So where am I?

It’s a late afternoon. I’m pulling into the left turn lane in Mesa to turn onto Terri and A.K.’s street. My cell phone rings. I look down and see…

Jeremy Bowman

I NEVER answer the “No Caller ID” calls.

I’m expecting some call backs though for work, so for the first time in my life, I answer.

“Hi, this is Jeremy…”

“This is Amy.”

WHAT?! WHO?! AMY? (All spoken with my inside voice).

Her greeting is very matter-of-fact. The tone is like an unhappy boss that’s short on time.

“Well, hi,” I calmly say in a really soft, sweet, loving, gentle, upbeat (but not too upbeat), happy (but not overly happy) delicate sort of way.

“I don’t have much time. I’m calling to schedule a time to talk.”

Her tone is cold and distant. Very business-like.

I stay soft and kind (it’s obvious everything will be done on her terms. No negotiating).

“OK, when would you like to schedule it?”

It’s like a ballroom dance together, only she leads. I follow.

She sets the time for the next day. Evening time. I oblige.

Silence.

I think to myself, “She doesn’t know how to end the call.” Perhaps she is expecting push back or further inquiries.

I have none.

It’s her move.

I’m not about to take over lead role.

I break the silence to try and help her stay in control.

“Is there anything else for now?”

She regains her footing and lays down some ground rules for the call, including a time limit.

I agree to it all.

“So, how are the kids?”

I wince.

I’m walking an unbelievably strained tight rope. A simple question like that can easily be taken by her as too intrusive.

It’s too late. It’s already out there.

So, I brace.

Surprisingly her voice softens and she actually responds kindly. The next thing I know…an hour has passed.

She just couldn’t quite keep her guard up.

When I feel it go down, I throw soft, kind blows. I think we talk for over 2 hours. At times I can tell we both lose ourselves in the moment.

She forgets I suppose that she’s supposed to be guarded, distant and emotionless.

No doubt this is supposed to be a short, quick call. She just doesn’t pull it off. By the end somehow we’re already discussing her flying out for a visit.

The longer the conversation lasts the more my inside voice of complete relief, happiness, and excitement builds pressure on and to become my outside voice. It never does as I remain cool as a cucumber. I’m proud of myself. We both talk ourselves into exhaustion.

The call ends. Her tone with her goodbye is soft, kind and comfortable.

I match it.

I press the round red end button on my iPhone.

Next call? If I remember correctly she sets it for the next evening.

I walk inside and it’s like I have a pressure valve that opens full throttle. The impossible is happening. The overwhelming, seemingly unbeatable odds are on their heels. They have some hard punches left, but I’ve taken their most powerful blows so far, and I’m still standing. Now I feel I have THEM up against the ropes. My confidence is building fast. I think a knock out is not out of the question.

Tomorrow they will land a clean shot square on my chin the moment I first hear Amy’s tone on our follow-up call. There’s no way I’m going down. I stay focused and intent on finishing them off while taking great care to ensure she isn’t collateral damage.

I’ve remained disciplined in sticking to my game plan. I’m winning in points, but a knock out would shock even my most ardent fans.

What seemed utterly impossible just a couple rounds ago, now seems not only possible, but probable. I’ve been in this position before, against all odds, and won, but never with so much at stake, never as broken as I am, and never solo, without the support and strength of my wife beside me.

I am going to beat the odds again. I win by knock out, but it will come at a heavy price in terms of damage done to me. But, it’s a remarkable display of skill, execution, patience, constraint, discipline, team-work and good judgement. I have incredible coaches around me.

All that doesn’t change the fact I’m broken inside to pieces. Parts of me die, and I will ultimately have no rest before the unanticipated re-match.

The opponent will be the same only more determined and will seize control from the opening bell. It is now at this very moment though that I will reach as deep down as I can and give it all that I have. More than ever before.

But ALL I can give is a portion comparable to the widow’s mite. No one can see just how badly broken I am on the inside. No one can see how serious my injuries really are. They’re life threatening. The pain and suffering is more than I can bear at times. From the outside its impossible to see the Herculean effort to fight broken.

I’m judged solely on my output.

As much as I reach down and pull all I have out of me, It just might not be enough.

I don’t know this yet, but very soon Amy will be on a plane to visit, and I will see her for the first time in a year! Everything is falling into place.

For the first time in my life the heavy weight odds against me just may prove to be more than I can handle.

Actually, it is more than I can handle, way more than it seems anyone around can possibly understand.

I don’t quit. I refuse to give up. Even so, what happens is so very unimaginable. This story is not going in the direction you may think. Well, maybe the direction, but where you might think it ends will most likely not be an end at all.

Just a momentary place where the last becomes first and the first becomes last.

Jeremy Bowman – first shall be last and the last shall be first.

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