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Widow, Choose Life. Widow Repair

~Written on July 25, 2006~

Today I hooked up a Belgian draft horse to a carriage and practiced driving at the company farm on Cane Island.  Clouds of dust billowed from the gelding’s giant hooves on the dirt road.  M was puffing away on a cigarette, and of course it reminded me of Jason.

“How long do you want to live?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I never thought about it before.”

“Most people haven’t until something bad happens,” I sighed, wiping the sweat off my forehead.

Later I interrupted the clomping beat of the horse’s steps by asking him what it was like growing up without a mom. She died when M was three years old, and his uncle died recently.

He exhaled a cloud of smoke, eyes half-closed with his usual look of boredom. “It was hard. Kids even made fun of me on Mother’s Day because she wasn’t around.” My heart tightened, worrying about Caleb. 

“Jason promised to play baseball with Caleb, but he died the next day.”

This statement prompted M to ask the inevitable question: “How did he die?”

I didn’t want to answer that question again.

“I’m not here to judge,” he said gruffly, pulling his Carolina baseball cap lower over his eyes and sitting back on the bench seat.

After describing what happened, I told him it was the best thing in the world to be married. He asked why. I said it’s because you always have your best friend with you every day, and they want to listen to everything you have to say, even if it’s stupid. Our coworker Frank told him the same thing. I guess it was good to talk about it, even to someone I really don’t know.

Instinctively, I lecture someone else about his unhealthy habits, and I describe marriage with memories and stars in my eyes. It’s something he should not miss! But the sugarcoating wore off too quickly…

I talked about how harsh the world is, and how I want to be in heaven because there is only more pain to come on earth.

…My parents and the rest of my family will die too.

With the first sign of interest, M said I can’t think of it that way. He said that they will die and go to heaven, and then I will too. Then I’ll be there together with my family and my husband.

That’s really a good way to put it.

We were coming from two different perspectives. I was trying to convince him to look forward to the future. My marriage is over, but he countered that life is still worth living without it. With everything in front of me, why do I debate against life?



11 September 2014 0 Comments Category: Marriage

Jason started up a plumbing company of his own in late 2005, calling it JD’s Plumbing. Men that used to work for him were loyal and followed him into the new business. We sacrificed to make their paychecks, even took out a loan for $5000 on his Mustang to make sure they took home the pay that they were due. I spent hours on the phone with credit card companies, transferring balances to new accounts to save money on interest, doing my best to lighten the burden. Every Friday, I was driving our Sport Trac to MUSC so they could take care of my high risk pregnancy. An extension of my dad’s federal health insurance saved us over 100K, but I still felt guilty that I wasn’t in a position to take a job and take some of the stress off my husband’s shoulders.

That was one of the most stressful times of our lives. Eventually, we sold the car and paid the loan. I was careful with every purchase. We emptied his change into a Coinstar once to pay for groceries…My parents bailed us out and paid $3000 worth of bills one month. They never asked me to return the money, but I made a point to pay back every dime later. My parents are the ultimate examples of wisdom in my life. They have prepared for the future, lived within their means and even saved me and my husband from financial ruin.

On the day that I finally told my mom that our bank account was in the negative, she asked me with love completely devoid of judgement, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” She and my dad made payments on every bill to hold over the creditors and told me that they would be there when I need them. They raised me to be a better steward of my finances, but held no judgement when I needed help.

I should not have been surprised. There were two other events in my life in which I expected to be judged- at 17, I tried to race a Corvette on Parris Island bridge…I won, you know. I was better at darting through the traffic driving a 1992 Sonoma S10. I watched another car that was part of the action turn off on a side road, then I turned my attention to the red Crown Vic that was pulling up beside me…”He wants some competition,” I thought, until the blue lights alerted me to his undercover status. Busted. I called my brother. He was a cash hoarder. And I mean that with the utmost respect, because he only spent it on things that meant the most to him. He said he would loan me the cash for my $400 ticket- which was written as a reckless driving offense! Yikes. I tried to hide the upcoming court date from my parents, but then I spilled the beans. They showed no anger, just agreed that I should work to pay off the ticket and the inevitable increase in insurance. They supported me at court in front of Judge Tupper. He was very lenient and gave me community service and erased the record. He wasn’t so lenient with the Marine. I saw the Marine when I went to a dance at Battery Creek High school. He laughed when he saw me and said that his insurance went up quite a bit.


During my punishment, the police department had me work in the office refiling police reports. It was really interesting to read all of the local misdemeanors first hand! I filed away, one day listening to a police officer intimidate a young boy to whip him into shape (with his mother’s blessing) and yell at another girl to do a better job cleaning the walls. I listened with round eyes while another senior officer told me about how he raced at the track in Hardeeville (an honor I hoped to achieve at the time). They amended my sentence for good behavior. I think I did 32 out of 40 hours.

In 2012, I was a journalist for Beaufort Online, covering new events. I was sitting at the bar during the opening of a new restaurant called the Old Bull Tavern in downtown Beaufort. I started a conversation with the man beside me, asking if he was a journalist because I noticed him working on on iPad. He said no, he was a lawyer. I told him about my new job, how I was “over the moon” to have found employment finally using my degree, doing what I was meant to do- writing. Then I realized- it was Judge Tupper, and I thanked him for taking mercy on a reckless teenager. I went on to say that I learned my lesson, bought a Prius and drive slow-as-can-be to save the earth (and my budget). He paid for my wine and salad when I was on the way out.

In 2005 at 20 years old, I realized that I was pregnant. I called Jason to meet me at the plantation. I was leaning on a white fence when I told him, gazing at the horses in the pasture, and he blinked, pushed back from the fence, and said we need to make sure. I said I was pretty sure.


I wasn’t married. As a Christian, I knew I had done wrong, knew that I had disappointed my parents and God. Jason and I held the information for a few days, but when I told my parents, they said they were not disappointed. They were there for me. We made plans for a shotgun wedding, but my mom made it clear that I did not have to get married if I didn’t want to. However, they wouldn’t let me stay over at Ridgeland. You might think, well, it’s too late for that, but they were thinking of morality. I was still a child in their eyes.