August 28, 1997 – Thursday – 11:50 a.m.

Three full years now.

There is a lump in my throat.  I lay in my bed in a somewhat emotional state, I’ll admit, but everything I’m thinking feels painfully true.

I’m getting older.  I’m losing my hair.  I’m dying.  My mother will soon be a child and I will be her father to take care of her.  My youth seems to be escaping me.

Although I hate it, I’ll probably have to play the dating game soon.  Hmmm.

Am I still young?  What about those days from so long ago?  Those days of innocence with Jenna and Tenielle?  All my life, I’ve always wanted to be different.  People color their hair, pierce their bodies, but I was going to remain different by staying the same.  But I have changed.  I am changing.  Changing like the rest of the generation and the world.  I wish I could escape somehow and not be a part of this.  That way I would be completely different.

But instead my sin has also killed Christ and he died for me as well as all the others.  I am no different.  I am a sinner.  I did nothing for my salvation.  I simply accepted His Grace.  So I will continue to live and go through this life in the footsteps of my forefathers.  I will simply try to share God’s love in all I do and everywhere I go.

My emotions will tickle me.  I will laugh, cry, and simply live this roller coaster with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye.  This mask will leave me and I will be free.  My freedom comes now in simply knowing that I will be soon.  Loving and praising God is all that matters and all that will last.  That is the key.  That is the absolute.  That is the truth.

My children will begin to leave me on the day they are born.  And I will love people by letting them go.

And I will even let myself go.

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July 12, 1997 – Saturday – 9:20 p.m.

We are back in Banner Elk.  After my entry last night, I feel asleep in Charlie’s newly purchased tent.  We got up early this morning and after I took a hike to Juneywhank Falls, we ate breakfast at McDonald’s, rented tubes and went tubing.  The tubing was great; the warm sun above us, the cool water below.  On the way out, I got a banana split with extra cherries.  And we ate at Pizza Hut and I stood on that ledge.

Again, it was the same picture.  And I can now move on with my life.

All that lies behind me, all those 21 years.  They are now simply a life already lived.  The majority of those days have been lived for God.  Some moments were not, they were lived for me.  All I have is this moment in front of me.

I have this desire to run out and say “hello” to every person I come across, but it is as if their own faces hold me back.

So many visits to that ancient creek and yet it never changes, only I do.

I am a little blonde haired boy changing into a smarter little blonde haired boy, wishing he knew nothing.

I think I’ve been doing this wrong.  I must have misunderstood.  I keep looking at myself. But all of these memories, all of these moments, they are nothing but a movie in my mind.  It’s like I’m tickling myself.  I use my life to create laughter in my own life.

To me it is everything, but it is nothing to others.

There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.  Ecclesiastes 1:11.

I am having fun, but what does that mean?

Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things, God will bring you to judgement.  So, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.  Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10.

I will soon return to dust and no one will ever read this book I am writing about my life.

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of a man.  Ecclesiastes 12:13.

What does God command of me?  He commands me to love him and love others.

Life is not about clothes, or movies, or brand names, or even these pages of my memory.

Life is not about money, music, or sex.

Life is not about beauty, long legs, or perfect breasts.

Life is not about me.

Life is about one thing:

Love.

Continually giving to and serving other people.

And I think I just now figured that out.

July 11, 1997 – Friday – 8:00 a.m.

We leave today at 2:00 p.m. to spend 24 hours at Deep Creek near Bryson City, NC.  I just read about my last Deep Creek trip two years ago with Syndi.  We sure knew how to have fun.  I was her “hubby” for that trip.  Each time I visit, I stand above that never-changing scene next to the Pizza Hut in town.  And there I seem to let everything go.  I say goodbye to the previous year and I feel good about leaving it behind in my Book of Days.

Three years ago on this date I was arrived in Deep Creek.  I thought I was there to say goodbye and I did in a way, but I said goodbye to the Deep Creek of the past.  Now I go with a different group of people and with different friends.

Because, I am different.

Lees-McRae and Banner Elk are now a part of me and they have changed me.  This is who I am.  And I have to let it go at the small cliff near Pizza Hut, cause I have to move away in less than 10 months.

I fear my youth is leaving me.  I watched Citizen Kane yesterday.  His childhood was stolen from him.

“Deep Creek” may very well be my “Rosebud.”

June 2, 1995 – Friday – 10:20 p.m.

The Bridges of Madison County opened in theaters today.  After my hard day at work, I decided to go see it this evening.  Mom wanted to go with me, so I let her.  She was excited; she finally got the chance to do something.

It was a wonderful picture.  My mom cried.

As the credits rolled, we went out the exit near the screen, but then we took a wrong door and ended up on the other side of the mall.  We had to walk around

And there, in an isolated and empty parking lot, I walked with my mom, a woman a little over 40, and I asked, “Mom, has Kevin or Nate or I ever stopped you from being who you wanted to be?”

She said, “No, but your father did.”

She began to cry.

Painful memories I suppose.  But it was then that I realized that at one point in my mother’s life, she actually loved my father.  That was so long ago.

I watched her as she pulled her keys out of her purse to unlock the car door and begin her journey towards our home and her world of detail and procedures.

June 2, 1994…if only I knew…

June 2, 1993…I difficult night, but now I don’t know why…

June 2, 1995…my first grade teacher recognized me today at McDonald’s.  It had been 12 years since she last saw me.  How could she have even recognized me?  But to her, she said I hadn’t changed much.

I always hear older people reflecting upon their youth and telling wonderful little stories.

I learned today that all of my youthful little stories have already been conjured up and written down.  The story of how I grew up cannot be re-written.

And now I will lay my down to sleep.  Only to wake up to another day of fast food procedure.

Perhaps there are bridges in Crestview.

June 17, 1994 – Friday – 9:03 p.m.

I’ve got a headache now because of all the rides I went on today.

I had fun, but not as much fun as I had at Carowinds, but obviously that is thanks to the people I was with.

April 30th!

It seems like yesterday, but I know it is much further away.  A perfect day that I experienced in my youth, but it is gone now.  They say “Life is like a highway.”  I guess that means the soul is a car.

And objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are.

I asked Joel if he thought of the past when he was in Arizona.  I told him Brandon only thought of the present.

He said that it was true, you do think of the present and the future, but he also said, “You don’t have to worry Jacob, no matter what, you will always remember the good times…always.”

It was great to hear that.

I will be okay.

Get ready Banner Elk.  I’m on my way.

March 23, 1994 – Wednesday – 10:35 p.m.

Jenna called me yesterday.  She had to ask me a simple question about some tape.  We talked about our day and other funny things that happened.  At the end of the conversation she said, “Hey, remind me to give you a hug tomorrow.”

I said I would and we hung up.

Jonathan drove Marcus and I to church.  Scott wasn’t there, he hasn’t talked to Cheryl or anyone yet about all that happened.

I sat next to Jenna after I sung, but while I was on stage singing with the other backup singers, a spider dropped down onto my neck from the ceiling.  It scared me to death.  I knocked it off and stomped on it.

Jenna and I are getting back to normal; that distance is not as wide.

After church we were outside on the grass and she was getting ready to leave, I wanted to hug her but I didn’t.  Although it’s only a simple hug, it’s still too soon.

Tenielle looked beautiful tonight and I told her.  She’s my buddy.

If I ever get a picture of them, I’m sure I’ll cherish it always.  

Such beautiful girls.

 

January 9, 1994 – Sunday – 10:59 p.m.

The day did contain some hurt.  It hurts to think about it.

When I came into church this morning, I saw two beautiful girls:  Veronica and Sherry.

They hugged me and said, “This is our last service here.”

It hit me all at once.  All this stuff got to Shirley, so now, she is leaving too.  And taking her family, my friends, with her.  They weren’t even staying for the main service.  They were leaving after Sunday School.  I walked them out to their car and I probably hugged Veronica and Sherry ten times each.  Sure, I’ll see them again.  But it won’t be the same.  They told me to visit anytime.  And I will.

Other than that, the day was good.  The service was great.  I talked to Jenna and Tenielle a little.  It was nice.

Ryan and Amy were there in the morning.

Ryan is still beautiful.

Veronica is still beautiful.

Christi is like a shadow of the past.

These three girls meant so much to me.  Where are they now?

I recall all the events in my mind.  All the talks.  All the walks.  The innocence.

I wish I could go back, but life doesn’t work that way.

Yesterday is yesterday.  And tomorrow is still a day away.

I’m afraid I was right when I said that life is simply a collection of greetings and farewells and the love you share in-between.

I want so bad to get to know Jenna and Tenielle.  But I’m scared.  Whoever says “hello,” must one day say “goodbye.”

I don’t want to get close because my day to say goodbye is coming in eight months.

Goodbye to everyone but my God and my Book of Days.