Scribbles & Crumbs- Thank You

Dear Lexi (at Scribbles & Crumbs),

My husband’s cousin directed me to your Facebook page. I’m so glad she did! While I have not experienced the loss of a child, I have experienced loss. My brother, to be exact. Tomorrow will mark 4 months since he has passed. I miss him every single day.

Thank you for sharing and putting your heart and words out there for all to read. You express exactly what I am thinking so beautifully, and I always seem to read your posts just when I need it. Your post on December 2, “I Talk About Him” was so touching, and expressed just how I felt about losing my brother. In fact, some days, I could probably save myself some time blogging by just re-posting what you have written. (But then I wouldn’t be honoring my heart &  mind) You pour your heart out in a way that is so easy to relate to, and I find comfort in that I am not alone in my pain. I realize it is not the same kind of loss, but the loss is there all the same. We now belong in groups that we never would have imagined joining, nor ever wanting to join. However, I hope to never have to experience the loss you and my mother have faced; I don’t ever want to be in that group. (BTW… I say that lovingly and with a big heart.)

Anyway, my point for writing you via a blog post is to simply say, Thank You. Thank you for showing us the realness of life. Thank you for sharing your pain. Thank you for remembering & honoring your son.Thank you for talking about him, it reaffirms my desire to  to talk about my brother, and how I shouldn’t feel shame when doing so. Thank you for your words, it encourages me to be a better writer. Thank you! Thank you.

I wish you all the best this Christmas season.

Chrisnelle Joie

Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride ©

Just a snippet of something I have been working on. It’s a work in progress. The idea came to me in playwriting class and I have been working on several scenes since.
Written by: Chrisnelle Young

Setting: Living room of a house. There is a couch RC and a coffee table DC with a chair to the left of it at DLC. There is a bookshelf in the background and a rolling bar. Nick is sitting on the couch, turned slightly away from Jen. Jen is standing LC facing Nick.
Nick: You don’t have to try to make me feel guilty.

Jen: I’m not.

Nick: I already feel guilty.

Jen: I told you, I’m not not trying to make you feel guilty. I’m upset…but… I don’t know.
I’m just trying to understand.

Nick: (Finally turns to her) That’s it. You can’t understand. (Gets up X to bar and starts messing around and such) You’ll never be able to understand.

Jen: (X DLC and sits in chair) I know I can’t really understand. I’ve never been to war.

Nick: No shit.

Jen: I want to try though.

Nick: Try?….

Jen: (interrupting) To understand! From what I’ve read…

Nick: (getting angry) YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND! (beat)
What you’ve read? That’s how you try? From what you read about… hell…God knows who. Probably someone who doesn’t know shit. REALLY? (X down to DC by coffee table sets drink on table)

Jen: Well…you know what I mean. I can’t put myself into your shoes. I can’t really know. But I can empathize. I can try to get a better understanding if you just let me in. Share a little.
You’ve changed so much. We can all see it. You’re not the same Nick. (BEAT) You used to be so happy. It’s gone. I want to help bring that back.

Nick: It can never be brought back.The fact that you say that. That’s why you will never understand. (beat)
And you know what?
You don’t want to know.

Jen: But. I. Do…(gets interrupted)

Nick: (interrupts Jen) No. you. don’t. You don’t want to know of all the crazy shit I had to do. You want to “bring back” the old me. He’s gone. I left him there in Iraq. The things I’ve seen. What I went through. What I did. It changes a person. (beat) I’m changed.

(X and sits back down on couch, takes a drink)

Jen: Everyone was asking where you were.

Nick: (sarcastic laugh/snicker/rolls eyes) What did you tell them?

Jen: Nothing…really. I mean… I just said I didn’t know where you were. You were supposed to be there. (beat) Actually I got a call from the priest, and I made up some lie that you were sick…or something. I lied to him. Straight up. And you know what? He caught me. He said, “that’s funny, I saw your brother outside the church after.” (Shakes head) I straight up lied to the priest.

Nick: You know what. Fuck him. Who cares.

Jen: I do! I lied to a priest.

Nick: Well, maybe you shouldn’t have lied.

Jen: Well, maybe you should have come inside the church instead of hanging around outside. Then I wouldn’t have had to lie.

Nick: Come inside?

Jen: Yes. Inside Nick. With everyone else.

Nick: Jesus Jen. You don’t get it.

Jen: It can’t be that hard. Just pretend. Act like a normal person.

Nick: Pretend? (laughs)
Ok…you want to know? You want to know why I didn’t come inside? I didn’t want set foot inside that church. (reasoning) I was about to. I thought I could do it. But once I was there… DAMN. (Finally gets up, X right and around to behind the couch and X L towards Jen)

Jen: Just tell me, Nick. (reaching towards him)

Nick: (pullin away, draws in) As kids we were taught “Thou shall not kill.” One of the ten commandments. Right?

Jen: Yeah? And…I’m not understanding…

Nick: Shit. I don’t even know why I didn’t set foot inside there. But all I know is that it wasn’t right. I’m not right.

Jen: There’s nothing wrong with you. You just have to adjust. Go back to living your normal life.

Nick: It can’t be like before.

Jen: You’re not in Iraq anymore.

Nick: I’m not ready to. And I’m sorry I said I would be the godfather. I’m sorry I missed his baptism. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I can’t be that. I can’t be a figure to look up to. Especially after what happened.

Jen: What happened Nick?

Nick spotlighted

Nick: We were on this mission. Some small town in Iraq. Up ahead I see this kid and…I guess his father walk out. You know. Nothing of it. Except…then… as we got closer the father started acting funny. Something we learned in training. Watch for the signs. You are also taught these fuckers are sneaky. Don’t trust them. Then the kid started coming toward us. Trying to get us to slow down. A kid. They used their god damn kids. The kid turns and looks toward his dad. His dad has something in his hands. It’s all so blurry, so confusing… But I realize at that point his dad is gonna kill us. The kid realizes that we are gonna kill him. Tries to get me to stop. Starts to cry, tears running down his eyes. I’ve got my boys to protect. We need to make it through this mission. I did what I had to do. I shot him.

Jen: (confused and shocked) You shot who?

Nick: The kid’s dad.

Jen: Oh my gosh, Nick…

Nick: And this kid is just crying, looking at me. I can still see his face. The sadness. I had to do it. Right? I mean, damn.
(beat)
Crazy thing is, I almost shot the kid too.

Thanks for taking the time to read. This is my work. Please do not steal. 11/18/2015

Flashback Friday: Exploration Mode

Reposting some old ramblings from my Joie’s Appetite site. Happy Friday all!

I love that I am a creative individual. Being a creative individual also means I have many thoughts that float through my head. Many people are often turned off by this. They see it as a turn-off. They don’t think I am reliable or committed. But that is hardly true. Do I not follow through a lot of the time…eh… yeah. I know today I have started at least 4 projects. I’m blogging though, so that’s two thumbs up! I can commit. I can. I’ve committed to going back to school and starting a new chapter professionally. Read about it here. My manifesto. I’m committing to things I love. I’m committing to me and my family. I am in exploration mode and I love it. I love it because I feel a sense of calm. Amidst all my crazy ideas. I feel I am finding a way to honor all my values and center myself. While in exploration mode I have encountered many fears. The main one being ‘what do people think?’ Some have said that they don’t see this fear in me. Those of you who I have shared many intimate conversations with and those of you who I can wholeheartedly call a friend would know otherwise. FEAR This is true regarding every aspect of my life. Mainly my creative ones. Blogging, singing, cooking, making videos, etc… Always a little voice saying what do they think? Are you good enough? Who are you to event attempt to do this? What makes you think you have anything important to say? You know what? Today and from this this day on…who cares. Your thoughts may be valid and they may be true to you, but they don’t make me any less of a person. I’m going to post this blog. It may be badly written, but who cares. I’m going to post a video of me singing. I may not be in tune, might not be in the moment feeling it, or I might be holding out notes too long, but who cares. I’m going to post a recipe I love and you might not like it, but who cares. I’m going to make a video of whatever I feel like making. It might not be edited professionally or have the best sound, but who cares. I’m creative! I can explore that however I want to. That I do care about.

How Do I Feel

I’m not sure how to feel when receiving these letters from my brother and having to blog them here. Not because I don’t want to; but because some of his issues with drugs I had no idea about. I feel a bit dumbfounded, but also glad that he is probably coming to terms with these issues, sorting them out, and finding a way to better himself through the writing. At least, that is my hope.

In regards to my posting of Ryan’s situation on my Facebook page on Veteran’s Day. I had several friends thanking me for sharing and at least one tell me I was brave. You know what, I did feel pretty brave. I was a little hesitant. But not because I cared about what some people think. If anything, it was because of what my parents would think. I could care less on how people would view my brother or my family as a result of that post. My heart was open to the possibility that it would happen, but I still felt anxious. Anxious because I didn’t want my parents upset. They have always done the best they could and they raised us well. Some of the choices my brother’s made and the paths they took are not a reflection of them. So I thank those friends for giving me props, and telling me I was brave. Because I do believe it takes a whole lot of courage to speak your truth and lay things out just as they are. Speaking for all those who do that on a regular basis. It is often so easy to just hide, pretend and forget. But making people aware and forcing them to realize that there are some issues in this world that need to be addressed…well…lately I feel as if that is what I am supposed to do.

I’m going to end this now, because I feel as if I’m am beginning to talk in circles. I do hope you will join me in my journey of telling Ryan’s story. It may not be the adventure you had hoped to have read about, but it will be one worth telling.

This Veteran’s Day, I Feel Like an Only Child

First and foremost I want to say thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve our country. My dad was in the Air Force, so most of my childhood was spent living on a military base. My ex, who is my kiddos dad, is a Navy Seabee, and because of our marriage I had the privilege of traveling and meeting many fabulous mil-spouses. I also have two brothers who are Army Veterans. My brother Ryan was Army Infantry and spent several tours defending our country and freedom. So a big thank you to my family and all those I call my family & friends.

However, I won’t say Happy Veteran’s Day, because I know for many being a veteran also carries many wounds, scars, and injustices. Unfortunately, our family has experienced this first hand.

The VA system has shown time and time again on how they have failed our service members when they become a civilian. Type in “veteran injustice” into Google and a host of articles pop up. I’m sure there are some who get the treatment they deserve, but I very rarely hear of those stories.

This is my brother Ryan.

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Ryan has been screwed over big time by the VA program and Veteran’s Court.

He is currently serving a 4 year sentence for a charge that, if he had gone through the regular FL justice system, would have only been 9 months. His new sentence is now 2 years in PRISON and 2 years probation. We strongly believe he got this because he is being made an example of, by speaking up & voicing his thoughts on the program and the unfairness in not being able to attend our brother’s funeral. He was in the correctional facility for violation of probation (which was not attending VA counseling & not taking meds) when my brother Adrian passed, and our family (and many friends we learned…THANK YOU) tried to get him a furlough for the funeral. We were denied. Two facts: 1- the lady basically yelled at my mom saying that the judge denied the petition and then hung up on her; and 2- another guy was given furlough the same week we asked for one. This guy had a violent charge of waving a gun in a nightclub, and he was let out to sign paperwork and pay a bill!! For the record, my brother’s original charge is illegal possession of controlled substance under 1/2 gram.

I have currently been receiving letters from him and writing on his behalf while he is in; and in his own words, “I was sentenced to almost 6 times the normal punishment for my crime, 4 times the state recommendation, and 2 times the state maximum, all because I am a Veteran. I was sentenced by a judge who is an Army Veteran himself and a wounded warrior, as well as a Brigadier General. I was a participant in a new program called Veterans Court, which was started by this Judge, and because of my inability to complete the program I was judged more harshly than a regular citizen would have been in a regular courtroom.” He writes that he was “promised help instead of punishment but received punishment instead of help.” He writes to me so I can put his thoughts on a blog, in hope that he can bring to light the major problems with the program, so that another Veteran does not have to fall subject to the injustices that he has had.

We thought he would have been out by now. Most of the guys who he was with in the correctional facility, and who had a similar charge, have actually gotten out already. Other men with harsher chargers and more serious crimes even have shorter sentences. In fact, there is a guy my brother met who is in for forcing his nephew to give him a blow job. I know, disgusting right? Guess how long his sentence is. 11 MONTHS!! How is he almost out and my brother is now transferred to a prison serving a longer sentence? Injustice.

So, while I thank our Veterans for their service, I do not forget that some service members need more than our thanks. They need us to advocate for them, because I’m sick and tired of hearing of our vets not getting the benefits they deserve. I’m tired of hearing of how they die waiting to get an appointment into a VA medical clinic. I’m tired of hearing of how they cannot get the help they need for PTSD (so true in Ryan’s case.) I’m tired of seeing them living on the streets and being treated like scum. I’m so sick and tired of the injustice…everywhere. We have to do better.

*For the record, and as a side note- my brother, nor I, disregard the fact that he committed a crime. There is no excuse for what he did. However, the sentence does not fit the crime. We thought this judge would understand that, having been in my brother’s shoes once. PTSD is a serious matter. Locking these guys up doesn’t always help.*

Most Days I feel Like This

Auto pilot.
Living my life. Being in the moment. At times happy. At times very, very sad and just trying to get by. I’m not trying to forget, but it happens. Little happy moments scattered here and there. Beautiful and sad all rolled into one. It’s a hard feeling to place and even more difficult to talk about and share. However, I don’t REALLY forget.  

Minutes. Hours. Daily.
I think of you often.

I’m currently in a state of sadness and anger. I’m currently typing this with tears rolling down my face. I feel as if this outlet helps. I can voice how I feel without exhausting people with my sad emotions.

But I feel like I’ve been pretending a lot these past few months. Pretending that all is ok. Pretending that my life is just as it was 4 months ago. I also have been believing a lot. Spirituality, life…I won’t go into it too much. It helps. And I feel that I am learning the lesson that is to be learned, and even better acting on it. Still… I’m just trying to get by; on auto pilot.

I’m tired of being on auto pilot! Especially when most days I want time to myself, to go through your pictures, our messages, and my memories of our childhood. “You shouldn’t do that!” That’s what I’m told over and over, but I want time alone to go down that dark hole. Going down that hole is the only thing that makes me feel anything real these days.

It also reminds me I am alive and he is not. And that’s just not fair! Most days, I just want to yell, throw things, and then curl up in a ball, and cry.

 

 

Tattoo: A Moth Story

So this happened.

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Now before I get more questions… Yes, I’ve been wanting another tattoo for years now; actually, several. I knew I wanted one on my left wrist, and somehow over the course of this past year I decided it would probably end up being something on my forearm. The issue of delay has always been a matter of what I wanted. It had to mean something. It had to look cool. And part of the issue is that I like many things! Yes, my wishy washy-ness extends to even my tattoo decision making. Clearly, I have commitment issues! For a while I had decided to get zodiac signs and some symbols that represented the kids and I. The three amigos!  However, that all changed when Adrian passed. So now, I have a moth. It’s my “jewelry” my tattoo artist said. I couldn’t agree more.

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So why a moth? First of all? Why not a moth? Even if there was no story… I was quite shocked at a few reactions on FB, as to why they would care so much as to what I put on MY body. My mom not liking it? Yeah, I expected that. She hated when I got my sun and moon on my lower back, and she didn’t speak to me after she found out I had it! Which, by the way, she found out 2 years after I had gotten it. Love you, ma!

Anyway, the moth story. In the summer of 2014 my grandfather passed. When I was there, visiting him in the ICU, my grandmother and Tita Lynn told me about how a loved one visits in the form of a moth after they pass; to let you know they are ok. Having been brought up with strong beliefs of our Filipino culture and hearing many stories and folklore, this didn’t surprise me. Honestly, however, I thought it was cool and didn’t give it a second thought. I ended up flying home the day they took my grandfather off life support and he passed away shortly after. The following day a black moth appeared in our apartment. It hung out for about 3 days and then seemed to have disappeared. Before then, we had never seen a moth nor had we ever had problems of bugs in our place.

Fast forward to the day I learned of my brother’s passing. We jumped in our car around 8AM that morning. By then I knew my brother had passed, but it was all so very weird and sudden. I was just hysterical and puffy eyed from crying. We had a 12 hour journey ahead of us. I was exhausted from lack of sleep the night before. I had people coming out of the wood work to talk to me. It was overwhelming. Somewhere near Nashville a moth dived into our car. It made its way in as if it had a purpose. I was talking to someone on the phone, so I didn’t really give it too much thought.  About 20 minutes later the moth appeared right next to my right shoulder as we were driving down the highway. My instinct was to roll down my window and get it out of the car. I kept swatting it trying to push it out when Matt yelled, “No. Don’t Joie, it’s Adrian.” In that instant I remembered the story my grandma told me, and I knew Matt was right. I immediately rolled the window up hoping this poor moth would stay. The moth seemed as if it was hanging on for dear life, attached to the headrest of my chair. Eventually, he made his way back and between my two kiddos.(I say “he”, because clearly it was Adri!) It hung out there for a few hours. I eventually fell asleep, and halfway through my nap he had decided it was time to leave. Jaiden Rae told Matt, “We can’t let it go, it’s making mommy feel better.” Matt replied, ” I think he is ready to leave. He did his job.” My first visit from Adri.

The second visit was when we came back home from Florida. A week and a day later we had driven back home. (My, how a lot can change in a short amount of time!) Shortly after we arrived and got some things put away, we started opening curtains and went out to to sit for a bit in our back yard. While out there the kids noticed a moth on the window outside of our dining area. Went up close to touch his wings and he barely moved. He sat there as we ate dinner later on that night. My brother was showing me he was ok.

The moth represents my brother. The lines were just for fun, and I thought they looked good. If I was to take it a little deeper, I would it say it signifies the spiritual realm and represents what we cannot see with the human eye; where he waits for our time to be reunited…forever. The sign above the moth’s head is a version of the Gemini zodiac sign. Last, but not least, a cross to signify his passing and remembrance of God, and that my brother now lives with the angels.

It means a lot to me, and I enjoy sharing my story with everyone. My brother is forever in my heart…and my arm. 🙂

I Want

My emotions switch back and forth. It happens so suddenly, and it is unexpected at times. I don’t know.

I want to pretend it didn’t happen.
I want to forget.
I want to not feel sad.
I want him here.
I want him alive.

The tears keep flowing. I want to have a break from it. I need a break from it. I would love if it that break was consistent. I suppose it’s hard to expect when the love was so strong.

Sometimes it takes every ounce of my being to keep from screaming. to keep from letting all this pent up rage out. To instead breathe, so that hopefully this bitterness will diminish.

Sometimes it takes every ounce of my being to actually live. To enjoy the day. To remember that he is till all around. Still with us. Still watches and guides us. Because I want him here alive.

Journey of Travel

There is something about travel that stirs something in my soul. Makes me feel fulfilled. However, now that I have kids, there is something about traveling solo or without them that makes me feel anxious and nervous.

I have to get past it and find the joy & beauty. Whether it is in the landscape, a snack for my travels, in the people I meet along the way in my journey, or in the quiet time, often much sought after when becoming a mother. I just need to breathe. Not worry so much and enjoy the journey of travel

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See ya Chicago! View from the train.

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A tasty snack!

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