So you can read my books

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Elana Johnson:

is having a blogfest, NEVER SURRENDER, to coincide with the 2nd week of her new book, SURRENDER.

All you have to do is blog about a time you didn't surrender.

What did that church sign read I passed last week?
There can be no testimony without first the test.

Don't expect any bugles blowing, heavenly choirs singing in the blood-red skies as I charged up the hill.

Hear that?

It is the sound of a grown man crying. 


Four days earlier, my home had burned to the ground.  Pebbles, my cat, awakened me by, for the first ever,

 scratching my cheek.  I awoke to a carpet of flames above my head rolling across the ceiling.

I lost sight of Pebbles.  I crawled on the smoke-choked floor, down the hall where I found my Norwegian Elk Hound, Hercules, collapsed as he had tried to reach me.

I dragged his 100 pounds across the burning floors of the hallway and the front room, flames searing my fingers and face.

Hercules died from seizures and a heart attack.  My home burned to the ground. All the pictures of my dead finacee, mother, my childhood best friend ... burned.

And then, there was Shadow,

the abused Chow, I took in from being abandoned on the street by the next door neighbor, who in trying to make him mean had only managed to break his spirit.

Hence the name, Shadow, for he would dog my steps in my fenced-in backyard, but he would never let me touch him.  I got out of the hospital with 2nd and 3rd degrees burns on my face and hands to find him dead from poison.

I finally got to stroke his soft fur as I sobbed.

I walked into the burned ruins of my childhood home.  I walked down the hall to my bedroom, looking to see if Pebbles had escaped the fire and was back.

I had a sick thought.  I kneeled on the floor.  Pebbles.  She had crawled under my bed in fear.  Her face ....

I will not punish you with the details.  You are writers.  You know what I saw.

I fell on my butt and wept.  Something round gouged my rump.  I dug it out.  A bottle of the heart medication I had kept for my mother's rapid heartbeats.  One would slow down her heart enough to breathe.

I counted the pills.  120.  That should slow even my heart down enough to sleep the last sleep.

Kathleen, who asked me to marry her, was dead two years back. 

My childhood best friend, Tommy

(last of the LEAGUE OF FIVE) had died Christmas morning, crushed under the dash of his 18 wheeler. 

The wreck had happened at midnight.  He was still barely alive when the ambulance came at dawn. 

He suffered alone for hours.  He died without knowing help had come. 

Mother had died the year before. 

My business died that year.

I was now penniless and homeless.

I opened the bottle. 

I jumped a whole foot it seemed, spilling pills all over the charred floor as my cell phone on my belt wailed.

Sandra Thrasher, my best friend.  Her voice spoke to me from the cell phone.

"Roland, I had the strongest sense of you just now.  You were planning something stupid, weren't you?"

"You know me," I tried to laugh.  "Stupid is a natural talent."

"No, it's not.  And there's something else you're not:

a quitter.  Oh, you bitch, whine, and moan.  But over the years, I've seen you take shots that would take out John Wayne.  You've got balls of steel, Roland."

I fought a sob.  "They're melted right now."

"Of course they are.  But you've got something else, too."

"What's that?"

"Me, you moron! 

And if you think I am going to let you leave me alone to face my moaning, bitching family who won't listen to my own bitching and whining without getting threatened, well ...

You got another thing coming.  Hell, I might turn all godly just so when I die, I can kick your butt from here to doomsday for leaving me!  You hear me!"

I smiled weakly.  "Even without the cell phone, I think I would hear you, Sandra."

I got up, crushing the pills under my boots slowly each and every one.  "Thanks, Sandra."

"Hell, you did it for me when my mother died, when I got breast cancer.  It's what friends do."


That is why I wrote this post.  Not to wail.  Everyone you pass is having a harder time than they appear.


So that next time a person comes strongly to mind ... Do not ignore it.  Be a Sandra Thrasher.  Call them.  Be the friend that all of us needs at one time or another.

Remember this post ... and call them.


  1. I am so glad Sandra called you. Man, that is one awful, terribly, nasty, did I say terrible? story. Thanks for sharing it, though, because it helps me count my blessings all over again. :)

  2. Lara:
    Each person we pass is having a harder time than they appear. I try to remember what Sandra did for me and then try to be at least kind to those who are unkind to me, thinking they may be bleeding from invisible wounds, fighting silent screams. May your week be lovely and healing, Roland

  3. And that is what compassion is all about... you have a lovely week, too.

  4. It never ceases to amaze me what humans can go through and still keep on trekking. I too am very glad Sandra called you. Sorry you went through all those horrible things.

  5. Trisha:
    I wrote this not to point out the bruises I received ... after all, some months later Hurricane Rita hit, and my entire city was forcibly evacuated. Here in SW Louisiana, everyone has had gruelling times. I saw heroes then, and I tried to fake my way alongside them. :-)

    I just wanted to say we all need to be mindful of those around us.

    Thanks for caring and taking time to write, Roland

  6. I'm sure you've been a hero to others more times than you know. I know you didn't write the post to get sympathy, but I am so sorry for all you've been through. I do hope that somehow, some opportunity or wonderful person comes into your life because of all you've gone through, something you may have missed had you not suffered so. Thank God for Sandra! Thank God you crushed the pills and survived. Take care, Roland. Christy

  7. Thanks, Christy:
    Every trial, every ordeal, every crisis shapes us. Not by the events themselves but by our reactions to them.

    I have tried not to waste my pain, not to miss the lesson that was meant for me to learn.

    In my worldview, it is no accident what comes to us. We are being prepared to be soldiers of the void.

    The void that exists in hearts hurt too much to put their anguish into words. I thank you for your own kind words.

    Yes, thank God for Sandra ... who I know would smile at those words for she is an atheist. But I think what you live is what you believe ... and in that, Sandra is one of the best Christians I know.

    Man, am I going to get such a slug from her if she reads this! :-) Roland

  8. Oh my… What the story. Thank you for posting it for the rest of us to read and learn from.

  9. Thanks, Aidyl:
    All of us have had our trials, haven't we? May this week be lovely for you, Roland

  10. That's an incredible story of perseverance, by everyone involved. Thanks for sharing! Thank goodness for friends like Sandra! I will keep you and her in mind when a friend pops into my thoughts :)

  11. Hope:
    That was the whole purpose for me of this post: to have you think of me and Sandra when a friend pops into your mind. You never know. Thanks for visiting and chatting, Roland

  12. What a story, Roland. Sandra is such a gift of a friend. How lucky it can be to have someone to lean on like that in our darkest days.

  13. What a story, Roland. Sandra is such a gift of a friend. How lucky it can be to have someone to lean on like that in our darkest days.

  14. Thanks, Lydia:
    Yes, I have been so very lucky to have Sandra for a friend for so long. We all need someone in our corner. Even when we do not see them, just knowing they are there helps. Have a lovely week, Roland

  15. The friendship of others is often what gets us through hard times. Leaning on others is something we do even when we don't realize it. Also, I don't know what you believe or even if you believe anything, God, karma, what have you, but you truly have a good friend in Sandra. Thanks for writing this as part of the blogfest this week!

    Emily @ memorialrainbow

  16. Roland. Glad you are still with us and glad you and Sandra have each other. A friend like that is precious. It will take time but things will get better. <3

  17. Wow, what a story. I'm glad you're still with us. The world needs a lot more Sandra Thrashers. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

  18. MemorialRainbow:
    To Sandra's consternation and amusement, I am a devoted follower of Jesus. My Lakota called God The Great Mystery, and I sometimes call Him that myself since what He is up some days are a mystery to me!

    Thank you for visiting and caring to comment. It means a lot, Roland

    That happened some years ago, and I am mostly healed from it. There will always be challenges, and I pray I am up to them. ANd you are right: I am quite lucky to have Sandra for my best friend!

    I'm glad I have friends like you to visit and care enough to chat and be glad I am still among the living. And you are quite right: the world needs more Sandra Thrashers -- though she would laugh the world can hardly deal with the one of her! Roland

  19. What a sad story, congratulations on making it through. You really do have balls of steel. :) Moments like that are a great reminder that there are forces more powerful than ourselves at work in the world.

  20. Sharon:
    Yes, The Father nudged Sandra when He knew I needed a friend. We are often His hands. Thanks for visiting and the nice thoughts! Roland

  21. Wow. I'm so happy you have a friend like that.

  22. Oh my God - my stomach sank at least 48 times as I read your story....Thank God for your cat, thank God for your friend Sandra, thank God for your enduring strength. You are amazing.

  23. I love reading your response comments to others almost as much as your powerful post. The lessons learned from our hard life experiences can truly change our perspective. Thank goodness for good friends indeed. Props for putting the angst behind you (or under your foot, rather) and moving on. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story!

  24. S.P.
    Yes, I am a better, wiser, more emotionally healthy person from the years of Sandra's friendship. As for what I've been to her, well, they say suffering builds character, so I may have inadvertantly given her character!

    Thank you, Kimberly:
    Yes, The Father blessed me with Pepples and Sandra ... which would amuse Sandra to no end to read.

    Thank you for following. I am sorry I gave your stomach a roller-coaster ride.

    I am what my good friends have made me with the examples of their lives and their guiding words. I probably am not the best of learners! LOL.

    I pray only happy surprises await you this new week and weekend!

    Thank you, Karen:
    Especially thanks for enjoying my comments. I put a lot of thought into them so as to show honor and courtesy and kindness to guests to my cyber-home. It is a Lakota thing! :-) Please come back, Roland

  25. Roland, your post truly touched me. It's so funny b/c for a long time I'd have dreams about people I hadn't seen or thought of FOR YEARS. Then, I'd run into them the next day. Always. Without fail. I thought, hmmm, maybe ESP isn't for the birds? Then several years ago God quietly whispered to me, "It means I want you to pray for them, you idiot. Invite them to church, or if they won't come, then out to coffee." So I do! And someone from 1998 just popped into my head this morning . . . you can bet I said prayers for him as I was getting ready:) ~God bless

  26. Wow. I'm glad that your friend called you. It sounds so horrible, everything that you went through. But I bet it has made you stronger. Wow, that's definitely a time you didn't surrender.

  27. Thank goodness for good friends! What a fabulous never surrender moment!

  28. Such a powerful story, Roland. I'm very glad Sandra was there for you. I am not very intuitive like that, but I try to be that kind of solid friend.

  29. It is no wonder your characters are so tragic. I've read of your tragedies before, and it always hurts my heart.