, marriage, planning vacations, holidays, awaiting the newest episodes of Newsroom, The Walking Dead, and ahem-Nashville, all of those things keep your mind occupied. And then you realize, you’ve landed on a birthday of someone whom you’ve recently lost. 

September 25th will never be an easy day for me. Today would have been my gramps’ 86th birthday. I don’t know if it’s normal to be sad on these days as I’ve not had a lot of experience in this field, but today is always especially hard for me. Usually I would call him, hear the loud YO on the phone before I would wish him a happy birthday. The boys would hop on the phone for a second, just long enough to say YO back, happy birthday before they got distracted. I would get him a Snicker bar and take him out to McDonalds whenever I saw him to celebrate his day. 

Today, as is a new tradition, we had dinner at McDonalds, eating his usual-double cheeseburger and fries. We came home and I picked up Snickers Ice Cream bars for us. It was a nice way for the boys to keep his memory close. 

There weren’t many birthdays of his we actually spent together when I moved away. After I moved east, they became fewer and far between. I would never forget his birthday, but I never made it a point to go back unless it was convenient for me. A harsh truth, but a truth nonetheless. I would still call and acknowledge his birthday. Then as the years passed and I grew out of the college party phase, I wanted to spend more time with him. 

Now, I’ll never spend another birthday with him. I tried calling him today. All I got was the message that the line has been disconnected. This is my new reality. 

I sit here, listening to Johnny Cash songs, drinking Cutty Sark, and looking at old pictures, doing myself absolutely no favors. I RSVP’d to the Maestas Pity Party for one a couple of days ago. I will probably drink myself to sleep tonight and check back into reality tomorrow. But in the ugly midst of sadness, there’s no where else I’d rather be, than spending my night with his favorite drink, his favorite hat, listening to sad songs. Because of outside of the great memories, this is all I have of him now. 

But all of this, the scotch, the cheeseburgers, the music, the clothes….just gets me a little closer to him. And right now, I would give anything to be sitting across from him at his cheap, small, kitchen table drinking shitty coffee and laughing at my bad, inappropriate spanish. 

But this is my new reality. 

Happy Birthday, Muchacho! I miss you, old man! 

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I was six years old when I remember not wanting to move into the house my mom and stepdad were moving into together. The life I had known up to that point was solely filled with experiences at my grandparents house. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave grandma and gramps. I pulled, I tugged, I cried, I screamed. I didn’t want to go. But I had to let go. I had to let go of grandma and gramps and start moving towards a life lived with  my mom and soon to be stepdad. I didn’t want to let go. But I did.

Sunday, May 5th 2013 it is one year from losing my grandfather, Bonifacio “Bonney” “Gramps” Maestas. I am writing this on Saturday because I don’t know if I could write this on Sunday. Not only because of the half marathon or my family being in town, but because my heart will be in shambles.

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It’s hard not to think about all of the things that gramps has missed in the last year. My boys have really grown up. I got a promotion at work. I finally got my gramps tattoo. I finally got to go to Washington DC. The travel and the tattoo would’ve bothered gramps but he still would’ve really loved to listen to my travel stories.

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Tomorrow morning, I’m getting up at 5:15. After months of training, I am going to run in the Lincoln Half Marathon. In fact, as I scheduled this to post at 8am, I will be about 3 miles into the run. The second I heard that the marathon is happening on May 5th, I knew I had to sign up and run it for him. I had to do something to take away from the inevitable pain that’s going to fill my heart on Sunday. My boys have made signs for me. I had shirts made by Basement Ink. 20 of my family members across the state will be wearing them to honor gramps tomorrow. I’ll try my damnedest to celebrate gramps tomorrow. Crossing the fifty yard line of Memorial Stadium is going to be a great moment. I will raise my hand and my heart and finish strong for my muchacho.

This has been a hard year. After losing gramps, I’ve lost one of the few male influences I’ve ever had in my life. It’s been tough not having the man who raised me for 6 years not be able to answer the phone. The last time I went to Cozad, it may have been the hardest time I’ve had being back. I went to his house and just sat in the driveway, missing him. I drink primarily scotch and whiskey when I do go out and drink. Cutty Sark was his favorite scotch.

My heart is being pulled in different directions. I feel like the 6 year old kid. I have two boys who need my mentoring. The mentoring that I got from gramps. I have run into situations with my boys that I don’t know how to handle. I wish I could call.

It’s been a year. I feel tugging…I feel like crying…screaming…I don’t want to let go. Every day my heart hurts. I’m a mess.

But now I see my two boys. I see how much they need me to teach them the things I’ve learned. It’s what gramps would want. He would want me to be strong. He would want me to let go. He wouldn’t want me crying, screaming, hurting.

It’s time to let go.

muchacho

Aside  —  Posted: May 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

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There have been a handful of extremely memorable days I’ve had as a dad. First steps, first baseball games, first time trying new things. But this weekend, I had a day with my boys that will be tough to beat. I had a late night Friday with the boys attending the Husker Baseball game vs. Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park and didn’t get home until late so a full day with the boys meant getting out of the house so we didn’t drive each other crazy.

We went to the zoo for the first time this year. From the moment they woke up until the moment they went to bed, they were perfect little angels. There were many points in the day where I thought “Ok, who the hell stole my ornery, punk kids and replaced them with these two fun loving individuals?” But they were perfect. No, I’m serious…absolutely perfect. At the zoo, Jack wanted to play with absolutely everything. He wanted to pet and see every animal (which is rare because he only ever just wants to ride the train 5-7 times each visit). Miles listened to directions and really branched out and tried new things. But the entire time, they were genuinely happy.

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Maybe my favorite moment of the trip to the zoo was the thirty minutes we spent on this big mound of dirt. The way they explored, took risks climbing the “steep” side of the hill, and then sat next to each other and watched the train go by. They were best buddies. They were brothers. And in that moment, I felt a lot less of a shitty dad. I never had a brother and my sister and I are 12 years apart in age so I never had camaraderie like that. These two will have it and it makes me proud.

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We finished the perfect trip to the zoo with a train ride. The conductor even took our picture (but he’s a terrible photographer so I won’t share this one.) Great conductor-shitty picturetaker. The look on their faces when he yelled “All Aboard!” made all of the struggles of parenthood worth it. Every single yell, the time outs, the tears, the breakdowns…they were all forgiven in that moment.

I love being a dad. I love that God placed these two boys specifically in my life.

I hope that in that moment, they saw me as their perfect dad, just as I now see them as my perfect sons. The three of us grew that day. We bonded in a way that I have never bonded with anyone. I felt a camaraderie with them. It’s the piece of my heart that’s needed filled for a very long time…

puzzle complete.

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On a Sunday morning sidewalk

Posted: December 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s 7:43am on Saturday morning and I’m awake before everyone, avoiding sickness, drinking strong black coffee and listening to music that doesn’t involve the lyrics “There’s a party in my tummy, so yummy!” So instead of taking full advantage of my quiet time, I will make my mind go to work and write for the first time in months.

The reason I want to write is I was looking back on my blog roll and saw that the last post I wrote was entitled “Down.” There was a really long stretch where I was in a very dark place. I could admit it but I couldn’t break out of it. Looking back, it seems obvious what the problem was. I lost a huge chunk of my heart and I wasn’t letting go. I still can’t let go completely. I don’t know if I ever really will. For instance, the day gramps passed, I put a picture of him with my two boys on his lap as both the wallpaper and the lock screen on my iPhone.

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When I returned to work, I made that my wallpaper on my laptop. I can’t change it. I don’t know if I want to. I think he would want me to. I listened to Amazing Grace and We’ll Meet Again by Johnny Cash more than any sane person should. But then something happened. I quit thinking about the funeral, about the pain, and started seeing only the happy things. The great memories. Seeing my sons on my gramps lap every single day only use to remind me about seeing him in a casket. But now, I only mostly remember gramps giving Jack a hi five and then acting like it hurt because Jack hit his hand so hard. While I still ache when I think about it…there’s a glimmer of hope that I will only ever remember the happy times.

Christmas unfortunately is right around the corner. That is a time not conducive to happy thoughts of loved ones lost. It’s already started. We put up the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving and on Jack’s insistence, we listened to an old Christmas album on the record player. It was like someone flipped the waterworks switch to “On Full 100%” and I lost it. This will be my first Christmas without mi muchacho. The first year I won’t get a box of chocolate covered cherries and $5 of gift certificates to McDonalds. The first year I won’t walk into the Barnes and Noble movie section and see if I can find the entire box set of “La Femme Nikita” on VHS for him.

Grief is an ugly mother. It sticks to you worse than a nun in church? Ill work on my analogies. But in the meantime, I will remember and honor my friend, my mentor and my gramps during the holiday.

On a completely different note and definitely not as depressing as I just turned this post into, this Christmas season is the first in which my boys are absolutely head over heels excited for Christmas day. Jack really enjoys waking up and going straight to the advent calendar and moving the star another day closer to Christmas. Miles hasn’t pulled down the tree yet. Jack loves seeing the presents under the tree and the difference this year is that he doesn’t think they’re all his! He knows that some are mommy’s and he has even told her what one of them was! Little punk! It really fills my heart to see the joy in theirs.

My quiet time has now come to an end. Two boys are waking up and it’s time to brush my teeth, and comb my hair, and stumble down the stairs to meet the day.

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