Coming Back to the Surface

So I mothballed this blog for a long time. I walked away and focused on my personal life and decided that the distractions of posting were stressing me and even depressing me.

But as I publish more articles and such I feel like it is time for me to come back and reinvigorate this blog. But I will be making it more of an all-purpose blog. Some entries may be personal about challenges I am facing, and others may be on political topics or other areas of interest for me. Maybe the occasional poem, etc.

I just feel the need to have an outlet and this will be it I think. Bear with me as I add here. I have content I’ve created since I left and I’ll post them here so it is sort of a one-stop-shop.

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Why I Feel Clearer

Approximately 6 months after my wife passed away, when I was still deeply grieving and attending therapy, the parent of a good friend of mine passed away.  I found myself at the first funeral since my wife had died and the hollow empty feeling I felt took days to shake.  Since then I have attended other funerals for parents of friends, grandparents of friends, even direct friends.  And these early funerals I attended left me feeling broken and grieving inside – I could put myself right there in the shoes of those families.  I had touched the coffin, I had seen the shroud, felt he cold skin of the departed and felt the anguish that I could see on their faces.  But I believe that I have reached a new place through a personal philosophy I adopted in the years before my wife actually died.

In the last 4 years of my wife’s life as the cancer really began to take hold, I found that I buried myself in caregiving.  Subsuming a great portion of myself in order to make sure she was fed, took her medication, was bathed or carried down the stairs gently.  My wife once warned me that if I was not careful I could lose a portion of who I was in becoming so involved in making everything good for her with the time she had left.

And do you know?  I did, I left behind anger and frustration.  I left behind narcissism and greed.  I left behind corporate ladder chasing.  And I found compassion.  Kindness.  Love.  And probably most importantly my true and genuine self.  I did not consciously set out to become the man I am today.  But through the horrible things that twisted themselves into my life, I came out the other side of it changed but clearer.  Not perfect, but honest about myself and my failings.

I believe that it is through my daily practice of kindness, genuine-ness (whether a word or not), and compassion that I have survived and flourished.  I will always have the scars from the period I went through, but by becoming my true self I have become whole once again.  By practicing compassion over the last 2 years since my wife’s death in the form of feeding the homeless, helping orphans, giving direct aid from my hand to those who need it, paying for a surgery for a child I will never meet far away in Lebanon, giving a smile, holding open a door – this is what heals me.  And there is a world out there for me to discover and I am not afraid to sail into any waters or try any path.  I am present, here and now – the future has potential but is a novel unwritten and the past is lost in darkness – It is here in this moment that I can make a difference.

Today I went to a double funeral.  And I felt those familiar pangs of sorrow.  But they were pangs of sorrow as empathy for a family who lost someone precious to them and to their life.  This woman who lived a full and long life full of tragedy and triumph, was born more then half a century before I was born and even in that distant time was surrounded by those who loved her on a distant shore.  And I was privileged to have been with those who loved her at the close of her life.  It was an honor.

I was at a funeral, and I was confident and resolute.  And I knew today in that moment that I was healed.  And now I can move forward towards a brighter future then I ever believed possible.

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The Way to Start Over

It has been a long road for me since the beginning of this year.  It seems like I have started down a road, moved off into the woods, gotten lost, attacked by bears, found my way back onto the road broken a bleeding and maybe…..just maybe am emerging into the sunshine again.

I thought back in February that I was in a position mentally and emotionally to start new relationships, meet new people after the loss of my wife.  Looking back now I realize I was very naïve in believing I was ready.  However, if there was one thing I decided at that time that has stuck with me it was that I was determined to be honest with myself and with anyone I met and as genuine as possible.  I do not need to pretend to be someone I am not, I do not need to put up a picture to the world.  I have fought through parenthood, and cancer and caregiving to reach where I am.  I see no point in being someone else.

So at the outset of this journey I was not ready but thought I was and as a result I alienated some people that I should not have.  Mainly because I projected my own hurt and my own problems onto them.  This was not fair, and I am sorry for it.  I do not believe I hurt them in any way, but I am embarrassed that I caused them even an iota of concern or upset.

In the Spring I met someone who literally set me back almost a full year.  I wrote about that in my blog entry titled “Venting”.  I won’t re-write it, except to say that I lost months of the year endlessly recycling the hurt and pain of that episode and feeling used and violated.

My trip to Turkey in June and July over Ramadan was very good for me.  It allowed me space to find myself spiritually.  Doing Zikr, praying Taraweeh, meeting genuinely friendly people who wanted only to welcome me.  It was glorious and helped renew my faith and my belief in fundamental goodness.  I left Turkey feeling so loved and so accepted that if I could find a way to move there or transfer my job there I would do it instantly.

So today I believe I have stepped from the forest into the sunshine.  I am a bit more settled in my soul.  I am looking forward and I am shaking off the last vestiges of deep sadness from the death of my wife.  I will carry a piece of her with me always, and I will always be touched by and learn new things from this sorrow.  But it is time to be happy again, it is time to live again.  It is time to find the new me and embrace him and welcome him as a brother back into my life.

May God always make it easy for me.

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A Good Man Is Not Hard To Find, If You Truly Desire One (1/2)

The Fickle Heartbeat

A Good Man Is Not Hard To Find

Shared by One Gentleman.

Where did all the good men go?

I want to address something I have heard in the past, as well as through current conversations, whenever my relationship comes up. I am exaggerating of course, but if we go by the belief of countless women, I think I am perhaps the last good man alive. Here is the problem with this assessment…it is 100% inaccurate.

I will explain as best as possible, through One Gentleman’s Perspective, where the good men have all gone.

So, where are they? Where have all the good men gone? They are right in front of you. I know, it sounds weird, but not really. How could someone be right before your very eyes, and somehow never become noticed? The answer is far easier than you may think.

In today’s dating environment, many women are subconsciously looking for their Superman. They like…

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I have not made a decision yet as to whether to delete this blog yet, but in the mean time I had some things that have weighed on me and I wanted to get them out.

I decided back in February that I was ready…or as ready as I will ever be…to start slowly the process of meeting new people.  I am not sure I had characterized this decision with remarriage in mind, although that is a logical destination – but just meeting people was important.  It was a decision fraught with peril and pitfalls for me and I spent a lot of time mulling it and shedding tears over it.  Then I decided to move forward.

The long and short of it is that it has been an unmitigated disaster for me emotionally.  

It is important to point out that from that time until now I have met some wonderful, career-minded, intellectual and super women.  Many having come through their own version of hell to get where they are today.  I have nothing but respect for them.  For these women the reasons why a connection did not spark were as varied as they themselves were:  Some were so caught up in their careers that I saw no space for me in their lives.  Some did not want children and my having a son put an end to the discussion.  For some the connection was friendly and wonderful, but while I gained a great new friend there was just nothing else there, the “spark” did not happen.  

But in one case I was driven to despair and beyond.  It literally broke me and from that day to now has caused me to reevaluate whether I even want to do this further.  Perhaps in a world where someone can treat you so cruelly, maybe I am better staying by myself.  This relationship only lasted a short while, but it is like a horror movie in that no matter how much I tried to avoid it details of it popped up again and again.  I was told when she ended it that we were incompatible, a rather all-encompassing term that tends to be meaningless.  But then later I was accused by her of “using” her and of treating her as a “rebound”.  I buried my wife 15 months earlier, rebounding was not something I was thinking of ever.  This hurt me a great deal, but it was over.  Except that it was not; as information trickled in from mutual acquaintances.  Weeks later I learned that she had met someone new – and a short time after that they were married.  So who was “used” and who was the “rebound”?  As a widower it was disturbingly similar to experiencing a 2nd loss.  It is important to point out that the above happened months ago now, and that it is only the negative effects that have lingered.  

I set down a very strict policy when I started in February that if I progressed to a certain place with someone I was talking to over email or the phone that I would focus all of my attention on that one person.  It is a matter of respect.  I think if you have an interest in someone it is proper to show them by not talking or being with anyone else.  In the initial email or talking on the phone period perhaps you can talk to a couple of people at once, but once you’ve established a connection with one you owe it to them and to yourself to give them your undivided attention.  A lot of my male friends told me this was crazy, but I stand by it.  But a lot of my other core principles have been shaken over this year.  I believe in being open and honest.  And by being this way it makes me vulnerable.  And thus when something negative happens I find myself “hardening” and “guarding” more….and I worry about losing something that is very specific to me.  If I harden myself too much, if I protect myself too much then I lose that vulnerability….I lose that piece of me that I have held on to for so long.  I lose something that is intrinsically me.

Another thing that makes this hard for me as a widower is that while my late wife and I are relatively young, she was 40 when she passed and I was 39….but we married young.  We were married for 18 years and thus a lot of time has passed since I was single and a lot has changed.  It is important to point out that I was also very young when we got married so I also didn’t experience much of the dating scene – such as it was – even when I was younger.

So here I am, disappointed and dispirited.  I have take a step back from everything and am really not sure where the path leads me.  I will keep moving forward because I am not the the type to give up and sit down in the mud – but a part of me has been damaged by this experience.  My heart already was hurting, now it just feels empty.  I do not know what the future holds…but I greet it with a little less enthusiasm then I did before.

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The End


I will be removing and disabling this blog in the relative near future.  I started this blog to describe my journey after my wife passed away, the opportunity to start a new life seemed like an interesting thing to write about.

It has instead become a very hard transition in so many ways.  Numbing, soul-crushing…..and I feel that this blog is neither interesting nor useful.  And in many ways is just so much noise in an already cacaphonous world, my words no matter what I write meaningless.  

So this will be my last post, and I will remove the blog in a few weeks time.  For those who came to read, I appreciate your time and your friendship (if you are friends).  

God willing, things be good. 

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My longing for you sets fire to my soul.
It threatens to destroy all before it.
It brings my blood to a boil.

I try always to reach you.
Yet you allude me always.
And yet with this fire you also renew.

I call out to you daily five times.
Asking you to deliver me into your arms.
But even in fana I hear the chimes.

Back to this life am I brought.
To fill with longing once again.
No more to your greatness than the smallest thought.

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Travel as Catharsis, Travel as Opportunity

SultanAhmet Mosque

SultanAhmet Mosque

I just recently completed a little bit more then 2 weeks of vacation in Turkey. To say I was nervous about this trip would be an understatement. I have not taken a “real” vacation in 5 years during the time of my wife’s illness and subsequent passing. I took time off while she was sick of course but that was to help her more at home, especially at the end when I took more and more time in order to help give her medications, bathe her, carry her from room to room, change her oxygen machine filter, etc.

After she passed I took most of the month of January 2013 off, but I spent it grieving and a large portion on the phone with her credit card companies and insurance and all the other bureaucratic nightmare that death brings. From then until this vacation I had taken a day here or there or a weekend here or there, mainly to just recharge the batteries – sleep in a little extra, go hiking, things of that nature.

So knowing I was going to be in Turkey for over 2 weeks should have filled me with excitement, instead I was filled with trepidation. What if something goes wrong? Will my son be okay with his grandparents? I’m traveling to Turkey during Ramadan, how will that effect me? How will it effect the country?

I remember arriving in Istanbul and driving to our first lodgings and seeing the city and knowing I was beyond the point of no return. And I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into! But with the help of good friends who kept me laughing and seeing the sites and the amazing history it was fine. That is not to say it went off without any bumps – I was in Capadoccia in central Turkey later and found myself depressed. I missed Joan. I remembered that she had always wanted to visit that place and see the sites. And I found the Turkish people around me chattering and laughing to be very isolating. I am a very international person, and have traveled all over the world – so someone speaking another language at me or around me doesn’t usually bother me. But perhaps because I was sad at being alone, hearing others laughing and talking about things I could not understand felt cruel and isolating. Luckily it was a passing thing and with sleep and rest I was able to move past it.

And then something magical happened. I found myself in a small town in central Anatolia called Beysehir. This is an ancient town with a covered bazaar and a 750 year old Seljuk mosque. It was quiet the people were friendly and it sits on the shores of a beautiful lake.




After seeing the lake, which has a turquoise blue water, I was invited to an iftaar (a large meal eaten at the end of a day of fasting) with local businessmen from the town. It was here that it was suggested to me that opening a boutique hotel here and advertising package tours of the region could be an option. This is something I had never considered before and I felt the world open up in front of me. Here I am in this beautiful country, filled with generous and decent people and an avenue opens up that could change my life. What better way to spend a vacation after losing someone you love, then to have a lifetime opportunity fall on top of you?

From there things only got better. I traveled from there to the ancient capitol city of Bursa and again found new vistas opening in front of me. Here is an ancient leafy city filled with history, but also only a few miles from the ocean on the Sea of Marmara (on the Bosphorous), with natural hot mineral springs, and a cablecar lift that takes you up to the top of one of the high mountains surrounding the city – here there is an alpine climate, hiking and a ski resort. Opportunities for skiing in the morning and going to the beach in the afternoon.

I met with businessmen there in Bursa and again in Istanbul and was surprised when I talked to them how little planning or movement they had in the IT industry. Many of them relied on IT for book-keeping and keeping chemical formulas and the like, but none of them had considered security, emergency backup solutions……and just like that a new idea struck me – another idea would be to start an IT consulting business in Turkey. Why not? Bring Wifi solutions, network security, etc. to the businesses there.

Of course nothing is going to happen immediately. I am back in the US. I need to focus on my job, making sure my savings are in order, talk to potential business partners both here in the US and in Turkey. But with any luck I may find myself back there again in a year, except this time to stay.

The other concern about Ramadan was a non-issue.  I was able to fast just as the locals do, I was able to participate in all the rituals.  Hearing the call to prayer 5 times a day meant that I did not have to worry about when it was time.  In Turkey during Ramadan everything comes alive after dark, after the iftaar fast break meal the malls and shops are open, there are lights everywhere (it is after all a lot like Christmas in the US) and the people are friendly.  Special prayers are offered in the evening and I was welcomed at every turn.  

So this trip gave me much to think about as far as future life plans and opportunities.  But spending time in prayer and reflection in a country where this is encouraged and is not seen as something to hide or dissimulate about meant that I spend a lot of time kneeling in prayer and praying for my son, for myself, for Joan, and for humanity at large.  The process of spending much of your time surrounded by other people also praying as fervently as you meant that I could feel the sharp edges of the shards of my broken heart soften.  They are not healed and will always ache, but I feel better inside and outside in ways I didn’t realize were possible before this trip.



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When is My Time?

I feel sometimes as if disaster trails me.

Despite loving and caring and tending and making sure to see,

I feel some days as if I have inherited the wind.

Yet I have not troubled my house but worked to keep it together despite all storms.

And I have worked hard to stay good in all my many forms.

Why then am I battered?

My emotions scattered?

My life seemingly in tatters?

To be born again, to rise from the ashes is all that matters!

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Spiritual Renewal After Loss

The below article was published at

As part of my #30Days30Writers project at Patheos. Please go there to check out the other articles that have appeared or will appear over the rest of the month of Ramadan.


This Ramadan marks my second since my wife lost her battle with cancer. I was afraid it was going to be as empty and as painful as my previous Ramadans. For me, Ramadan wasn’t so much of a spiritual oasis where you purify yourself or work to strive closer to God. No. For me it was an agony – something to be endured.
The reasons for this are multifaceted.

First and most obvious is that I was born and raised in the West. The concept of fasting was not just foreign, but hunger itself had probably not marked my family’s door since that first winter when one of my ancestors came off of the Mayflower. So the idea of fasting was not something I was used to and thus after accepting Islam, I found it difficult to make it through a month-long fast. I cheated often and made excuses at other times. I was never proud of myself, but I was not used to it.
The next reason, which dovetails into the one above, is that as a convert to this religion I found Ramadan to be a very lonely time. My late wife was a convert too, and she also complained about it often. Ramadan is a spiritual holiday, but it is also a very communal holiday. Families cook together, plan activities together, go to the mosque for special prayers and so on. As a convert I was always on the outside; once I had gotten the big grins, handshakes and slaps on the back, nobody told me how to make the most of Ramadan. Nobody became close enough to me to invite me to Ramadan events.

How can you participate in your community if there is nobody to welcome you into it and nobody to explain it to you? Thus, many Ramadans came and went with no support and no information on what programs our local mosque had and no invitations to meet or break our fast with local congregants. Ramadan was a time of isolation from the community and a time of hunger — a combination that was never fun.

Later, when my wife became sick with the cancer, Ramadan became difficult because I had to take care of her. Her illness meant that she did not have to fast; but as her caregiver, I had to fast while also feeding her. And later, when she became much sicker, it meant that I had to bathe her, carry her, change her bandages, give injections, etc.

We tried hard to make the month happy for our son. Every Friday he would get a small gift (crayons, markers, coloring books) so that the holiday meant something special to him. And then of course on Eid-al-Fitr, we exchanged gifts like it was Christmas. Thus our son looks at Ramadan as a special time. But for me, the burden of making the holiday special for our son, which I willingly carried, ended up making the holiday that much harder.

Last year was the first Ramadan since my wife passed. The whole year leading up to Ramadan I was numb. Things passed with a blur. I honestly do not remember last Ramadan. In fact, I really don’t remember anything about the entire last year . I worked hard to just keep things moving. Drive my son to school. Get him to violin and soccer practice. Make something for dinner. Cry uncontrollably. Repeat.

So, it was with a great deal of trepidation that I greeted Ramadan this year. My personal history with this biggest of Islamic holidays was against me. But as Ramadan approached I felt something shift, I realized that Ramadan and the fast that accompanies it is a purifying force. An opportunity to begin again and fix myself spiritually – this mirrors the new life I am determined to build now that my wife is gone and not missing any opportunities that may come my way in my life.
So my attitude towards the holiday changed. My son and I put up Ramadan lights (inside the house so as not to freak out the neighbors), and we went to the stores and farmers markets and stocked up on ingredients for suhoor and iftaar meals.
We recently moved to a new home in a new neighborhood, and I purposely went out of my way to find a mosque I was reasonably comfortable with. I collected information on mosque iftaars and also on the evening taraweeh prayers.

On the first night of Ramadan, my son and I went and stood up with our brothers and sisters at the mosque and offered those taraweeh prayers. I felt the stress bleed out of my heart. Between rakats, I made fervent du’a to God to help me with my persistent loneliness and to help me with moving my life forward.

And do you know what? As I knelt in prayer, even though people surrounded me, I suddenly felt I was alone with God. A feeling of complete peace came over me and I felt years of stress and worry lift from me. I cannot explain it other then to be thankful for it. I left those prayers feeling as though the stress and cares I have struggled under for months and months had been washed away. I felt happy and found myself smiling and joking with my son as we headed home. That feeling stayed into our first suhoor, and I hope will continue through the whole month.

I have no illusions; I still will struggle with my loss going forward. I will have days of frustration and loneliness ahead. But this Ramadan feels more like a new start then at any other time since my wife passed. And, I feel like I have reached a level of maturity with my Islam. I worry less about fitting in and more about making the faith and community fit me.

Ramadan is about so many things. Purification. Re-aligning our souls towards God. Charity. Community. This year after having gone through the fires of loss and change in my life and having been burned badly by it, Ramadan means a new beginning and new opportunities to be a better Muslim, and more importantly to be a better human being.

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