Earl Waggoner

The Baggage We Carry

    Thought I would let you know what has happened to me the last 34 years.  I stayed away from family a lot... well, here it goes.  Maybe the
baggage you carry can be will someday show up like mine.

   Sometimes baggage can be locked up for a long time and, even though
the keys to that baggage can be opened with a key so that you can deal
with it, some of us seem to have no strength to turn it in the bag.
   33 years ago my wife at the time asked to separate so that she could
“find her self.”  We had 2 beautiful children at the time ~ Scott, age
9, and Tami Lin, age 5.  We decided that Scott would stay with me and
Tami Lin would live with her.  My wife would work a lot of hours on 2nd
shift, so I would have both of them most the time, which was fine with
me.
  At the time my wife was going with other men and, with the people she
went with, I new she was using drugs as she later admitted.  My choice
at the time was alcohol, and I began to drink more and more as the
separation went on.  She at one time came to me to ask for money for and
abortion and I refused to give it to her.  What ever happened about
that I never asked, but have always wondered.
   One afternoon my two children were playing outside after dinner while
I did the dishes and finished my bottle of wine.  I remember just
sitting down with my bottle on the couch when the load screeching of
tires made me jump from the couch.  The next thing I heard was my son
Scoot screaming at the top of his lungs “DAD”.   I ran out and Scott
yelled “the truck hit Tami”. I asked where she was, and he pointed down
the street.  I saw her body laying on the pavement 3 houses down and a
big red pickup in front of our house.  
   I ran to her and she wasn’t breathing, so I tried to give her mouth
to mouth when a nurse who lived close by took over.  The ambulance kept
her breathing from there to the local hospital to the bigger hospital an
hour away.  By the time over 20 relatives showed up, the doctor came
from the operating room and pulled my wife and I into a conference room.  There he told us that her brain was completely gone and asked if we
wanted him to turn the breathing machine before we saw her, and we
agreed to that.  We both walked down the hall, not saying a word to each
other.
   I remember, one time, trying to put my arm around her and she pulled
away.  As we stood there looking at my daughter, not a word was said. On
the way back to tell the relatives, I asked her to please come back
home, that both I and Scoot needed her now more than ever. She turned
and said, “You tell them she’s gone and no, I haven’t found myself yet.”  It was then I broke down an cried like a baby. I can’t remember her
crying at all although, I’m sure she did, at least I hope she had.  
   We entered the room with all the relative in and I told them Tami Lin
was gone.  After much crying and hugging, there was a silence when my
wife’s father walked up to me.  He got about an inch from my face and
bellowed out “Don’t you ever go near my daughter again you drunkin
son-of-a-bitch!”  Til this day I can’t remember what anyone else said in
that hospital waiting room, but I do remember what he said as if it
were an hour ago.
   The funeral was special, with the pews full of relatives and others
that loved our Tami Lin.  Even Tami Lin’s whole kindergarten class
showed up at our Catholic church and the grave site service.  My father
paid for the heart shaped stone with her picture on it, and the grave
site.  I can’t remember anything else that happened that day, or too
much that happened the few weeks after that.
   About a month after that I filed for a divorce from from wife. She
was using drugs and running wild while I continued doing the “legal”
thing and staying at home while drinking more and more.  We sued the man
who hit Tami Lin when we found out he was traveling over 55 in a 25 mph
zone and drinking beer in the truck.  She had went across the street to
get a ball and, as Scott said, looked both ways before starting back
across when the man’s truck came over a hill and struck her, sending her
3 houses from where she was hit.
   It took a year before the divorce was final, after a very nasty fight
over custody bringing up her drug use and my drinking.  It appeared my
drinking was not a problem to the courts but her drug us and lifestyle
was.    She tried again 3 times to get custody, but each time lost,  My
drinking continued to get a little worse each passing year and my
withdrawal from society became a worry to those around me.
  What saved me most was that God sent me a young lady that was having
the same troubles in her marriage, but was full of trust in Christ and
love for others. We married shortly after my divorce and, though I new I
had found my soul-mate, my depression continued to grow.  I continued
to use alcohol in putting my depression in check, hiding the amount I
drank from all around me.
   My depression and drinking began giving me problems in every aspect
of my life until I began to run from all my problems, sometimes dragging
my family with me and sometimes on my own, believing my family would be
better off without me.  My wife stuck with me through all, always
saying that she knew I was a good man.  She saved my life many times,
giving e a reason to get help for both depression and alcoholism.     Over
our last 20 years together I had been placed in the hospital many times
for depression, at one time given 10 shock treatments because no
medication would work and hey couldn’t figure out what was wrong. There
have been 5 different times in alcohol treatment centers and 4
different half-way houses. I’m proud to say I’ve been sober now for over
4 years.  
  Last year we were invited to see a movie sponsored by the church.  During the movie a young girl was killed.  It was during the funeral
part that they showed a picture of the girl on top of her casket, just
like we had placed on my daughters, that I walked out.  At age 13 I
attended a church camp that I had gone to for a few years.  At a
campfire meeting that year I walked up and accepted Christ as my savior.
I have never forgot that feeling that Christ gave me that night.  There
has been so many times that feeling returns and reminds me what Christ
has done to help me in the deep valleys that I ended up in.  
  Everything else seems to have fallen into place these last few years.  Of course the medical problems and financial situations in my life are
troublesome but with Christ’s help I am learning and healing a little
at a time.  I just can’t seem to find, if there’s even is one, a cure
for this deep, large empty hole within me left from my daughter death.  Some say to just accept it and live with it.  Others say to turn it
over to God.  I’ve tried both and more. I needed someone to help me turn
the key in that 1 piece of baggage to get it open so I can deal with
it.  I’m still searching through my church and fellow AA members and
it’s a long process, but I have faith in God that this long suffering of
guilt and emptiness will somehow work it’s way through.
  The last 5  years have been tough with 2 heart attacks, bladder
cancer and the development of type 2 diabetes, but God has given a
strong heart back to me, has made me cancer free, and helping me
stabilize my diabetes through his grace and medication.  Because of
health issues my finances have been a struggle to the point that my
choices of meds or bill paying has been an issue.  More times than not I
have, I have chosen meds over paying living expenses.  As time has gone
by, our problems have added up and our credit has gone down to the
point that a loan through our bank and other financial places have
declined us a loan to catch up.  We are now in a position that we are
about to loose our home. The amount seems small to many at $3000, but
it’s like a million to us.  What is the most surprising is that my
depression hasn’t returned because of this and my desire to run and
drink hasn't returned, either.
  My trust in the Lord and his ability to help me has grown to the
point of a calm that I had never felt before.  That trust in Him has
given me a reason to live and see outside myself in things that boggles
my mind.  I enjoy helping at church and in the community more and more.
The love my wife and I continues to grow stronger.  Maybe it’s because
of my age, my pain, or my trials, but turning to Christ for all things
will get me through this.  Trust in Him, who has carried me through so
much in my life, will continue to be my strength.
 
 

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Earl Waggoner.
Published on e-Stories.org on 16.03.2012.

 

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