Getting to Good...


We all live in fear. I have avoided it like the plague, especially these past 20 months. I would do nothing to upset my plans, nothing to step out of my comfort zone. I don’t think I could handle it, mentally, or physically.

Over the past ~670 days I have experienced so much. I have lost everything, and basically had to start over from square one. In ways no one even really knows, and I couldn’t even start to explain. Recovering from a major brain hemorrhage, and multiple strokes is not something I can even believe that has happened to me.


In so many ways I feel disconnected from it, but at the same time very intertwined with the whole thing. I don’t reflect back on it with any kind of anger, or depression. I think that’s probably the hardest thing about everything, shouldn’t I be extremely upset that this happened to me? Shouldn’t I be wrapped up in ‘why me? Why then? Why? Why? Why??’ I’m not. At all.


Yes, the timing could have been better-or it could have just not happened at all, but-it did. And it happened exactly when it did, I think as it was supposed to.


I am very anxious just putting this out there…but here goes.


I do not know if I could have handled Trey leaving at all…had the stroke not happened.


I feel like the stroke happened right when it did, for many many reasons. No, I don’t fully understand them…I don’t think I ever will. But, I have always believed nothing in life is accidental…

I was admittedly having the hardest time accepting what was happening with Trey. I would never EVER allow any pessimistic talk, at all. If uncomfortable things were brought up, I would not listen…like a child I would plug my ears and hum so that I couldn’t hear a thing. I would shut down. Right after diagnosis Trey wanted to go talk to lawyers. Nope. Not happening. I couldn’t handle any conversation like that at all. Ever. Just the thought of planning for something like that made me sick. The thought of it still does.

The thing is we knew there was no cure from the very beginning. We knew that it was basically going to be chemo for the rest of time, maybe with some breaks, depending on ‘Oscar’. We knew that. But, Thomas would NOT accept that. Almost from the day of diagnosis Thomas the control freak handled everything. I didn’t want Trey to get stressed about anything, I wanted Trey to sit at home, and paint, or read, or watch furry potato YouTube police audits, and random food blogger shows. I did not want Trey at work, like he always was. I wanted to be able to take care of him like he spent almost his entire life taking care of others. I wanted to repay him for taking care of me, and changing my entire life in basically every way.


I wanted him to be as comfortable as he could. Because I knew he didn’t have long…even though I would never talk about that. Benton, April, Cole, Reagan, so many people ran around absolutely losing our minds to collectively make it as easy as we could. April would clean the office and disinfect everything in the office everyday just in case he came in. Cole, and Reagan did everything they could. Benton did, well everything. It was all a big mess, but we made it work. All because we knew, but everyone also knew not to talk about it, especially to Thomas.


In so many ways I feel like my bull headedness was unfair to Trey, because he would try to talk about things that probably needed to be discussed, but NOPE. I could not, and would not.


I think that stemmed from my own fear of death. So bad, that I could not allow myself to give the thought any room at all in my mind. I’ve always been a very spiritual person…but, from the time of my aunt Donna’s death when we were children, it has scared me like nothing else. Terrify is a better word.


This may sound strange but, it was not something I could control, it was just happening, so you have to accept it. Right? Nope, not for control freak Thomas. It’s almost like if I only looked at the positives, and none of the negative then it never really happened. Ignore it, and it’ll go away. But, it never did.


I honestly don’t think I could have handled what was happening while I was in the hospital. I was all too happy to believe everything was all good. Looking back there are things I should have clearly seen …but, I was more than happy to have the distraction of therapy. Also, during that entire period a lot of stuff happened that really needed to happen. So, me being in the hospital allowed all of that to happen. Trey got to spend a lot of time with his parents. He got to be taken care of by Brenda again, just a lot of time that I know he enjoyed having them around. He got to equally spend time ALONE with his sister. Which, he absolutely loved. He would come into the hospital beaming that he had spent the day with missy.


He got some freedom from me controlling everything. I wouldn’t let him watch the news, or any shows that would get him upset. I had a lot of rules.


I just feel like with the way everything timed out, my brain hemorrhage Happened right when it needed to. I also feel like it helped so that I could get a glimpse of where he was going, and that everything was going to be okay. Yes, I know(cuckoo) but, it brings me peace, so we are going with it. I really feel like I got a glimpse into the other side…as fleeting as it was, but enough that I know where, and am OKAY with him going. Not that I wanted him too, at all. Just okay in general.


I still don’t like how everything was back to back. But, again I feel like there’s a reason. Losing Trey is something I will never get over, it’s something that still overwhelms me so bad at times I can barely function at all. Totally debilitated.

I lost everything in 2020. And I mean everything. Trey, the business, everything we had worked on for 20 some years…gone. In an instant.


First though, I lost myself. Totally completely gone. The old Thomas is like an almost memory. Someone I knew very very well, but no longer. He’s still there, I can access his memories, and information. But at the same time he’s not there. It’s weird. It’s not like I’ve changed a little, I have changed a lot. Used to I would not talk to strangers at all. Now, someone asks ‘hey how’re you?’ Three hours later, I’m still talking. Last week at blind school I actually went outside to talk to my braille classmate. On purpose. The old Thomas would NEVER do anything like that. There are many many things the old Thomas would never do.


It’s eerie. I see the old me. I acknowledge it. But, that was a past life. A totally different me.


For years and YEARS and more years Trey tried to change me. Not fundamentally, but change my self perception, tried to make me see me for me. Have some self worth, self appreciation. He hated how I’d always stop myself, or self deprecate every little thing, he tried and tried and tried. I was always too stubborn to see it. It was the way I had always been. Never good enough, at anything. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop, living in constant fear of being abandoned, and forgotten about(huh, I wonder why that was???). But, that’s how I grew up. And, sadly it grew comfortable…it’s all I ever knew. He would be upset about something, and I automatically always thought it was me. Doesn’t matter what it was…his mom and dad didn’t like his idea of building a three story office building, and didn’t agree with him…somehow that was my fault, maybe if I ran the jobs tighter they would let him build it. …His proposal to a client got rejected or refused, I always believed it was my fault because if I could run the jobs faster or tighter it would have been accepted. I basically took everything personally. Everything. He hated that. It’s the number one thing we fought over. Always. But, I could never change that at all. That was just who I was. I took blame onto myself for everything. Heck - his pecans didn’t turn out right at the holidays and I would blame myself for buying the wrong brand of spices. I was ridiculous, now I see it. I never could back then. I would just blame myself, and carry all that baggage around everywhere I went.


Perfect example… Christmas 2019, Trey wanted to RV across america, he was always jealous of his parents, and he wanted to experience that. Little did we know it would be pure driving the entire time. But, we did it. The three of us. Benton and I driving. We decided to go see the Grand Canyon after Christmas. On the drive up there a storm moved in. We got stuck in ice inside the canyon park. It was my fault. No one said it was, but I’m the dumbass that got the zillion foot RV, and I was the dumbass driving. I can not even explain the amount of panic and stress I went through. I’m surprised I didn’t have a stroke right then and there.


I felt like we were about to fall off the cliff, and everything was destroyed. I could not just relax, and wait for help. Or wait for the ice to melt under the Dolly Parton tour bus. I was in full panic meltdown mode. I wouldn’t let Trey help me, why I have no clue…but I was screaming at him to get back in the bus. I was full on - controlling psychopath. I had ruined everything.


I wish we had never taken that trip. I wish I had known it would be the last Christmas. I hate that it was spent in an RV. We had fun, but Christmas was EVERYTHING to Trey. So…imagine the guilt over that. Massive.


I now realize that I had no control over anything at all, no insight into what would be happening. No nothing. It hurts, but the new Thomas can’t focus on that. I have to focus on everything good.


It’s weird. For twenty some years Trey tried and tried to change old Thomas. And then in January of 2020 he existed no more. I don’t want to say he died with the stroke, but a whole new side was unveiled. I remember in the hospital crying, all the time…and Trey would be cry/laughing saying it was a whole new Thomas. I remember thinking at the time there was nothing new, it’s just me…Get me out of here.


I’m glad he didn’t, even though I was miserable…I will always cherish my time in the hospital, especially rehab. I hate that I didn’t get that time with Trey, but he made me stay, knowing what I needed. Trey Strock was the most selfless person I ever knew. He always did for everyone else, not Trey. At a time when he needed someone more than ever, he told no one, kept it all to himself…so that all focus would be on me getting better. That’s just who he was.


So now, I’m adjusting to this new life, a life that Trey always wanted for me, a life that feels oddly comfortable. As Tommy says, I never shut up…once I open my mouth you can forget it. I can talk without taking a breath…until I get myself upset(which is easy).


But, on a professional level I am empty. Totally empty. And now I’m at the point it’s driving me up the wall crazy.


I feel like I have sat around and healed…enough already, I have to do something. But, honestly the thought of going to work for or with someone is terrifying. I don’t think I could work for anyone. The new Thomas realizes work is important, but my self worth is so much more…and that’s where I have been stuck.


I need something good in my life. Money no longer means anything to me like it used to. I need to feel self fulfilled, self satisfied, and to feel like I am DOING something…that will make a difference, not just punch a time clock and collect a check. I need more in my life.


Problem…I can’t do anything the old Thomas could do. I don’t have the vision, or the stamina yet. I’m still recovering from a brain hemorrhage that I had about a 2% chance of living through. I will not, and can not handle stress…cutting the grass is about as much stress as I can handle.


But, the flip side of everything is I have nothing but time. I’m not under some intense pressure to get a job right now, and I’ve had time to think, a lot…and I have been getting help, and still am. I have been thinking A LOT.


2,3…5 years ago, if I told myself I’d be considering this path in the future I would have called the crazy train and said take him away. There’s no way, none, that I would ever consider, or entertain this.

I want to take ALL of my experiences over the past two, rather 5 years…and help people working through, or know someone that is dealing with/experiencing stroke, stroke recovery/therapy…being a caretaker of someone dealing with Cancer, or Stroke…or processing Death/Trauma. It’s a lot. And, I’m not sure just exactly how I can help, or what it will turn out to be…if anything. But, I love being able to talk to people and share my story, and help them in any way possible. Sometimes talking is the best thing. And, talking to someone that understands, and has been there may be easier.


I know it’s crazy to say…but I can feel, or hear Trey saying ‘it’s about damn time’. I had been so hung up on not having the education for it, or this or that…but, people have been brought into my life at the perfect time to kick me in the ass, and get me started.


Trey always told me I had to get to good before they would ever let me out of the hospital. He pushed me harder than ever in the hospital, in ways he didn’t even know. He was a big proponent of getting to good. When Benton was at his lowest, and moved in Trey told him he had 6 months to get to good, and then he was out. That never happened, but Benton got to good, and helped to take care of Trey…and now takes care of me. It’s amazing how things work.

I am still Getting to Good, it’s a long, ongoing process. I feel like no matter where we are we are always striving for good, it’s a constantly changing goal.


It’s something Trey always always strived for. Daily.


So I am officially starting Getting to Good, no clue where it will go…but, gotta start somewhere.


the New Thomas


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