I meant to write something like this two years ago, and life had me too caught up in responsibilities to sit and get all the thoughts out. Writers block forces me to take a little extra time. I have to write out whatever thoughts I have, and then edit and piece it all together. Some people might try to chime in on my work and suggest additions while I am a work in progress, and it ruins the thought process…so I tend to keep whatever I plan to write about under wraps until I feel it’s time to call it a “rough draft”. Darlene would understand though.
Darlene was in and out of my life very quick. She was my first fiancé, the first woman I could clearly see myself marrying, and had semi plans set to make a move to the Madison, Wisconsin area from the Worcester, Massachusetts area within the following year. She had just made it into remission from lung cancer at this point. Little did I know at that time the cancer was making a come back, and that’s when she pushed me away, and didn’t say why or what was going on. Just that she had things she had to take care of in her life and couldn’t handle this level of a relationship for the time being. I kept asking God for the signs that I could understand. That evening I was driving up to Rochester, New Hampshire for my booking with Front Row Wrestling. The radio was on and in my round trip; “Shadow of the Day” by Linkin Park would play. I felt the whole song give me the answer, but the course that stuck out the most: “In cards and flowers on your window, Your friends all plead for you to stay, Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple, Sometimes goodbye’s the only way”. Pretty much, I knew this was it. The cancer is back, she is not fighting, and she’s waiting to die, because to her this was the only way for her to be pain free and at peace. I can’t fault her for this. As for me, I waited for the time to call for when she’d need me the most and I would be there.
Fast forward to when I got the phone call that she was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, and the condition she was in… I had a flight, car rental and hotel set up, and went. I was nervous. I wasn’t afraid to see Darlene in the condition she was in. I was nervous of meeting the family, and whatever could unfold from that. I like to believe everything in that regard turned out ok. I didn’t stay long on the first day, but I held her hand and let her know I was there. She was unable to respond in anyway while in a medically induced coma. I like to believe that by watching her heart rate on the monitor that she relaxed, or felt comforted. The next night thought, I had a letter written and read it to her. I had it folded up and left in her hand along with some things others left for her to take into cremation.
The day came to take her off life support. Darlene’s oldest daughter, who was the power of attorney made the decision. As much as it saddened me, I knew it was the right thing to do. Darlene did not want to live her life as a vegetable. Her condition was terminal and inoperable. It was time to set her free, and be without pain.
I stayed by through the process with Darlene’s oldest, and her son. We held her hands, and told her its ok to go. She fought to take her last breath, lifted her body, and then she was gone. It’s been twelve years now. I remember it being a very warm day. The hotel I was staying in needed air conditioning blowing when I got back. Today I’m sitting around in my apartment; it’s freezing cold, and waiting for snow to hit.
I tried to move on at least in some aspects of life immediately after Darlene’s passing. I had more wrestling bookings than I had before, and just kept diving into whatever was going on and in my way with other projects. I paid tribute each wrestling night to her by wearing her name on a piece of athletic tape around my forearm. I even had two friends from the wrestling events join me on night one after returning from Wisconsin. Eventually the tape became a wristband with her name embroidered I could just slip on or off.
I did things in Darlene’s memory… I ran a 5K in her name for a lung cancer fundraising event. There was even a wrestling event that sent proceeds to Bonnie J. Addario, a lung cancer advocacy group. I had ideas set to do annual wrestling events, and some other types of events here and there to help lung cancer research funds. I however got in way over my head and thought too big instead of keeping it simple and start with just one event. Maybe another time, I can pull something together to do the wrestling thing.
A lot has happened since Darlene’s passing. The connection I had with Darlene was unlike any other I had before. I didn’t fathom ever having something like that again, and I made no attempt to. In fact I usually avoided it. I made a few small trials after a couple years, only to have nothing happen. Eventually I did have another strong connection with another girlfriend, who would end up moving in with me, and see me through a widow maker heart attack that I’m very lucky to have survived without heart damage. We got engaged later that year, and then married a little after a year from that. I’ve been a father role to her two children and seen them grow from 5 and 7 years old to teenagers. I’ve kept in touch with Darlene’s kids as well, and seen them grow older, get married and have kids of their own. They are doing great! I had opportunities with Ring of Honor, and a tryout camp with the WWE in their performance center. It’s interesting, I can reflect back of when Darlene told me “you need to go big time pro”. I was part time with Ring of Honor in Milwaukee, WI, the night of the anniversary from when she said that. Eventually the part time gigs stopped. I’ve had a sweet loving bichon frise, named Diamond, giving her the best six months of her life, and having to watch her go. I have a sweet loving silky terrier, named Piper now. I am also now separated and facing a divorce.
Life carries on whether we want it to, or not, and whether we like it or not. There have been bad experiences and good ones. I know that’s cliché to say, but it’s true. I think at this point, while I do have concerns for where things will go, and where I’ll be…I’m just not so consumed by it. I have no clue where life is going right now. I have a few ideas and plans in mind and I am open to, and working towards them. I don’t dwell or mourn her passing… I’m moving along with life, going with the flow, occasionally adjusting the sails… Otherwise, everything will pass by.
Darlene would want all of her loved ones to move on with life, live out their best, find happiness, not dwell and mourn her passing. She’s out there on the spiritual plane, watching, and still makes her visit to make sure we are all ok. She guides a long, and gives signs as needed. She’s a guardian. She is forever loved, and remembered.
I’m going to leave this one with a song she played on her internet radio show. “Greensleeves” performed by Blackmore’s Night. It was the first one played on her first fully successful broadcast, which is when we actually made contact with each other. There’s nothing to run too deep with on it, just an “I remember.”
Thank you for reading…