"Ash to ash, dust to dust, fade to black/but the memory remains!" --Metallica, from "The Memory Remains" on THE BLACK ALBUM

2 weeks ago, an anniversary came-and-went.

For it was on 17/Jul/2006 that I had to do the most horrid thing. It wasn't homicide, rape, robbery, or telling our apartment manager to go attempt spaceborne forincation with a lunar object. Yet, the memory of what I had to do will forever haunt-and-taunt me, branding me as an "All-American Chump."

On 17-Jul-2006, I saw my wife and her daughter for the last time. Then I had to leave the apartment that I shared with Melanie since 1999 (and Laurette, her daughter, since 2005) for the final time--never to return again. My destination--Turning Point Crisis Center in Oceanside, with two backpacks full of clothing,some paperback books, my medications, and my cell phone and charger.

Why did I leave?

This is what pains me most of all. Melanie's mental health had been declining. In December of 2005, Melanie had a massive stroke that damaged part of her brain. The part damaged--the one that controls impulsive behavior. Part of me wanted to tough it out--I believed in our marraige, and held true to the vows we took at "I Do Weddings" chapel in Vista on 19-Sep-2001. You remained faithful to your spouse, took care of them in sickness and health, and your vows were "until death do us part," and nothing else.

I remember having to take care of her--a lot. Sometimes, she would "urp" on her cover blanket in the middle of the night, and I would have to run it to the laundry room...along with some soap and coins to operate the machines. The feel of a freshly dried blanket was a great comfort for her.

And I did that out of...love.

Melanie always had tummy troubles. I sometimes had to take a bucket liner outside (after she lost her dinner in the bucket) to the Dumpster, reline the bucket, and put it near her sleeping area (she often slept in the living room, since she needed "white noise" he help her sleep.).

And I did this out of...love.

She had a few other health problems, such as kidney stones, type 2 Diabetes, COPD, bee sting allergies, and later TIAs (dry strokes). More often than not, it meant a trip to Palomar Medical Center's Emergency Department via ambulance. When she got sick, and needed emergency care, I was the one who called 911, had a printout of her latest medications ready, and stayed with her until she was admitted or discharged.

And I did this out of...love.

To top that off, Melanie was a recovering drug/alcohol addict, and was involved with Alcoholics Anonymous (she did not like Narcotics Anonymous meeting because of the profanity used in a typical meeting). I went with her to her meetings (since they were open) as her "support system," and even quit drinking.

And I did this out of...love.

And now, here it is, 31-Aug-2010. What do I have to show for my devotion?

Well... Taking a lot of verbal abuse about my weight. Not being able to watch sports on TV. Not much of a sex life (none after 2003). Being awakened at night to deal with puke-stained bedlothes. Playing "Cinderfella" and doing household chores, even when exhausted from a day's work. Having to cover 2/3rds of the apartment rent and the electric bill. Getting suckered into helping her buy a car after her Suzuki Samurai blew a head gasket on Highway 78. Dealing with her paranoia about "me seeing other women." Watching her no longer monitor her blood sugar, or take her psychiatric medications...and not having any say in it. Having a loaded CO2-powered BB gun pointed at my mid-section. Watching her indulge in regular Dr. Pepper and two 32 oz Monster energy drinks each day...and having to say nothing. Taking out buckets of puke and dumping them in the Dumpster. Not having any say when Melanie moved Laurie into the apartment with us.

And yet, I held out hope that our marraige could be salvaged. I did so out of...love.

As the Fig & Lincoln Ave 354 bus pulled away (with me in the back, watching the stop grow smaller in my eyes), headed for the Escondido Transit Center, tears welled up in my eyes. I felt like such a creep for what I was doing...a coward of the first magnitude, unworthy to ever call myself a man ever again.

Nothing but a civilian version of a pogue!

When I reached Turning Point nearly two hours later, I knew that my marraige, which I invested five years in (along with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, toil, and money), was now ashes on the wind. The intake couselor reccomened to the staff that I be taken in (major depressive/anxeity disorder) for a two-week stay.

The following Tuesday, we were at the Maricopa Clubhouse for lunch. I used the computer there to write the hardest letter I ever had to do. I told Melanie and Laurette the following:

A) The marraige was over--permanently. I had about all that I could take.

B) They could do what they will with my belongings--I was not coming back for them.

C) I was enclosing my apartment key...do what you will with it!

D) Wished them well...and left it at that.

And I did this out of...love. But this time, it was love for myself that drove this--that, and being alive to tell the tale, as the Ancient Mariner's pennance was after his Voyage from Hell.

And yet, The Memory Remains--my albatross suspended from my neck.

Will it ever fall from my neck, and sink like lead into the sea, as did that tormented bird? God only knows.

And God's not telling.



Evelyn Sept. 1, 2010 @ 8:55 a.m.

You're not a chump... Sometimes people aren't able and/or willing to love themselves, and thus, unable to love others.

God may not be telling; but I suspect, it's out of love.


nan shartel Sept. 1, 2010 @ 10:40 a.m.

this is a beautiful and poignant piece Robbie...my heart goes out to u dear man...and be kind to urself..u deserve it


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