Copyright© 2017 Rebecca Jane
All Rights Reserved.
Author's Note: I originally had no intention of actually writing this, for some time though friends and my chosen family have been begging me to. I was struggling getting my next fictional story started, and thought that I would just toy with the idea. Then the words just exploded out of me onto my IPad…I don’t know how often I will be able to add chapters, this was fairly painful to relive so I could write it. I will continue adding chapters as I can, if you all are interested. ~Rebecca
Chapter 1-The Day my Armor Broke
Moments… A moment is defined as a brief unspecified moment of time. Every one starts out in this world with a moment, followed by another… then another, and so on. When you string all these moments together you end up with a life lived. Some moments try to lift us up, some try to bring us down, some even try to completely break us… Ultimately it is up to each one of us to decide what to do with each one that we are granted. One thing in common with everyone though, is all our moments that we experience, and how we deal with them, define us… In one way or another. Looking back throughout my life and my collection of moments, many stick out in my memory.
Of all the ones that I remember, one particular one sticks out most. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life, and there are many notable ones, the main one was on Christmas Day 2011. It was the day my ‘suit of armor’ cracked, no that’s not quite right, it had been cracked and dented many times throughout my life but this time was different. It didn’t just crack, it shattered… Irrevocably and irreparably, shattered... No, I’m not talking about a physical suit of armor, while they are resilient, bulky, and extremely heavy. I’m talking about the one that I made, that no one knew about, it was something that I had crafted out of sheer will. It was invisible, except it wasn’t, it was physically weightless, but it was so heavy that it had been crushing my soul and had been for a long time. It was the person that I had projected to the world for the last 27 years, the person I had been told that I had to be. It was my masculine shell that I had created to protect myself from the world, and in a twisted way I believed it also protected the world from me, well the real me. It was that day, when it shattered, that has become the turning point in my life. It was the day I couldn’t stop myself from crying, the first time that had happened since I was 12 years old… I had just turned 39, 11 days prior…
To understand a bit more of the gravity of the situation, you have to understand a few things. I had built a good life, a life that I truly loved, even if I hated myself internally to my very core. I had been married at this point for 12 years to my 2nd wife, with four children, 3 girls that were mine, and my step son that I had already laid claim to when he was 9. I had recently moved to the Tampa bay region of Florida from Columbus, MS back in October, the original plan was to move the whole family down but I had already started a new job so had to move here by myself. We had decided to move, mostly due to the recommendation of my oldest daughters doctors. She had been diagnosed with severe allergies that had started causing asthma and was crippling her. I had actually accepted a pay cut for this job, for the betterment of my daughter, and my whole family. Of course the idea of moving to where we had 12 different beaches within 30 minutes was a big draw as well. I figured that I could just work a lot of overtime to compensate for the pay loss. I would do anything for my family, that would become even more apparent in the upcoming months, but I digress.
When I first moved to start work, in an attempt to save money I had bought a derelict old sailboat to live on. I got it cheap and living aboard was extremely cheaper than renting an apartment here in St Petersburg, so until our property back in MS sold this was home for me. I actually had two distinct reasons for buying the derelict old 28’8 Columbia wide body ‘yacht’… I only said yacht because that’s what the title called it, and it had tickled me to think I was the owner of a ‘yacht’. While yes my main reason was to live on it, the second one was a reason that I no longer had to consciously think about anymore. It had become second nature I had been doing this for so long. It was so that I could stay ‘busy’ in my downtime. so that I didn’t have time to think about that impervious, invisible suit of armor I wore in miserable silence. In other words, I had learned to keep myself so busy, and so engaged doing things, that I never had to contemplate or focus on my own internal fear, and disgust with myself. It was an exhausting way to live, day to day, week to week, and eventually from year to year, but I had managed this way for a long time.
When I first moved on the boat, it was a wreck and a miracle that it wasn’t in the bottom of the bay yet. Being an aircraft mechanic for decades at this point left me with enough skills, that I started spending my every waking moment working on the old girl. Even though I was separated from my family, life was pretty good to tell the truth. We talked and face timed every day, and I was even able to make it home for Thanksgiving. By the time Christmas break had rolled around, my wife had decided to have Christmas in the land of sun, sand and palm trees. I mean how cool is it to be December and still walk around in tee shirts, shorts and flip flops. This was what led up to that fateful day.
My family had arrived late Saturday the 18th of December, and all of us were going to live on the boat until the New Years. Yeah I said all of us, my wife and I, our three daughters, and even their two dogs, all living for two weeks on a 28ft sailboat. While the dogs were small chihuahuas, the smaller of the two was the reason that I broke. While it was an extremely tight fit, I had been ecstatic that they were here so we made the best of it. I still had work to go to, and the next week my family was able to hit all the sights, and beaches. While the boat wasn’t quite ready it was close, and I had an idea so I kept working on the last minute things for that week.
The following Christmas morning, after breakfast and presents, we cast the lines off of the Boomer II, that’s what her previous owners named had named her. I had believed that the experience of spending Christmas Day sailing around Tampa Bay would have been life changing. I was right, but ultimately not the way I had thought. We had spent several hours sailing down to the Skyway Bridge, which had required little to no change of course with the way the wind had been blowing. Turning around though, brought a whole new set of challenges and ultimately led to my undoing.
We were about half way back to the marina, after countless jibing to keep the tack of the boat into the wind when it happened. We had put the dogs and the two younger girls down below, in an effort to keep accidents from happening. While my oldest daughter was still only 12, she was built just like me so she was tall and really strong for her age, I had decided to have her help jibing. Since my wife was having back issues at the time, her job was to ‘man’ the tiller while Elizabeth and I handled the sails. It had been working well, and the family was still having fun. Even with being ‘stuck’ down below, Gracie and Nicole were playing with a puzzle and some card games. After about two hours of constant jibing was when it happened. Jack, the smallest of the two, got sick.
Jack was one of the sweetest little dogs I had ever met, due to problems when he was born he was severely stunted and barely topped over 1lb. Not only being so tiny, he was one of the happiest little things I had ever seen and was always just wanting to love on everyone, that and be loved.
I was attending to reefing the mainsail, due to the winds picking up, so I was out of the cockpit and up at the mast when it happened. Gracie, not wanting to get Jack in trouble for being sick down below, stuck him out in the cockpit without anyone noticing. When I directed Elizabeth to adjust the traveler for the main, was when Jack’s head got stepped on when she moved into the cockpit. My whole world stopped at that moment when I heard Elizabeth’s scream. I immediately dropped the main and ran to see what had happened. That’s when I saw just how badly injured he was, and while he was still alive he was hurt… He was hurt really bad. Sadly I knew what I had to do.
Growing up like I did in a rural area, I had been around all sorts of animals, cows, pigs, chickens, and a lot of dogs. I’ve had to do the unthinkable before, but I always knew it was for the greater good. I had always been caring and compassionate, even if I couldn’t show just how much. I hated seeing an animal suffering, and I knew Jack was suffering, bad. With us still being about two hours from the marina and without any other way I knew what I had to do. For Jack, and my daughters, I had to make the decision to end his suffering, the only way I had available.
With the sails dipped down and the boat just bobbing in the waves, I directed my entire family down below and to close the hatch, I didn’t want them to witness this. I didn’t want this image burned into their minds, as far as how it affected me was irrelevant. I had dealt with pain my entire life, so I thought a little more wouldn’t matter. So I did what I had to do, I held the little guy as he whimpered painfully and then I took his little life… With my bare hands… It was the only thing I could think of, and when I felt his little body relax was when I broke.
I was sitting there with him in my hands when I felt the first tear streak down my face, then another… A few moments later the dam broke, and 32 years of pain and repressed emotions came out and I cried… It was that moment my armor shattered, into billions of pieces, never to be repaired again. It was in that moment holding Jack’s lifeless little body that was my downfall, but it also marked the beginning of my rebirth.
Before I go any further, like any good story, maybe I should start at the beginning.
To be continued as often as I can.
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