Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Laughter and Joy Through the Tears

And boy howdy did I pray!  I prayed like never before, turned into a virtual powerhouse of prayer overnight.  I wanted him to be older, fiftyish.  Why?  Because I wanted to be this man's world, the center of his universe.  And of course, his children must all be grown and out of the house for that to happen.  He needed to be well established, not rich, but slightly support my ROSS and shoe habit of course.  I made a bargain with God, (I don't suggest it) telling Him that I would do thus and so if He, in turn, would point me in the direction of A MAN!

It's amazing how many desperate men there are out there.  I talked to a couple of men online who started talking matrimony before I could even memorize their email addresses.......strange.  I prayed harder.  "God, there are so many weird men out there, please show me the one that you want me to have!"  By the next day I believed that God had given me an answer.

An old friend from another state texted me out of the blue and asked me if I would be interested in going to their Valentines Banquet with a fellow from their church.  This was my answer from God!  I just knew it!  "Yes" I said, "I would love to meet him of course before we go out on a date." (no duh)  So, I began to text back and forth with this man, who met all of the above criteria I might add.  We eventually progressed from texts to phone calls.  I was sucked in by his charm and when he told me that he loved me after only a week of talking on the phone, I bought it hook, line and sinker.  Dumb........I know.  What is wrong with men?

After a couple of weeks of telephone conversations we began to plan to meet one another.  It seemed the right thing to do since he was already declaring his love for me and talking marriage, the next obvious step seemed to be to actually meet.  I kept my plans private.  Some may not understand how I could be so hasty.....they obviously did not know that this was an answer from God.  Right.

I picked him up from the airport and that was it.  I was smitten by his good looks and southern charm.  He was attentive to me, seemingly in tune with my every thought.  He made me feel beautiful, special, important.  We spent the next day in Monterey and Carmel.  While in Carmel, we walked out onto an observation deck to enjoy the incredible view of the cresting waves.  As we stood there I noticed movement.  All at once I turned to find him on one knee, reaching for my hand!  And there, on his knee, with a group of about thirty Asian men snapping pictures with their cameras and eavesdropping, he told me that he loved me and asked me to marry him!!

What?  This wasn't happening!  My mind raced, I was terrified!  In the back of my mind a voice yelled "NO! NO!  Something is not right here."  But my mind was yelling WAY louder, "YES! YES!  He's hot!"  I hesitated somehow knowing deep down that this was insanity.  If he had been holding out a humongous diamond ring in my direction my hesitation would have been a lot briefer, but, seeing as how there was no ring, I hesitated for all of a few seconds, and then, I heard coming out of my mouth as if of it's own  volition, the word........"yes."  WHAT??

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sorrow, Grief and Unexplained Peace

I felt at home in Modesto California, back in my hometown, surrounded by family and friends, yet I still felt lonely and displaced.  One positive thing born of this whole sordid, awful affair was that the Army had honorably discharged Zack, and he and his wife were in the process of moving to Modesto to be with me.  That was a huge relief.  To add to the joy of being near my son was the fact that he and his wife were expecting their first child and my first grand baby!  I missed my daughter Kendra, but knew that she and I were both making the right decisions for our lives.

The house I purchased was a large two story, four bedroom, three bath home complete with a diving pool in the backyard.  It was very, very nice and I had made a real bargain in it's purchase.  It was big though, a little too big.  Haley and I would lay in my bed together every night, hold hands and pray.  I still missed Tim terribly and was so very lonely, I cried myself to sleep most nights.   One night shortly after I arrived I lay in bed, tears seeping from the corners of my eyes as I once again asked God to deliver me from this searing grief.  I remember actually putting my hands to my chest and making a motion as if to reach into my chest and pull out the terrible heartache that lay there.  Then, I reached my arms up to God, holding that heartache out to Him and told Him, "God, here, you take this burden.  I don't want it anymore.  I can't bear it."  And once again, I reminded God of His promises to His children and reminded Him of His Word.  Finally,  at peace, I fell asleep.

I remember the next morning awakening to the sun shining in through the window blinds.  I felt lighter somehow, more rested and at peace.  I put my feet on the floor and stood up.  For the first time in weeks I was not trembling from head to toe.  I was calm and in control of my faculties.  It felt so wonderful to have a semblance of normalcy.  From that day forward it seemed that the Lord began to heal me from the inside out.  I had, and still do have moments of intense grief.  I have to control my mind, keep it from pondering too long on Tim's final moments, about what he was thinking or doing in the minutes before he pulled that trigger.  We are all haunted by the "what ifs" that I have since come to understand are in truth, irrelevant.  I even went thru a time where I was absolutely giddy with happiness and excitement for the future, I felt guilty about that!  One day I was driving home from taking Haley to school and I was so happy that I just started to laugh hysterically.  Was I losing my mind?  I asked God to forgive me, told Him I shouldn't feel this happy, it didn't make any sense.  But God, in that still, small way that He has spoke to me and reminded me that His peace is a peace that passes all understanding.  I couldn't understand it, I didn't NEED to understand it.

We settled into our lives in Modesto.  Haley adjusted to her school and we were both in love with our church, enjoying the healing presence of God.  I began to ponder my life and what I would do with it.  I knew that one day I would write a book about my experiences, but what was I to do to make Haley and I a living? Taking a portion of the money from the life insurance policies I decided to go to school for something that had been of interest to me for some time.  I paid my tuition in cash and signed up for a three month training course for Esthetics (skincare).  I enjoyed my time at the school and the hectic pace of life helped to further occupy my mind and heal my wounds, but I was lonely, I wanted to be married.  I discovered rather quickly that I do not enjoy the single life.  And so, I began to pray in earnest for a husband.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pulled Up By The Roots

That was not the last time that I lay in the spot where he had died and wept, and certainly not the last time I felt anger towards Tim for what he had done.  I was angry that he had not given God and hope a chance.  Some say that suicide is the most selfish act that a person can commit.  I agree in certain circumstances, however, not in this case.  I knew my husband and I knew how he thought.  There is no doubt in my mind that he was under the impression that he had failed his church, his family and that he had lost his ministry.  These things meant the world to him.  He felt that everyone would be better of without him.  He knew that our children and I would be well provided for with the Insurance policies that were in place, and so, he made the decision to take his own life.  It was not selfishness, but rather desperation.  I was not sorry for myself, I was angry for my children, our saints and Tim's mother.  The only greater pain I can imagine would be to lose a child in this manner.  I could not comprehend what she must be going through.

The nights were the hardest.  I would toss and turn hugging his pillow to my chest and praying for God to take me while I slept.  I would go into our closet and bury my face in his suits and dress shirts that still smelled of him, of his cologne.  I longed to touch him, to hear his voice.  I cannot explain to you how much I longed  to just touch him one last time, knowing that I would never touch him again.  To this day I can clearly hear his voice and see his facial expressions in my mind.. And then there were the mornings when I would awaken trembling so badly I could hardly hold my coffee cup.

It was August and it was warm.  I took to going outside and laying on my back on our front lawn until late into the night, every night.  I just could not bear to be in the house any longer.  I would get Haley to bed and then I would go outside and lay there, sometimes until midnight or after, staring up at the stars and talking to God.  I was not afraid to be outside alone so late, I didn't care, my life had become very, very small.

I decided to purchase a puppy.  Tim and I had always wanted a Boston Terrier, so I went with my girls to the mall and bought myself a Boston Terrier pup that I named Bella.  She slept with me every night and required much attention and potty training which helped occupy my mind.  She and I spent many nights out on my front lawn.  Our neighbors would drive by and see me lying flat on my back staring up at the stars completely motionless, they must have thought I had lost my mind along with losing my husband.

The two to three weeks that Haley and I lived in that house were pure an unadulterated hell.  I have never, nor have I since experienced such emotional pain.  To add to the pain, I received a very disturbing phone call approximately two weeks after Tim died.  As I have previously touched on, Tim's childhood was very troubled, with much abuse at the hands of his father.  Richard McCary had spent time in prison on at least two occasions for crimes against children, and at the time of Tim's death, he had not spoken to his father in at least five years.  It was  too emotionally painful for Tim to have a meaningful relationship with his dad.

His father travelled from Los Angeles to attend Tim's funeral.  As you can imagine, he was heartbroken, and although there was certainly no love lost in my heart for Richard, I still felt badly for him, knowing that extreme guilt plagued him.  Almost two weeks exactly after Tim's death, his father, Richard McCary, committed suicide by taking an overdose of painkillers.  For some reason that news sent me right over the edge!  How much pain and tragedy could one family bear?  Tim's brothers had lost him in a horrific manner and now they had lost their father in the same way!  It was too much!

I counted the days until I could get out of that house.  I felt like I could no longer breath and deep in my heart I knew that I could not begin to heal until I was gone.  I would drive around our neighborhood and the area of town where we did a lot of our shopping and pass by restaurants that we frequented on a regular basis, everywhere I went brought memories of Tim.  Often I would have to pull over to the side of the road until the pain and anguish subsided.  There is one restaurant in particular that brought back pitiful memories for me.  Just a few weeks before Tim died we had gone out to dinner with our girls to On The Border.  The restaurant was in a shopping center near our home, a place where we went to shop and eat on a regular basis.  On this particular evening after we had eaten we prepared to leave.  For some reason that I do not recall we had arrived at the restaurant in two separate cars.  The girls and I were going to go do a little shopping while Tim returned home.  As we were getting into our cars Tim asked me how to get home.  I remember laughing and saying "what?"  He repeated the question, "How do I get home from here?"  I said, "Are you serious?  You don't know how to get home from here?"  I thought he was joking. He looked at me then and had the most pitiful, confused, frustrated look in his eyes and said, "No, I don't, can you tell me how to get home?"  Deeply, deeply disturbed I explained to him how to drive home to the area that we had lived in for over ten years.

I worked like a madwoman and packed our whole house entirely by myself.  Don't misunderstand me, people had offered to help, but I wanted to, needed to be alone.  I was completely exhausted both mentally and physically.  I threw things away and gave things away that I probably should not have, but I was too emotionally distraught to make rational decisions.  The original plan was that Haley and I would drive to California, but when the time came, I was in no condition to make the trip.  My mother ended up flying out to Arizona to drive us.  I had made arrangements for a moving company to move our belongings into the home that I had purchased in Modesto, they were to follow us about a week later.  And so, on September the eleventh, 2009, a day when our Nation mourned the death of over three thousand souls in New York City, I mourned my own 9/11.

We loaded as much as we could into my SUV, including our three cats and new puppy Bella.  Charcoal had already traveled to California with my brother in law after the funeral.  We were a ragtag crew as we set out on our journey that day.  Wounded and battle weary we were a sight to behold, my cats were even traumatized and confused and my heart went out to them.  As we pulled out of the driveway of 2956 N. Meadow Lane in Avondale Arizona on that hot September day, I literally felt like I was leaving a part of me in the house where Tim died.  I was leaving love, laughter, memories, Christmases, birthdays, and yes, even tears and tragedy.   As we drove down the street, away from our home, Haley tried to turn around and look back, tears streaming down her face.  "Don't look back Haley" I said, "Just don't look back."  She didn't and neither did I.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ashes to Ashes, Dust To Dust

We boarded the plane for California.  Tim's body was already there awaiting his burial service.  I had so much to think about.  Life Insurance policies to claim, buying a home for Haley and I in Modesto, packing and selling our home  in much and still trying to process the fact that Tim was gone forever.  I had been married from the time I was sixteen years old!  I had gone from my parents home to a home with Tim.  I had no clue what it was like to be completely on my own.  Thankfully, Tim had left me well taken care of with a life insurance policy and several policies through the UPCI.  Money was the least of my worries and for that I am grateful.

Our plan was to stay in California for approximately two weeks.  My goal was to take that time to look for houses and take care of business there.  I wanted to be alone.  I had been surrounded by so many people that I wanted to stay somewhere where Haley and I could have total privacy, so, I got us a hotel room.  Not very economical I know, but I needed that.  I had begun to awaken in the morning shaking violently from head to toe.  It was comparable to when you have a fever accompanied by chills.  My teeth would chatter and my knees literally knocked together.  This would go on for weeks to the point that I was unable to write, to even sign my name was a chore!

I can honestly say that the pure, true, heart wrenching grief had yet to begin.  That would come later and it would blindside me like a diesel truck.  I never knew that someone could feel that much grief.  I will elaborate as my story continues.

The day of Tim's burial drew near.  A couple of days before  the burial I received a call from a concerned family member of Tim's.  Tim's mother wished to have the casket open at the burial service.  The plan was to have a mini funeral service in the chapel for those who had been unable to travel to Arizona for the funeral.  I was completely in support of this, however I was taken aback by the thought that the casket would be reopened.  I completely understood her reasoning and why she would want it to be opened, but I felt like my kids and I could not bear going through all of that for a second time.  We opted to have a viewing of Tim's body at the cemetery chapel the night before the burial service, my children and I did not attend.

The day of the burial arrived and the little chapel was filled to capacity.  It was a lovely service with Tim's cousin singing a song and his uncle, Charles Combs speaking, and then, my family and I got into a black limousine and we were driven to the spot on the cemetery grounds where Tim would find his final resting place.  I can remember thinking as we drove that I had never in a million years dreamed that I would be the one riding in a funeral procession.  At the gravesite, Tim's cousins performed a duet of  the song "I Can Only Imagine" to perfection, accompanied by an acoustic guitar.  I sat with my hands raised to the heavens, for surely, we here on earth CAN only imagine what it must be like to be with Him.

We completed our stay with me having spent much time on the telephone with the Social Security Administration and our Life Insurance Companies making sure everything was in proper order.  And then, it was time to return home.  I looked forward to it with both dread AND anticipation.  I wanted to be back home, but I was also terrified to be there alone in the house where Tim had taken his own life.  There was nothing I could do about it however, Haley had to get back to school and I had to pack and prepare for our move.  By this time in my life, I was an expert at surviving in the worst of situations.  I was a seasoned veteran.

If my memory serves me correctly my daughter Kendra picked us up from the airport in Phoenix.  We entered our house, it was as silent as a tomb.  Haley and I sat huddled together, alone, on our couch in the den, and for the first time in two weeks Haley's floodgates of tears and emotion erupted.  She sobbed and sobbed and wailed "I miss him!" over and over again.  As a mother I felt completely helpless and frustrated.  I was dealing with my own grief and had no clue as to how to help my daughter deal with hers.  Finally, exhausted and spent Haley went to bed.  I sat on the couch, staring at the spot where his chair had once been.  At some point I got up and lay down on the carpet, burying my face in the bloodstain, still visible, and screamed out my anguish and grief.  I beat the floor, for the first time, angry at Tim.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reading Glasses and Dog Tags

His viewing was completely overwhelming.  I had never and have yet to see a viewing attended by that many people.  The line started in our church lobby and never ended for at least two hours.  I stood at the casket, amazed and humbled as each individual passed by.  Some had travelled quite a distance to be there.  At some point I recall my Pastor's wife, Sis. Keyes coming to me and telling me I needed to sit down and rest, take it easy.  But I couldn't.  I did what I always did, I smiled and shook hands, ever the diplomat.

He looked pretty good overall, although he was so very pale in his white shirt and tie, against that white satin, and his prematurely gray hair only added to his pallor.  I wanted very little to go into the casket with him.  I have alway been a little disturbed by people who send their loved ones off with a large amount of trinkets such as photos, letters, stuffed animals, etc.  We, of all people should know that these things cannot be taken into eternity with our loved ones.  I believe that little things like this are simply a comfort to the living, not the dead.  So, I opted to place his favorite Bible in his hands along with a pair of his reading glasses.  I felt like this would be especially comforting to our beloved saints who had teased Tim so many times about his numerous pairs of reading glasses.  And the Bible, of course, was a must.  He loved the Word.

I am sure that in boardrooms, restaurants, Starbuck's and kitchens all over America, people have taken it upon themselves to discuss the plight of Tim's soul.  For many, I am sure, this subject is very "black and white."  To me, however, I honestly do not know.  I was contacted by two highly esteemed men of God on the day of Tim's death.  Both men felt impressed to reassure me that Tim was at peace.  They felt strongly that God in his infinite mercy would have taken Tim's mental illness into consideration and judged accordingly.  God is, after all, a loving and just God.  This is a delicate topic to be sure, and it is something that has plagued the minds of my children greatly the last two years, as you can imagine.  Recently, my youngest daughter was particularly burdened with it.  I explained to her that there is no way for us to know what has become of Tim's soul.  That is not a load we are intended to carry, it is a load for God's very capable shoulders.  It is of utmost importance that we concern ourselves with our own souls, not the souls of the dead.  I reiterated to her that someday, when we get to heaven we will know, but once we see our Lord's sweet face, we will not care.  And that is where I have left this dreadful subject, at the feet of Jesus.

If my memory serves me correctly Tim's viewing was on Monday and his funeral on Tuesday.  I remember very little about the evening after the viewing.  I do know that I was exhausted and relied heavily on Bro. Wiley and my family to take care of things.  My main concern was for my children who were still walking around in a daze, we all were.  I had taken time however to ponder the futures of Haley and I.  At the time Kendra had chosen to move in with her future sister in law to be closer to her job.  She had an excellent job at a bank in Scottsdale.  She was also getting very close to an engagement to her boyfriend.  I knew she would not want to move, so, I made a very difficult decision and gave Kendra the option to either move with me, or remain in Phoenix.  After much thought and agonizing, she decided to stay.

The day of the funeral dawned clear and hot, a typical Arizona August.  As I was doing my hair in our bathroom my sister came in and informed me that someone had called and wanted me to know that my children and I were free to speak a few words during the service if we wanted to.  Hesitant, unsure if I could do it, I grabbed a pen and pad and jotted down a few notes just in case.  On our way out the door, I spotted a pair of Tim's reading glasses sitting on his desk exactly where he had left them, on a whim, I grabbed them and ran out the door.

 My children and I arrived shortly before the funeral was scheduled to begin.  They ushered us into the church thru a side door and my breath caught in my throat.  The church was completely filled, with people standing in the lobby and along the walls down the side of the sanctuary.  It was completely overwhelming.  The amount of floral arrangements was staggering with the entire altar area filled and many arrangements in the foyer due to a lack of space.  His arrangement from the children and I was draped across the foot of his casket.  In the center sat a resin figurine of a lion lying next to a lamb.  I had seen it at Hobby Lobby a few weeks earlier and it had really gotten my attention.  When we ordered the arrangement I immediately knew that I wanted that figurine to sit directly in the center of it, so I had my sister take me to Hobby Lobby to purchase it.

They sat us on the front row and the service began.  The Lord did not disappoint, his presence was there from the very beginning.  The youth choir began to sing and the power of God fell.  Our son Zack who had been away from the Lord for some time began to quake under the awesomeness of God.  He finally stood to his feet, hands raised to the heavens and began to weep and cry out to God.  His wife, standing next to him, was also overcome by the presence of God.  And there, on that day, with the lifeless body of his father only feet away, my son found peace and forgiveness in the arms of our Savior.

My children spoke and then, it was my turn.  I walked to the pulpit and addressed the congregation and said, "today, I am going to talk to you a little bit about my husband, Reverend Tim R. McCary, and I'm going to do it while wearing his glasses."  At that, I perched his glasses low on my nose and began to eulogize the man who had been my soulmate for over twenty six years.  I had the congregation alternating between laughter and tears, I don't know how I did it, but somehow, by the grace of God, I did.

The people filed by to pay their last respects.  They kept coming, coming and coming, an endless tide of friends, saints and colleagues.  And then, we were alone with him, the immediate family only.  There were a couple of families who had strongly supported Tim and I until the end, people who were like family to us that I asked to stay.  Aside from them, it was meant for immediate family only.  Tim's mom became faint and ill, she collapsed.  We helped her get to the pew and had her lie down.  I was concerned that we would have to call for an ambulance.  After a time, she recovered and was able to view his body and say goodbye.  Finally, my children and I approached the casket.  Zack bent over and sobbed, placing his dog tags in Tim's hands.  Zack was overcome, lightheaded and made a quick exit.  He could not bear anymore.  My girl's wept over their daddy, kissing and caressing him.  And lastly, it was my turn.  I bent over him, forehead to forehead and kissed his lips.  I whispered in his ear telling him things that will go to my own grave with me, looking at his face knowing that it would be the last time on this earth I would ever see it.  I wanted to memorize his face, fearful the memory of it would fade with time.  And then, it was time to close the casket.  I remember my brother's in law on each side of me supporting me.  They closed the lid slowly, I watched it intently the whole way down, my eyes focused on Tim's face.  And as his face was finally hidden by that heavy wooden lid, an unearthly wail escaped my lips and my knees buckled under me one last time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Word of God Speaks

I awakened in the morning disoriented.  Have you ever done that?  Awakened in a strange place and before you open your eyes you believe you are still in your own bed, in the familiarity of your own bedroom?  Yet the smells and sounds are different and for a moment once you open your eyes you are confused and cannot remember where you are.  That was my experience on that morning after Tim's death.  I had slept moderately well due to the medication the Doctor had prescribed.  I was fidgety though, anxious to get back home in spite of the fact that Tim had died there.  I needed to stay busy, there was so much to do, to think about.  I had a cup of coffee with the Wiley's, gathered my things together and returned home.

I do not recall when family members from out of town actually began to arrive, but I believe my parents, sister and my son Zack and his wife arrived the day after Tim's death.  The Keslers also arrived in Arizona from New York at about this time.  It was comforting to have them there.

We waited somewhat impatiently to hear back from David Hoyer, the funeral director with autopsy reports and I was anxious to see Tim's body.  I believe by Saturday we got the "all clear" to go to the funeral home to see Tim.  We also received a detailed report of the autopsy.  The report explained a lot and answered questions I had about details surrounding his death.  Apparently, the bullet entered Tim's brain and lodged there, which explained the very clean surroundings and lack of blood and brain matter on his chair.  As Tim's head slumped forward following the gunshot, he bled heavily and the blood flowed down between his legs which accounted for the single large stain on the seat cushion of his chair.  There was no exit wound.  I was very thankful as this allowed us to have an open casket. Unfortunately, the high velocity of the bullet caved in the entire right side of Tim's head and face.  Thank God I was not allowed to see him in that condition!  The mortician did an absolutely wonderful job of reconstruction and no one noticed that there had been great trauma to his head.

The time finally came for us to go view the body.  While at the funeral home we were to choose a casket and flower arrangements, etc.  I was nervous but ready to get this very difficult task over with.  And I just needed to see him.  The Wiley's once again gave of themselves selflessly and picked up my children and I, along with  my parents and my sister from our  home in one of their church vans and drove us to the mortuary.  I was nauseous the whole way.  The drive seemed to take an eternity, but before long, we pulled into the driveway.

We were ushered into a lovely foyer with beautiful chandeliers and paintings on the walls.  We waited for David to come and take me to Tim.  I paced, wringing my hands, finally David came.  I wanted to go in alone but Zack would not let me and in hindsight, that was very wise on his part.  David escorted us to a large room off of the foyer.  It was a room where funeral services are conducted.  We entered from the back, and up at the front on a gurney lay my beloved, in a hospital gown, draped in a white sheet.  We walked down the aisle timidly with Zack holding me tightly.  When we finally reached him, an unearthly scream of anguish escaped my lips and my knees buckled.  Zack held on tight and I finally gained my composure, and then, I wanted to touch him.  I touched his face, his mouth, caressed his head.  At one point David warned me to be gentle with his head, and that's when I saw it.........a small hole at his right temple covered in a bandage.

Kendra and Haley had slipped in and were crying.  I needed to see more of him and for some reason I wanted to see his legs and feet.  I began to pull the sheet off and my children tried to stop me.  Determined, focused, I shook them off, told them to leave me alone.  I removed the sheet and rubbed his legs, and finally, I bent down and kissed his feet.  Romans 10:15 came to me then.  "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"  He had brought the gospel to hungry people for many years, I never tired of his preaching.  He had a way of seasoning the Word with suspense, vivid imagery and an uncanny humor.  You never left without having learned something.

David took us to a meeting room and we sat down and began to discuss the viewing, funeral service, casket, flowers, etc.  My plan was to fly Tim's body to Turlock California and have him buried there.  That is where his mother and brothers live and I had already made the decision to move to California, so, I felt that would be best.  We discussed the financial aspects of the funeral service and then, it was time to choose a casket.  There were many lovely ones, but our eyes were immediately drawn to one in particular.  It was cherry wood with carved, romanesque pillars running up the four corners with brass handles and a white satin lining.  It was simple elegance.  Tim loved cherry wood and was a huge fan of roman architecture and we knew that he would love it.  We chose floral arrangements from the different family members, discussed payment and then, we left.........we left the cold dead body of my husband still lying on that gurney.

The rest of that day is somewhat of a blur, however I do remember that family continued to arrive. I believe we went shopping to find clothes to wear to the viewing and the funeral.  For the first time in my life I did not want to go clothes shopping which was certainly out of character, and finding that perfect "little black dress" held absolutely no appeal at all for me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Order In The Midst Of Chaos

The same metallic, pungent odor of blood filled my nostrils once again.  The blood had soaked down into the cushion of the chair and was only slightly damp to my touch, amazingly, I had no blood on me when I eventually pulled away.  I began to peruse the chair, it was totally clean.  How could that be?  How could someone shoot themselves in the head at close range and not cover the back and arms of this chair with blood and brain matter?  There was just one large blood stain on the seat of the chair, and that was it.  I asked a couple of the men about it, hoping that they could explain, they could not explain it either.  At some point in our observations, either I or someone else suggested that perhaps Tim had been kneeling at the chair, where his head slumped over and bled onto the seat cushion.  This was a theory that I went with due to an inability to explain it.  That thought haunted my mind for a day or two, I could not get that picture out of my head.  The thought of Tim kneeling in that chair, praying, crying out to God in despair only to finally put a gun to his head and end it all was just more than I could bear.  That was the only explanation we had for the incredibly clean chair.  We would however, upon receiving autopsy results have more insight into what exactly happened.

Before I proceed further, I would like to share with you something that happened approximately two years before Tim's death.  I should have added this to an earlier blog, but it totally slipped my mind, but I feel it will help the reader to understand the state of mind Tim was in for the last few years of his life.

We had been dealing with a lot if issues in the church, the typical stresses of Pastoring.  I don't even remember what happened that had upset Tim so much on this particular day, but we had been discussing the situation for hours, Tim becoming more and more agitated.  I had some errands to run, so I left Tim that day undressing and preparing to take a nap.  I had only travelled a couple of blocks from our home when God spoke to me (this is one of those times I have previously mentioned) and said, "Go home!"  I hesitated and the Lord spoke again, "GO HOME!"  That got my attention, so I promptly turned the car around to head home.  I also started calling our house phone.  It rang and rang and eventually our answering machine picked up.  I said "Tim, this is Shawn can you pick up the phone?"  Nothing.  This went on and on with me calling over and over.  Finally on the last call I am screaming, panicked, begging him to pick up the phone, that I was concerned.  Finally I pulled up into our driveway.  I enter the house and call for him.......nothing.  Fearful of what I might find I walk into our bedroom.  There is Tim, lying on our bed, arms and legs stretched out wide, he was awake, staring up at the ceiling.  I try to talk to him, asking him why he had not answered my phone calls, telling him that he had scared me.  He never responds, just continues to stare at the ceiling.  And then, I see it, the cold gray steel of a gun in his right hand.

I was standing at the foot of our bed and my purse fell out of my hand onto the floor.  What do I do now?  I was concerned for my safety as well as his.  In my head I am praying, "God, help me with this, show me what to do."  I crawled from the foot of the bed until I was straddling Tim. I very gently lay across him, stretching my arms and legs out over his.  We were nose to nose,  chest to chest.  Still he is completely unresponsive.  I very gently, yet firmly get my hand on the gun and am able to release it from his grasp and push it to the end of the bed.

My heart is literally pounding out of my chest.  There is still a possibility that he can get that gun and shoot himself right in front of me!  I am talking to him, trying to calm him down, and then, he began to sob, telling me he did not want to live anymore, etc.  I talked him thru it and somehow with the help of God we made it thru that day without a word of it ever being mentioned again.

So, as you can imagine, that afternoon of August the 6th, 2009 was a sort of deja vu for me, but with a very different ending.

I returned to the house after viewing Tim's blood soaked chair.  Someone had ordered pizza and more people had come including the new Pastor of our church and my cousin, Reverend Delmon Sansom and his wife.  By this time I was starting to feel the overwhelm, I was walking around in a dazed state.  Kendra's friends had come to be with her and I saw them standing in the middle of the den embracing, crying.  Haley was in her bedroom curled into a fetal position, wearing one of Tim's t-shirts, his watch and clutching different items belonging to him tightly in her hands.  Someone brought me our house phone and told me I had a call.  "Hello" I said.  "Is it true??!!"  I heard someone wailing on the other end.  They were crying so hard I could barely understand them and could not make out who it was.  "Yes, it's true" I said.  "Who is this?" I inquired.  It was Sarina Kesler.  She and her husband Nathan are our dear friends who were ministers of music in New York at the time.  They were devastated at the news and assured me they would be on the next flight to Arizona.  They turned out to be a great source of strength and encouragement to me in the days to follow.

At some point someone asked me if I wanted to sit down and plan his service, I did, anything to occupy my mind.  I consulted with Delmon, our Assistant Pastor and Pastor Wiley and within just a few minutes we had his entire funeral planned.  It was as though I had known for some time that Tim would meet an untimely end and I knew exactly what he would have wanted.  

My Pastor Randy Keyes would speak, as well as Reverend Mike Williams, Director of the Apostolic Man Ministry.  Bobbie Shoemake (one of Tim's favorites) would sing along with our Youth Choir.  A man in our church would do a song while playing the acoustic guitar, and finally, a young lady would sing our favorite hymn......."I Come To The Garden Alone." was all done.  We had picked out what he would wear, chose dates, who would speak and sing, on and on and on.  That morning I had fed him breakfast, by late afternoon I was planning his funeral.......ironic.

We were starting to feel it now, the grief, the overwhelm.  I checked my watch it was still business hours and I felt like the girls and I needed some medicinal assistance to help us sleep.  I picked up the phone and dialed Tim's Doctor's office and asked to speak to Dr. Thacker.  He came on the line and I hesitantly told him that Tim had committed suicide.  I will never forget the gasp that came from him.  He had treated Tim for over seven years, this had to be difficult for him as well.  He readily prescribed us some medication to help us cope and sleep.

Finally, people began to leave.  I will forever be grateful to the Wileys who invited us to come and spend the night at their house that night.  There was no way on earth I could have slept in the house where he took his life that night.  I readily agreed since family members would not be arriving until the next day.

I quickly packed but was concerned about the condition of my home as I would be hosting many people in the following days.  Even in the midst of crisis I was still anal about the cleanliness and order of my home.  I left the house that day with several ladies staying behind to clean and prepare our home for visitors.  I will never forget the selflessness of these precious ladies.  And then, I left, to spend the first of many nights alone, without Tim at my side.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are

We walked thru the house in an eerie kind of silence.  Was this really the place that I had left just three short hours earlier?  The irony of it was unbelievable.  His coffee cup and dirty breakfast plate were still in the sink, paperwork scattered on his desk, his car keys and other items he used daily lying around.  And then, there was our dog Charcoal, wagging his tail, tongue hanging out and ready to play, completely oblivious to the disaster that had taken place here.  In one moment in time, mine and my children's past, present and future had been completely altered.  No longer would we see life thru the comfort of rose colored glasses, but rather see the world for the first time in all the clarity of it's cruelty.

I wanted to be where he had been when he had drawn his last breath.  I walked hesitantly towards the den.  His chair was gone, removed by a couple of men in our church and taken out to the side of our home.  The spot where his chair had been was clean, I was expecting something way more grotesque.  The crime scene clean up crew had done an excellent job.  Then, my eyes spotted the dinner plate sized red stain on the carpet that no amount of carpet cleaner could remove.  Blood is a very strong and powerful substance, it lives forever once it has been spilled, even in circumstances where it is not visible to the naked eye.  I wanted to touch it, but refrained from doing so.  I couldn't take this anymore, I needed to get out of here, back outside, to breathe fresh air into my nostrils.

I felt a gentle touch to my shoulder.  "Excuse me Mrs. McCary but we really need to go tell your youngest daughter and check her out of school.  We don't want word of this to get to her before you have a chance to tell her."  It was the grief counselor speaking to me.  Oh God I did not want to do this!!  How was I going to tell my babygirl Haley that the father she so adored was dead, and by his own hand?  This was the moment I had been dreading from the beginning.  Someone had already made contact with Zack's Superiors and they were arranging to have the Army Chaplain to inform Zack.  So, that left Haley still to tell.

They would not let me go alone, so, Haley's best friend, and several ladies from the church and I piled into the grief counselor's car and drove to the school.  As we walked into the office it was apparent that someone had already notified the front office for which I am grateful, they were ready.  They had arranged for a school counselor to be present when I told Haley as well.  This woman would continue to work with Haley until we moved to California.  We waited in a small room while they went to get Haley from her classroom.  I paced nervously.  Haley walked into the room and at first was excited, yet confused to see her friend there.  I asked her to sit down.  By now, she was suspecting that something was terribly wrong.  I knelt down at her feet and placed my hands on her knees, whether to brace her or myself I can't say, I believe it was for both of us.  "Haley."  I said, "Daddy hurt himself today really bad and he passed away."  She just looked at me confused.  "What?"  She said.  "I don't understand."  I repeated myself, reiterating as gently as I could that Tim was dead.  And then, she put her head in her hands and sobbed.

We returned home to find my house beginning to fill up with our church family and friends there to comfort me and for me to comfort them as well.  It was comforting chaos.  There were ladies working in the kitchen, someone had gone to the store to purchase sodas, snacks, toilet paper, etc.  Ladies everywhere were on their phones, some with UPCI Headquarters, our Life Insurance Company, Zack's Superiors, etc.  I could not have done it without them that day.  At some point I went in and lay down on his side of the bed, on his pillow, wanting to smell his scent, to be near him in some small way.  In so doing, I had to brush away the remnants of his gun cleaning supplies and spare bullets, it was like a, a nightmare.

Some of the first to arrive at my home that day were Reverend and Mrs. Stacy WIley.  They were a lifesaver for my kids and I.  Bro. Wiley just took over for me, contacting a man who had formerly attended our church who was a mortician.  They arranged to take control of Tim's body and to oversee the funeral services.  Bro. Wiley, with my permission went into our closet and chose something for Tim to wear.  I instructed him to find a black suit, white shirt and one of Tim's signature white ties, I also wanted Tim to wear the American Flag pin on his lapel that he was so fond of.

At one point Bro. Wiley asked if I wanted to see the chair?  Yes!  Yes I did!  It sounds morbid I know, and there was some controversy that day as to the wisdom of my seeing it, but I wanted to.....I NEEDED to see that chair.  It was sitting in the back of one of the men's trucks from our church, ready to be taken to the dump.  They took me to it and left me alone with it.  There, on the bottom seat cushion was a huge bloodstain.....I just stared at it.  And then, I buried my face in it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Smell of Gunpowder and Blood

Later my neighbors told my parents what happened.  From out of nowhere police cars, emergency vehicles and even a S.W.A.T. team converged upon our home that day.  The S.W.A.T. team members were in formation, their bullet proof shields raised and at the ready.  They would take a few paces, then drop to one knee, take a few paces, drop again until they made it across our lawn and to the front door.  Once there, and they had been given the "all clear" they entered our home.  A place that had always been my sanctuary, a place where I could be me, run around in a pair of gym shorts and one of Tim's old t-shirts was now a den of death......a possible crime scene as far as they were concerned.

I pulled my car up to the curb in front of our house and jumped out.  A police officer with a notepad and pen walked across my lawn to meet me.  "This is my house!"  I said as I stood on the sidewalk, "My husband was here alone, is he okay?"  "Are you Mrs. McCary?" he inquired, I responded that I was.  "Ma'am, we received a phone call from this residence at approximately 12:00 p.m. stating that there would be a suicide and that the doors would be unlocked."  Stunned, I responded, "That was my husband....... is he dead?"  The officer with raw emotion and compassion in his eyes looked me and said, "I'm sorry ma'am, yes he is."

I threw my head back, looked into a cloudless blue August sky and screamed and screamed and screamed.  The next thing I knew I was flat on my back on the blazing Arizona blacktop.  Seemingly from out of nowhere  the police officer and a lady that I had not even noticed helped me up off of the pavement.  "Get up ma'am." the officer said.  "We don't want you to get burned."  They sat me on the bumper of one of the emergency vehicles.  I began to tremble violently.  It was a trembling that jarred my teeth and the very core of my bones.  The lady that had helped me up introduced herself.  Her name escapes me, but she was a grief counsellor for the Avondale Police Department.  She asked me if I needed some water, if there was anyone I could call to come be with me.  At some point I snapped out of it and shifted gears into "take control" mode.  There were people I needed to call, our church family, our immediate family, our children.......oh God how was I going to tell our children?

I retrieved my phone from my purse and began making calls.  The first people I called were Tim's aunt and uncle Charles and Mary Combs, for they were the only relatives we had living in Phoenix at the time.  It just so happened that they were on the road, in Bakersfield, traveling back to Phoenix after having been in California visiting Tim's mom Cynthia.  They assured me they would turn around and head back to Turlock, calling Tim's brothers as they drove to have them meet them at Tim's mom and step dad's house to break the news.  I was so thankful, that was one call I did not want to make.  How could I tell my sweet mother in law that her oldest son had taken his own life?  Next I called Tim's personal secretary. I can recall her screaming "No!  No!  No!"  over and over and then instructing her daughter to grab her car keys, that they had to go to the McCary's house.  Next was my Pastor's wife, Sis. Keyes.  She assured me that she and Pastor Keyes would contact my family personally for me.  And finally, I had to call my daughter Kendra who was at work and tell her to come home immediately.  She was confused and kept asking me what was wrong.  I just told her she needed to come home.  I then called her fiance who is now her husband, told him what had happened and asked him to come and be there for Kendra when she arrived. Haley was at school and I would deal with that later and our son Zack and his wife were at his Army base in Kansas and I would have to go thru the proper channels in the military to contact him.  For now, I waited for them to let me into my home.

They were inside with Tim's body taking pictures, looking at blood spatter, testing his hand for gun powder residue, measuring, searching for spent shell casings.  All of that CSI stuff that you would see in a television show minus the beautiful actors and actresses, the dramatic lighting and music and the happy ending.  No, this was real and it wasn't pretty, not at all.

People began to arrive at our home.  Tim's secretary and her family, our Assistant Pastor and his wife, Kendra's boyfriend, and then, Kendra.  Everything was starting to become a blur at this point but I do recall I was talking to someone and looked over to see Kendra getting out of her car, people surrounding her, telling her, and then her nearly collapsing onto the pavement.  I remember her being held up and escorted over to me, us embracing, trembling.  At this point I had no tears, only immeasurable heartbreak and grief and an odd determination to do what I must.

They informed me that they were ready to remove Tim's body from our home and take it to the morgue.  They were concerned about distraught family members rushing the body.  I assured them to go ahead with the removal, that we would be fine.

The front door opened and I distinctly recall our Assistant Pastor behind me, his wife in front of me and they got me into some sort of bear hug, their arms interlocked around me.  People were doing the same with Kendra.  And then, suddenly, there was the stretcher carrying his lifeless form.  My mouth opened wide in an unearthly scream and my legs went limp.  Bro. and Sis. Flores were literally holding me up.  He was completely covered of course, from head to toe in a heavy burgundy blanket.  I remember thinking that it looked itchy.

They loaded his body and then they left.  Shortly thereafter they gave us the all clear to enter the house.  Afraid to go in alone I asked our Assistant Pastor and his wife and Tim's Secretary to accompany me.  As we entered thru the door leading from the garage I remember crying out "I can smell it!  I can smell it!"  Permeating thru the house was an overwhelming scent of gunpowder and the metallic, pungent, very unique smell of blood.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Police Tape and a Coroner's Truck

Tears seeped out of the corners of my eyes as the masseuse tried to massage all my worries away.  It helped, but her fingers failed to erase the emotional pain.  I took the 45 minutes to think, ponder what would become of us.  I knew deep down that the future looked bleak, but I also knew that God had the situation in His very capable Hands.  As usual, the last 10 minutes at the very end of the massage were spent sitting up on a stool as the masseuse worked on the shoulders and neck muscles.  Directly in front of me was a clock on the wall, one of those cheap, little white plastic numbers you can get at Wal Mart.  For some strange reason my eyes were drawn to that clock.  I could not peel my eyes away from the hands as they slowly ticked their way towards 12:00 noon on that Thursday.  I watched, seemingly mesmerized until the hands both aligned themselves, reaching straight up marking the hour as 12:00 p.m.  At that precise moment my massage was done and I dressed, paid and prepared to run next door to the grocery store.

Back at the house Tim meticulously cleaned his gun, leaving the cleaning supplies and extra bullets scattered thru out the blankets and sheets.  He had the presence of mind to put our black lab, Charcoal out into the back yard and our three cats, Frodo, Sesa and Hamlet into Haley's room and closed the door.  He then composed a suicide note and taped it to the screen of his laptop which was open and sitting on the table  next to his favorite chair.  He even thought to set his wallet out, with his drivers license pulled out and lying next to it so that there would be no problem identifying him.  Gunshot wounds to the head are messy and an individual cannot always be easily identified.  And then, he dialed 911 at exactly noon, telling them that there was to be a suicide at our address and that the doors would be unlocked.  And with the 911 operator still on the line, Tim put the gun to his temple, pulled the trigger and made history.  For there has never been, to our knowledge, another licensed minister of the UPCI to commit suicide, ever.

I walked the aisles of Fry's while on the phone with my concerned mother.  I tried to concentrate on what I needed to purchase for the baby shower, but just could not get my brain to cooperate.  I think I must have gone up and down the party supply aisle at least ten times before I decided upon what I wanted.  I went to the bakery and picked up the cake, checked it to make sure it said what I wanted it to say.  Finally I was done and headed toward the checkout line.  It was there at the cash register that I heard the sirens......lots of them, and they were not far, definitely in the area.  I believe I even mention to the cashier that there must be something really bad going on.  I paid, gathered my purchases, loaded them into the car and as I was pulling out of the driveway I saw Subway.  I was hungry, Tim probably was too, so I decided to grab us some lunch.

I walked into Subway and as it usually is during the lunchtime rush, the line was long.  I retrieved my cell phone and called Tim to find out what he wanted on his sandwich.  I dialed his cell and listened to it ring and ring to eventually take me to his voicemail.  I called again, same thing.  This was unusual, due to the fact that Tim always answered my calls unless he was sleeping and in that case he would turn his phone off.  During those times his phone would not even ring, but rather go directly to his voicemail.  This told me that his phone was on, but where was he?  He always kept his phone close at hand.  Perhaps he was in the shower or the restroom and had forgotten the phone.  I kept calling getting the same response.

Something didn't feel right, I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It was almost my time to order, I called again.  This time his phone went directly to voicemail which meant he had either turned it off or the battery had died.  Why would he turn it off when he could see that I had been trying to call?  I decided to just order him what he always got.  A foot long turkey on wheat, everything on it, extra lettuce.  I placed the order, paid for the food and headed home.

As I drove, the anxious feelings increased as I turned into our neighborhood which was very near to the shopping center I had just come from.  As I made my way towards our home I turned down the street that would take me to the street we lived on.   I prepared to make a right hand turn onto our street when God spoke to me again, very clearly and very powerfully.  He simply said, "You are going to see something very bad when you turn the corner, brace yourself."

My breathing was short and rapid, my heart racing as I turned that corner.  To my horror, my house was surrounded by police tape.  Police cars and emergency vehicles were everywhere.  As I pulled up in front of my home I looked to my left, and there, parked on the side of the road across from our home was the County Coroner's truck.  I knew then that Tim was dead.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Forewarnings and Forebodings

 As I have previously mentioned, I can count on one hand the times that God has spoken to me so strongly, that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God.  Several of those occasions were in the last year of Tim's life.  God spoke to me during prayer on one occasion about a year before Tim's death and impressed upon me that we would Pastor Phoenix Revival Center for only fifteen years.  Numerous times God reiterated to me, fifteen years, fifteen years, over and over as if to brand it in my brain.  We assumed that merely meant our ministry would take a different path.  As it turns out, we DID only Pastor there for fifteen years, fifteen years and three months to be exact due to Tim's unexpected death.

Another instance of God directly communicating with me was one week and one day before Tim died.  I was so weary in mind, body and soul that I chose to stay home from church on a Wednesday night and spend some quiet time with God.  I had a lot of concerns about Tim, the church, our family, etc, and I just wanted to be alone and pray.  I knelt at our couch in the den and began to intercede and travail before the Lord  After a season of prayer, I felt the spirit of intercession lift and I got up off of my knees to make my way down the hall towards our bedroom.  In an incredibly profound way, although not audibly, the Lord spoke to me.  It stopped me in my tracks.  God simply said, "something bad is going to happen to Tim, so prepare yourself for it."  I was stunned, panicked.  It was so powerful! I could take you to the exact spot, this very minute, in our home where I was standing when God spoke to me.  I returned to the den and fell on my knees again and began to plead the blood over Tim's body.  I assumed that the extreme stress he was under could bring on a heart attack, stroke or God forbid, another debilitating breakdown.  I had no clue just how devastating the outcome would be.

The morning of Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Have you ever awakened in the morning, still groggy from sleep, yet happy, ready to begin your day only to remember something terrible that happened the day before, and to suddenly be thrust into the depths of despair?  That is an awful feeling and that is exactly what happened to me on the morning of August the 6th, 2009

I rolled out of bed, my eyes nearly swollen shut from the night before, Tim lay sleeping in the bed next to me.  I stumbled to the kitchen and performed my daily, morning rituals.  I poured my first cup of coffee and sat down at the computer.  If my memory serves me correctly, I believe I had some sweet emails and Facebook messages from some of our saints expressing concern and encouragement.  I was exhausted and still in emotional turmoil, yet strangely optimistic.  Perhaps in some ways I am an overly optimistic person.  I guess I have just always totally and completely trusted God.  I really believed that we were going to be okay, we would get thru this.  As the morning wore on, I began to feel increasingly at peace.

Tim awakened an hour or two after me and made his way into the den where I was on the computer.  I remember greeting him and asking him how he was doing.  He shrugged his shoulders and waved his hand as if to say, "I'm okay."  I recall he didn't have a lot to say considering all that had transpired the night before, he was the picture of calm, lost in his own thoughts.  I prepared him a breakfast of some cream puffs I had purchased from "Fresh and Easy" and poured his coffee.  I piddled around the kitchen as we discussed what our future held, and once again, I did most of the talking.

As he was finishing his breakfast I explained to him that I had some errands to run as I had a baby shower I was hosting for one of our ladies that night in our church fellowship hall.  I expressed my hesitation to go to the baby shower, not knowing the response I would get.  I was embarrassed.  Again, I was met with silence.  As I walked to our bedroom, I left Tim sitting in his favorite chair, his laptop open and on his lap.

I showered, dressed and gathered my things.  I had a cake to pick up as well as a gift, decorations and other food items.  I had decided that while I was at it I would stop in at a little asian massage place that was right next to the Fry's grocery store that I frequented.  I desperately needed to relax.  I grabbed my purse and keys and as I made my way towards our garage door that led to the car I called out to Tim. " I love you, call me if you need me, I'll see you in a while, goodbye!"  It wasn't until later that day that I realized he never responded.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Valley Of The Shadow Death

His personality changed, it seemed as though his judgement became poor.  He made decisions that he would later regret and attempt to reverse.  Unfortunately, that was easier said than done.  Trust had been broken, confidence lost.  It started to wear and tear on our children, on me.......on him.

On a Monday morning after a particularly stressful Sunday, we sat on the couch, considering our options.  Where do we go from here?  How do we fix this?  I felt I  had a solution.  I proposed that we resign the church, move back to California and just regroup, refresh ourselves.  He was not opposed to the idea.  We began to discuss the possibilities.  Who would take the church?  What would we do for  income?  Needless to say this was something we talked about for days.

 We both felt strongly that the man to take the church in the event we resigned should be my cousin, Reverend Delmon Sansom.  He was above reproach in character and had proved himself to be faithful.  In recent days we had been in close contact with my Pastor Reverend Randy G. Keyes from Modesto California as well as Reverend Mike Williams and several other renowned men of God who had reached out to Tim.  Bro. Keyes had also contacted Dr. Hughes, (a Dr. and Minister in our movement) to fly out to Arizona to evaluate and treat Tim.  Pastor Keyes agreed that resignation was wise and he offered us a place at Modesto Revival Center.  I was excited about the prospects of moving back home and having family support, and to be quite frank, I was anxious to no longer Pastor, I was done.

We made the decision, introduced our plan to the church and moved forward.  It was one of the most difficult things we had ever done in our lives.  The church did not understand, there was a lot of chaos and confusion.  How could they understand?  They had no idea what we had been battling for years, how it had affected our family.  As time went on, we were more and more convinced that our time at PRC was over, but Tim became increasingly agitated, worried about our future.

During the week of the election Tim did not sleep well.  He would lay for hours on our couch staring at the ceiling, or out in the backyard swinging a golf club.  He made unreasonable demands of the incoming Pastor, demands that he and I would argue about clear up until the election on that Wednesday night.  I could not make him see reason.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

The night of the election came.  We were to meet with our church board, Bro. Sansom and the District Superintendent. Tim asked me to accompany him to the meeting, I did so hesitantly.  It did not go well.  As I had suspected, and forewarned, his demands were unfair and unacceptable.

I was shocked when he violently pushed up out of his chair, grabbed me by the arm and headed down the stairs that led from our board room and towards the sanctuary where many of our saints had already gathered for the election.  Scared and confused I broke away from him and looked to our Board members for direction.  They were equally as shocked and as confused as I.  And then, I ran after him in an attempt to stop him.  By the time I entered the Sanctuary he was already behind the podium addressing the congregation.    I was stunned to hear him inform them that there would be no election, that he would not allow it.  I made my way down the aisle towards him, totally focused on just getting him out of there.  From the corner of my eye I could see our Assistant Pastor making his way to the podium in an attempt to circumvent the situation, to reassure our saints, to inform them that in fact, there would be an election.

I grabbed him by the arm and said "Let's go."  He resisted at first, trying to free his arm from my grasp.  I hung on.  Finally, I was able to literally force him down the aisle, thru the lobby, out the door and into our car.  "Drive!" I told him, "just drive home."  The shock, fear and confusion on the faces of our saints remains with me to this day.

I was sobbing hysterically.  It's a blur, but I believe I called my mother.  We arrived home and I collapsed onto our couch, he into his chair in our den, and we just sat there, shell shocked.  In one evening we had lost it all.  Everything we had worked so hard for, for so many years lay as rubble, ashes at our feet. ( Before I proceed, let me reiterate that I hold absolutely NO ONE accountable for the demise of my husband's ministry or his untimely death.  I am not bitter at any individuals or God for the sad turn of events.  Tim's decisions and actions were his and his alone.)  I was hysterical but Tim was oddly calm.  At some point, I picked up the phone and made a call to my Pastor's wife, Sis. Keyes.  She tried to calm me down, instructed us to get some rest and that Bro. Keyes would contact us in the morning.

Tim headed to our bedroom, sat down at his desk.  I don't know what he did there for I was on my kitchen floor in a fetal position.  I rolled around, howled and screamed out to God for at least forty five minutes before I worked up the strength to stand up and stumble to our bedroom and our bed.  To this day, I have never experienced such raw, horrific emotional pain.  Everything I loved was gone!!

I crawled into bed that night, a zombie, wasted and spent.  The last thing I saw before I lay my head on my pillow was Tim, slumped over his desk, his medications sitting before him.  My last thought was, "God, don't let him take all of those pills."  And then, blessed sleep came.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A confrontation with God

I was in the restroom at church when I heard the commotion from the sanctuary.  While washing my hands  my daughter rushed in to tell me that Tim had fallen.  I hurried in to find Tim sitting in his chair on the platform, people gathered around him.  He had fallen for no reason at all.  From what I was told, he was just walking across the platform and fell flat on his face.  I felt so badly for him.  A short time later we were sleeping soundly one night when I heard a tremendous crash and what sounded like a melon hitting the nightstand on Tim's side of the bed.  I flew out of the bed!  Tim was not there!  I ran around the end of the bed and there he was in a heap on the floor.  I screamed and ran to him fearing the worst.  He moaned and held his head, telling me that he had fallen out of the bed.  I inquired if I should dial 911, but he assured me he was okay.  I remember helping him back into the bed, my heart squeezing in my chest with pity for him.  Why were these things happening to him?  I still don't have an answer.  I tucked him in like a child, pulled the covers up under his chin and kissed him on the forehead.  My heart breaks when I recall his words to me before he drifted off to sleep.  "Thanks for not being mad at me."  Even now it brings a rush of tears.

As part of his duties for the Apostolic Man Ministry and their magazine, Tim was required to attend meetings several times a year at the UPCI Headquarters in St. Louis Missouri.  He went I believe in May, only a few short months before his death.  The day of his return will forever be burned into my memory.  I had just put my bathing suit on to go out and clean our pool when he called to tell me he was almost home from the airport.  He told me was very tired and wanted to go straight to bed when he arrived home.  He walked thru the door and at first nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  I did notice however that he was extremely disheveled, dark circles under his eyes, unshaven, etc.  And then, Tim began to exhibit the most bizarre behavior.

He hurried thru the house closing all the blinds, checking and double checking the locks on all the doors.  He proceeded to tell me not to answer the door or the phone making statements like "you never know who's watching, you can't trust anyone," etc.  It was at that point I noticed he had a wild and glazed look in his eye.  The phone rang and he yelled, "don't answer it, don't answer it!"  By now I was really starting to freak out but tried to remain calm.  I had him sit down in his favorite chair and made him something to drink.  I began to question him about his meetings and how they went, anything to keep him talking.  I wondered if perhaps something had transpired there that put him into this state of mind.

He began to ramble.  His statements were very disjointed and made no sense.  He started to cry, apologizing for things he felt guilty about in our marriage or as a parent, then just as quickly, he would stop crying and start rambling again.  I could not make sense of anything he was saying.  I was on the verge of retrieving my cell phone, dialing 911 and having an ambulance come.  I was ready to do just that when Tim's cell phone rang, it was Reverend Mike Williams, Director of the Apostolic Man Ministry.  Once I saw that Tim would be able to talk to Brother Williams coherently, I snuck my cell phone out to the pool with me.  I got into the pool under the guise that I was cleaning it, and for the first time in 26 years, I called Tim's mom and asked for her help and advice.

"Mom, this is Shawnacee and I need you to pray right now, Tim is really, really bad."  We prayed and I tried to explain to her Tim's behavior.  You must remember, his mother knew very little about the severity of Tim's illness.  I had done my best not to worry her with it.  While I was still on the phone, Tim came out to the pool, still in his suit, rambling and crying again.  I got out of the pool and took him into the house.  He eventually began to calm down as I helped him to undress and get into bed.  He was hungry so I went into the kitchen to prepare one of his favorites, peaches and cottage cheese.  I had a ladies meeting that evening, so I hurried and dressed, still beside myself with worry.  The picture of him lying in bed that night looking at me with tears streaming down his face as I left for my meeting will forever haunt me.

Tim slept for almost two days following that episode.  A week or so later he brought it up and apologized for scaring me.  I told him that I had been tempted to call for an ambulance.  He pleaded with me to never do that, saying his ministry would be ruined if that ever happened.  I begged him to see a psychiatrist.  He had been treated for years by his general practitioner but I felt that Dr. Thacker was ill equipped to properly treat   Tim.  I pleaded with him but he was in total denial, he did not want to hear what I had to say.  I believe that at that time, Tim suffered a "complete" and final nervous breakdown.

Several weeks passed and Tim seemed to have calmed down and was back into his normal daily schedule.  I recall one day in particular when I was unusually discouraged, disturbed.  I lay down next to Tim, hoping to take a little nap.  I could not sleep, my mind was racing, I was at the end of my rope.  I got up out of bed and threw some clothes on and jumped into my car.  I drove to my "hangout" Borders Bookstore, but did not go inside, I just sat there in the parking lot, air conditioner blowing cold on that hot, late June day........and God and I had it out.

I began to beat the steering wheel, seven years of pent up emotion erupted.  Tears streamed down my face as I pointed my finger at the sky and began to scream, "God if you have never heard me before, hear me is over!!  Today, I draw a line in the sand God!"  I reminded God of our many years of faithful service, of the things we had sacrificed for His work, and I reminded him of His word.  I screamed, sobbed, ranted and raved at God for at least thirty minutes.  Anyone who saw me must have thought I was insane. Finally, completely exhausted from my outburst I lay my head on my steering wheel.  Chest heaving, tears and sweat pouring down my face, I sat, listening to the silence.  And in that silence, I felt the awesome, powerful presence of God and  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had gotten the attention of the Almighty.  I knew that He had seen and heard His pitiful, weary, exhausted and confused child.  Completely spent, I drove home.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Beginning Of The End - Part 2

I cried myself to sleep most nights, the salty tears pooling in my ears.  Often I would gently put my hand on his forehead while he lay sleeping and plead the blood over him.  Asking God to deliver us from this disease that gripped both his mind AND his body, interceding for him.  On several occasions I lay on my back in bed in the wee hours praying, reaching my arms out to God as though the Almighty could reach down and physically embrace me, all the while mouthing my silent prayer, "I want my husband back!"  I would ponder our future with heartbreak.  I could not imagine living the rest of our lives this way.  I was fearful that as Tim aged, his symptoms would only intensify.  I considered the fact that the children would mature, marry, have families and lives of their own, and where would that leave me?.  I could not bare the thought of the extreme loneliness to come.  One of my greatest fears was that I would contract a terminal or debilitating disease.......who would care for ME?  I knew that Tim was unable to, and I had no immediate family in Arizona, it was a valid concern of mine.  I can recall escaping into the shower.  So weary,  leaning my head against the cool tiles as the water streamed down my face to mingle with my tears, my mouth opened wide in a whispered scream, hands balled into fists beating the walls.  Tired,  frustrated, lonely and scared, I became a master of disguise.

In March of '09 our son Zachary and our beautiful daughter in law Sylvia were married.  Sylvia is from my hometown of Modesto California, so, the wedding was to be held there.  I was busy, scurrying around making preparations, as Zack and Sylvia had asked me to coordinate the entire event.  There was excitement in the air amidst all the preparations and Tim was excited about performing the ceremony for our firstborn and his bride!

  Approximately two weeks before we were to depart for California which would be a 10  to a 12 hour drive, Tim became very, very ill.  It was the same symptoms all over again......the chest pains, breathlessness, lightheadedness, the burning.  We made a Doctors appointment and once again, the Doctor found nothing wrong with Tim's heart, lungs or blood pressure, everything pointed to his anxiety disorder.  As the days passed he became worse and worse and I honestly did not think he would make the trip.  He was not sleeping well, awake all night at times.  Somehow, we made it, but Tim was deathly ill.  Once we arrived in Modesto he slept most of the time until the evening of the ceremony.  I was beside myself with concern as I sat in the pew during the wedding and watched Tim, white as a sheet, trembling, barely able to get thru the ceremony!  Here was my husband, a man known nationally for his oratory abilities barely able to put two words together.  He had performed this same ceremony countless times, yet he forgot key portions and stumbled over his words.  To say the least, I breathed a sigh of relief when bride and groom finally kissed.  My parents told me later that longtime family friends and extended family members left the wedding deeply concerned about Tim.  For the first time, people began to ask questions, they could sense that something was terribly wrong, Tim was not the same person they had known for years.  Tim stayed with his mother while we were there and he later told me that he was so ill the day following the wedding that he literally could not physically get out of bed.....he could not make his body obey.  I firmly believe that Tim suffered his second breakdown at that time.

A couple of weeks later, Zack and Sylvia were driving thru Arizona on their way back to Kansas which is where Zack was stationed in the Army.  They had to pass thru Flagstaff and they called and asked us to meet them there for dinner.  Flagstaff is a couple of hours from Phoenix, and for some reason I do not recall, I could not make the dinner date, so, Tim and our youngest daughter Haley went without me.  In retrospect, I believe that this was part of God's master plan as this was the last time Haley and her dad would spend quality alone time together.

They met Zack and Sylvia at a restaurant and had dinner.  Zack later told me that it was the most awkward time he had ever had with his dad.  Tim was silent most of the meal, and when he did speak he would ask the same questions over and over.  Needless to say, Zack was extremely concerned.  He and Sylvia discussed Tim's behavior the entire way home to Kansas.  It was the last time Zack would see his father alive.

I believe it was the following April or May that I became seriously alarmed.  For some unknown reason it was as though Tim shifted gears into warp speed.  He was not sleeping during the day, he was cleaning everything it sight, and talking 90 miles an hour.  We would try to have a conversation and I would have to ask him to slow down, to repeat him self over and over.  Strangely enough, also at this time, he seemed to have extreme clarity of the mind.  It was as though I had the old Tim back!  It seemed for that moment in time he had awakened from a dream and realized what had been going on and he sensed the stress that the kids and I were enduring.  He even addressed this topic with me, apologizing and promising to do better.  One afternoon I walked into the kitchen to find roses on the counter.  The note he left me read "For putting up with me.  Love, Tim."  I had mixed emotions, I was happy, yet concerned, something wasn't right, I had never seen him like this before.  I called Zack and told him "I'm worried about your dad, he's driving me crazy, cleaning up a storm, talking very, very fast......I don't know what to do!"  To a degree it was humorous and we got a good laugh out of it, but Zack had no answers either.  For the first time, I revealed things to Zack about his dad's illness I never had before.   Zack also shared with me his concerns about his father after their dinner together in Flagstaff.  Zack was aware that Tim was unwell, but was shocked to hear the severity of it.  This phase with Tim lasted only a few days.  Before long, he was back to his normal self, sleeping all day, lethargic, uncommunicative, etc.   I still cannot explain what happened.

In my studies of nervous and complete nervous breakdowns I have discovered that two prominent symptoms are feelings of grandiosity and feelings of extreme worthlessness.  I was stunned at the accuracy of this tidbit of information.  Out of respect, I will not delve too deeply into the matter of feelings of grandiosity, but suffice it to say that having learned this explains several situations that I observed early on in Tim's illness.  In the last months of his life however, any self confidence was replaced by severely low self esteem and the feeling that no one respected him.  He was spiraling out of control and taking me with him.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Beginning Of The End

Tim's daily schedule went something like this.  He arose in the mornings at around 8:00 a.m.  I would serve him his coffee and a bagel with cream cheese.  He would sit in his favorite chair in our den and work on his laptop, make phone calls, etc.  We would talk and discuss things pertinent to the church or the children, etc.  At approximately 11:00 a.m. he would return to bed, to remain there often until 7:00 or 8:00 in the evening, when he would return to his chair and his laptop.  I would serve him a warmed up plate of whatever I had cooked that evening, or, if I had not cooked, I would throw something together for him or make a fast food run.  I am an early riser, so by 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. I was ready to get into bed and read a little before drifting off to sleep.  Tim's sleep pattern was way off due to the medications, so many nights he was up until the wee hours of the morning while I slept.  This was our life.

I remember one morning when he seemed to be feeling really well and maybe even a little energetic.  He sat me down and told me he wanted to work on our relationship, spend more time together as well as more time with the kids, etc.  He said he wanted us to make a promise to one another that he and I would have a date night once a week, just the two of us.  He was very adamant that absolutely nothing or no one would hinder our dates.  I smiled and agreed and if my memory serves me well, I believe we even "shook on it."
But deep down inside I knew not to get my hopes us.  I knew that he struggled with a lot of guilt over his sickness and the way that it had affected our relationship and family life.......I knew it wouldn't last, it was something that he could not follow thru on.  I totally forgot about it only to think of it weeks later, and to my sadness, realize that a date had never and would never occur.

Towards the end he rarely left the house.  I can honestly say that he never left the house except on Sunday and Wednesdays for church.  He also had a weekly midmorning meeting with his personal secretary which was cancelled often due to his health.  I would beg him to go have lunch with me in the afternoons and he just would not do it.  On occasion we would go out for dinner, but it was rare.  I finally bought an above ground pool hoping that it would get him out of the house, get him a little exercise.  I put the pool up by myself and I can recall my being able to convince him to get in a total of once.  I LOVED that pool however and spent many hours in it, cleaning it which I found very therapeutic.  As time went on, there were other changes in Tim that concerned and confused me.

He asked me to start picking out his church clothes for him.  He said he couldn't see to match the clothes properly.  I did some research lately on nervous breakdowns and discovered that loss of eye sight is a common symptom in someone suffering a breakdown.  From there, he asked me to comb his hair for him as well.  I honestly don't know why he was unable to perform these menial tasks anymore, I do not understand it.  It's funny, but some of my fondest memories of those final days are of my combing his hair.  He would sit on the edge of the bathtub and I would put the gel or mouse in his hair and style if for him.  I would joke around and do a mohawk or some other unattractive hairdo and he would act silly, making us both laugh........he had become very childlike and my feelings had evolved into an almost maternal type of love.  I had always been the protector, now I was the caretaker as well.

One of the most disturbing changes in Tim however was the change in his personal hygiene and a lack of interest in his appearance.  Tim had ALWAYS bathed every single day and brushed his teeth at least once a day, and although he was not very "fashion forward," he liked to look nice, neat and well kept when he went out in public.  I started noticing that he bathed and brushed his teeth only before going to church or going out for a special occasion.  On one occasion, after observing this for some time, we prepared for bed and I inquired when he had last bathed.  He said it had been a few days.  I kindly asked him not to get into bed until he had bathed.  He became angry and defensive but I didn't know what else to do.  I wanted to scream at him that a lack of personal hygiene is ALSO a sign of mental illness........but, of course, I kept my opinion to myself, worried, frightened, not knowing what to do to help him.

  I distinctly remember one day when he was dressing for a meeting at a restaurant with his secretary.  He had on a pair of cargo pants and a t-shirt that looked like they had been rolled up into tight balls and stuffed into a drawer, and a pair of sandals with white socks.  That description may seem comical, but as I looked into his bloodshot eyes and unshaven face my heart broke into a thousand pieces.  I would not let him leave the house like that.  Frustrated I reminded him of who he was!  He was the Pastor of Phoenix Revival Center!  The Secretary for the Apostolic Man Ministry and Editor of their magazine!  I think he had forgotten.

Tim had never been the most punctual of people, but his tardiness took a dire turn in the last year.  
As I explained previously, Tim slept most of the day, so, he would work Monday,Tuesday and early Wednesday on his Bible Study for Wednesday night.  Then, he would sleep most of that day trying to gain strength for the evening service.  I would wake him  at least one hour before time to leave the house, but inevitably, I would have a struggle getting him up.  So, what usually transpired was Haley and I leaving the house in my own car, leaving Tim to continue getting ready for church..  On at least four to five separate occasions he did not show up until time to walk up onto the platform and take the pulpit.  And on several other occasions he didn't even make it on time for that.  I can remember singing extra songs, having testimony service (which we never did), anything to kill time until he arrived.  I would break out in cold clammy sweats, trembling, so afraid he would not show, so tired of the questioning looks from our saints.  I can recall bending over as far as I could in the pew, so as not to be seen and calling him on my cell phone asking him where in the world he was?!  Once, our Assistant Pastor asked me from the pulpit, "Sis. McCary, do you know where Pastor is?"  I don't know why, but that was one of the most humiliating moments of my life.  I felt like everything was unravelling and that I could no longer hold it together.  I was completely overwhelmed and exhausted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Survival Tactics

Tim's life became very polarized, his focus became the ministry and maintaining his sanity.  He was terrified of a relapse, of a breakdown that would render him helpless, unable to provide for his family.  The irony of it is that Tim's abilities and talents stemmed from his extremely brilliant mind.  Counseling, preaching, writing.....all of these tasks require a keen and sharp mind.  It's amazing to me how he could be so ill, in bed for most of the week, then on Sunday address our congregation with an unparalleled anointing!!  It was as though God reached down at those moments in time and gave him just enough strength and mental clarity to deliver masterpieces to our people.  Tim was an incredible preacher to the very end.

Having said this, our lives revolved around Tim's health and keeping him well.  I certainly do not intend to come across as selfish by that statement, but rather state a fact to help you to better understand his predicament.  It was important that he have plenty of rest and that I not overwhelm him with too many issues of daily life.  Unfortunately this created an overwhelmingly heavy load for me as I played the roles of both mother AND father, attending school events and such without him.  He did not deal well with the children's friends at the house, so most of their socializing took place elsewhere.  I spent hours upon hours in downtown Glendale roaming the antique shops or sitting in Borders Bookstore sipping on hot tea or coffee, with a pile of books.  Anything to be out of the house, to be around people, to hear laughter and conversation, even if I were not directly a part of it.  It was not unusual to find me at a restaurant in a corner booth, alone, with a book for lunch or dinner......sometimes both.

Tim became more and more reclusive with our saints.  I cannot tell you how many weddings and funerals I found myself making excuses to people for Tim having slipped out as soon  as the ceremony or service was over.  This was especially difficult at weddings where the couple usually wants pictures with the Pastor and Pastor's wife.  If there was a head table, I sat there with an empty chair next to me, a place card with his name on it next to an empty plate.  The children and I went alone to most church dinners and banquets, he just could not handle the pressure.

We took our final family vacation in June of '06.  We stayed in an absolutely lovely resort, and what better vacation spot than Orlando Florida?  Yet, once again, Tim spent most of his time in the room sleeping.  I recall on one of the last days of our trip the girls and I went to a theme park alone, he just could not get out of the bed, his unused ticket lay on the dresser.  Incredibly, it was as though our children never really noticed just how ill Tim was.  Only after his death did I open up to them about what their dad had suffered.  They knew to a degree that he was in poor health, but apparently they had no clue as to the severity.  For this I am thankful.  To them, they had very normal childhoods.

I somewhat look at that vacation as the beginning of the end, for from there, it seems that everything began to unravel for Tim very rapidly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The lonely years

By Isabella Holt

He is gone, with his green eyes,
whom I love most.
Gone among the cliffs and fog,
on a far coast.

He who scatters wit and pride
from his keen tongue,
He who finds himself so deep,
and is so young.

He whose joy in sweet words
and kindness,
whom old men love, and little boys
no whit the less.

Rooms are silent that were glad
seven days ago,
I can feel across my heart,
the great tides flow.

Love, the blind importunate,
craves touch and sight;
Briefly parting, feels and fears
eternal night.

Fear is sweeping on the wind,
like arid foam,
I have said farewell to peace,
Till he comes home.

We began to lose saints.....a slow trickle at first and then a seemingly mass exodus.  There was a certain disconnect with our people.  I delicately tried to suggest to him that the congregation needed human contact with him beyond the pulpit, he didn't see it.  He would become defensive, in denial.  I will never forget the Sunday morning when a particular saint pulled me aside and confronted me with their dissatisfaction of my husband's Pastoring techniques.  I listened as they shot questions at me.  "Why doesn't Bro McCary do this? Why does he do that?  He should do this, that and the other."  On the exterior I was calm, answering the questions to the best of my ability, but inside I was quaking, on the verge of tears.  It felt as though every organ in my body quivered like jello.  How did I answer these questions?  This person had absolutely no clue as to the battle my husband fought with his mental health on a daily basis, and I was in the trenches with him.  So, I did what I always did, I protected my husband.

I will never forget one sleepless night on the heels of losing yet another very precious family.  I could not sleep, so I lay on the living room floor with my pillow and blanket, alternating between kneeling at a chair crying out to God and rolling on the floor, writhing in agony and pain over the loss.  These people had become like family to us and their leaving was the worst kind of pain and rejection.  And, once again, I knew deep in my heart that their reasons for leaving were valid, their needs were not being met.  But what was I to do?  I was at a loss and heartbroken.

Tim continued to isolate himself from people socially, so in turn, I did not have much of a social life either.  Many were the nights following Sunday evening service when I found myself with my teenage kids in the backroom of JB's Restaurant with a large group of our congregation breaking bread and fellowshiping.  I laughed and hammed it up, having a wonderful time, but inside I sobbed, lonely, wishing my spouse were with me.  It was also not unusual for me to entertain our visiting Evangelists alone, Tim being way too weary amd exhausted to join us.

As time went on, Zack joined the army and Kendra was working and had her own social life which did not include her square, middle aged mom.  Haley was young and she and I became extremely close, spending a lot of time together. At some point I threw caution to the wind and attached myself to some precious saints  that I felt could handle being close to the Pastor's wife.  This is a delicate matter and I had always been counseled to not get too close to your people.  I was literally dying on the vine however and decided if I were to maintain my own sanity, I had to have people in my life who "had my back" so to speak.  These precious friends went out to eat with me as well as offering my children and I a place to go on minor holidays.  Without them, I would surely have lost my mind.

Little did I know that the loneliness would only deepen and that the next few years would be the most difficult of all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Balancing Act

Peroxatine, Sertraline, Trazadone, Lorazepam, Ativan, were just a few of the medications the Doctors prescribed to Tim in an attempt to chemically balance him.  Upon his initial diagnosis, the emergency room Doctor referred Tim back to his regular Physician, who wholeheartedly agreed with the diagnosis.

Some have suggested that perhaps the large amount of anti-depressants Tim was ingesting may have contributed to his early demise.  I am unsure as to my stance on this theory.  I do know however, that there is no way he could have continued to function in an even remotely normal manner without some medicinal assistance.  Recently, I actually did some research on anti depressants and there is nothing concrete to suggest that these drugs would be a catalyst to suicide in an individual of Tim's age.  They do warn of suicidal thoughts when using these drugs, but studies show this particularly in children and very young adults.  There is, in fact, no documentation of a suicide of anyone over 40 directly related to the drugs.  I am sure it is somewhat of a comfort to have someone or something to blame for Tim's actions, but in reality, there is really no proof in the matter.

As Tim's body attempted to adjust to the myriad of medications, he began to sleep most of the time, awake perhaps only 6 to 8 hours a day.  Unfortunately, this sleep pattern would remain for the remainder of his life, only to worsen in the last year.  Needless to say, I began to lead a very lonely existence.  During this time, Bro. Wiley took up the slack and carried the burden of the church for which I will ever be grateful.

As I began to ponder the past leading up to the diagnosis, things began to make sense.  Like one of those paintings you are supposed to stare at for a long, long time, and then your eyes begin to make shapes and images of all the splatter, squiggly lines and blurred images.  Suddenly, I understood why he responded, or didn't respond to certain situations the way he did.  Little tweaks in his personality, in things he would say and do that were totally out of character.  A lightbulb went on in my mind.  It became clear that Tim had suffered from this emotional illness for some time, if not years.

I worried constantly.  We were scheduled to take our "vacation of a lifetime" to London, England with dear friends Nathan and Sarina Kesler in mid May of '03.  The airline tickets were purchased, hotel arrangements made....... but was he capable of making the trip?  He contemplated not going, but I insisted I would not go without him, so, we said a prayer for divine help, and off we went.  We  have many precious, and humorous memories of our time together with the Kesler's, however Tim did experience a couple of episodes that greatly concerned me, episodes that clued me in as to just how serious his illness was.

The first event took place when we were visiting the Tower of London.  Tim lost his balance and fell down a steep set of stairs.  My heart broke for him as I knew the fall was humiliating to him.  He was uninjured, but I knew that the fall was not coincidence, but a result of his medications.  Something else happened that greatly concerned me.  Upon our return to the U.S. only a few short weeks later, we were reminiscing about our trip.  I brought up one day in particular in London, talking about the things we had seen, restaurants we had eaten in, places we had visited and Tim just looked at me with a confused look on his face.  I continued to remind him of that day, to no avail.  It quickly became apparent to me that he had absolutely no recollection of what I was referring to.  Entire chunks of our trip had been erased from his memory!

We returned home somewhat refreshed and renewed, ready to get back to work.  For the first 3 to 4 years, it seemed as though the medications were doing there job and Tim functioned relatively well, with good days and bad days.  Unfortunately, as the weeks, months and years passed, Tim would become more and more socially isolated and incapable of handling the stress of Pastoring a church, raising three children, and enduring the everyday rigors of life.  The last three years of Tim's life were pure an unadulterated anguish for both of is as though I walked this hellish, painful and lonely road with him.