Thursday, March 21, 2013

Almost A Year Later, And A RAOK Challange

As Easter quickly approaches, my mind keeps wandering to a year ago.  Last year starting on Good Friday, my world came crashing down.  I remember hearing my husband's alarm clock going off, but I was too tired to rouse.  He had the day off of work, and was heading about an hour and a half South of us, to look at some public hunting ground.  He'd always loved to hunt and fish, and he said he heard there was a lot of wild turkey at this particular spot.  With turkey season fast approaching, it didn't seem odd to me at all, that he'd be going to check out hunting land. 

I laid there with my eyes closed, trying to stay enveloped in my warm, cozy, state of sleepiness.  I heard him get up. I heard him go into the bathroom and come back out.  I heard him get dressed.  Just as I was drifting back off to sleep, I remember hearing him come into the room and stoop down on my side of the bed.  I felt his breath on my face, and his soft lips touch mine in a kiss.  He whispered "Good bye, I love you".  I whispered "Bye, I love you too.  Be careful". Little did I know, that would be the last time I'd ever hear him say those words to me.

The previous night, Jason had told me he'd be home by 1pm.  Around 11:30am or so, I tried to call his cell phone knowing he'd be on his way home.  He didn't answer.  I figured he must just be delayed on starting back home, and that he'd be returning my call any moment.  An hour past, and my phone hadn't rang.  I tried his cell phone again, and the same thing.  No answer.  This time, I left a message.  This scenario went on for another couple hours.  After that, his cell went straight to voice mail.  He'd turned it off.  I was bewildered, scared, anxious. You name the emotion and I probably felt it. 

Late that afternoon, I checked our bank account online and it was empty!  I honestly started hyperventilating and crying uncontrollably.  I knew this meant he was gone.  He'd taken all the money we had, and he'd left me on a holiday weekend.  We'd been at the grocery store earlier that week and I suggested we buy what we needed to make Easter dinner, but he'd told me no.  He said that we'd go shopping for our Easter dinner on Saturday, that way we wouldn't have to freeze the ham, or have it taking up refrigerator room.  At the time, I thought that was reasonable.  In reality, he'd just screwed us out of having an Easter dinner.  -Not that I could eat much anyway being so upset, but it was screwing my kids, my family, out of an Easter dinner.

Hope.  What a small word, but one that can mean or bust anything in life.  I kept up hope that he'd show up and we'd go buy what was needed and have Easter as a family.  I kept up hope that he wouldn't be cruel enough to leave me over a holiday.  That even if he wanted to leave me, and was going to leave me, that he'd at least come home and buy what we needed to make a holiday meal for our children and us.  Our family.  

None of my calls were answered Friday or Saturday.  Our then 16yr old daughter at the time, kept sending him text messages to which he wouldn't reply.  Finally, on Easter morning at 11:30am he sent our daughter a text message that said "I'm leaving your mother but not you.  I'll be home late tonight to get my things".  He'd been cheating on me with a woman he'd met online on some game site.  I couldn't believe it. I couldn't stop crying uncontrollably.  I felt like I couldn't breathe and I honestly thought I was going to have a heart attack and just die.  That's no exaggeration.

I hastily typed a facebook status saying something about what a jerk of a guy I was married to, that he'd left me completely out of the blue, wiped out our bank account, and didn't even care that our family wouldn't have an Easter dinner this year.  Then, I ran sobbing to my bedroom and laid down in bed, not knowing or really even caring, if I'd ever get back out of bed again or not.  I laid there sobbing and gasping for breath, and must have fallen asleep without realizing it. Before I knew it I heard my dog start barking.  Then, I heard a knock on my front door and my daughter talking.  I heard her say "Oh my gosh, this was so kind of you guys.  I can't thank you enough".  I tried to hurry and get out of bed to see what was going on.  In my state, I was fumbling around and it took me a minute or two, to walk out of my room.  By the time I got out to the dining room, my daughter was standing there with grocery store bags on the table, and holding one in each hand.  

"Courtney, what's going on?" I asked.  She started lighting crying, as she'd been crying and upset about our circumstances too.  She said "Mom, that was Joe.  He said that Mandy saw your facebook status and said that no one should go without an Easter dinner.  They went out and bought everything we need to make an Easter meal and brought it to us.  All the way down to pie and whipped topping for dessert".  Once again, my tears started flowing.

What's even more amazing?  This beautiful young woman didn't even "know" me.  Her fiance, Joe, and my oldest son met in drivers ed class years before, and he'd been a friend of the family ever since. Joe wasn't living near us anymore, he was living with Mandy whom I'd never met in person.  To this day, Mandy and I talk on facebook but I've still never met her in person. 

This beautiful young woman is Mandy.

When I'm super upset, I can not eat.  I hadn't eaten anything since early Friday morning, and this was Sunday afternoon.  Knowing I was too upset to even cook, my youngest son and his fiance took the bags of food to the kitchen, and they started making us a meal.  With everyone coaxing me to eat, I managed to get a few bites of everything down.  

Although embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn't buy the stuff for our dinner myself, I was so so very grateful for what this lady did for my family and myself.  I honestly couldn't wrap my mind around it.  I couldn't believe the lengths she went to, just out of the kindness of her heart, to bless a family she'd only heard about, and read about online.  

In all honesty, which you all always get from me whether you like it or not lol, I was worried how the approaching holiday was going to affect me emotionally.  I was afraid that I'd feel my heart being ripped out of my chest again.  That the pain would come flooding back.  But guess what?  The thing that I actually keep thinking about the most, is the random act of kindness that was showed to my family.  Yes, writing this made me a little emotional.  I've blinked back tears a few times while typing this.  A year ago those tears were because he left me.  Because of the hurt I felt.  The way he left me.  Wondering what I was going to do.  This year though?  Even right tonight, while typing this, most of the emotions I'm feeling are due to Mandy and Joe showing us the unexpected love and humanity that they showed us.  

No matter how many words I write, or how hard I try to convey how grateful I am for what was done, it won't be enough.  I just can't find the words to describe how it made me feel and how thankful and grateful I was (am) for it.  I vowed that I'd always try to provide RAOK's in return for the one done for me.  I still don't have any money.  I hadn't worked in years due to my health.  I'm fighting appeals with social security to receive disability.  Our one saving grace is that I don't have a mortgage or rent payment. My house needs a lot of work, but we bought it outright with cash when we bought it.  I'd love nothing more then to be able to surprise a struggling family with a complete Easter dinner this year, but since that's financially impossible for me to do this year, I'm trying to do as many free RAOK's as I can.  

I challenge you all to provide as many RAOK's between now and Easter as you possibly can.  It doesn't have to cost you anything. Since I struggle financially so much right now (yeah, that part about not leaving his daughter?  He went from June 10th until mid-January without seeing his daughter one time, and is $5000 behind in child support.  He DID leave her too) I do what I can that's free.  For example, while grocery shopping late one night, the store was almost empty.  There was a very elderly lady in there shopping.  She met my eyes with a smile on her face and I smiled back.  She paused and said hello.  I spent over 10 minutes just standing (which oh my gosh just kills me pain wise) in one spot, talking to this poor, lonely old woman.  By the end of our conversation, she thanked me for listening and asked she could give me a hug.  Well of course!  Being hugged is honestly one of the TOP things I miss about not having my husband any more.  Another time, an elderly woman looking at something on the bottom shelf at the store. She had her eyebrows knitted down and looked genuinely concerned.  I stopped and asked her if she needed something on that bottom shelf.  She did.  I almost didn't make it back up, but I bent down and retrieved the item for her. She was oh so tickled, that I still felt good about doing it a week later.  Heck, even today it still makes me happy.  The other day at the dollar store, a lady was in line behind me and only had two items.  I told her to go ahead and go ahead of me in line.  <----That one I do a lot of the time.  Once, a man and woman were buying several packs of hot dogs.  They were on sale.  I had a bunch of coupons that when doubled, made the hot dogs free.  I approached them and told them how I had coupons to make them free, and asked them if they'd like a couple.  They were so tickled up.  -I'll admit, I kind of felt like a freak approaching them an asking if they'd like the coupons, but I'm glad I did as they were so happy about them.  My most recent RAOK, was just last week.  I again was in the Dollar General store in my tiny little village.  I have a bunch of coupons for $1 off kids Colgate toothpaste.  My store has it priced at $1.  I picked up four of them that trip for free (well ...close enough to free.  The sales tax was $0.07/ea).  A lady was in line behind me and looked pretty hard up.  She had two sweet little kids with her.  A little girl that looked around 5, and a little boy that appeared to be around 3.  I asked her if she'd like a couple tubes of kids toothpaste.  I explained to her that I got them free.  She acted bewildered, and said sure.  So I took them out of my sack and gave them to her.

I may not be able to do much, but I hope and pray that the little things I do, heck ...even by having The Fibro Frog, is making a difference to someone.  Both this blog and the facebook page ...which I'm completely guilty of posting way more there then here on the blog, bring me joy every time someone tells me "Thank you for his page.  You're page is what helps me make it through a day sometimes".  I hope that sometimes when I smile at a very elderly man, or woman, or couple in a store, that the warmth and love I have shows through my eyes and somehow touches them.  I'm not a Saint by any means.  I still have days where I sit and cry, and feel sorry for myself.  I still can get mad and have a quick temper.  Sometimes I have to really watch my mouth.  Over all though, I feel like I'm a good person, because my heart honestly is filled with a love and passion to help people.  In any way I can.  I'd always heard about RAOK, but I'd never been the recipient of one.  Until last Easter.  It completely changed me.  The pure joy it left me with, drives me to keep trying to give back.   Would you join me and possibly help change someone else's life, like Mandy did mine?  Do a RAOK.  Try it, it's fun and will leave you with a wonderful feeling inside.  


  1. Wonderful post Amy! I love doing RAOK and will go out of my way to do them in the next week. In fact we are taking dinner to a church member this next week. (I love cooking for others)

  2. wow, so much in this post!...first of all, it may sound strange, but congratulations at being at the point that you can write this. my first husband left me ('couldn't deal with my depression'...or maybe he just liked 'her' more, but whatever i'm so much better off now!!), but i know how difficult it is to admit these things, especially publicly as you are (I couldn't bring myself to take my wedding ring off until 4 months after we had split up) ... things may be tough, but you sound like you're headed in a good direction...and things will just get better....
    secondly, i completely understand the fight with disability. we're in Canada, and i fought for years, just recently being approved in November. previous to that I was on our provincial disability, but they would deduct half of my husbands net monthly income, so most months all i received was drug coverage (but that was a huge help!)
    and lastly, i am a huge believer in RAOK and paying it forward! I have lived from month to month for so long, and we have what we need...i'm not a materialistic person at all, and my husband is just amazing!, so with the bit of extra $$ i received for retro disability payments, we purchased ourselves a much needed new bed (i am no longer waking up 6+ times a night with pain but am usually able to sleep fairly well considering), a new bed for our daughter, and we were able to make Christmas for 3 families :) It started with one family that I actually met online in September who had posted looking for help with back to school supplies (I was completely taken aback that I was the only person who responded to her ad). Then, a friend's spouse left her, and she also suffers from fibro and has not yet been approved for disability...she has 3 daughters & a granddaughter, and had no money for food, let alone Christmas. Lastly (much to my surprise actually because it was out of character for him) my husband came home and told me someone he works with (friends of ours, but not close) was in dire need...so i texted her and told her we wanted to help, so tell me kids sizes, and what they are into, and no arguing (she's irish and proud and normally would)...instead she cried. Honestly nothing (well almost lol) feels better than helping people with no expectations. I am posting this here, but no one knows except those people. I did not do it for thanks or recognition (and there are people in my life who would give me a hard time saying we don't have the money to be doing things like this). But the best thing that came out of it is my husband now gets it too (i've always been one to try to do whatever i can even with no money, and he always wondered why...)
    Then in January we were very fortunate to go on a trip I won to Dominican. From the time I heard, I started arranging a visit to an orphanage, emailing the airline rep that handled it there. Hubby complained about how much stuff I had packed and why did I need to do this (keep in mind, at this point we were back to living pay to pay). None of the things were expensive (I'm great with bargain shopping, coupons, etc), but the excitement of those girls was amazing. After we were home, he was still thinking about it, and said to me he couldn't believe how a bunch of girls were so excited about a few skipping ropes :)
    You don't always need money. There are so many kind things you can do if you just pay attention. I would much rather live the way I am (yes, we sometimes stress about bills or have no money for a few days before payday), but it's better than having a full bank account and an empty heart! Pay it forward!

  3. Love this post! what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right? lol! I know your pain, and I'm so glad you are finding some happiness! there's a page on fb called "pay it forward" that has blessed me with ideas on ways to PIF and RAOK. there's no better feeling than knowing you've somehow made someone's world a little brighter! thanks for sharing!

  4. Look at you girl! You have become so much stronger. I love how some will tell me there is not a God due to the so many of us face. Having your partner leave you with no thought is a horror no one wishes for. But look at how you have been blessed. Starting with a small touch of kindness that has become a flood of advice and sympathy for others. This is a God thing!