34 minutes

February 6, 2017 at 5:15 A.M.

My phone makes a noise that my ears find strange for this time in the morning. My ears have been taught to hear my obnoxious, yet, necessary alarm to wake me up for work. My ears, however, were not trained to hear what was coming next.

I heard the silent ring getting louder and louder. My contact-less eyes fought hard to follow the faint light that came from my screen, I fumbled around until I finally grasped the phone and squinted hard enough to see “Grandma Lorrain” on my screen.

DadI thought it would about another seizure he had, and she more than likely needed me to coerce him into eating his glucose tablets for the 12 millionth time, because he was infamous to listening to me, and only me.

“Shelbie!” I heard in a scream, “It’s your daddy….”   sobs   “he isn’t waking up…”   sobs   “He had a seizure. He’s not responding” sobs and screams this time   “They’re shocking him now…c’mon Jesse wake up WAKE UP!” All of this before I even had time to react, to say “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?!?”

I knew in the exact moment, this time was different. I jumped out of bed and straight to the bathroom, I’m convinced that my feet never even hit the floor. Tawny, sweet Tawny, and her calming spirit didn’t even get scared because she knew I felt that enough for both of us. “Shelbie, your shoes…Shelbie, baby, we’ve gotta go. What’s happening? It’s going to be okay…Shelbie your contacts, put them in.”

As she’s saying all of this, I’m roaming around aimlessly, my only thought was to call my brother. My brother would be asleep. My brother would be contact-less. My brother would be fumbling around for his phone until he finally grabbed it and he would squint to see my name “Shelbie” on his phone. I calmed myself as much as I could because even though my brother is a grown man now with two babies and a wife of his own, in that moment he was still my sweet hearted, chubby little brother who I needed to protect if only for a moment. “Nelson, it’s dad. He’s had a seizure, I think…and he’s with the EMTs but he’s not waking up. Get ready and go up there, I’ll call you when I hear anything else.” Silence…until Nelson spoke finally “okay, be careful I’m leaving now.”

On the way to the hospital which not-so-conveniently was over an hour away, I prayed. I sobbed in fear for my precious dad, and I prayed harder than I ever thought possible. “Father, please, please heal my dad. Please, I’ll do anything. Take me. Take me in this moment. I’ll give up sweets if that’s necessary! I’ll tithe every month. I’ll go to whatever lengths I need to. Just please” I was praying to my Father, about my father, and both seemed to not be listening.

Tawny sped. She didn’t stop for red lights. She didn’t stop to even think. She just sped. She got us there in 35 minutes hoping that I could see my dad. Hoping that he would listen to me tell him to “WAKE UP!!!!!!!!” because everyone knew he listened to me, and only me. That went back to before I can even remember. But we weren’t there in time. We weren’t there to say goodbye. We weren’t there. He wasn’t there either, just his body, but he, he was long gone.

“Are you the family of Jesse Welk?” the doctor asked. “Let us finish taking the tubes out of him and he’ll be ready to view.” To view? TO VIEW? Is that what this was now? A fucking wax museum and someone put my dad in there to be VIEWED? My brother finally walked through the door, and the distraught look on his face was overwhelming. He grabbed my hand as he, Tawny, and I walked through the door of my dad’s room. The next hour is a complete blur of bullshit, tears, and absolute anguish.

When I saw my dad lying there in his pajama pants and his black tshirt, it’s like he was sleeping but I knew he wasn’t. My brother squeezed my hand and then our arms both went limp as we apparently both fell on the hospital beds to our sides. I don’t remember doing that, but Tawny said I did. He was right there. Lying on a cold bed, his soft hair as still as his heartbeat. I saw his tattoo on his right forearm and I touched the back of my neck, where the same tattoo resides on me. A father daughter celtic knot that can’t be untied. Yet here we are, and I felt like it had been untied and used as a rope to strangle me. I felt like a part of me died there too. I couldn’t take my fingers out of his hair, the softness comforted me somehow.

I don’t have an ending to this story, because none of this has ended. None of this has stopped hurting. None of this has turned to an emotion other that pain, and sadness, and absolute heartache. When I know how this ends. When I know how to stop missing the man who made me a strong person, when I know how to stop missing the ONLY one who accepted me for me, I will write this ending. Until then, it’s all left in the balance, just like my dad’s life was for 34 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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selfless poem.

 

When you stand by the ocean

you’ll see my footprints in the sand.

I’m not physically beside you,

but you know just where I am.

Looking down on you from Heaven,

watching your brown hair blow,

sending my kisses through the waves

in hope they’ll reach you below.

I’ve loved you for years,

I’ll love you for the rest of your days.

Please don’t be afraid to love again,

even if it’s not me catching your gaze.

Her.

There is no greater earthly love, than the love that I posses for her. Her, the one whom the sun rises for, only to grace our dying world with her astounding beauty.

Her name rolls off of my tongue with grace and ease. Many do not find much meaning behind someone’s name. It is simply a word used to address the person you are speaking about or to. Hers is much more than that. Her name is a word that gives her character; it is not a definition of her. You can never give that girl a definition, because there is no one way to define her. Her name, however, gives her fullness. It tastes sweet when I hold it inside of my cheeks. Her name brings my mouth to life as I speak it and it stings when it wisps from between my lips. If I could only speak one word for the rest of time, let it be her sweet, bold name.

She is an idea that many wordsmiths attempt to put in writing. However, you simply cannot find the words. No words can amount to the idea that is her. She can make the most effortlessly beautiful writers write as if they know no such rules for language. She can make the most eloquent speakers speak as if they are newborn children, babbling, attempting to make their mouths create the words. However, it is all impossible. I can try to find the right things to say in honor of her and who she is, but I am merely a failure.

I adore the girl with the name of wonders and the power to baffle the intellectual. I love her more any concept could grasp. I love her in ways most humans think are impossible. My life was formed and given to me as a gift. My gift is that I have been chosen to meet her, and fall in love so deeply with her that I spend my life chasing after her and all of her beauty. My gift is that she will choose me, every day. See is not mine to keep, because nothing so wonderful could ever be a possession. Instead, she chooses to stay next to me. Me, someone who in anyone else’s opinion, could never amount to enough for her. Those people are right. I will never match her splendor, or her magnitude, I can only try. But, I will always match her in step, because wherever she may be, I will be next to her. I will never leave her side or stray away from the creation God ever so lovingly took his precious time on. She may never be “mine,” no. Oh but I will always be hers.

 

 

Erasing Words-Not the Truth

Confession: I haven’t written in awhile. Previously I wrote a blog called “Preacher’s Gay Granddaughter”, and it was one of my most prized possessions. In this blog, I admitted being gay and how hard it was to be a closeted lesbian when your family is full (literally) of Pentecostal pastors. I explained the depth of hurt it caused me. I also explained how my family had no clue about me–that fact, however, changed quickly.

Soon after I posted this blog, I received over 15 frantic texts from my grandma (the pastor). Where I was told:

“How could you do this to me?”

“Your granddaddy already wanted to move, you just made his decision easier.”

“You are reprimanding us as pastors, and the church as a whole.”

“You are a confused little girl who is making a big mistake.”

“You aren’t gay. Is she pressuring you?”

“I can’t look at your facebook anymore as it makes me sick, I am blocking you. So is your grandfather.”

“How dare you? Do you just enjoy hurting me?”

“Are you doing this to hurt me purposefully?”

All of these were sent to me back-to-back, during a very important dinner I was having with a fellow coach. When I read these, it was such a punch in my stomach that the wind was knocked out of me. I didn’t entertain her with responses, I just let her continue. She found out about me, and hated me. As a grandma, and as a pastor, she hated me.

Weeks later, she called me to her house and I reluctantly went. When I walked in she had bible verses printed out and scattered across the couch. She sat me down and told me I was confused and that I didn’t know what I was doing. She told me I was going to hell if I didn’t “change my ways.” She told me “let me pray for you, it will help.” In which my response was I’ve prayed for years not to be gay, not because I am afraid to go to hell or think I will, but because I knew I would be the biggest disappointment of your life. She didn’t disagree. She told me “I never should have allowed you to go to that liberal college. (Side note: I went to a private baptist university…liberal? I think not.) She then pulled out a blown up version of my blog post “Preachers Gay Granddaughter” and I thought she was going to slap me she was so mad. She said she was having chest pains, she told me she would rather die than this.

Following this conversation, I deleted my blog post. I was in such a dark place that I just deleted it. It is one of my only regrets that I have. “Preachers Gay Granddaughter” was a huge step in the right drection for me. It is the first time I had publicly said the words “I’m gay.” It was refreshing, and I let someone push me to the edge of deleting it.

This is my rubbutle to my own stupidity. I am still, and always will be the writer of “Preacher’s Gay Granddaughter”. And I am proud of that fact.

I am excited to get to writting again. I have a few things in mind. Please follow me on this journey, and enjoy.

It’s Been Awhile

I haven’t written anything in quite sometime. I have missed my release, and all of my fellow bloggers. I needed the summer to figure things out. I needed the summer to remember how to have fun and to remember that it is okay to be myself. I just needed the summer.

After thousands of miles traveled from Texas, to Vegas, to  California (north then south), and back to Texas, I finally had time to completely feel free again. I don’t remember the last time I felt that. No worries, no struggles, no bills piling up on my desk or in my mind. I had the chance to be free, to be me.

Something I [accidentally] realized, I am me when I am teaching. I am me when I am coaching. I am me when I’m holding a basketball in my hand and a whistle between my lips. That is when I am me. I finally got fresh outlook on my career, again. Last year was tough, to say the least. Teaching took a toll on me. I had kids whose problems outweighed mine by the thousands. I took those problems on as if they were my own. I had kids who drained me of energy and time, but never of love. I had kids who became my kids, and who I would have happily taken into my home to better their lives. I had kids who pushed me to the limit everyday. But never, ever, did I not love those kids. The ones who were easy to love, and the ones who made it hard, I still loved them.

I was the “teacher”, but in all reality,they taught me.

I have now started back to school, and I have never been more excited about my career. It’s a wonderful thing when your career and passion go hand in hand. I am thankful, I am blessed, and I am revamped.

I am a teacher, and to many kids, that is the closest thing to a superhero they will ever meet. If I’m someone’s superhero, that’s awesome! But, those kiddos, they are the superheroes to me.

Giving Cali a Forever Home.

Shortly after Tawny and I moved in together we made a wonderful $50 purchase on our little fluffy angel, Tucker. He was so tiny when we got him 7 months ago. Tawny was at home a lot by herself while I worked and she was getting tired of being alone, and I just wanted a cutie pie running around the house. Having a puppy was an interestingly hard journey. He peed everywhere, he pooped even more, and I was so scared to leave him alone because the thought of him being sad broke my heart. Tucker eventually outgrew the puppy stage, and now he is totally house broken, sleeps with us without any problems, and is the best little boy I could ask for.

Lately, we have been talking about getting another puppy for Tucker to play with, perhaps a little sister for him. Yesterday we finally went through with it and went to pick up our tiny ball of fur. Even though we didn’t get her from a shelter, I say that we rescued her because of her awful living conditions.

Tawny and I pulled up to a small trailer that had about 15 dogs running wild outside. The first person to come out of the house was a 5-year-old boy holding our soon-to-be little girl, and he was covered head to toe in sores. Instantly I knew that we were about to enter a place neither of us were used to. The little boy’s father finally came out and the first words he said to us were “Well, they smell bad. They’ve been shittin’ everywhere and rollin’ in it. Eatin’ it too.” You could imagine my face when he said that. But, I still wanted to see this little girl I had found. Upon entering the house there was a woman on the couch, also covered in sores, holding 3 precious puppies. We saw her and where she lived, and we knew that we couldn’t leave her under the “care” or pathetic excuse for that, with these people.

Tawny and I grabbed our little one and left as quickly as we could. The smell that radiated off of our new angel was so disgusting that we were both light-headed just from being near her. She had no energy, she was exhausted, and she was taken over by fleas. All you had to do was look at her blonde fur and you instantly saw fleas crawling all over her. She looked up at us with the saddest eyes, and Tawny (being the softy that she is) started bawling. “She’s just so little. She doesn’t deserve this. We have to get her better.” So that’s exactly what we did.

We drove an hour and a half home and went straight to the sink. We pulled out the dawn soap and bathed her 3 times. After bathing her I held her while Tawny hand-picked over 50 fleas off of her. 50 damn fleas. This sweet little girl was treated so unfairly. After her bath and being dried off she slept harder than I imagine she’d slept before. She was happy, and eventually after getting used to her, Tucker seemed happy too.

We are now back in the puppy stages. Tucker is such a good big brother, and anytime Cali wines, he is the first to let me know. Cali, named after California (Tawny’s home state), has been the best addition to our family. Tawny is obsessed with her, and I love her so much. She’s perfect.

Last night as we were praying before bed, I got to change “Thank you for Tawny and Tucker and my perfect little family”, to “Lord, thank you for Tawny, Tucker, and Cali, my perfect little family.” And because of that, because of this beautiful little family that I have been blessed with, I am all smiles.

Rebellious Wildflowers

I didn’t look out my window and see a beautiful building make of glass. I didn’t drive down a highway to get where I needed to go. I didn’t hear traffic from my living room. I looked out the window and saw the greenest grass. I drove down dirt and gravel roads. The only cars I ever heard from my house were the people driving by honking at us with their hand sticking out their window waving frantically and smiling, or calling our names. I heard crickets at night and saw fireflies dancing in the dark lighting a path that led to wonderful adventure. I’m not from a big city, I don’t live life in the fast lane. I’m from a small town, where cows are more populated than people, and where literally everyone knows who I am.

I was born in a itty bitty town, with people who had itty bitty agendas. No one planned on being a president, but instead we dreamed of being farmers, teachers, preachers, oil field workers, and if you were lucky like one of my classmates, you made it pro in football. We lived for Friday night lights and the bonfires at my best buddy’s house afterward. Where we’d sneak cheap alcohol, get on a four-wheeler, and hit the creek. We lived for ourselves, and we lived for each other. No one had enemies (except for school basketball and football rivals), and everyone was friends in someway with everyone else.

That’s how I grew up, and I loved every second of it. I should have savored it more than I did, I would give anything to relive some of those nights we had, the ones we can remember. We were dumb kids, but we were in love with our lives. We lived for the mud on our boots, and the wind in our hair. We existed for the nights we would climb the water tower, and literally paint the town. We were born to experience the small town heartaches and triumphs.

My granddad was the mayor of my tiny paradise. My mom was a school teacher, and my grandma was a preacher one town over.  I was the captain of the basketball team, I played 3 varsity sports all 4 years, I had gone to school there since Pre-K, and I was friends with everyone. Everyone, and I mean everyone, watched what I did. People knew Shelbie Welk, or so they thought.

I was a super happy person the majority of the time! Obviously sometimes my teenage attitude wasn’t always in tip-top condition. But not knowing how to express myself was a major cause for that. I didn’t know how to accept who I was. I fought it, oh boy did I fight it. I dated boys left and right, but I was kissing other people on the side, usually girls. I had a hard time relating to other girls because despite how much I tried, I wasn’t like them. I was the off-brand to their name brand. I was trying desperately to please my family, and the wonderful, yet close minded people of my town. I couldn’t let them down. I couldn’t be someone they didn’t expect me to be.

After I graduated and left my comfort zone, I had to learn who I really was on my own. I went to a Baptist University in East Texas.I knew my roommate, luckily we were best friends in high school, but despite that I was completely alone. She started making her own friends, and so I did. I became best friends with some of the players on the softball team, who ended up being my roommates the next few years. With the exception of one of them, they were all gay. Surprisingly they were fighting it too, so we learned to lean on each other. When we all finally accepted that we were who we were, it was a beautiful time. I realized that I could finally relax my shoulders for the first time in years. I had been so uptight while I was trying to portray something I never was, I finally got to take a load off, and enjoy myself.

That lasted for a while. Until I met a speaker in chapel, who convinced me that me being myself was a sin. I wasn’t supposed to be gay, and my family had been right all this time. I was a sinner, and I had a one way ticket to the flames. I believed him. I tried not to, but I believed him with all of my heart. The guilt consumed me in ways I never thought possible. I ended a relationship, and started trying my hand at men again. Needless to say, it didn’t work (this will be a story in another blog post.)

After years and years of trying to mask who I was, of trying my hardest to please the people around me, I couldn’t anymore.

My hometown left a huge mark on me. One thing it showed me was that there is so much beauty in letting things grow wildly, and on their own. Letting things be free, like the cattle that graze the pastures, like the birds who nest here in the summer, like the rushing waters at Brushy Creek when it rains, like the wildflowers on the side of C.R. 3211. No one planted them, no one picked them, but they chose to grow there, they chose to root themselves in that particular area. That is what I am choosing to do. I choose to live in God’s will, but I also choose to express my freewill as a human. No one can pick where I land, or where I go.

I am a wildflower, a rebelliously beautiful breed. I am someone who can’t be tamed, and I won’t be planted in a box. I choose to live outside of the box.  I choose to be myself. I won’t be blended in with the pack, but I’ll stand out. I can thank my country roots for that. Because even though I was surrounded by a lot of close minded people, they taught me to be open-minded without even realizing it. The land I was surrounded by, the animals that roamed around me, the people who dared to be different, they taught me what it meant to uproot yourself and grow elsewhere. And I am so blessed, and grateful that I learned to be myself.