Wake me up when June ends

Its usually December for me.

That one month of every year when things seem to jump off tracks, when the world seems to be turned upside down, and where heartache seems inevitable. And despite Christmas and new Year's Eve and Tanner's Birthday, December has more often than not brought a little more pain than I have wanted. It has, for most of my adult life, been that month that my stomach turned a little as the calendar changed.

But this past year, December was better than usual. Tiffany was feeling good, and had even been put on the Heart Transplant List on the at the beginning of that month. The holidays were really good, and as we closed out the New Year I was grateful that the December doldrums had finally went by the wayside.

But BOOM. Along came June.

On the 5th day of the month, I was sitting in a restaurant in Northwest Columbus enjoying lunch with a colleague and a few insurance adjusters. As we were chatting my phone rang. I looked down and saw "Little Red" on the screen and hit the ignore button. My wife knows I will call her back if I am in a meeting.

But a second later - a text. "Something is wrong, I am going to the emergency room."

In less than 30 seconds I was in my car, racing towards the emergency room at The Ohio State University Hospital. Even after the heart attack in October and the subsequent implantation of the LVAD, she still would not voluntarily go to the emergency room unless it was an absolute emergency. This clearly was.

I met her and her cousin at the ER door, and, after evaluating what was going on, we began yet another extended stay at the Ross Heart Hospital next door. A small stroke had been the indicator that the LVAD had failed, and had they waited to change out the pump, this blog post would have had a much darker tone than it already does. Another open heart surgery, another painful healing process, and another delay in getting her a new heart all together. All disappointing but manageable results.

Since that day, there have been more than a few moments of tremendous sadness and distress. Shortly after her stroke, one of my employees lost his grandma, while two others lost their Dad. It was a heartbreaking week for these members of my work family, and I felt for them in their time of sorrow. Then on June 11th, I woke up early so I could get ready to see Tiffany at the hospital. As I had my coffee that morning, I checked Facebook. And I could not believe what I read.

RIP Brady Robinson.

I thought it was a prank.I went to his Facebook page. Several people had posted the same thing. I called my boss. And my stomach dropped as he confirmed what I already knew.

Brady was of of the leaders of our West Virginia office. With more years in my industry than I have, he was a genius restoration mind who shared the same passion for our work that I did. Last summer as we ran around the flood zone in his home state, we developed a good friendship and mutual respect. And if that is all he was, it still would have been a tremendous loss. But he also was a local celebrity and radio personality. He was a musician, and had his own band. He was a film maker and writer, and a political activist. He was a dedicated father and husband, brother and son. He was one of the coolest people I have ever met in my life. And it was a privilege and honor to call him friend.

RIP Brady Robinson.

Can we be done now?

Unfortunately not.

Yesterday afternoon, the world lost another person who was amazing in her own right. I remember being at my Mamaw and Papaw's house when I was 13 or 14. My Aunt Margaret was there visiting, as she did a few times each year. I remember telling her that she reminded me of Sophia from the Golden Girls. She laughed so hard, and never let me forget it. I remember going to her home and having her home made chicken and dumplings. They were so good I always had 3rd or 4th helpings. I remember her letting me swim in her pool, and her talking about going tanning. I remember having a family reunion at her house, and my sister falling on her driveway. She was a huge part of our lives growing up and, while I have not seen her nearly as much as I should have in recent years, she left a lasting impression on me. She led a wonderful life and I am happy for her that she now gets to enjoy her reward.

So far June has been a month of sorrow and distress. However, I did not make the decision to pen a blog post until this afternoon. As I stood in that small apartment in Zanesville, Ohio this afternoon, I was struck with such a profound sadness. Sad because how different this project is. The apartment is now empty, but a few days ago it was full. The gentleman who lived there was a hoarder. And he passed away on the small air mattress he slept on in the corner of one of the three rooms he rented. He had lived in this apartment for 17 years, and the nicotine and smoke odor told me he did not have much company. His family had been given the opportunity to remove his belongings, but my team had cleared them away after no one came. And it made me incredibly sad to stand in this very small space that had contained his entire life for nearly two decades.

As I took my measurements, I thought about my employees and their relatives. I thought about Brady and Aunt Margaret. I thought about how they all were surrounded by people they loved. And while being sad for this man I never met, I found comfort knowing that they all knew how loved they were

As for my Little Red, well she is at home resting and recovering. It has been a scary month but she is stronger everyday. And as she does, another call will come, this time for a new heart and a new life all together. We are looking forward to that day.

Day # 1574. Any day I get to spend with my awesome wife is a good day for me. Still, is it July yet?


  1. I ended up reading your blog totally by chance. I am saying big prayers for your wife. Please update when you can. After many years, I was looking up an old friend to find that he passed away on May 29, 1996. I saw your name matched his on facebook and ran across Michael's photo, where he is in uniform. I am saddened by his passing, and now I am sad for the pain and suffering your family has endured. I wish you all the best. Your father was a wonderful man, and you have a caring heart.


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