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After the Storm

On February 17, 2017, my life and the life of those she loved changed forever.  My wife had been battling clinical depression and lost that ...

Friday, March 24, 2017


It has been an interesting past week.  I feel like it's the first week where I am not constantly thinking about it.  I've met with a lot of different people and have been starting some new habits, losing some old ones.  I have found it difficult to cry about things (and I have cried a lot this past month).  And sometimes when in the presence of those close to her, find it difficult to cry when they are crying.  I want to be sure that I am in touch with what I am feeling, but at the same time, I don't want to force anything.

There have been occasions when I have tried to make myself cry, but I just can't.  I passed by Irvine Presbyterian Church, where we were married four years ago, and I wanted to cry, but the tears would not come out.  When driving from Irvine to North OC, I look at the empty seat in my car, and try to cry because of the fact that Elaine will no longer sit there, but nothing happens.  

I don't completely understand why, but my therapist says that everyone grieves differently and in their own time. They even said that I am in a place right now that takes most people 6 months to get to.  I have shared with some (who have asked) exactly how I found her that night, and each time I share, it gets easier and easier to talk about it.  When I share, its as though I am more of an observer of historical fact, rather than someone who had experienced the event themselves.  As a man of faith, a verse sticks out at me, one that I first turned to back in February and one that I was reminded by recently by a good friend and man of God and ministry.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

As I look at this verse, maybe what I am experiencing is God's purest form of comfort, a taste of the comfort we will feel when we enter heaven.  Comfort that goes beyond all earthly understanding.  This is the only logical explanation that I can come up with.

Now I do know, and my therapist has also told me, there will be times, especially all the firsts-first birthdays, first thanksgivings, first Christmases, where it will be difficult, so I am hoping that I can cry during those times.  Even now, blogging about this is helping in my grief.

I wanted to share one last thing.  The same friend who reminded me of the 2 Cor verse also pointed out to me something when we visited Elaine's grave the other day, there is a water spout near the tree.  I had always known it was there and joked about how Elaine would appreciate the practicality of it, but it reminded him of Jeremiah 17: 7,8

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lordwhose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7,8

I hope we can all bear eternal fruit from what has happened because of this earthly event.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

How Will You Live Your Life?

I am thinking this will probably be one of my last posts for a while.  But I wanted to share what Pastor Sun Kim had shared with us at the funeral last Saturday.  He was also the one who had married Elaine and I.  This message really articulates the hope that we all have in Elaine's death.  Please pay close attention to the imperatives that Pastor Sun talked about-this is our application.

"I have to be honest with everyone, even though I was very happy and honored to have received this request to speak today, this probably has been one of the most difficult message to prepare in my entire pastoral life. I wasn’t quite ready to prepare a burial message whom I had wed only few years ago.  As much as I want to bless everyone who have gathered here today, I feel that its is very important for us to be honest and speak sincerely to the circumstance which brings us here today. Without this honest and deep introspection, I don’t think we can properly grow and heal. As I’ve pondered over the content of the message, asking God to give me the right words to speak, asking God to give me the wisdom to balance between grief and hope, honesty and compassion, present circumstance and faith…I decided to ask a simple question. What would Elaine say to us today?

I know that Elaine is now in heaven, resting in the presence of God free from the burdens of sin, brokenness, fear and pain. And I also firmly believe that she is finally made complete in the image of God lacking nothing. So if she can speak to us today from heaven, what would she say?  I know this may be a bit unorthodox way of preaching God’s word, and it may even feel a bit uncomfortable for some, but please indulge me and I pray that this message will give hope and strength to all of you. 

I think if Elaine were looking down upon us and was able to speak to us, knowing the kind of person Elaine was, I believe the first thing she will say is, “I’m sorry.”  I believe she’ll say…
“I’m sorry for leaving all of you so early…”
“I’m sorry for leaving you with so many unanswered questions…”
“I’m sorry for making any of you feel like you hadn’t done enough for me. That’s not true.”
“I’m especially sorry to my husband Paul, for not being able to keep my vow to stay by your side till the end. Not being able to share with you the promise of God as husband and wife till the end.” 
“I’m sorry to Mom and dad, because I know there is no greater pain than for parents to have to bury their own child.”

But most importantly, I know she had an opportunity to speak to God face to face and say “God I’m sorry, I’m sorry for giving up on your gift to me, giving up on the treasure of life you’ve entrusted to me”.  To which I know God said, “I have already forgiven you, when my Son died for you on the cross, bearing all your pain, all your sorrows, all of your unspoken prayers. I have seen all the tears you shed in secret and I wept next to you. They are wiped clean, purified as driven snow. Now enter into your eternal rest, in my arms, find your eternal peace.” For this very reason, we too must choose to find peace. To let go. To forgive.  And to also forgive ourselves.

Secondly, I believe Elaine will say, with a huge grin on her face, “It’s all good! I haven’t frowned once since I got to heaven. I haven’t shed a single tear…ok maybe from laughing all the time. I no longer feel darkness anywhere at all. I haven’t seen a shadow yet, I’m enveloped by God’s perfect light all the time. I can finally see myself as God sees me…. and I am beautiful. I can’t find a single mirror here that shows any imperfection. I no longer need any make-up. I’m overwhelmed with only certainties, as all the doubts are left behind. Every step I take here is with absolute assurance and with profound love of my heavenly Father. What I use to see and perceive only dimly, now I understand perfectly without any distraction. I am finally at peace, and I hope you’ll find God’s peace knowing where now I reside.”

Lastly, I think she will ask all of us a favor. I think she would ask that her life and death will have meaning as we ponder Apostle Paul’s words, “and all these things shall work together for those who love God and called according to his purpose”. As I was thinking about this last point, an image came to my mind. My daughter attends a Mosaic class at her school every Monday. It’s an art class taught by a wonderful local artist. They create this beautiful Mosaic by using hundreds of broken, jagged, and shared glasses. It is an amazing and most beautiful thing to see these pieces come together to create an image that an artist had in her mind. When being put together, it’s bit chaotic and hard to imagine the final outcome. But as these children, in full trust of their teacher and in obedience to her instruction, begin to lay pieces together, side by side, they begin to see this beautiful image begin to emerge and come alive right in front of their eyes. 

I think we are all broken, jagged, shared pieces of glass without meaning when left to ourselves. We must realize that we are all broken, but beautifully broken. Our broken, jagged, and insignificant piece has a deeper meaning in the beautiful imagination of our God, our heavenly Father. It is when we begin to realize that when my brokenness connects with your brokenness, and yours connect with others, that we can begin to find meaning, restoration, and, healing in the midst. 

Some of us might be saying, this is too much to process. Too much to make sense out of. I can’t neatly package it into my theology or my culture or my worldview… so we may end up just internalizing Elaine’s death. Some of us will cover it up or bury it deep inside. Some of us will just try to just move on as quickly as possible. 

I believe what we must do is honestly acknowledge Elaine’s brokenness. But the question is, how will we then come along, come along side of her brokenness and connect it with ours, and in turn seek God to accomplish even greater things than we can possibly imagine and hope for?

I think Elaine is asking us to be open. Open to those who are broken, those who are struggling in their secret rooms consumed by darkness. Open to young people who are experts at plastering the most perfect image on their social media, yet struggling with their sense of worth that can only be retrieved in God. Elaine might be asking you to take more proactive role. Some of us might be encouraged to create programs or start an organization that can help prevent any further loss of lives. Some of us may reconsider your career choices that may further help people deal with serious physical and mental issues such as depression. May be some of us are called to change the conversation within the Asian culture to remove the stigma of mental disorder; create true safe spaces, especially within the church, to discuss difficult subjects such as suicide and depression. Some of us will need to fight for the biblical understanding of the institution of family as the last defense in protecting the mind and hearts of our young people. Some of us need to seriously engaged the culture of Nihilism, a culture that continues to promote meaninglessness all the while aimlessly searching for happiness within. 

I’m hopeful for tomorrow, because I know we will meet with Elaine face to face in God’s kingdom. But I’m also hopeful, because I have confidence that so many of us will rise up and meet the challenges Elaine’s life and death has presented for us. Elaine’s life was dedicated to helping the broken and hurting. We all know this to be true because we know her heart and we have witnessed her faith in action. Now her death is demanding us to have a vision that cares for those who are quietly falling into the cracks, those who are being ruthlessly swallowed up by the visions of darkness. I have hope, not in our own ability to be good, but because God who has begun a good work in Elaine’s life will be faithful to accomplish it through all of us, all of us who are so beautifully broken before God."

-Pastor Sun Kim 3/11/17

Sunday, March 12, 2017


This has been a crazy week.  I had a dream earlier in the week that I was in the police academy, but when it got to the part about training with weapons, I opted out.  Then right after, Elaine called me on the phone and said she had been kickbox training in the L.A. area for the past few weeks.  For a moment, I felt relief as if she hadn't passed.  Then right after I woke up and reality hit.

Part of what I have been doing to keep busy and not stuck inside all the time is working out.  I have some great friends in my bible study group that have been helping me get used to a workout routine and I just got my own membership this week.  For the first time in my life, I actually crave working out.  I feel like I want to do everything possible to ensure my mind is in tip top shape as I know that the physical and mental are closely related.  I also feel very good afterwards (even if my legs are jelly), knowing that I am doing what I can to stay physically healthy.  I hope to get on my road bike very soon as well-especially since we are having such nice weather lately.

One of the topics in the out patient group therapy was about self-esteem and I learned that our self-esteem baseline is pretty well established by age 7.   I had been beating myself up thinking thoughts such as, "maybe the stress of marriage did her in" or "maybe we should have never married, then she would have been happier."  "Maybe these last four years would have been better for her without me in the picture." After having some good discussions with my friends and others, I have come to realize that Elaine's depression was so much bigger than just the last four years of marriage.  She had been dealing with the depression for decades, not just the past few years.  As much as I want to take responsibility for what had happened, what she was dealing with was a lifelong battle.  

One of my best friends and I were talking in the car for a good thirty minutes when he dropped me off the other night.  He was reminding me of the Elaine that had found so much joy and happiness in the relationships that she had formed in the past several years.  Simple things such as just a few months back where Elaine, he and his wife and me were playing a game (Utter Nonsense) based on using accents and how most of us almost peed our pants because of how much fun we were having.  We had shared some great times with all the inside jokes that we came up with together.  This is where we experienced the ture Elaine and she experienced true happiness.  He also reminded me of how I was there for her to provide a special love that you only experience in marriage and had we not been together, she most likely wouldn't have been able to experience that in her lifetime. 

What we also learned in outpatient therapy are the keys to ensuring your children grow up with high self esteem.  And it is these three elements that I encourage those of you parents to please please please make sure you practice, regardless of your children's' age.  And many of you probably are.  All the parenting books in the world will not help unless you follow these three imperatives:
  1. Love yourself
  2. Love each other (even if you are divorced)
  3. Love a higher being
I am no parenting expert, but helping combat depression can start from the family and how we set examples for our children.  It is not always an easy thing and I don't purport to know all the right methods and techniques to help with this, especially since I've never been a parent, but if you follow these, you are setting up your children to have the best shot at a healthy level of self-esteem.  

Saturday was Elaine's funeral and burial with family.  I had a very difficult morning and on the way to the cemetery had the most bitter and hateful thoughts towards Elaine that I have ever had in my entire life while she was here.  I was full of rage, anger, and felt betrayed.

"How could you do this to me?"
"How could you do this to your family?"
"Did you realize the fallout you were going to create when you did this?"
"Did you only care about yourself?  How could you be so selfish?"
"We created a life together, and we had a future together, and you destroyed all that!"

The pastor that married Elaine and I was also the pastor that said the message at the funeral.  What he said was exactly what I had needed to hear.  He opened where he gave us some of the things Elaine would probably be saying to us from heaven right now if she was looking down.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Some of the things she would have said...

...I am sorry God for abandoning the gifts, talents, and person you had made me to be.
...I am sorry Paul for not honoring our marriage vows and seeing it to the end of both of our lives.
...I am sorry to everyone for what you must be going through right now and the pain and suffering you must be feeling right now.

Knowing Elaine and her heart, I know that she would indeed be saying these things as she was looking down from heaven.  I needed to hear her say that she was sorry for what she had done and for all the pain she was causing.  I gained more peace to hear that she was sorry to God and that He forgave her and was welcoming her into an eternal place of rest without any pain.  

I wanted to include some photos from the funeral.  The ones of me I was silently asking for forgiveness for the thoughts and things I had said to her earlier the day of the funeral.  I was saying my final earthly goodbyes.

If you would like to visit Elaine (there is no permanent marker/headstone yet), she is laid to rest at Loma Vista Memorial Park in Fullerton in front of a non-fruiting ornamental plum tree.  The office staff is very helpful and can guide you to where she is resting. 


Please stop by whenever you can to pay your respects.  Please remind Elaine of the stories you have shared with me of how she affected your life.  And share with her how your life has changed as a result. 


Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Sunday was a very difficult day.  I was planning on going to church but received an e-mail from my leasing company asking me to pay my utilities via cashier's check instead of personal check-like they couldn't trust my personal check.  I was so infuriated since they had already accepted a personal check for roughly 15 times the amount to finish out the lease for March.  This triggered me and I became extremely angry, was denouncing God, and pushed away a few friends that day that were only trying to be there to support me-I feel like I hadn't really expressed my anger outwardly in an appropriate manner other than on my last post.  I just wanted to be alone, in my thoughts, and in my anger.  It was even to the point where I wasn't responding to anything anyone was saying, similar to the episode I had earlier last week.

I kept my distance from people that whole day and slept on it.  I woke up the next morning and realized this was not a healthy place to be at.  I was learning at group therapy that when you have anger and it is directed inward, it manifests itself as depression.  I had a recommendation from someone at church last week to call my health care provider to setup a meeting with a therapist.  Long story short, they determined that medication was not right for me at this time.   I was however able to setup intensive out patient group therapy.  I had my first day today and I think it is going to help.  No one is in the exact same situation as I am (widower by suicide), but it felt like it will be a safe place to share and to gain some tools to help in the grieving process.

I have a great support system from friends and family, but I came to a realization that I could go down a dark path if I didn't seek professional help for myself.  I realize, that in order for people to get help, they have to want the help, and unfortunately in Elaine's case, that was a difficult point to get her to.    Elaine didn't want to be seen as different, as having a problem, as needing extra help.  She felt she was a burden to those who wanted to see her better, and the depression twisted and gnarled that help that people wanted for her into feelings of judgement and criticism. I don't say all of this to make anyone feel guilty, just to highlight how destructive depression can be, and how it turns the truth into something unrecognizable, illogical, and irrational.  That is one aspect I am coming to grips with, and where part of the feelings of hopelessness from all of this are coming from.  I wish that I could have found some way to break her stubbornness, to lovingly help her get the help she needed.  

Part of awareness is going to be to find out ways to help people feel safe and empowered to make a decision to want and seek help.  I don't have any advice or specifics that can be used at this point, but I encourage everyone to pray for or send positive thoughts to those you know are struggling.  Only you will know the right way to approach each situation based on the person's personality and I pray that God has already gone before you to prepare their hearts.

In our suicide survivors support group this last Tuesday night, the topic was "Making Meaning."  I should clarify what that means as there seems to be some confusion at times.  A "Suicide Survivor" is not meaning someone who attempted suicide but did not complete the act.  Rather, the term is referring to those who are left behind in the fallout of the tragedy. It was a good feeling (the word 'good' is hardly appropriate, but its the best I can come up with), when we were all similarly sharing about trying to make meaning from each of our losses.  We talked about the question, "Why?" and how asking that question is actually trying to rationalize an irrational act.  If you go down that rabbit hole, there is no guarantee that you will find the answers you are looking for.  And even if you do find the answers, will that even give you any peace?  

As the days pass, the hurt of it all stings slightly less and less.  This picture from an article my sister shared is a good reminder for me that my grief will always be with me, yet will become smaller and smaller as time passes.

As we were leaving a meeting with E2 Beauty's CPA today, he reminded me of the fond memories he had of Elaine, that she would bring him coffee, boba, and cookies anytime we had a meeting with him.  She was always looking out for people, wanting to make them feel comfortable and accepted.  That's exactly who she was with her clients as well.  You can ask any of the brides she had worked with and they will agree wholeheartedly that she wanted the best experience inside and out for each and every one of them.

I wanted to end this post with something I always admired about Elaine.  Her love for hip hop and R & B music.  She was the one who got me into it.  We both liked Bruno Mars, Elaine even more so, so I was happy she was able to enjoy his most recent album before she left this Earth.  This is one of her favorite songs from the album (many of you probably have it as your favorite as well).  Be sure kids aren't in the room, since there are some mature themes and language scattered throughout lol.  She really liked the album because it brought back a real 90's feel and sound back into the limelight.  I will always think of her fondly when listening to this song and I hope it will remind you of how much she wanted people to feel loved.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

To Whom It May Concern

These past few days I have really been experiencing full blown anger for the first time since Elaine's passing.  For those of you who have hung out with me since it happened, I probably seem somewhat okay-like I have it somewhat together.  But each day is a tormented battle of emotions including abandonment, joy, sadness, betrayal, and anger, to name a few.  In the words of Will Smith, my "life got flipped turned upside down"--I feel inside out.  This blog has helped me tremendously with expressing myself and getting my thoughts out of the internal, because when I internalize most of these emotions, I can go to very dark places.  People have been telling me that it is okay to be angry with God and to express that anger to him.  So, here I go, I am going to be expressing my anger to him in the form of an honest letter about what I'm going through.  These are my thoughts and feelings, and I know many of them are not true, but I must express them nevertheless.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am joyful that Elaine is in no more pain anymore on this earth, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional pain.  I am however very angry about the wake of her death, what I have been left with to deal with while I am still on this earth.  I am angry that over the course of our marriage, we sacrificed and took on some debt as a result since Elaine was not working full time, so that Elaine could pursue becoming a skin care therapist (esthetician).  I am angry because this portion of our debt did not go away with her death. I am angry that I no longer have a significant other, who I can come home to and share my day with, and to lend an ear to when they are having a bad day.   I am angry that on my worst days at work, Elaine will not be there to lift me up with words of encouragement, in a way that only spouses know how to do.  I am angry that although well-intentioned, most people I encounter will never truly be able to empathize with what I am going through.  I am angry that a few people are bound to judge me because they don't understand why I can't just "get over it" after a few weeks/months/years (however long it takes). You tell us that the two become one flesh, and now that flesh has been violently ripped apart.  I am angry that if I ever want a family in the future, I will have to re-enter the dating world with so much baggage, that I don't know if anyone would even want to deal with it.  I am angry that I am so very awkward when it comes to dating, and I have had to fail many many times before I had met the gracious Elaine.  I am angry that I might try to date too soon, or that I may miss an opportunity for love in the future; angry that these types of thoughts are even entering my mind so soon after her passing.  I am angry that I now have to question my purpose in my life after having gone through so many trials and errors to get to where I was.  I am angry that I will not have Elaine by my side to help support me and help me navigate through all of these things, just like she did when she was here. I am angry that she will not be able to do this on earth for others anymore and that her dream was stolen from her-I am hopeful that her legacy lives on however.  I am angry that she had to go through everything she did and YOU did nothing to stop it when you could have. Most of all, I am angry because I don't know who to direct all this anger towards.  Where are you in all of this?

Respectfully Yours,

Right before I was posting this entry on facebook, I saw my sister post something:

"I like to think that one day you'll be an old man like me talkin' a young man's ear off explainin' to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade." This is Us

This is truly my sourest lemon in life.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fruits and Flowers

So Thursday would have been our four year anniversary.  It was also the day we picked up Elaine's cremains.  It was difficult to say the least to see and hold the urn that she was placed in.  We then took her cremains to the cemetery where they will hold her until her burial in a few weeks.  God wanted to ease off a burden as well and softened the funeral director's heart-he waived the $400 charge for having a funeral on a Saturday.  We also were able to visit Elaine's future grave site so I could show my best man and maid of honor (Elaine's cousin) where it was and what it looked like.  I had seen it last Friday when we came to the cemetery to make a final decision and the tree had been barren.  In between then, flowers had already started blooming.  Pink and purple flowers-Elaine had once colored her hair half pink and half purple.  Traditionally, fruits and flowers are the gift of choice for a four year anniversary.  In some small way, I feel like God was using those flowers to comfort me--assure me that not only did he care deeply about our marriage together, but also that life will be springing forth from Elaine's death.  Although the tree was not in full bloom, life was already starting to happen.

I have also been getting a lot of support with people really speaking to my broken heart.  In my feelings of inadequacy as a husband and feeling as though I didn't love her enough, or do enough for her.  People have reassured me of the ways in which she talked about me and how she did feel my love and adoration for her.  One friend told me how excited she was in her conversations with her, to be receiving a fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements for our four year anniversary (Fruits and Flowers :) )  This not only reassured me of her love for me, but also reminded me about how destructive depression can be-how it distorts the truth and joy that one has in their relationships.

I haven't had any dreams whatsoever since her passing, until last night.  I vividly dreamed that Elaine was with me in a house--she was her happy joyful self, much like she was before the depression took hold of her life.  I don't remember the content of what she was saying, but I remember she was happy and at peace.  I remember at the end of the dream that without letting me know she was leaving, she walked towards a table in the room and then disappeared--this is when I woke up.  I am thinking that the table is the Lord's table, and God placed this dream in my mind last night to reassure me and bring me more peace that she is now at His table, completely free from all pain, and in the presence of our Father's love.

Please also continue to look for ways in which you can bring awareness to depression and suicide.  I wanted to include a link to a walk in which her good friends from London when she studied abroad will be participating in.  They need to fund raise but if anyone would also like to join their team, "Flowers for Elaine" that would be welcome as well.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Yesterday was a very difficult day.  It was the day of Elaine's cremation (I chose not to witness it) and I had a lot of lonely feelings well up.  It all hit me that I wouldn't be able to spend any more quality time with her.  No making dinner and watching a movie on our TV.  No random drives to a new restaurant we wanted to check out.  No more experiences would I have with her on this earth.  I feel like the cremation may have been symbolic in a way, that the earthly things we had together will be no more.  I come to realize that these moments of sadness are going to be a part of my life, but as time goes on, I hope they won't be as paralyzing, and in fact will remain as positive experiences.  I also am learning that it is completely okay to have these feelings and emotions and its important to keep those I love close to me, especially during these difficult times.

Elaine (right) with her business partner (left).  Elaine loved listening to music!  This pic captures that fact so well.

I continue to be encouraged by those who have been messaging me about Elaine's life and/or their motivation into action for awareness of depression and suicide.  I must admit, I still don't know a whole lot about depression and I don't pretend to either.  All I have are my experiences so far.  It's a difficult thing and looks different from individual to individual.  I suspect the church (meaning the American Christian Church) as a whole has also not done a great job of addressing mental illness and I feel like part of my journey will be involved with helping restore that type of ministry.  God calls us to love our neighbor, even ones with mental illness and struggles, the ones that may be hardest to reach.

I would ask for your continued prayers for me as time passes that I will continue to heal and be focused on moving forward.  I am taking things day by day and am getting practical things done day by day.  My dad said it well, that I should try to take care of one major thing each day (breaking the lease, cancelling insurance, making a big decision, etc.).  It is helping when I pace things out and know that it's okay to not rush things.

I have also felt the love of Christ in my community.  My bible study group has been so supportive of me.  They have not only prayed for me but have brought meals, they have accompanied me when I had to take care of some difficult logistical needs, they have moved things out of my apartment for me.  They are living out the church as God wants us to live it out.  And I know many have been inspired by this as well.  I also received many cards recently from staff, students, and parents and feel so well supported from my family at work.  For those going through any type of grieving, it is important to make sure you remain in some sort of community in order to healthily heal.

My sister sent a link to a new song I haven't heard yet.  So much of the music I have been exposing myself to recently has really spoken specifically to me in my situation.  It has been a huge part of my healing process.  I realize that God may yet have a purpose for me in using my gifts of music.  I have been distracted the past few years and have let those gifts fall by the wayside.  I want to strive to change that.

"This was the one thing you didn't see coming..."