Off-Line Writing in 2019

Greetings Friends and Family!

As 2019 Winds to a close (I cannot believe this) I have realized that my writing has taken place mainly off-line this year. I found myself more often than not scribbling away in a random notebook or voice texting notes to myself to write up later – again – with paper and pen – not fingers on keys…. which brings me to this post. Below please enjoy some rough drafts and “in the works” statuses of a number of poems, writings and musings I have developed over the past few months.

Generally, they are about pain, loss, love, hope, strength and finding out how to move forward in a life that constantly wants to set you back.

I hope you enjoy them and please keep your eyes out for these in a more revised state/form in the future – HOPEFULLY – published on some local or other literary sites.

That’s my goal for 2020.

To get some of these writings out in a more public setting and shared with others.

It’s a scary step for me since I have always kept my writing so private, but a recent workshop and class at a local writing center (and the wonderful people I have met there) helped me to feel OK about putting this piece of myself out there. I hope it provides some solace to others and maybe gives me some needed feedback on these feelings, my writings, and what “publishing” my work in a public setting looks like for me in the future.

 

Cheers to 2020!

Love MoMo

 

 

 

WORDS mean something. 

By: MM Toohey

 

Confidence (rewrite on 11/17)

You wept into the world 

willful and free.

dominating your space

with writhing sway.

instantly invoking choice.

this beginning

gives peace inside violence.

Ultimately ending as a mirror of your inception

paths chosen

not given.

no excuse for ambivalence.

no pause for settling

the end came to satisfy your need for solace and meaning.

the end only ends you. 

universes exist inside you.

Once this choice is made do not choose another.

 I begin to see you inside yourself, it will light your way. 

 

Patterns (rewrite on 11/16)

 painful but familiar marks

Inescapable.

Tall sharp and painful fencing all around me.

Frustration

anger 

About the pain

 At me not you 

That is good.

I am pointing blame in the right place

My action and inaction are my own

choose to live with them. And you.

 

Sleepless (rewrite on 11/17)

Jarred Awake by your absence 

ensconced in solitude 

forced into movement

Stand. Sit. Walk. Talk. Eat. 

Dance. Love. Move ON. 

mandated upon me.

“NOW SLEEP!”

a line in the Sand. 

never to occur

wandering sleeplessly 

peace escaping me 

never found . 

finally it catches up

Try remain awake a moment longer

Say goodbye 

finally sleep

not to wake again. 

The solace surrounds me like your arms always did.

 

 

Tornado (revised 11/20)

 

spinning inside a circle of destruction

trapped recklessly apart

Violently swirling around intimacy

unwillingly soaring farther apart 

Trapped like tiny birds in a gale

missing the path to happiness 

ravaging our funnel-shaped minds 

ignoring the incorrect choices 

undismayed by the turmoil. 

in denial.

moving on. 

 

New Life

Today I ask what are you here for.

Today I wonder why do you care.

Today I fear you have all the wrong reasons and more.

Today I cry because you are bare.

      Bare is your back, your heart, your soul.

      Bare to the evils of the world.

              They twist you and hurt you and warp your figure

              Their power is greater than any one soul.

We try to show you the way, the truth, the  light

We try to show you the ideals that are right

Tomorrow will bring yet the same problems again –

And I wish that I could promise you I would know the answers by then.

 

But NO, I won’t say that        I won’t cloud your mind more –

But NO, I won’t say that         I’ll just teach you to ignore.

 

 

Hold On

Please just hold me for now

Tell me this will all work out in the end

Make me know that we can both feel good and happy again

I just feel so lost and scared

So alone and tired

So in love

Once I have wept all of my tears I will truly see you

And you can tell me this will all work out in the end

And make me know that we can both feel good and happy again

 

Backwards and forwards – my heart goes on and on – turning over again and again

It is lost and scared

So in love

In some moments I am strong and can move on

Tell me this will all work out in the end

Make me know that we can both feel good and happy again

Hold me while I weep all my tears and convince myself to be strong

Then you can move on

So in love

Lost scared alone tired strong weak backwards and forwards

So in love

 

Sympathy

You push me aside when others catch your eye

You ignore my needs in order to satisfy your selfishness

The days go by and I become more of a thorn in your side than the apple of your eye

Desire tears through my soul, wreaking havoc on my body

While you try to gain sympathy.

 

Building

What are those empty feelings inside your body?

Are they there for solace or pain? Do they teach or restrict?

 

Some Say time heals pain.

Time does not heal it teaches;

Teaches one to be aware

        to be guarded

        to be defensive

Time builds walls for your soul to hide behind.

There is no healing going on around here,

  Just a lot of building.

 

Contentment 

I miss you late at night

I need your voice to comfort me to sleep

I need your chest to rest my head,

Your arm to hold my back.

Tomorrow will be filled with meaningless things that can take my mind off of you.

But night will be filled with sleepless desires to feel you again.

Do not confuse need with lust. 

I lust not your body but your soul.

I need your body, I lust your soul.

Once together, comfort and desires merge into one.

I feel the weight of loneliness slipping away and I cherish these few happy moments of contentment. 

 

Final

Where does finality end? With whom or what does it sunset?

At what point do you say you are tired enough to stop and just move on.

How does the weight of that decision not crush you and creep into the cracks of your body and soul

Did you think that a simple decision at one moment in time would actually move mountains

Do you feel you are in control

You are not

Stop trying

 

Revised or new after 11/16

Building (revise)

 There is emptiness inside your body

It exists to provide solace

And often pain.

It will teach.

It will restrict.

If it teaches you must learn.

If it restricts you must drift away.

Time will bear out one or the other. 

Which one no one is to know 

Until after it ends

And time has passed.

 

Pain heals

Or just teaches 

 One to be

Aware

       Guarded

                   Defensive

              Numb

Time builds walls for your soul to hide behind.

There is no healing going on around here,

                    Only Building.

 

 

 

Final (revise)

 

They say

 Enough.

Stop.

Just move on.  

But beware the weight of that decision will crush you and the dispair of failure will bloody your eyes and tear your soul.

You still did it anyway.

Now what.

 

NO NAME for this poem

Oh, you thought a decision made in a mote of time would

Move Mountains

Change Courses. 

End Sorrow. 

 

how Simplicius of you. 

to think you have the reigns

to think others know the depths of the Rot. 

 nothing would remain.

just a Hollow shell.

all the days hours and minutes that exist in the universe will have passed.

there you will be. 

Hollow. Without Time. Without Anyone. 

You thought you had it in you.

You do not.

Stop trying

 

 

 

looking for peace (Contentment revise)

The house creaks and Settles into the silence of the hour.

Hours drag thru the twilight towards the dawn. 

Only the deep baritone sigh or chuckle would have brought sleep.

Only the warm, scratchy pillow of fur on face and chest would have allowed slumber.

Only the heavy, dead weight of a memory-inked arm would have given rest.

Dawn brings distractions. 

meaningless, trite and zombie-like. 

Rote movements of bodies throughout the day. 

The damages carved into the skin are accepted as fair trade for the light. 

Soon it will be that time again. 

It’s coming. 

 The thought of it’s arrival blocks anything real from happening.

Creeping along the clock face like the shadows along the wall.

Directing all thoughts towards the same painful moment. 

Approaching like a predator stalking its prey. 

It knows it will happen and it has the patience to wait.

The darkness arrives and takes over. It cannot be fought.

It fills every space and crack that exists. There is no place it cannot reach.  

It is here and brimming with sleepless desires.

Desires that startle any tiny speck of sanity left inside. 

Desires.

To thrash the darkness into tattered remains. 

To claw the dawn from behind the earth where it hides.

 To force the silent darkness out of its perch and make it pounce. 

To finalize the end of an uninvited game.

Give in. Give into the desires. 

They require a soul. The cost of entry is eternity and entirety. 

It is worth it at this moment. Sanity lost. Desires raging. 

Body and mind weak, beaten and weary. Why fight this inevitable fate. 

Go towards the darkness and away from the dawn. 

This time do not come back or yearn for the next phase of the day. 

Be willing to stay in the darkness. 

Stay calm as it fills all the cracks it had made and soothes every cut and scratch from all your days 

like a cold salve. 

All along what was fought was the salvation.

Once absorbed the darkness gives comfort and rest to desires.

 The numbing weight of daylight is pushed off. the pain seeps in along with the dark. 

It is a welcomed change. To feel. 

Nothing can been seen through the darkness. Only felt. 

The pain becomes pleasure as the knowledge of the void being filled sinks in. 

Better to be filled and feel than to be empty and numb. 

No matter the pain. No matter the feelings. 

The loneliness tries to slip in too through all the cuts and scrapes 

but there is no room for it. All is full. 

Realizing there can be no room for loneliness when darkness and pain are allowed to fill all voids is where the pleasure comes from. 

Go and cherish this happy eternity of contentment.

 

Slime (new)

 

Pain   What is pain other than another example of an emotion or feeling. It true. It’s a feeling. Loss that’s a feeling. sadness also a feeling.

It’s OK to have these feelings it’s OK to hold and touch them. They are so novel at first you don’t know what to expect you’ve never felt anything like it before you feel the need to spend a lot of time with it —- the newness of it… I t’s almost addictive.

like the slime your 12-year-old makes at your kitchen table. It oozes and spreads out and takes up way more space than you imagined it ever could. It sticks to everything it leaves a thin sheen and maybe a little glitter with anything it comes in contact with —- just so that you know it was there .

It feels good to hold it to watch it move. You almost start believing that it has a life of its own, outside of your control. even though you know that it can’t exist without you giving it its shape, form and movement you start to believe it has free will. 

Then one day you wake up and it’s just a mess.This sticky, damp, coldness has spread everywhere. On everything and the more things you touch the more places it gets. And you realize this mass is not doing this on its own. You are doing it. Spreading it. Allowing it to envelop your life. You have to control it. It cannot be left loose and without confine. So you go around and collect all this pain you have spread. Picking it up piece by sticky shiny piece. You have to be smart. It’s tricky and it gets everywhere. So just when you think you have it all cleaned up you realize it was tucked underneath something old. Or stuck to the bottom of a shoe. And bam! It’s all over the place again!

So you go back and pick it all up. Again. Clean it up. Wipe away the evidence. 

This time the trick is to find a little box. With a tight lid. Just like you never thought it could spread out the way that it did, you certainly don’t think it will all fit in this tiny little box with the airtight lid . 

But it does.

It all fits. 

You squish it and smoosh it deep down into the box. Filling each part of each corner. Plunging your fingers down deep into the cool sticky sparkly jelly until you feel the bottom of the box, you press out any little remaining air bubbles, so not to give it space to move. 

Then you seal it up tight. Pressing the lid firmly. And then aging and again so that we are sure it is secure. 

And then you put it away.

You know it’s there. The knowledge can not be forgotten. The known can not be unknown. 

But that does not mean you have to see it, or touch it, or feel it. Or even think of it – except for the occasional moment of awareness that creeps back in and you promptly dismiss.

“Oh, yes, I know it’s there. I put it there. That is where I want it. That is how I want it to exist. Until I decide it must exist another way” 

You know that throwing it out or destroying it in its current state does not get rid of it. It only changes it’s geography and form. It still exists. It will always exist. 

Better to keep it close and control it rather Than throw it off into the unknown. What if someone else let it back out. What a mess that would be. It would get everywhere again.

No, you know what to do. Keep it sealed up tight. Under control. Tucked away somewhere safe. 

But every once in awhile you start thinking about it too much. You visualize it flowing through your hands. The cool sticky texture. The salty smell. The glittery sheen. You almost miss it. 

Without it you have no other chance to feel. By controlling that you also have to control all other emotions as well. A world of control. Devoid of chaos or messiness. Or feelings. 

So you creep into the dark place where you have tucked your pain away. You crack open that lid for just a second. 

Just a peek.

It surges out at you. Released from its intense pressure. You grab it up and squeeze it tight. All the feelings come rushing back in. Oh it feels so good to feel the uneasiness of the knowledge  of what is coming. You don’t care. Enjoying the moment within your grip. Cherishing the feelings and the emotions you thought were gone forever. That addiction fulfilled. Fix received. 

The fear of what is to come smacks against the moment of pleasure. It stops you in your tracks. What is happening. What are you doing. 

Oh god. Quick before it gets away from you get it back in its box. Tamp it down. Seal the lid tight. 

Tuck it away

Until you need to feel again. 

 

On the Placid Sea (revise)

Floating asleep on the placid sea.

A rogue Wave decends 

pulling you offshore

involuntarily lurching you deep beneath the surface 

you are sucked down towards the cooler darker waters 

you spin and tumble

not knowing up from down or down from up

cold salt fills your ears and nose as you grasp fleetingly with your hands at the sea floor

lungs full of fire 

the spinning continues

frantic kicks hoping your toes will graze sand

nothing is there

just empty space.

 

Come Down (new)

To the woman that saved my daughters life.

how did you know

what made you take that walk 

at that exact time

across that wind swept bridge

rain going sideways

who walks there at that time anyway

she was there

for hours

contemplating

waiting

for you

she did not know she was waiting for you

but she was

a voice

a body

a tone 

a sideways glance that lingered longer than normal

what made you stop and ask

what made her wait

will we ever know

I could care less

just that it happened

you happened

to her

there

then

at that time

at that place

the thought of if you had made a different turn haunts me daily

i dont care why

just that you did

and she waited

for you

your words

your glance

your tone

you all shared a moment of time so brief it would hardly be called an encounter

those seconds turned into decades

of life

and hope 

and gratitude

you walked up the bridge in a different world 

than when you came down 

with one more person in it

that would not have been there

both forever changed 

as am i

 

 

 

Saving Lives (new)

Not saving your life, I saved two

still not good enough

should have been three

can’t have everything I guess

compromises made

survival achieved.    for some.

what kind of lives will be lived now

you invested all you had into them

they better be good

no pressure

 

      

Slowly Burning

The pain rises like a fresh blister from an oven rack.

Startling me with intensity.

What a stupid mistake.

How did that happen?

I was staring the danger right in the face.

Now it’s searing my skin.

Not enough to be visible – but just enough so that I can imagine

what a worse version might cause.

Just like your blows did.

Never in the wrong place

Or seen by the naked eye.

Unless I was naked.

Is the burning feeling really pain or just embarrassment and shame?

I guess I deserve that.

I am no fool.

I know when you place bare skin against raging fire, bad things happen.

But I let you happen.

To me.

Why?

How?

What did I do to deserve your love?

How can I never replicate that again?

Don’t love?

Maybe then I will be safe and happy.

As I go along, happily drowning in the mind-numbing activities of life,

I’m not really alive. Or Happy.

Doing to myself what you taught me.

Replicating what I said I would not.

But it was the only love I knew.

And I am too weak to not love.

So I did.

Again. And Again. And Again.

Building up more and more shame and guilt.

Screaming from underneath a sea of lidocaine

for someone to save me from myself and

all the versions of you I had recreated.

Again. And Again. And Again.

Finally – a reprieve.

An outstretched hand.

Fat, soft fingers curling around mine.

The first grip rips through my body,

releasing my soul.

This is what love is supposed to feel like.

Now that I know – I will seek this forever.

This little, squirming bundle of love has taught me

to walk away from anything that does not make me better.

Better for her.

I may never love the right way for myself – because I deserve it.

But I will do it for her.

She is salve on my burns – healing all pain

Giving me strength to pull myself from a sea of bad decisions

up to a different place.

We walk above the sea now.

Looking down at that turmoil.

Knowing if I fall back there, she would too.

I would die before I let that happen.

She will never know my shame or see my scars.

She saved me and I saved her.

I walked along like it never happened.

And found real love.

Now I know what it feels like – times two – so I know I can replicate it.

And can show her how to do the same.

She knows what true happiness looks like.

He gave her that. With me.

Something you could have never done.

I know we will all be OK.

The Power of a Good Cry

Are you a person who avoids a good cry — or do you embrace it wholeheartedly and own it and all that it represents?

I am the latter.

I believe that was out of necessity. Over the course of the last nine years, if I had not come to terms with crying and why it was OK to cry, how it can help you, and the healing powers of letting go and allowing yourself to cry and feel all that comes with tears, I might have ceased to exist.

Crying is a beautiful expression and in all actuality, a sign of strength, confidence, and empowerment. People who are not comfortable enough with their feelings and themselves hide their tears, and maybe even think of tears as a sign of weakness or fragility. I think just the opposite!

Be Proud. Cry it out. Show all the feelings. Searching all your feelings for truth and enlightenment (both the good and bad emotions) gives you more knowledge than a person who ignores half of their innermost thoughts!

I wear my heart on my sleeve.
I feel every emotion, good and bad.
I learn and grow from all experiences.
I can help others because of this.
For these reasons, I am proud to Cry.

Thank You, and Good Night!

The 40 days of Giving Campaign for Erich McChesney was a success!

Hi All, so it’s been awhile since I have posted on here, but I thought this might be a great place to keep track of our fundraiser that we held for the first time this year in honor of Erich. We wanted to raise $10 a day for 40 days and we did that plus some! Our goal was $400 by May 6th and as of today, 4/18 we are already at $430. So we thought, “Let’s keep this going and raise our goal to $550 and see how we do!”

This fundraiser is supporting the Brain Aneurysm Foundation and its efforts to support research and awareness of Brain Aneurysms. They do not have to be fatal. In Erich’s case, it was, and yet it wasn’t – He had such a special case – and without some of the new options for tools and techniques that came into existence between 2010 and 2016, he would have had zero chance to fight this. But he did fight it – hard – and almost beat it. Unfortunately, the disease won and we lost a wonderful person in the fight. We don’t want that to be the end of Erich’s story though. He was a bright, boisterous, loving person who could bring a room to life and change a person’s day with a hug and a hello. So we want to honor him and allow our fundraising efforts to support a legacy of hope and happiness in memory of Erich.

Erich fought to come back from surgery for 40 days in the Norfolk ICU and every doctor, nurse, and employee that came into contact with Erich during that time felt right away how hard he was fighting to get better. Whatever the reason, and however the end result played out, one thing was for sure to everyone who knew Erich before or during those 40 days: Erich McChesney did not give up. He went all the way to the end until there was nowhere else to go. In the end, it was a peaceful and content few days. Everyone felt the shift in his spirit as he was preparing for a different fight, the one where he had to prepare US to be without him. Even after his passing, he gave everyone the feeling of hope and peace and that he was still with us. He stayed near for quite some time until we were able to let him go. He kept nearby and came around often to many people over the months following his passing to ensure everyone was OK. That was what he did. Took care of his people. And when the time came, he moved on and left us with the memories of a loving and caring person who made so many things better in this world just because he was in it. Erich still cares and supports those he loved the most. I see it and sometimes feel it every now and then. While we may not be able to to be with him here, we can bring his memory and legacy to life through our actions and efforts to support others. We know he is proud to be the person leading and honoring this fundraiser and through him, we honor anyone who is fighting this disease and hope that research will continue to develop so that it gives everyone a fighting chance like it did for Erich!

If you would like to help us hit our new goal of $550 here is a link to the fundraiser:

https://give.bafound.org/site/TR/Events/General?px=1100382&pg=personal&fr_id=1940

Love and Peace to all,

Hannah and Mary

(Monk and MoMo)

 

 

what it takes to survive challenges

flower in snow

fortitude
resilience
optimism

People Who Care About YOU.

I recently have been thinking about this a lot because I am trying to help find ways to show/teach/encourage my daughter to thrive and survive these different stages of life she is travelling through. And the more I think about it. The more I realize that in reality I have no idea how I got through all the things I did in my life. Everything I start to write feels like another BS self-help book. And yes, you do need a lot of those things to recover from tough times or to push through challenges. However, first you need the will to even try. And that most likely does not simple well-up inside you without first a little spark of hope… and that hope, spark, will, motivation – whatever you want to call it – most likely came from someone else passing it to you. It could be the most simple thing (seeing a stranger who is very much “worse-off” than you fighting for themselves) or it could be a major person in your life stepping in when they realize you need help (mom to the rescue / or BFF standing by for support)! Whatever that person is to you, or that moment is that sparks you – it did not come from you alone. You Had Help.

The truth is, without other people around you who give a damn about you and will help you when you need it, I think it’s almost impossible to be successful, thrive, survive, be happy. Life is really, really, really hard and you need people near you that love you in order to help get you through. Period. Has to happen. If you do not have that kind of support system in your life the set-backs become too difficult to manage on your own. And yes, everyone has difficult times. Some may seem smaller or less serious than others, however each individual faces their own forms of setbacks, challenges and turmoil in their life. The question is, do you have someone there beside you who can help you get that situation in check? Help you put it in perspective. Help you talk through how to handle it – or even better – maybe even be able to relate to you and share how they overcame a similar struggle? Never-mind financial support, or educational support that comes from having a parent, friend, relative, loved one who whomever there to help you who has the ability to do so!

That song “I would be nothing without you” is 10000000000% true. None of us would be who we are without the people who were around us helping us along and bringing us forward through our tough times and then celebrating and encouraging our good times.

If there is one thing you can do for yourself and for those around you, it would be to take a moment and really think about this and place this knowledge in perspective with who you are and why you are where you are. And to know that: 1. You did not get there alone 2. You have a responsibility to be that person to someone else.

Thank you to all who loved me, helped me and allowed me to be successful – and to those who will continue to do that for me for many years to come I am sure. I feel confident that you have instilled enough of that in me that I can also do that for the people I love. And I will.

March 28th 2016

I was Visiting Erich McChesney’s page today (March 28th 2018) and saw a video he had made a few years back…. great memories. On this morning in 2016 Dr. Agola and Dr. Nelson began a long (much longer than expected) day of operating trying to made E a new artery in that big ole brain of his. They did amazing work and tried to pull off an impossible feat. And were successful! Erich’s eyes when he woke up and squeezed my hand said a million things without saying one word. He was so thankful and happy that he had made it through. Sadly this day was just the beginning of a tough road. He fought hard. 2 days later He Happily celebrated his bday with a lot of visits from loved ones with eye blinks and hand squeezes and smiles…and then he went to sleep. I don’t think after that he ever truly came back 100%. There were moments in the weeks following with a foot movement or a hand movement or his eyes would flutter or try to focus on you. But I think his mind and spirit had begun to separate themselves from that body bc he knew it was not going to ever support him with the kind of life he wanted. He made me promise months before, when he was still talking and walking (and eating all the food he wanted and loved) that if he could not come back and live a full life, one that included all those things at the very least, not to allow him to come back at all. So I kept my promise to him, I owed him that much, even though I did not want to, and Dr Agola and I made the call to let Erich have some peace and quiet in his life for a few days before he said his final good bye. Those were rip-your-heart-out painful days, yet also so quiet and peaceful. I am so thankful to the many many many friends and family who stood by us over the months and years leading up to today and the 40 days that we existed in limbo until we said farewell. Erich was, and will always be a good man, an awesome Friend, a wonderful poppy, a loving family member. I miss him everyday. His laugh, his hugs, his sense of humor, his cooking….and most of all his unwavering love for anyone who meant something to him. If Erich loved you and was your friend, you knew it. So if you are one of those people take a moment today and remember this guy who fought so hard for everything that mattered to him. And was a true fighter right up till the end. We miss you E. I’m glad you are at peace and that you gave us so much to be thankful for. ❤

Memorializing Erich

On This Day. 2 Years Ago. We Memorialized Erich McChesney at First Pres. in VB with songs, hugs, speeches, prayer, tears and bagpipes – and then the next day we set him free out on the water off 47th street with more hugs, love, toasts and songs. I wanted to grab all of the kind words and speeches and statements that have been made to honor Erich over those two days and then following on Facebook. Please read, share and enjoy:

Mary McChesney – May 14, 2016 – Today is a day I never wanted to come. There were many times over the last few years where negative thoughts would creep into my mind and I would imagine this day and then push those images aside and think, no way, that’s not going to happen. But it did and we are here in this sad, empty and lonely place. Void of the feeling from just being in a room or on the same planet with Erich. He had the biggest and most wonderful presence. If you knew him you could feel him whether he was sitting next to you or was a hundred miles away. I dont think its as simple of a feeling as love…it was there of course, but it was more than love, it was a calmness, an assurance that things were ok, and a confidence that comes from having some one care so wholly about you…. it was peace. Peace of mind, heart and soul that he was there for you for anything and everything no matter how big or small. And it’s been more of the inconsequential moments I’ve had the last week that felt the most painful. Times when I normally would have been calling him on the way home just to say hi, or debating dinner plans or choosing a pair of shoes for an outfit….those have felt the loneliest. And it’s a level of deep sadness that I did not know existed. Which coming from me is impressive really….since I cry over FB memes and sad commercials… So all that said, I guess I just needed a moment to share in preparation for today and tomorrow where we will fill rooms with people, stories, music and all the things Erich loved. Most importantly of those of course will be all the PEOPLE he loved, and who loved him. It is a gift to know so many people also love me and Hannah as well. We are better people and have deeper friendships and loves in our life because of Erich. I will laugh and cry with them and I will try to not feel pain but rather a fraction of Erich’s love as if he were with us in person and we will honor Erich and be strong for him and give him what he always gave us when he was with us – peace. ❤

Andrew Lasher – May 14th, 2016 – Gregarious, kind-hearted, amazing, generous, larger than life, witty, stern, crazy, thoughtful, brash, good, SO FREAKING LOUD, loyal, sarcastic, funny, stubborn, and courageous; those are just a few of the words I’ve heard used to describe Erich over the past week. From my experience with E, all are quite accurate. My personal choice is very simple; I chose “brother” because that’s what he is to me.
Prior to meeting Mary, Hannah, and the rest of their extended clan, Erich didn’t have a traditional family to speak of. He cherished being welcomed into the fold and that inclusion meant the world to him. He loved you all; Phelans, Lillibergs, and Johnsons, very much. Personally, I thank you for taking him in and making him one of your own. He deserved the chance to experience what being part of a traditional family feels like. You all made sure he did.
That being said, his non-traditional family has always been enormous. If I asked for a show of hands of how many of you consider him to be a brother or son, I’d be looking at more than I can count. He had that effect on people, he drew you in from the beginning and there was nothing you could do to stop it. His loud voice (aided by the fact that he was deaf as a post), that big booming laugh, his remarkably quick wit, and absolutely genuine nature were too much to walk away from. You never knew what would happen next when you were with him, but you knew that whatever it was it’d be worth sticking around to see.
For those who don’t know, Chestnut and I met at Army Basic Training in 1994. By good fortune (more mine than his) we spent the next two plus years together at Fort Bragg and have been extremely close ever since. Speaking of the Army, I’d like to share a message from his brother paratroopers with whom I’ve been speaking all week: “Chestnut, you have made your final manifest. Know that we will pick up your boots, weapon, and flag and carry them forward for you. May your drop zones always be made of sand and your winds always be calm. Rest easy trooper until we see you again. Airborne All the Way…H minus Loyalty.”
E and I didn’t talk as often as we should have, a fact that I now deeply regret. Life and geography get in the way. Things happen and you just don’t pick up the phone as when as you should. However, when we did talk it was like no time had passed. Our conversations could last three minutes or three hours, but you knew each and every second was a genuine as it came. When we actually did get together, holy hell, but we created stories that could fill volumes. That is something I’m sure is true for many of you here.
I will close by paraphrasing something one of his life-long friends said recently: “He was just so damn infectious! If you were close enough, the gravitational pull of his personality would suck you right in. And you would remain there captured in ever loving orbit, circling him for eternity.”
Erich you are greatly missed on this plane and are, I think, loved far beyond what you realized.
Rest easy brother, enjoy the Maker’s Mark, and thank you for bringing us into your orbit.
We are all better off for having known you.

Cori Simmons Triano – May 16, 2016 – Today, we celebrated the life of an amazing man… my best friend, my brother, Erich McChesney.
One thing I learned today is that Erich was clearly placed in so many of our lives to show us what it means to consciously choose love. Personally, he showed me what it means to love unconditionally. That’s how he loved his wife Mary, his daughter Hannah, his entire family and all of his friends.
To say that Erich was loved by many is an understatement. To say Erich had an affect on everyone he ever met is an understatement. To say that I was a better person because of Erich is an understatement.
I’m so grateful for the memories shared even though that means that now I have to grieve the loss of the best friend I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful for the people that Erich brought into my life. Some of the best friendships I’ve ever known began through one common denominator…Erich.
Please keep Mary, Hannah and all of Erich’s family and friends in your prayers as we all try to pick up the pieces and continue through life’s journey without Erich’s infectious laugh, quick wit, or his larger than life personality.
Erich, you will forever be missed. You will forever be loved. You will never be forgotten my brother, my dear friend.

Bryan Lewis – May 16, 2018 – Today I say goodbye to one of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and being almost family with. His passing hit me harder than most and I think I’ve cried more over this than 1,000 viewings of ‘What Dreams May Come’. Life sucks sometimes and this is certainly one of those times. The world lost a beautiful, intelligent, kind, funny and loving soul. Erich McChesney, I am honored to have been a part of your life. I wish you were here to read this. I’ll never forget you. ❤
https://deathandtelevision.bandcamp.com/track/1615-a-song-for-erich-nick-vardaro-remix-v1

Mark Jones – May 18, 2016 – I didn’t get to toast my friend Erich McChesney during his memorial service or at the celebration of his life afterward. Nor was I really ready to. But after a long quiet drive home, I was finally able to finally put into words what I was feeling. So here goes the best that a lowly squid can muster….
Years ago I had a young Sailor who when on liberty in some random dive bar in the Mediterranean would raise a beer and belt out,
“Here’s to you as good as you are
And here’s to me as bad as I am.
But as good as you are
and as bad as I am
I’m as good as you are
As bad as I am.”
In a drunken haze I would stand there thinking hard and trying to figure out if somehow I had been complemented or insulted.
But when it came to Erich “I’m as good as you are, as bad as I am” actually makes sense.
Erich has been by every one of our sides at times in our life when we were at our very worse. I guarantee that each of us can remember a time when we where having the worst lows of our lives and Erich stood by us. He never judged. He never belittled. He never trivialized. Most of all, he never felt sorry for himself. He never once tried to make his personal pain, illness, frustration, or mental anguish the center of attention. He never once felt sorry for himself.
He was always there to listen, lend a helping hand, and lift our spirits, no matter how bad you felt.
He always made sure that we realized that in his eyes, we were still a good person. That was his true gift to this world.
The last few years, as you know, I too have dealt with my own debilitating and potentially deadly disease. The double edged sword of depression and alcoholism is a very really disease. However, the very simple cure for it is to continually strive to be as “good as you are”.
From today forward, when I am struggling, I will think of Erich and strive to be better, just as he would want it.
I raise an ice tea to you my friend for every day I will strive to be AS GOOD AS YOU ARE, AS BAD AS I AM.
Cheers.

Mary McChesney Aug 8, 2016 – I went back to Feb/March on my timeline today and read every post, looked at every photo, laughed, and loved every memory shared, and enjoyed every second of it!! I did not cry. I was happy, joyful, and blessed to have the memories and love to look back on. These past 6 months have been a testament to all of our souls. I love you all so much. I love Erich so much. That will never change. He loves me, Hannah and all of you as well. He expects A lot from us as people he loved. He expects lives to be lived, loves to be cherished, adventures to be taken. If you knew him, and you loved him then you know that he would never be happy thinking he had made one person sad, or hurt. His mission in life was to make people happy, bring out their light, their joy, their laughter. My job now is to do that for him. I’m not sad, I’m lucky. I have his love and support to help me, guide me and send me forward. No, I’m not crying anymore… I’m happy, loved, and content. ❤

Cori Simmons Triano – March 30, 2017 – Today is my brothers birthday. He would’ve been 44. We should’ve been celebrating his recovery and rehabilitation after PED surgery to bypass his nasty, fusiform aneurysm today. Instead, we are celebrating the 43 years of awesomeness that Erich brought into this world. Nothing has ever been the same since you went to Heaven. I find that I’m angry and selfish that you’re not here. Then I find peace and quiet and a calmness in knowing that I will see you on the other side one day. When Mia sang Happy Birthday perfectly this morning, out of the blue, and kept telling me to be “happy” anytime I cried, I knew you were with us and letting us know that you were ok. And I’m fairly certain that you were up there telling me to stop crying and stop being sad and to celebrate that you were no longer in pain. Driving home tonight after celebrating with friends, “Sweet Tides” came on in my car. I knew then, without a doubt that you were saying “good job sis for celebrating life and not spending the night crying.” I so wanted to spend the night crying but I knew you didn’t want me to. You are missed so much that it makes my heart hurt. It’s so hard to lose the unconditional love of a brother and miss the sound of his voice and his laugh. I’d give my life to have you poke fun at me just once more bc I knew that was your way of expressing your love. There has never been anyone as special as you and there will never be anyone like you. Thank you for your love, your friendship, your brotherhood and your loyalty. You were the real deal. A true brother no matter who was your mother or your father. We were blood and I’d given my brainstem to save yours if I could have. I know that time will heal this open wound in my heart but there hasn’t been enough time to heal just yet. I love you bro with all my heart. Cheers to you! I hope the BBQ and bourbon are amazing in Heaven and that you’re sitting with Saint Matthew planting orchids and talking about life’s great mysteries. I know you are. So many memories today have flooded my brain. No words can express how glad I am to have those memories. I selfishly wanted more though. Love you every day big bro! Every.single.day. ❤

Mary McChesney – Aug 10, 2017 – some sweet photos popped up in my memories today of Albin and Erich! Albin was probably the most loving, happiest dog ever to bless me with being their momma…although he was most happy when he was with Erich McChesney, so my guess is they are both extremely happy to be together again. ❤
Albin passed about 2 weeks ago. He fought hard for a few months with his doggie diabetes but it was too much for his little body. We gave the family a couple of weeks to come to terms with it before we told a lot of people but I figured these pictures on my Facebook today was a good sign that it was okay to share with everyone! We loved that little guy so much – but Erich McChesney loved him the most — so I really do think they needed to be together – and that’s why Albin had to say goodbye to us for now. I am so happy that those two are together again. Playing and happy!

Cori Simmons Triano – Dec 28, 2017 – This (sign in the pic below) was written for you big bro! You were on my mind over the holidays and especially the past two nights while watching David play. I knew you were there, dancing with me, yelling “YEAH!!!!” in between songs and being the loudest and proudest person in the crowd. It’s just never the same without you. At holidays, at concerts, at times when I need advice or a joke or to share something that only you would laugh at, or just when I need that reassuring and unconditional love that only a brother like you gave me. Losing your best friend of your whole life is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to live with and most days are starting to feel easier than the day before, but the past few weeks have been really tough without you to lean on. I know you’re watching from above. I know you’re always listening when I talk to you. I know you’re catching me when I fall and telling me to stop crying when I start to share something funny about a bacon pic on your timeline and then go down this path of writing a diary/blog and wind up with tears streaming down my face. Daggone bacon sign pic made me think of you and how much I miss you, every day. I wish I’d saved every voicemail, or at least one of them, because I haven’t heard your voice in so long and I sure would love to hear it, especially your laugh. I’ve wanted to hear your laugh for so long that I’m starting to forget the sound of how loud and unique it was. I don’t want to ever forget that laugh. Ever.

You’d be proud of your boy! He was amazing the past two nights on stage. The whole band was. I’m so proud of him. The kids were hilarious! Seeing it all through their eyes last night was so humbling and precious. They cared more about the free skittles, pool table and pac-man games upstairs than seeing backstage, having a run of the place when it was empty or being on the stage when they had it all to themselves earlier in the day. They’re amazing little people and they miss you. We all do! Merry Christmas in Heaven brother. Love from your lil sis. I’ll see you again and I’ll keep talking to you every day in the meantime. ❤

Mary McChesney – March 28, 2018 – Visiting Erich McChesney s page today and saw this video he had made a few years back…. great memories. On this morning in 2016 Dr. Agola and Dr. Nelson began a long (much longer than expected) day of operating trying to made E a new artery in that big ole brain of his. They did amazing work and tried to pull off an impossible feat. And were successful! Erich’s eyes when he woke up and squeezed my hand said a million things without saying one word. He was so thankful and happy that he had made it through. Sadly this day was just the beginning of a tough road. He fought hard. 2 days later He Happily celebrated his bday with a lot of visits from loved ones with eye blinks and hand squeezes and smiles…and then he went to sleep. I don’t think after that he ever truly came back 100%. There were moments in the weeks following with a foot movement or a hand movement or his eyes would flutter or try to focus on you. But I think his mind and spirit had begun to separate themselves from that body bc he knew it was not going to ever support him with the kind of life he wanted. He made me promise months before, when he was still talking and walking (and eating all the food he wanted and loved) that if he could not come back and live a full life, one that included all those things at the very least, not to allow him to come back at all. So I kept my promise to him, I owed him that much, even though I did not want to, and Dr Agola and I made the call to let Erich have some peace and quiet in his life for a few days before he said his final good bye. Those were rip-your-heart-out painful days, yet also so quiet and peaceful. I am so thankful to the many many many friends and family who stood by us over the months and years leading up to today and the 40 days that we existed in limbo until we said farewell. Erich was, and will always be a good man, an awesome Friend, a wonderful poppy, a loving family member. I miss him everyday. His laugh, his hugs, his sense of humor, his cooking….and most of all his unwavering love for anyone who meant something to him. If Erich loved you and was your friend, you knew it. So if you are one of those people take a moment today and remember this guy who fought so hard for everything that mattered to him. And was a true fighter right up till the end. We miss you E. I’m glad you are at peace and that you gave us so much to be thankful for. ❤

Erich Gerald McChesney March 30, 1973-May 6, 2016

Published two years ago today, and it still reads like I wrote the words yesterday. It makes me happy to share this story about you Erich – even though it only captures a sliver of your life and the person you were – I think it gives those who knew you fond memories of our time together and those who did not know you a wish that they had. ❤

 

 

 

Virginia Beach – Erich Gerald McChesney, age 43, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 6th 2016 after a difficult battle with a devastating illness. Erich is survived by his wife, Mary Phelan McChesney, daughter Hannah Phelan McChesney, mother-in-law, Laura Lilieberg, and step-father-in-law, Carl Lilieberg, all of Virginia Beach, VA; brother-in-law, Mike Phelan, sister-in-law, Lindy Cartwright Phelan, and father-in-law, John M. Phelan, all of Kill Devil Hills, NC; as well as his aunt, Virginia McChesney, of Rome, GA. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as numerous friends who became his family. He created sisters of Cori Simmons Triano and Danielle Burns and brothers of Andrew Lasher, Eric Loulies and Kevin Littrell.

Erich was born in San Bernardino, CA, March 30, 1973, and spent the first part of his life in Turkey and Germany. He moved back to the states in the 80’s when his father was stationed at Langley Air Force base. After his father retired from the U.S. Air Force, they moved to Virginia Beach where Erich graduated from Cox High School in 1992. Erich then joined the US Army as an 82nd Airborne Paratrooper where he served with honor, winning many awards and advancing quickly. Erich studied Computer Science and Information Technology following his military service, completing multiple degrees and certifications before going to work for several local companies supporting their computer and network needs. His final career move married two things he loved the most: the US Army and computers. As a member of the CRGT team at Ft Eustis military base they serviced the contract for the Army Learning Management System (ALMS), helping soldiers go to school and complete needed training.

Erich was a wonderful father, husband, friend, soldier, leader, veteran and family member. He never met a stranger and fulfilled his desire for a big, boisterous, happy family through Mary’s huge family and with the many special people he met throughout his life. From high school in Virginia Beach, to the Army in North Carolina, and the last few decades in Norfolk, he created tribes of people who loved him for life and will continue to love him forever.

Erich had a wonderful and generous spirit. He gave his heart and soul to everything he did and to anyone he knew and cared about. Most people know of his time in the US Army and his love for his country and military brothers, but they may not know that he was also generous in many other ways including driving a truck for the Samaritan House; sheltering and fostering dogs for a rescue foundation; giving his time, money, and support to the Red Cross, wounded warriors, Joy Fund, United Way, Girls on the Run, Hannah’s school and music events, and many other worthy causes that were close to his or his family’s heart. By far the most generous aspect of Erich’s spirit was the support he gave to those he loved. If Mary or Hannah loved it, Erich loved it. Highest on Erich’s priority list was attending every play, recital, performance, and event where Hannah was a participant. He never missed a moment where he was needed in the 13+ years he had with his wife and daughter, whether it was a teacher meeting, party pick up, mall run or opening night of a new comic book or cartoon movie. He could even be found dressing up for a tea party or spa party in ways that only a dad would tolerate for his little girl.

Erich was an adventurer and also man of extremes. He was mouthy, sarcastic, funny and wild at heart, yet he also loved to meditate, do Tai Chi, read books, and build computers for hours on end. He had the unique ability to be still and at peace one moment, then rally and be the life of the part the next. And Erich did love a party! These were the best opportunities to use a good joke, catchphrase or sarcastic banter on his guests. He loved to dance, sing, drink good bourbon, smoke great cigars, eat any kind of spicy food and plenty of North Carolina BBQ and fried chicken!

On any given weekend Erich could be found around a fire pit, enjoying homemade moonshine in Goshen, on the Eastern Shore blowing stuff up with the guys, cultivating bonsai trees or orchids at Eggleston Garden Center, making beautiful Mala beads, mowing his yard (or critiquing Kevin’s), or playing a new video game while pretending not to hear Mary yelling up the stairs for him all evening long. He loved to sail, snorkel, search for unique stones or rocks, and would even occasionally watch Mary “sprout freckles” while they sat on the beach for hours in the summer. He never understood Mary’s love of sandy magazines and PB&J beach days, but he tolerated many hours of both for her.

Erich was generous to all with his love, time and most importantly – his famous hugs! Erich McChesney hugs were better than any chiropractic adjustment you could get and his sincere desire to make you feel better could heal all aches and warm even the coldest hearts, hands, and moments. His commitment to excellence improved his own life as well as the lives of others in so many ways, but most importantly he gave others a shining example of what friendship and a family member should look like.

Erich’s family would like to thank the many friends and extended family who have supported them throughout his illness. From cards, calls, visits and gifts, you have lightened our hearts and we have felt your never ending support. Dr. John Agola, Dr. Alex Grunsfeld and Dr. Peter K. Nelson, and their teams gave us hope and the Neurology ICU doctors and nursing staff at Sentara Norfolk General delivered the most amazing care. We will cherish the knowledge that Erich was cared for with excellence and love through each step of his journey.

There will be a celebration of Erich’s life on Saturday May 14th at 2pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach at 300 36th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.

she is soft and hard

“Well she is your daughter,” said my friend Lisa as we talked yet again about my girl Hannah – a 35 year old woman trapped in a 17 year old body. It’s true, I knew it when she said it. I know it now. Hannah is an old soul, wise beyond her years, and has experienced pain and loss already – by age 15 – that some never experience in their whole life.

How do you protect and nurture a child who does not believe herself to be a child or need help? The answer is, you don’t. She must determine that she needs and wants the help. She must learn how to ask for help. She must suffer until she no longer wants to suffer. She must walk alone, on her own, feeling that no one can help her but herself. And then one day, once she realizes that no one actually does everything on their own. She will reappear. Ready for help. Wanting to walk together. Hoping someone is still there to show her the way. And I will be there. I will always be there. Waiting for her to come back to me.

 

 

How did you do it? I miss you so much.

Hey babe As I lay here in bed this morning hurting from my mastectomy it makes me think about you and that I have no idea how you endured the amount of pain that you had all these years. I don’t know if I can handle this kind of pain all day or even all week I’m Googling everything that there is to see what Pain killer combinations are allowed with each other and trying to think of different ways to get comfortable in the bed and the sofa and the chair – anywhere – and nothing’s helping. ack! If you were here I know you would have all the answers. 

It makes me think about you so often just the amount of years that you struggled with your pain how you persevered how you read and learned about drugs about your disease about ways to manage. Makes me remember all the changes you made in your life style. your exercising, no more drive-thrus, no more Fried Chicken, no more bourbon or cigars… things that you truly truly loveD as a human! You cut those out which tells me that the pain must have been so great to be able to cut things like that out of your life but you never gave up. I have no idea why… I like to Hope and think that it’s because you loved me and Hannah and wanted to be around as much as you could without feeling miserable. And that is probably somewhat true and I know you’ve even told me that at times and so have others… but I also think there was something else deep inside of you something that a lot of people don’t have. it’s maybe perseverance? Maybe it’s determination or some sort of will to live that not everyone in the world has.

 I do know this: your ability to fight the disease you had for the years that you did is nothing short of phenomenal and everyday I think about you I’m proud of you. I’m proud that I knew you, I’m grateful that I love you, I’m happy that you are part of my family and that Hannah has you for a dad. All of those things are real and still present in our lives. Those do not Exist only in the past tense. They will live forever in my heart and the hearts of everyone who knew you and is loved by you.

 I do selfishly wish that you were here with me now, physically, so that you could hold my hand and tell me bad jokes about my boobs or the lack thereof of them and bring me pills and make me ice packs and do all the things that I know you would do for me. 

I wish you were here to talk to Hannah and to help manage Laura and all their stresses because you always did such a good job  making sure those two were as cared and loved for as I was. You also would communicate with all my friends and all of our family and tell them everything was going to be ok. You would be making me soup and peanutbutter crackers and bringing me Hershey Kisses or mnm’s with peanut butter. You would be reading all of the directions online and in the packets and telling me all the things that we have to do for me to get better. You would be bathing me and wrapping me up in towels and putting lotion on my back and combing my hair… and I would let you willingly because I love you I’ve never felt more cared for buy a human and I did when I was with you.

  I loved taking care of you as well. Even on my hardest days of your care I was grateful to have you in my life.  when I looked at your face saw all the Gratitude in your eyes I knew that every second was worth it even the hard parts. That gratitude wasn’t always easy to see sometimes… often it was hidden behind Pain and guilt and frustration but it was there none the less and you loved me and told me that every day – multiple times a day. Often, you even thanked me for caring for you which would make me mad and I would tell you to stop saying things like that because why wouldn’t I take care of you of course I would take care of you and that you would take care of me the same way if I ever needed you! And you would nod your head in silence and hold back tears bc you hated to cry, yet cried all the time there towards the end…and then we would keep going about whatever it was that was happening in that moment – and those emotions would pass and maybe even go unacknowledged, but we bot knew they were there and felt the deep connection that only comes from two people loving each other through something as deeply sad and yet comforting as caring for eachother in a time of need.

 And now here I am and I need you to take care of me and you’re not here and the sadness is overwhelming. I do know that every word, thought and need I could conjure up would be getting met by you for sure. And while that brings me solace, I do wish that you could be here in real life. Just a word, a touch or a feeling of you in another room would be like winning every lottery, sport, election, sale or competition that existed on the planet, all at once. 

  I do know this so many times over the last few days and even the last few months. I have felt you near me. Thank you for being there in the pre-op room early Monday morning while I laid there waiting my turn. I was scared, but you were there. Thank you for reminding me to ask for the things I needed without guilt from the wonderful ppl in the hospital, I was nervous, but you said – just ask – because you were there. Thank you for helping me find the smiles, hugs and strength to see and talk to all our familiar faces from ICU who came to visit me yesterday, I felt like I would crumble, but you were there and gave me strength. Thank you for helping me talk to Hannah with the right words and at the right time, I feared i would make everything worse, but you gave me strength and you were there. Thank you for sending me new strength in the form of new faces and friends. They love you and I both, and are here for us. Which i feel, make you here in my life in a real way as well. Not a way that diminishes your presence in spirit, but instead, extends you beyond whatever reach you could of had without them. 

Thank you for all of it. Every second, moment, breath, and tear. I love you and will love you deeply, truly and wholly for as long as you allow me. Just please keep coming around for as long as you are able and in whatever manner you are willing to give. 

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