There aren’t too many things I regret from the past ten years of my life. Michele and I met online on December 28, 1995 and, until her death two months ago, we were inseparable.
1996 USAKF National Karate Championships The dojo I belonged to hosted the nationals in 1996. I was at the peak of my ability then and managed to place third in kata, behind my Sensei and one other 25+ year veteran, and 6th or 7th in kumite (sparring). Michele dearly wanted to come to Illinois for the proceeding but I was reluctant. I wanted my parents there and I wasn’t prepared to introduce them to each other for fear that my parents would say or do something to drive a wedge in our relationship. Also I knew that I would have virtually no time for Michele and I didn’t want to subject her to the rigors of 16 hour days at the tournament site.
Christmas 1999 We had moved to Charleston South Carolina for my job and neither of us was happy with life in the south. My seasonal depression was particularly bad that year and I didn’t really do much for either her birthday or Christmas. I know she was disappointed. I was disappointed in myself and her acceptance of who I was at the time only made me feel worse.
Winter 2005 Virginia, her mom, was very ill, in and out of the hospital and nursing home. Michele worked for hours every day setting up services for her mom, and she also struggled daily with her decision not to travel to Manteo to be with her mom. Michele knew all to well from past experiences that being around her mom would only make the situation worse and more difficult. Still it was brutally hard for Michele to not see her mom in the final months of her life. I regret that we hadn’t made a trip east in almost two years when Virginia died in June 2005.
Financial Chaos One of my life lessons this lifetime seems to involve extreme financial chaos. More than once Michele would lament the difficulty of living with constant seemingly out of control issues with money. She would always end by saying that she knew this was part of who I am before she agreed to marry me, and that it would always be a part of me. Still it hurt me to know that the chaos that follows my money matters frightened her at a very deep level, bringing up nightmares from her childhood and her parents chaotic financial lifestyle.
Losing Our Home in Illinois While I know she was thrilled to be an Adjunct Instructor at KCKCC, and that her position there never would have come about had we not moved to Kansas, losing our home in Illinois was a huge blow to both of us. We had discovered a very comfortable rhythm to our lives, we loved the house itself, and the pool we installed was more than special to us. That we lost our home in part due to actions on my part has always bothered me. More than once I tried to sort through this with Michele and she always stopped me by saying that I had done nothing wrong, and that she didn’t hold me responsible for what unfolded in the Spring of 2004.
Her grace and acceptance knew no bounds, her compassion for everyone and everything was endless, and her quest for growth and knowledge was inspiring.
I will always measure myself against her high water mark.