You are the song, I am the words, Play me…

I got a call yesterday from my mom…she was hopping around all kinds of subjects, which is not unusual for her and then she finally got to the point of the call.   “They found Danny Gilstrap” pause…”Jil, they found him dead”.  Silence…

I have loved very few men in my life  but those that I have loved, I have loved fiercely.  I loved Danny Gilstrap.  We met at church our sophomore year in highschool and we became fast friends the day we met.  It happened just that fast.  We crushed on each other badly but were too shy to move in that direction.  We expressed our love for one another through the lyrics and songs we wrote:  to, for and with each other.  We were close friends for years.  His parents used to tease us all the time, asking “if we were married yet” because that is how close we were.  We didn’t have to use words, sometimes the silence between us spoke more to who we were than anything we said out loud.  Although we went to different schools, Danny took me to my senior prom.  He was such a handsome guy.  Dark brown, almost black hair, wavy, always a little on the shaggy side and piercing blue, blue eyes.  He was also smart, like crazy smart.  In all the time we knew each other we never had a single argument.  There was no reason.  I was the lyric and he was the melody.  When I left the church we eventaully just drifted apart.  I left the church when I was 20, we were intense friends for 5 years.  I didn’t see him for a number of years after that.  The last time was about ten years ago.  We saw each other across a pool hall and the years just slipped away.  He was seeing someone as was I but it was still there.  In that moment together for only a short time, we were still who we had been.  He asked if I was still writing, I asked if he was still singing.  We exchanged numbers but we never spoke to or saw each other again.  I think we both chalked it up to ‘what might’ve been’.

I would think about Danny every now and then.  Wonder what he was doing.  If he had married.  You know the things you wonder about the people that you have loved that have passed out of your life.  I always hoped he was happy.

It had been some time since I really thought about him.  Then last week, for some reason he was on my mind and I told Laurie our story.  We tried to find him on MySpace and Facebook…but I knew that he wouldn’t be there.  It just wasn’t who he was and now he has died. 

Although our friendship was long ago, he remains an indelible thread in the tapestry of my life.  He colored things in a way that no one else did and my life is richer for having had his music pouring through my soul.  I can only hope that I somehow did the same for him.  The 17 year old in me will always love Danny Gilstrap and the grown woman in me will mourn the loss of a gentle soul who spent the better part of his life trying to make peace with the world he lived in.

So Danny where ever you are, Godspeed my friend.  Godspeed.

All of my love, Jil


Remember where we are now, open your eyes take it all in, remember where we are now, this is where your life begins

I am approaching a big milestone; the biggest one that there will be for me on this journey, a milestone so fraught with emotion that it staggers me even now.

In my very first post I wrote briefly about a car accident that I had in 1994 that drastically changed not only the course of my life but the also the very way in which I view the world.  I am not going to go into detail about the accident.  It would just be a laundry list of injuries but I will say this, at the time of the accident I weighed 175 lbs.  Not a lightweight by any means but not fat either.  I was an athlete.  I played volleyball for ten years and I coached it for three.  I ran track for years and years.  I played on a basketball team; you see where I am going with all of this?  When I had the car accident, all of that stopped.  Injuries had to be dealt with and I had to heal.  During that time I gained 80 lbs.  I went from an active athletic 175 to a sluggish insecure 255 in the span of six months.  When I was cleared by my surgeons, therapists and attorneys to start getting physical again, I didn’t know who I was physically anymore.  I didn’t know this girl.  There was still a great deal of physical pain but the emotional devastation was greater.  I was 20 years old.  My life was supposed to be laid out in front of me, the world was supposed to be my oyster, the possibilities were supposed to be infinite and challenging and exciting but they weren’t.  I was damaged goods.  Nobody really knew.  I put on a brave face for my family and friends; I didn’t want them to worry.  I didn’t want anyone to know.  I wanted them to see the same old Jil.  I think I also wanted to convince myself that I was healed too; I didn’t want to acknowledge my new life.  This was not the life that I chose.  This was the life that Dr. Eric Wong chose for me, by reading a map instead of looking at the road.  How could that be my life?  My dreams seemed petty.  I almost died that day.  How do you go back after that?  How do you go back to a normal life, the life you had before you faced your own mortality?  You can’t but I tried.  I failed.

255 is a magic number for me.  Although I went on to gain more weight over the years that weight didn’t really mean much.  Yes it affected me both physically and mentally but it was no worse than 255.  It’s almost like I packed up my life’s dreams and aspirations and left them locked up at 255 lbs.  That’s where my life started to go wrong.  That is where I gave up.  I gave up on my own potential, gave up on finding love, gave up on a future that would validate who I was as a woman, as a Christian, as a human; all locked away in a scale that said 255 lbs.  I just stopped.  Sure, life moved on, there have been good times and there have been struggles.  I have had relationships, friendships, mentorship’s and careers but in my heart of hearts time had stopped for me a long time ago.

I am approaching 255.  I am at 264 lbs.  I am less than 10 lbs away from where it all went so horribly wrong.  Please don’t misunderstand me; I have had so many blessings in my life.  I have people that I love and who have loved me through it all.  I have had professional successes, and a great deal of personal satisfaction along the way but when that day arrives, the day when the scale reads 255 I will feel like I am getting to turn back time a little.  I will get a chance to unravel some of the pain and disillusion wrapped up there.  I will get to unlock a part of myself that I feared was lost to me.  A part of myself that I thought I would never see again.  They are not just lbs I am dropping; they are bricks of fear, loneliness, loss and pain.  I know I will not really be turning back or recapturing time.  I have grown up a lot over the years but I very much understand the girl who checked her life at the door so many years ago.  I have missed her.  I have missed her so much.  I want her to know that it’s all okay, that we made it, and that we survived.  I want her to know that it wasn’t all left there on the side of the road that day, that we have made a life for ourselves; a good life.  I want her to know that we never gave up on Christ and that He never gave up on us.  Through it all, even when we felt so lost, He was there clearing the path.

I am walking, living, breathing proof that God is a merciful, powerful, loving father.

Not many people get a “do-over” in life; a chance to start anew.  Wipe the slate clean and write a new story.  I have been so very fortunate in my life because on May 14, 1994 I got a do-over.  I had the opportunity to start life again knowing that I was mortal and that the choices I made made a difference.  I died and was born again on that afternoon because God could have called me home and he didn’t.  He spread out a new life of opportunity before me.  I didn’t always make the right decisions.  I know that I have disappointed Him many times over but I also know that He loves me every bit as much as He loves His other children.  Now, as though one do-over in life wasn’t enough I get a second do-over, because before this surgery, I was dying and today I am very much alive.  How awesome is God that he would care so much for me that he would allow me the opportunity to try again to be the image He carries of me in His heart.  To grant me the opportunity to be who He intends for me to be, my own personal redemption.  He has given me the opportunity to live my dreams once again.

I am humbled before Him and before all of you.  To those of you who are taking this journey with me and beside me, your companionship means so much more to me than you can ever truly know.  To those of you who have known me since before the accident, I want you to know that I am coming home.  I have missed you all and I love you so very much.

My heart to you all…XoXo, Jil

Tomfoolery and other shenanigans…

Okay…I have put this off for far longer than I should have and I am not sure I really know why…I certainly don’t have a good excuse.  I love to blog.  I feel a certain amount of satisfaction from putting word to blank screen.  To tying thoughts and emotions to a blank canvas and illiciting feelings from others.  In saying that, I have had a hell of a time lately.  I have begun several times, staring at the blank screen, feeling the call of the keyboard and accomplishing…nothing, zilch, zip, nada.  Maybe it’s that it is summer; You all know my feelings about summer aka the death of creativity.  Anywho…onto greener pastures.  I am making amends for my badness.

On the weight front I have been doing really well…freakishly well…the olympics of well.  As of today I am down 106 lbs.  So I am at 267 from 373 starting weight.  I had my 3 month check up with my surgeon week before last and all of my labs came back, not good but fantastic.  He loved my cholesteral level so much I thought he might cry.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him my cholesteral has always been really good.  If he wants to gush over my cholesteral, who am I to deprive him of that joy.

On other fronts, I believe I might have found a new church, at least for awhile.  I don’t  have the foresight to know if it will become my church home, only time will tell.  I did enjoy it immensly though and I am looking forward to returning this Sunday.  I know I have not really spoken much of my spiritual journey on here but when I walked away from teaching 3 years ago, I also walked away from my church home.  They were one in the same and somehow when I quit teaching, the church didn’t seem to fit either.  So I have been wandering for the last few years and I have felt really adrift lately.  Wanting a new spiritual home and sad that I had not found one.  Please forgive the horrific grammer, I have thus displayed so far; It is the best I can do today or you will have no blog at all.  Anywhooo…back to the topic at hand.  I think I have found a church to stick with for awhile in the hopes that it will become a church home.  Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly.  I even ran into some old friends who I had not seen in over a year.  The best part however was the meal we shared after the service.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoy good fellowship with other brethren of the same school of thought.  I had been invited to the service by Laurie who attends with her boyfriend Jay.  The three of us and one of Jays friends, Mike, went to lunch afterwards and I cannot remember enjoying myself that much in quite some time.

So there you have it.  In a nutshell.

I apologize again for being a blogging delinquent and appreciate your loyalty to my salty little blog despite my obvious tomfoolery.  I will try to do better.

Loving you all the way from this melting pot called Houston…Justjil