Tag Archives: Family

The Storm Within

17 Apr

As I lay here in this empty bed, I listen to the thunder roll in from the west. With each crash and boom that resonates through my eardrums, I realize something insanely profound. As the pain and nausea sets in, this epiphany, this harsh reality, hits me hard like a sucker punch to the gut from an unknown opponent.

The thing is, I should have known this all along. This truth shouldn’t have come as a surprise in any way.

But it did. It took me completely off guard.

And as each flash of lightning illuminates this cold, dark room, my newfound sense of reality finally starts to set in.

I am a storm.

From a distance, you can appreciate and even love a storm. You can marvel at its raw power and beauty. A storm, will mesmerize you and lull you into a false sense of comfort.

I am a storm.

Most of the times, you will make it through a storm unscathed with little more than a few drops of water dripping down your face. But sooner or later, unapologetically and without warning, a storm you’ve seen a million times will turn on you in an instant. Suddenly, you are left wondering what hit you and what you are supposed to do next.

You see, I am a storm. You can only love a storm until it actually does damage to you. Like the best storms often do, I will ruin and destroy. And because of that, you cannot love a storm. Even the most seemingly harmless of storms are unlovable.

I am, without a doubt, a storm.

And as most experts say, you do not get close to a storm. It’s always in your best interest to just admire it from afar.

Katie Graduates

4 Apr

Life always come full circle. I know this. I’ve seen it with my very own eyes.

What am I talking like Yoda all the sudden?


This last weekend, I had the honor of photographing my high school English teacher’s daughter for her senior portraits. Yes. You read that correctly. I am now that old.

I had a blast photographing Katie and reconnecting with her mother. Her mother, has always been a huge inspiration to me. Whether she wants to be associated with the credit of teaching me the fundamentals of writing or not, she was the one who pushed me to write even when my writing was the absolute shittiest it has ever been. And to this day, I couldn’t even begin to thank her enough.

Anyway, come take a look at what Katie and I got into at Hodge Park in the good old Liberty, Missouri.

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The Awakening

24 Feb

I don’t think you quite understand.

You are, in fact, poking a sleeping bear.

And not one of those cute and cuddly type of bears that make you scream out “ooh” and “aah” either.

No, not even close.

You see, I am one of those rabid, hungry, and overly aggressive bears. The kind that when simply crossed, will maul without the slightest of warning.

You wouldn’t know it from the looks of me. Hell, most people will never see this side of me at all. But you’ve been poking and prodding for a long while now. And it’s time that you see the size of my teeth. It’s time you feel the pinch of your very own flesh underneath the pressure of my jaw.

You’ve been tiptoeing around for too long now, chucking rocks from afar so as to not awaken me. You select your targets at will, without regard for anything but yourself. In the past,  I have just sat back, gritted my teeth, and watched you play these childish games. On occasion, I would let out a yawn out of pure disinterest.

But lately, your aim has been off.

And now one of your pathetic stones has gone astray.

You have the impression that I don’t know what’s going on. You think that I haven’t got a clue.

But I assure you, I do.

You’ve targeted the very single thing that is most important to a bear. Something so precious and so very sacred. Something that I will not only fight, but win the bloodiest of battles for.

My family.

Your games, your manipulations, and your outright lies have sparked and fueled a rage so intense, there will be no warning, no more pleasantries.

So, here I am.

I’m awake. I’m alert. But most importantly, I am pissed.

I suggest you prepare yourself for what’s to come.


It Seemed Like A Good Idea

16 Feb

All of us awesome editors over at IndieInk recently got together and threw down the gauntlet geeky writer style. What am I talking about? Simple. A challenge. A modern day duel, if you will. We decided to play a little game and challenge each other on the weekly with anonymous writing prompts. Think of it as You Got Served, but with less rhythm and more nerdy white kids.

This week, my writing prompt is, well, challenging.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Okay, so I *wanted* it to be a good idea.”

A challenging writing challenge? Well, I’ll be damned!


Underneath this mess, there is pure unadulterated emotion.

But you’ll never know it.

You’ll never catch a glimpse of love, anger, happiness, guilt, elation, or even sadness.

My expressionless face is strong and fiercely robotic.

Or so I’ve been told.

You see, I wasn’t always like this. As a kid, I vividly remember expressing each and every emotion my heart could handle. It came naturally. I wanted the people that surrounded me to know exactly how I felt. If I loved you, I wanted to tell you I loved you. If I was happy, you could hear my laughter from miles and miles away. The simplicity of life allowed my emotions to take control. Logic was no longer a factor. Content with the smile on my face, I allowed myself to just be.

Until he died.

I can still see the frailty of his bones outline his figure as his paper thin skin stretched out across his ravaged body. The chemo and dialysis had taken its toll. As I watched the hospice nurse sit in a chair next to his bed, I knew this was the end.

Struggling to comprehend that each labored breath could be his very last, my ten year old mind broke. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t covey the emotions running haywire through my brain. The direct link between my heart and mind had crumbled. In that moment, I turned cold.

Two days later, he was gone.

What was this pain I felt in every limb of my own body? Why did I want to cry and vomit at the same time? Frantically, I searched for a way to eliminate all that hurt and confused me. I didn’t know how to ask the questions needed to cope. I didn’t know how I should react. Defeated, I just shut down.

It was all I could do. Just shut down every emotion I was used to. Keep everything inside so I could never be hurt again. I never wanted to feel this way. And I would be damned if I would let it happen.

Shutting down seemed like a good idea at the time. I wanted desperately for it to be. Hell, I needed it to be. But how do you come back from that? I am 31 years old now. Two decades have passed and I still find myself trapped inside my own mind. Even to this day, if I even so much as find myself thinking of that moment, I completely shut down.

He was still in his bed the last time I saw him. He didn’t even know I was there.

I was just a boy.

A boy, broken by reality.


The Day My Life Changed

17 Jan

As the very first cries came from your tiny lips, I found myself lost in you. Up until this point, I had been nervously and anxiously awaiting your arrival for what seemed like an eternity. All of the sudden, you were here in my arms. I could hear your voice, your screams as they alerted my soul to your long-awaited entrance into this world. With my hands trembling, I brushed aside your whimpers with nothing more than a simple stroke of your hair.  Seconds later, you were asleep. A moment in time, frozen in my mind for the rest of my life.

Five years have passed since that cold winter day. I’ve watched you transform into this brilliant, kind, and loving human being. As eager as I am to teach you everything I know, you have been the one to show me all that is right in this world.

In many ways, you are all me. From the way you get frustrated at the smallest of things, to the way you walk, to the way use your hands when you are trying to illustrate your point. But as we are one in the same, we are different as well. You have taught me things that nobody else could ever even possibly do. I watch you interact and love without fear. I watch you make your mother laugh and cry with happiness in the very same moment. I watch you take your sister’s hand and lead her through this world with a passion and devotion like I have never seen. These not so little things seem to be so natural for you. And that warms the inner most part of my soul.

You don’t know it, but as I watch you, I am learning. With each one of your actions, you teach your father the simplest of things he should have already known. I know in the future, you’ll get frustrated with me. You’ll want me to just understand and pick up the simplicity of life the way you do. Just know that I am working on it. I am a slow learner as far a life is concerned. But I know that I’ll get it sooner or later. I have one of the best teachers a man could ask for.

Five years  ago to this very day my life changed for forever. It’s uncanny and heartwarming for me to witness this perfect human being make his way through life. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you more than these words could ever convey.








The Silence That Torments

4 Jan

The silence in this house screams out the obvious.

I am alone.

Over the years, I thought about what this moment would feel like. Just me. Just me and this old couch. I would fantasize about the silence. I would glorify this very moment over and over in my head, a simple idealized serenity played out in a million daydreams. I’d speed home through rush hour traffic and anxiously count down the seconds while the garage door opened. As my hand turned the knob to the six panel door, I would feel the stillness of the house invade me like a virus. The solitude would invigorate and refresh my soul. Through the silence, I could breath again.

Or so I thought.

No sooner did my worn sneakers cross the threshold, I knew I was wrong. Gone were the scurry of little feet to great me at the door. Gone were the giggles and adoring salutations that coincided with my mere presence on a nightly basis. Gone was that rush of adrenaline that filled my veins as the first “HI DADDY!” graced my ears.


I didn’t even make it to the living room before the first tear rolled down my cheek. The silence that I once coveted, now tormented me more than I thought possible. As I sank my body further and further into the couch, my heart began to pound. I could feel the droplets of panic drip from my brow onto the pillow that I clutched like a lifesaver as if I just abandoned ship. There in the darkness, I was alone.


Paralyzed by the unfamiliarity of my self induced solitude, I closed my eyes. This would be my resting spot for the night. The couch that I dreamt about so many times before, now felt like it was made of concrete. For the first time in thirty years, I was alone.

Just me.

Just this couch.


The Finality Of My Failures

27 Dec

As you bent over to pick up the very last box, I heard you let out a long, weary sigh. Most days, I wouldn’t have even paid attention to it. Something so simple, just a part of the daily barrage of sounds that tend to get lost in the background or ignored because you fear their true meaning. But today, as I heard that whisper hover over your pursed lips, it hit my eardrums with a deafening ferocity. It was time. And we both knew it.

You didn’t know I was listening.

But I was.

It probably didn’t even cross your mind something that tiny would resonate to my inner core.

But it did.

Yet, here we were, both lost in our own little worlds. In a matter of minutes, you’d be in the car, watching the garage door shut through the rear view mirror as you drove off. Nearly a decade’s worth of memories reduced to a box, a  glance of an eye, and an auditory reminder of the finality of my failures.

As your arms wrapped around that box, you let out a sigh.

A sigh. A simple, gut-wrenching sigh.

30 Days Of Truth: Day Eleven

15 Nov

Day 11- Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

I can see you wipe the tears from your face as they run down your cheeks and onto your lips. But for once, you aren’t sad or even angry with me. It’s hard for you to catch your breath as the tears completely distort your vision. Through labored breaths, your chest and abs scream out in pain. It’s the good kind of pain though. The kind of hurt you would gladly take any day. It’s been awhile since I have seen you like this. Truly a nostalgic time warp back to simpler times.

The sound radiating from your mouth fills me with great joy. You’re laughing. I can hear it with my own two ears. Not just a little chuckle either. No, this is one of those giant belly laughs. The kind that involve every muscle in your body. Every neuron in your mind fires with happiness. As the sound of your laugh carries through this empty house, I know I have done my job. I don’t need to search for proof. It’s there right in front of my face. No guessing the emotion coming from your mind. No faking, no charades. This moment is as real as the smile that graces your lips.

I know this moment will fade as fast as it came on. Gone will be that smile, those tears of happiness. The harsh realities of the world will come crashing down on top of us. But as we sit here on this couch, I’m concentrating on hearing and feeling this happen right before me.  My mind refuses to allow anything else in. I’m frozen in that very moment.

You were laughing.

I was laughing.

And for that one second, nothing else mattered.


Baldwin City v2.0

12 Nov

My second shoot in Baldwin City at the Baker University campus. I had the privilege of photographing a good friend of mine and her beautiful family. Come take a look see at what I saw through my lens.

On to the Flickr Machine!

And the Facebook Machine!

30 Days Of Truth: Day Nine

10 Nov

Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

After she lifted the last heavy box onto the bed of the U-Haul truck, I felt my mother’s cool hands on my face. The Midwestern heat and humidity were relentlessness and ultimately unforgiving. I could see a constant stream of sweat trickle down my forehead and onto the backside of her hands as I struggled to catch my breath. My lungs struggled as I tried to inhale the hot, damp summertime air. “This is going to be an awesome thing for us.”, she said unwaveringly. At this point I had already resigned to the fact we were moving again. We were truly a nomadic family of three. We went where the rent was the cheapest and the luxuries pretty much nonexistent. This time was different though. We had actually managed to buy a house. No more apartments. No more duplexes. Another new beginning, a way to restart.

I knew my mother was elated. I could sense the hurry and eagerness as I saw her open the van door. As happy as I was for her, I was crushed. I mean, I was so used to moving. I knew that we had overstayed our typical welcome in this particular place. Still, I had spent the last 3 years of my very young life accumulating, what I thought, was the best group of friends a boy could have. Filled with sorrow, I rattled off at least 20 people I was sure I couldn’t live without seeing the next day.

“But, but mom!”, I cried. “Can’t we just stay one more year? At least let me finish middle school here.” “I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to (insert random person here).” By this point, I had done everything within my power to sway her decision. No matter how much I begged, pleaded, and bargained, the move was happening. Defeated, I pull myself up into the van and plopped down onto the searing hot vinyl bench seat.

Lost in thought and selfish sadness, I heard the dull roar of the diesel engine fire up as my mom turned the key. As quickly as she shifted from park to drive, my life was changing. A new house, a new school, and all new friends. I can still remember the view from the rear view mirror like it was yesterday. I never wanted to leave that place, but it was time for us to go. I didn’t want to let go of everything I knew. But as fast as that U-Haul van could take me, I just drifted away.

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