Friday Jams: Aloha Darkness

I lost a friend two weeks ago. Well, I didn’t lose her, she left. And I don’t understand why.

However; what I’m coming to realize is that I never will understand. I will never understand how she could leave her daughter, knowing how much she needed her. I will never understand how, while dedicating her life to helping those in mental health distress, she herself couldn’t reach out. I will never understand the depths of her hopelessness in the one moment that became too much.

I can just be sad. Sad for her (I am so very sad for her that she was living with this pain. Of all things, I am so sad for her); sad for her young daughter who is walking through a horrible nightmare and appears completely shell shocked; sad for her family, friends, and coworkers who so clearly love her. Sad for the police officer who now lives with the images of answering a well being check that day. But for my friend, I am most sad that the darkness was too thick to recognize a glimmer of light.


Shelly and I shared the ultimate bond; we were goalie moms. Even more, we were goalie moms in a small town where neither of us were part of the “click” and so our daughter’s were easy targets for opinions from people whose entire hockey knowledge came from their husbands or worse, those who played the game ‘back in high school.’ (Dude, you were an average player in an average town, let it go.) The head coach was your typical small town head coach which meant that he didn’t have a clue what to do with goalies so he’d berate them thinking the shame will be enough to step up. Other players did drills, goalies got shot on (uhhhh, there are goalie drills dude.) To this day, when I’m in town and run into him on Mai Tai night, he has the good grace to quickly look like a scared dipshit that he is and bolt for the door. Dipshit.

Anyways. Shelly’s daughter, Desi, started playing goalie a year or two after Zandra and I finally had friends. Shelly and her husband at the time, Jeff, adopted me somewhat into their fun loving, musical crowd and I rarely went a weekend without an invite to somewhere fun.

Shelly wanted good things for everyone around her. It drove her nuts that I was single. She was constantly on the lookout to find me a match, even though I was just fine. I dated a guy here and there from their crowd (one was this tall, skinny, weird looking guy who had this quirky Steve Buscemi quality about him. Can’t explain it. Didn’t last long but it is one of those things I look back on and ask myself ‘wtf were we doing there, Jules?’)

She would suggest guys here and there for me and I would ask if she were serious but at the end of the day, being with someone equated happiness and that’s what she wanted for me. We argued about it sometimes. Seriously. That seems silly now but I just didn’t understand why it was so important to her and she didn’t understand why it wasn’t important to me. Such is life. But at the end of the day, she wanted me to be good and to be happy. Isn’t it nice to have friends like that?

We laughed a lot together. There was one time when she and Jeff stopped by the house to pick up something later in the evening and I left it in our mailbox for them. Now, I’ve written before about how our mailbox was outside of an entry window and whenever the mailman came, she would be terrified of Preacher when he jumped in the window and tried to eat her (silly mailman.) Anyways, I heard them pull up and looked down from my bedroom window when two things happened at once; Preacher started barking his scary bark and I saw Shelly rear back in the passenger seat and start laughing hysterically. I guess Preacher scared the ever’living out of Jeff when he jumped in the window and Jeff flew back about 10 feet in utter fear. I can see it so vividly. Shelly laughing. She still laughed about it years later. Me too.

Since she was human, Shelly had struggles. We all do. We all have things that can be hurtful to those around us. We all have habits where we think we’re being helpful but actually aren’t listening to the needs of others. Some of us have struggles that we just can’t seem to put behind us. Scary struggles that only one or a few who are especially close to us recognize. There are even some struggles that are destructive enough where we begin to lose out on the joy of life. Where addictions take over and even when old friends come to town, they become more important than spending time together.

But I didn’t know how deeply she hurt and I am so sorry for that. While I wasn’t a fan of her new boyfriend, I respected her decision to spend time with him. As opinionated as I am, I don’t feel the need to share EVERY thought with people. But maybe I should have about him. He had a darkness to him. Bad aura. Nothing that stood out in a remarkable way, just not altogether right. And I can be a bit hyper-sensitive about other people’s energy. If it’s off putting for me, I stay away. And I stayed away. Now I’m so sorry that I did.

No, I don’t feel guilty. I just feel sad and so sorry. I told her that, this last time. Laying in her coffin, the horrible nightmare jolted into reality. I am so sorry Shelly. I’m sorry you were so sad and felt so hopeless. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry I didn’t push harder to make time for me when I came into town. I’m sorry I distanced myself on the Facebook. I’m sorry that I distanced myself at all. I’m sorry I didn’t help. I’m sorry that I didn’t know. I’m sorry.

all of a sudden. you were gone.

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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