Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Sauna Part 302

I kept trying to call Jon, but the line was constantly busy. Eddie climbed onto my lap to try and comfort me, carrying his little stuffed mouse between his teeth and depositing it in my hand in a futile attempt to get me to play. I didn’t feel much in the mood, but the distraction worked for a while and we played fetch for a bit while I ran through what I needed to say when I reached Jon. Eddie finally gave up after my half-hearted attempts to play with him and changed tactics, cuddling against me instead, but all I could do was bury my face in his fur and cry at that point.

Jon dialed my number over and over, frustrated by the constant busy signal and cursing under his breath. Dammit, why isn’t the call waiting working? he thought miserably as he hit the redial button again and flagged the stewardess for another drink. He needed to talk to me and he wasn’t about to let technology stand in his way. Ah, finally, it’s ringing.

“Hello?” I sniffed, upsetting Eddie as I lunged for the phone.

“Trish? What’s wrong? You don’t sound right…” Jon began, realizing I’d been crying.

“Oh Jon, I’ve been trying to call you! I’m so sorry, baby…” I sobbed, overcome with relief and remorse.

“Ssshhhh, baby, it’s okay. I’ve been such an ass…” he countered, feeling his own pangs of guilt as he tried to apologize.

And so it went-each of us interrupting the other in our desperate attempts to undo the damage and own up to our piece in the conflict. We both felt ashamed and we were anxious to repair the rift between us as quickly as possible. The separation we’d both craved a few hours ago now seemed unbearable and we were both full of regret and resolutions.

“I’ll never walk out like that again, baby, I promise” Jon pledged.

“I should have stopped you” I said with conviction.

Finally we got past the oaths and apologies and began to try and discuss what we needed and to share what we should have said in the first place.

“Jon, I didn’t want you to leave. I just needed some space. Lately I’ve felt like I barely have time to catch my breath between things I need to do and I just want some time to myself. I feel like I’m losing myself …” I began.

“Go on, I’m listening” Jon encouraged.

“I started feeling guilty about not spending enough time with you. I knew you were bored and frustrated and I felt responsible, but I started to resent feeling responsible. Jon, I love that you’re home and I love being together, but…” I shared, trying to express how I felt.

“But you don’t wanna feel like my babysitter?” he offered.

Goddess, that sounded harsh. When he put it like that, it sounded awful, but it was partially true. I’d always been a pretty independent person and I wasn’t used to having my time and attention monopolized so completely by one person. I needed a little space to be able to breathe, but I didn’t want him to feel rejected and I didn’t want him to be bored with me either.

“Jon, I …” I said, struggling to find the right words.

“Trish, baby, it’s okay, really. I’m a selfish bastard and I know it. I WAS expecting you to just focus on ME. It’s just what I did to Dot when I’d come home from a tour. I expected her to just drop whatever she was doing and pay attention to ME. And the kids too. Daddy’s home, life can begin now!” he said with a mock tone of disgust.

“I’d come home and expect to be the star of the show and then I’d get pissy when I realized I wasn’t. I’ve never had to accommodate other people; it’s always been up to them to accommodate ME. I felt like a stranger in my own home when I’d realize it wasn’t all about ME. I know I was smothering you and I am truly sorry. The truth is that while I like to believe that everyone depends upon me, I’m really the needy one. I’m the one who depends on everyone else to cater to me” he confessed.

It was quite an admission and quite a revelation for Jon. He realized he was repeating the past and he knew where that took him. He didn’t want to go down that road, but there wasn’t any other path that he knew.

“Jon, it’s not about being selfish. It’s about being scared. You feel abandoned when you feel you aren’t needed” I reframed the conflict.

“And I feel lost” he added thoughtfully. “I don’t know what else to do.”

And that was the heart of it. Not only did Jon feel abandoned and rage like an infant when his needs weren’t being met, but he had no mechanism for soothing himself. He had no sense of security, no sense of being loved when he wasn’t the focus. He also hadn’t developed any sense of himself outside his relationships. He admired independence in others, but he also resented it because it threatened his sense of safety. He’d made me his mirror and when I wasn’t there to reflect him, he was empty. That’s why he needed his fans like he did.

“Jon, I love you and I still love you even when I’m engrossed in other things. My love doesn’t stop when we’re not together. My love isn’t that fragile that it will disappear like a puff of smoke when I focus my attention on something else, or even someone else or even myself” I said, speaking to the terrified child that he was at the moment.

“I know that here” he replied, pointing to his head. “I just can’t convince myself here” he sighed, gesturing to his heart.

I wanted to hold him, to comfort the wounded child that lay beneath the arrogant rock star. Jon’s narcissism wasn’t rooted in ultimate selfishness, it was born from a deeply disturbed relationship with his mother. As a child he had bonded, but he had failed miserably to negotiate separation. Jon had never felt able to grow away from his mother and still know he was loved. I was angry with Carol all over again at her inability to help Jon emotionally.

“Then I’ll keep reminding you, love” I smiled into the phone. “but Jon, I do need you to allow me some space” I added. “I need you to find other things when you’re not working that mean something to you. I won’t become angry if you do things that don’t include me. I want you to have your own life apart from me too, not just on the road” I emphasized.gently.

“I know, babe, I know. I need to learn how to unwind and relax by myself more” he agreed. “I don’t want you to feel responsible for keeping me entertained.”

“As long as we’re sharing our fears and our needs, I need to confess something too” I said, pushing myself to be vulnerable just as Jon had done. “I didn’t tell you I needed space because, just like you, I was afraid that I’d lose you. I was afraid that you were getting bored with me and that if I didn’t please you, you’d leave me” I admitted in a tremulous voice.

“And then that’s just what I did! Oh shit, baby, I’m so sorry” he said, kicking himself again mentally.

“But Jon, I drove you to it. I pushed you away, I know that I did. I was too afraid to say how I felt and I withdrew. And I’m terrified of how much I need you and I’d rather just pretend that it’s all about being smothered because that’s easier for me to admit. But if we’re being honest, I’m afraid to let myself get that close. I’m so afraid of drowning inside you. We triggered each other’s worst fears, you know. It wasn’t just you. We aren’t all that different, we just act it out differently and we have different triggers” I replied.

“Trish, I’ll never leave you, never. You’re my life baby and I don’t need you to entertain me, just love me. When you need time to breathe, just tell me you still love me” he said, his need naked before me.

“I love you, Jon, so much so that it scares me sometimes” I reassured him.

We’d navigated the roughest patch in our relationship so far and we were still alive and still breathing. Whatever obstacles we were bound to encounter, we’d weather the storm-together. Nothing could stand in our way.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sauna Part 301

After Jon’s birthday party, our life returned to a semi-normal routine. Winter eventually gave way to Spring and the temperatures became milder and Jon’s restlessness set in with a vengeance. He paced through the house like a caged lion, looking for something to focus his limitless energy. The Spring Equinox passed and Richie’s visit with Ava at Easter had provided some welcome respite from what had become a rather ordinary existence, but Jon couldn’t do ordinary for very long, I soon learned.

It was easier for me to adapt to the slower pace and I wasn’t especially anxious to recreate the hectic social schedule to which Jon was accustomed. I loved this time of year when the earth began to renew itself and I was antsy to get to work on a garden. Just as Jon was missing the hustle and bustle of the city, I was missing my old home in Buffalo. I wistfully remembered that I would have been busy with clearing out the dead leaves and bracken as I prepared the ground for new life.

“Watcha thinkin’, babe?” Jon asked, watching me as I daydreamed while we sipped our coffee one morning.

“I’m thinking about what I’d usually be doing if I were back in Buffalo” I answered.

“Buffalo? You miss Buffalo? I was just thinking about New Jersey actually” he replied thoughtfully.

“Do you want to go and visit the kids for a few days?” I prompted, hoping that maybe a change of scenery might do him some good.

“Are you trying to get rid of me, darlin’?” he asked with a bit of an edge to his voice.

The truth was that we’d been getting on one another’s nerves a bit lately. Jon was bored and that made him demanding and I was feeling the need for some time to myself. I was getting tired of trying to find things to keep him entertained while I attended to the business end of Backstage and the Foundation and there wasn’t really that much that seemed to capture his fancy for very long. Togetherness was a wonderful thing, but it did tend to get old day in and day out without having regular jobs that gave us some time apart.

“I can see that you’re bored here…” I began, but he interrupted.

“And you’re getting sick of me always hanging around. I’ll go to New Jersey for a few days, if that’s what you want. At least the kids will be happy to see me” he finished, getting up from the table with an attitude.

“Jon, I didn’t say that” I replied wearily.

But it was true in a way. I found it hard to believe myself, but his constant need for attention felt like a drain. Jon wasn’t the sort of person who could easily occupy himself alone and he tended to get irritable when he didn’t have something to work on. He didn’t have projects or hobbies and he really wasn’t interested in much besides working. He’d tried writing a few songs, but he wasn’t feeling particularly creative and he needed new sources of inspiration.

“You didn’t have to” he spat back as he stormed out of the kitchen.

I knew I should probably go after him, but I was almost relieved. His moodiness was oppressive and perhaps a break from each other was something we actually needed. I was beginning to resent the implied accusations that I was somehow to blame for his lack of contentment and yes, there were other things in my life besides Jon. I’d given up a lot of who I had been and if I continued to wrap my life around his with nothing that was genuinely mine, well, … I wasn’t going to go down that path.


Up in our bedroom, Jon began packing. He whipped out his suitcase and started tossing clothes in it without really thinking about what he wanted or needed, he just knew he was miserable and he needed relief. For nearly a year now, his greatest happiness he had found at my side and now the only thing he wanted to do was to get away. He felt like an intruder in his own home, like he somehow didn’t belong here and he needed to find a place where he fit. New Jersey, he thought to himself. Who says you can’t go home?

Jon called the airport and booked the first flight out of Colorado and he was packed and ready to leave within the hour. I offered to drive him to the airport, but he refused and told me it wasn’t necessary. He’d already taken care of a car and he could take care of himself. I was wounded and hurt, but I wasn’t about to beg him to stay. Fine, go, I can take care of myself too.

I started crying the moment his cab left the driveway. How had we come to this in a matter of only a month? We’d both so looked forward to spending time with each other without interruption and now we could barely stand to be in the same room together. Unless we were having sex. When we went to bed, everything seemed to fall into place and we fit together like a hand in a glove. But when we woke up and started the day, it all seemed to crumble and there was nothing but tension lately.

It hadn’t started out that way, though. After Jon’s birthday we’d had the kids for one more day and while we were sad to see them leave, it was heaven being alone together for the first week. We spent lazy days in bed until noon, afternoons in the hot tub or out on the snowmobile, and in the evenings we watched movies and drank wine and made love. We went out to dinner a few times, but mostly we cooked meals together at home-or rather I cooked and Jon distracted me. We’d been blissfully happy just doing nothing at first.

I began to feel the need to do something productive and I’d settled into a routine of spending a few hours working each morning and afternoon. In the beginning, Jon was supportive and he took that opportunity to work on some songs and to catch up on reading and studying more about Wicca. Together we’d planned the ritual for the Spring Equinox and all had gone well, but slowly things seemed to deteriorate. Jon became restless and bored and I became frustrated with little time to myself. It was all he could manage to leave me alone while I worked on the business, but anything else he seemed to resent. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d read a book or had time to work on a painting or draw.


Jon ordered his third glass of wine since the plane had taken off, but he still couldn’t turn off his head. What the hell happened? She can barely stand the sight of you, you ass! Jon said to himself. You wanted her to take over Backstage and be part of the Foundation and then you sit there and pout like a baby when she’s working and doesn’t have time to play with you.

“Ah, but you only wanted her to have those jobs so she didn’t need a real one that would interfere with paying attention to you!” Richie’s voice rang in his ears.

He’d called Richie on the way to the airport to complain about what a bitch I was being and Richie had gotten right to the heart of the matter. He’d laid it all out in black and white without mincing words or sparing Jon’s feelings. He could always count on Richie to be brutally honest. Why didn’t Trish get angry or yell? Why didn’t she just tell me to back off and give her some space?

“Are you so sure she didn’t? Were you even listening? Or were you just so wrapped up in your own needs at the time that you just couldn’t hear? Does she have to beat you over the head with the obvious? When was the last time you asked what she needed from you? Did you ever even think about that?” Richie’s words stung like a slap in the face.

Jesus, Goddess, I’ve been such a bastard. It’s all about me, it’s always been all about me. It isn’t her fault that I don’t lead a normal life or that I’ve never learned how, for that matter. She never complained while I dragged her around the continent, away from her family, her friends, her cats and her life. When it was time for me to adjust and adapt to her lifestyle, what did I do? I whined and sulked like a two year old. No wonder she didn’t stop me from leaving!


Jon’s given me everything I could possibly ask for and how do I treat him when he finally comes home and needs some love and attention? Like he’s a bother and a pain in the ass. Would it have killed you to lighten up just a bit? How many chances have you actually had to just kick back and relax and enjoy being together without a whole host of fans, paparazzi or even the band dogging your every move? What on earth is the matter with you? Is being happy really that hard?

I was beating myself up with these questions when the phone suddenly rang. My heart started beating rapidly as I answered the call, hoping it was Jon and that he’d had a change of heart. It took a moment to register when I heard Richie’s voice on the other end of the phone.

“Hey doll, how ya doin’?” his voice boomed in my ear.

“Oh Richie, I’m such a mess. I’ve been so selfish and now I’ve chased Jon away. He’s flying home to New Jersey to see the kids and get away from me!” I sobbed into the phone.

“Whoa, hold on a minute, darlin’. I was worried Jon had screwed with your head and I can see that I was right” he said adamantly.

“Richie, what do you mean? You don’t know the whole story…” I began.

“Just stop right there. Jon called me to whine about how you’ve been neglecting him and I gave him an earful. They should build a monument to his self-centeredness” Richie muttered, “but go ahead and tell me your version. I’m listening.”

I poured out my soul and told Richie all I’d been thinking and all that had happened and he listened patiently as I told my tale. When I had finished, he took a deep sigh before offering any advice. He knew he’d been right about Jon; he knew him backwards and forwards like a well read book. What he hadn’t realized was that I hadn’t really even tried to tell Jon how I felt or what I needed and that made it worse, leaving him to guess at why I seemed distant.

“Trish, Jon loves you and he does care about how you feel and what you need. But he’s not a mind reader and you need to tell him when you’re feeling smothered. Don’t just push him away. I know he can be selfish and demanding, but he really doesn’t mean to be. He’s hurting too. He thinks you’ve rejected him and he knows that he blew it, but he doesn’t know why” Richie said softly. “You both need to learn how to just live together and share what you need” he finished.

Richie was right and both Jon and I behaved badly. Neither of us really had much experience, or for that matter skill, in expressing our needs in a positive way. Jon became petulant and demanding whereas I withdrew and became distant. We both needed to work on being more open in our day to day life and we needed to establish our lives together, away from the spotlight and the intensity of a tour. We needed to learn how to “do” normal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Sauna Part 300

“I’m so overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say except thank you” Jon began. “The generosity of everyone here…I couldn’t imagine a finer gift. There’s nothing that could make me happier than I am at this moment. Thank you, thank you, thank you” he said, his voice choking.

I took the mic from his hand as he turned to study the signatures on the card, shaking his head. The total I’d received from all of Jon’s friends and family had been quite a shock to me too, but then again, his friends had deep pockets. Elton alone had contributed five hundred thousand dollars and he wasn’t even here to receive Jon’s gratitude.

“Thank you again to everyone who helped make today such a memorable event and I especially want to thank Eva Herzigova, Richie Sambora and John Elway. Without your exceptional support and assistance, none of this would have ever become a reality” I added. “Please, everyone, enjoy the evening!” I finished.

Jon was still studying the card and reading each and every signature it contained. I moved to his side and he drew me close as he tried to compose himself.

“You have some remarkable friends” I commented softly.

“I do indeed. And a remarkable wife. Trish, how can I thank you?” he asked, turning into look in my eyes.

“Be happy, Jon. That’s all that really matters to me” I said honestly as I hugged him again.

The remainder of the evening was filled with Jon making the rounds and thanking each and every single guest. Richie and Jim gathered the guys and the stage was transformed as guitars and drums began to materialize. They sang an impromptu ‘Happy Birthday’ accompanied by all those in attendance and various musicians in the crowd joined in and took turns, jamming the night away.

Steph had a ball as she danced her way through the crowd, never once lacking an enthusiastic partner. My eyes became misty as I caught sight of Carol and John Sr., renewing their love as they danced cheek to cheek. I was dancing myself, enjoying Richie’s company, when Jon finally cut in after he thanked Richie for all he had done to help me pull off this party.

“No problem, bro’, you know I love ya more than any brother I could have had. But I gotta say, it was Trish who deserves all the credit. You’re one lucky bastard, lemme tell you” Richie replied humbly.

“Believe me, man, I know it, but I’m also blessed doubly to have you as my brother” Jon said sincerely as Richie released me into Jon’s waiting arms.

“Richie’s being overly modest, you know. He and Eva and John Elway did more than they’ll admit. I couldn’t have done this without all of them. Actually it was Eva who came up with the charity piece” I explained.

“It seems Richie isn’t the only one who has trouble taking credit” Jon teased. “Thank you, baby, for all that you did” he said, placing his finger over my lips to quell my objections.

“You’re welcome” I smiled. “Hey, did you see your Mom and Dad dancing earlier? They really looked happy for the first time I’ve seen” I prodded.

“You know, that’s how they first met-at a military ball, I mean” Jon replied, thinking back. “I hope for my Dad’s sake that Mom’s really changed” he said softly.

“And what about for your own, Jon? If he can still love her, perhaps you can too?” I prompted again.

“I’ll always love her, Trish. We’ll see if I can forgive her…or ever trust her again” he answered and I knew not to push any further.

The party lasted well into the wee hours and Jake and Romeo were well beyond shot when Dot and John offered at midnight to take them home for the evening. We readily accepted and agreed we’d see them all in the morning as I’d reserved a hotel room for me and Jon and one for the kids. Dot would take Romeo home with them, but we’d have Steph, Jesse and Jake for tomorrow and we’d get them on the plane the following day.

Most everyone had taken their leave by two o’clock, but the core group had remained. I finally had a chance to sit down with Cherie and ask her the questions that were uppermost in my mind. I was very pleased with her answers.

“I know I put Jim through the ringer, but I’m so glad he held on and didn’t let go. It took me a while to work through some things and I really just needed to get Dave out of my system. It wasn’t until I finally realized that it wasn’t my fault that the marriage failed that I could accept what Jim was offering me. I really love him, Trish, but I just didn’t feel like I deserved for him to love me” she explained.

“And now?” I asked, holding my breath.

“I don’t hate myself anymore and I think that I’m ready to let myself love…and be loved” she said, her eyes shining.

I was happy for her and very happy for Jim. They both had had difficult relationships and they’d been wounded and I hoped that they would be able to heal one another. They deserved to be happy and I was thrilled to think that they might find that with each other.

“I’m so happy for you both” I beamed, hugging her close.

“Thanks, Trish. I never thought I would ever feel like I do now” she whispered.

Jim came to collect Cherie and put his hand on her shoulder and she stood up to say goodnight to Jon and the rest of the band. They were staying overnight too at the hotel and then taking the train back to New York in the morning. Cherie was closing her practice in the following weeks and she and Jim planned to relocate to California and begin a new life. Cherie felt safer as far away from Dave and all the memories with him as she could be, and Jim had grown to like California and he and Richie had become pretty close. He had enough material now for the book and he just needed time to sit down and write it while Cherie established herself once again.

We all said goodnight and Jon thanked everyone again for making his birthday the most special one he could remember. We were both tired and emotionally drained as we dragged a still lively Stephanie and a very sleepy Jesse along to their rooms.

“So, Dad, did you ever suspect?” Stephie needed to know.

“Never, not once” Jon reassured her.

“Steph was the go-between for all the family, you know. They all were instructed to check in with her so you wouldn’t get suspicious about all the phone calls” I explained.

“Well, you two masterminds made a good pair. You certainly had me totally snowed” he said as he kissed her goodnight.

We opened the door to their room next to ours, and Stephie hugged her Dad tight. Jesse was yawning as they both said a final ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jon and we closed the door and headed for our own room.

“Tell me the truth-were you really surprised? You never once suspected?” I just had to ask, sounding almost as bad as Stephanie now myself and Jon chuckled as he opened our door.

“I thought maybe you might have had something planned after the “press conference” as you never mentioned any ideas about what we could do in Denver. But this? Never in a million years, babe. You never cease to amaze me, but now it’s my turn” he grinned, scooping me up in his arms and jumping onto the bed.

Despite being forty-four, Jon never ceased to amaze me either.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Sauna Part 299

The look on Jon’s face was priceless and the word “surprise” barely captured his expression. He stood there, gazing out at the crowd, all adorned in the blue and white jerseys of the Soul, trying to absorb the fact that this was no press conference. Afer a moment to digest the turn of events, he immediately turned round to face me and his eyes were smiling.

“You knew?” he asked incredulously.

“Trish planned the whole thing” Elway explained before I could even answer.

I nodded and smiled, but before Jon could hug me, he was swarmed by the kids, all shouting ‘Happy Birthday’ as the rest of the guests began to move forward and offer their greetings as well. My eyes swept the room, perfectly decorated in pale blue and white with the ceiling covered by ballons in matching colors. I spotted Ron Jaworski and then Richie and Jim with Cherie at his side. She looked radiant as she glanced up at Jim with love in her eyes.

I stood there transfixed, watching as Eva and Tico and then David and Elena came forward, followed by Hugh and his wife. Hugh introduced us and she immediately hugged me and thanked me for making sure that Hugh had gotten treatment when we were in New Zealand. I found myself saying something courteous while I tried desperately to shake off the feeling of Déjà vu that had begun to. take hold. My throat went suddenly dry and the room started to spin as Tony came forward and introduced his girlfriend, a tall slender blonde.

I watched in slow motion, my feet frozen to the spot where I stood, as John Sr. made his way through the crowd, followed closely by Carol with a drink in her hand. I wanted to run or try to stop time and turn back the clock, but instead I remained frozen, helplessly watching as she approached, just like one of those people who couldn’t tear their eyes away from a hideous accident. Jon’s features changed and his eyes narrowed as he saw his Father and Mother and he stood motionless, focusing his gaze on his Dad. His Father whispered something I couldn’t hear as he reached out and hugged his son.

Carol was waiting patiently and I watched her intently as I slowly registered the fact that she wasn’t intoxicated. There was no pomp and fanfare about her appearance and she looked for all the world like a regular Mom who was anxious to greet her son. Those of us who knew what had happened stood waiting with bated breath, our eyes glued to Jon to gauge his reaction.

Jon’s mouth formed a smile, but his eyes didn’t shift as he studied her with steely resolve. He stiffly reached out his hand, his body language now suddenly formal and guarded. Carol didn’t push and accepted his hand, but I could see the tears that glittered in her eyes as she spoke.

“Happy Birthday, Jon” she said softly as she smiled a tremulous smile.

“Thank you, Mother” Jon replied coolly, his eyes never leaving her face.

Carol broke the gaze first, her heart feeling the weight of all she had wrought as she realized the emergence of Jon’s public persona. She took a deep breath and looked at the ground before raising her eyes to meet mine.

“Thank you, Trish, for allowing me this opportunity to see my son. I’m grateful to be given the chance to make amends, to both you and Jon” she said, her voice steady and clear.

She stepped forward and I found myself giving ground as I recognized the genuine remorse in her eyes and I heard the words of AA ring in my ears. She was Jon’s Mother and she was trying. She deserved a second chance. I reached out my arms and embraced her and she hugged me back with relief.

“Welcome, Carol. I’m glad to meet you” I replied softly.

She looked at me with surprise and then slowly smiled knowingly as she processed the meaning behind my words. I was giving her a chance at a new beginning by acknowledging that I’d never met the person she really was, deep down inside. Jon looked at me too with a mixture of shock and confusion as he tried to make sense of what had just happened. I felt his arm slip around me as he drew me close and the crowd fell away, allowing us a moment of privacy.

“Trish? What’s going on here? Why is she here?” he demanded, searching my face.

“Jon, I admit, I had my misgivings and I wasn’t sure until now that allowing her to attend was the right choice. I spoke to your Dad and he told me she’d changed; she hasn’t had a drink since everything happened. I know how she’s hurt you, baby, but she’s your Mother and if there is any chance that she can be the Mother you always loved, well, I thought…” I stammered, feeling quite overwhelmed now myself.

“You could have asked me…” he began.

“You’d have said ‘no’. Jon, I’m sorry if I made a mistake. I just…” I faltered, my eyes welling up with my tears.

“No, baby, s’okay. I understand why you did it, I’m just not sure how I feel. I know I’m not ready to forgive and forget, but I won’t close the door on her either, not yet” he replied thoughtfully.

He hugged me against him, holding me tight, as relief washed over me like a flood. Please, Goddess, let this be right. Let us all have a chance for a new beginning, I thought desperately.

“Now, have you got any more surprises in store for me tonight?” he asked with a grin, holding me away and tilting my head up to meet his eyes.

“Possibly, but none quite like this” I smiled as he wiped the traces of tears from my eyes.

“Then let the party commence!” he announced, loud enough for the guests nearest us to hear.

The tension around us immediately dissipated and Jon was again thronged by his friends as I felt a gentle hand on my elbow. I turned and looked into Richie’s questioning eyes.

“Is everything cool?” he asked in hushed tones.

“I think so for now. Whatever follows after this rests with Carol. Let’s hope for the best” I breathed.

“Trish, you know I had my doubts, but for what it’s worth, I think you did the right thing” he smiled, hugging me tightly.

“Let’s hope you’re right. Now tell me about Jim and Cherie!” I prodded.

“Well, I’m thinking I’m gonna be the only eligible bachelor left in the band” he smiled sadly. “Got any more friends who might be interested in a trip to the dark side?”

We were interrupted before I could answer as Jon reappeared and dragged me away to introduce some of his friends that I’d invited but had never met. He introduced me to most of the Soul, and of course Ron Jaworski, and a number of other sports figures whose names I had heard. I was glad that Richie had helped with the guest list as I realized I didn’t know many of Jon’s friends and acquaintances and his circle was huge.

I finally met Keith Urban and Nicole, who’d flown in for the event, and I was glad to see that Kevin and his wife, Kyra, had managed to attend. I really liked Kevin and I found his wife charming and every bit as down to earth as he was. Emilio Estevez was there as well and the guest list may well have served as a “Who’s Who” in rock as well as Hollywood entertainment circles.

Dot and John had taken over with Romeo and Jake, while Steph and Jesse were old enough to look after themselves. I’d hoped to meet Ava, but she had a terrible cold and Richie had felt she needed to rest, but he promised to visit us and bring her along during her Easter vacation. I noticed that John and Carol were keeping a low profile and that alone began to convince me that she’d really changed.

During dinner, there were multiple toasts, and I could have easily gotten pretty drunk if I wasn’t careful. Once we’d all finished dessert, it was time for the final surprise of the evening. I excused myself from our table and asked the hotel manager to flicker the lights in order to get everyone’s attention. The din from the crowd died down to a dull roar as I mounted the stage at the back of the ballroom and picked up the microphone.

I looked out at the sea of smiling faces, searching for Jon’s, and I nearly lost my composure when our eyes met. Even here, amidst a star-studded crowd, he still managed to take my breath away and for a brief moment it was as though we were the only people in the room. I realized that the crowd had gone silent and they were waiting for me to speak.

“I wanted to thank everyone for joining me tonight in wishing Jon a very ‘Happy Birthday’!” I began which was followed by a round of cheers and applause as I motioned to him to come join me up on the stage.

Jon got up from his seat and made his way through the ballroom as everyone continued to clap and rose from their seats. He took the stairs lightly and was soon at my side, smiling as he kissed me and waited for me to continue.

“It is my greatest pleasure to present you with a gift that reflects everyone here, as well as a number of folks who could not attend, and it’s something we felt expressed our love and admiration for all that you do” I went on, motioning for the guys from the Soul to join me on stage as they carried up a giant birthday card and held it for Jon.

“Go ahead, love, open the card!” I instructed, accompanied by more shouts and clapping.

Jon tore off the envelope and with the help of the team, opened the card which contained a gigantic check made out to the Soul Charitable Foundation. The card itself contained signatures from everyone in attendance as well as a list of those that couldn’t make it but had showed their support with their pocketbooks.

Jon was completely flabbergasted and for the first time I could remember, he seemed momentarily speechless. Several team members moved forward and held up the check as Jon turned to face his family and friends. I handed him the mic and I leaned in to kiss him.

“Happy Birthday, baby” I whispered as the applause rose even louder.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Sauna Part 298

Morning arrived and we awoke rather abruptly as all the kids crashed onto the bed with a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’. Jon tried to sit up, but with Romeo perched on his chest, it was rather impossible and all together too comical. I giggled and laughed, dispelling the tension I’d been feeling since yesterday and the kids’ happy chattering chased away any of my remaining qualms. Stephanie insisted on serving us breakfast in bed and we were more than content to stay where we were as she drafted Jesse to help her prepare it.

The cats had immediately fled at the site of the kids, leaving me and Jon with Jakey and Romeo. Jesse arrived back momentarily with orange juice and coffee and had no sooner sat down when we heard Stephanie bellow for him to come back.

“What is your sister creating down there?” Jon asked as Jesse stood up to go.

“Pancakes and bacon, I think. I’ll be back” he said in a mock “Terminator” voice and we both laughed.

“Daddy, how old are you?” Jakey demanded.

“Older than dirt” Jon replied, running his fingers through his hair with a grin.

“How old is dirt?” Jake followed up and I hid my smile with my hand.

“Well, lemme see…dirt is at least one hundred thousand years old” Jon replied seriously.

“C’mon Dad, how old are you?” Jakey insisted.

“Old enough to know where you’re ticklish” Jon responded, attacking him in the ribs.

Jake dissolved in a fit of laughter but he was not going to allow his Dad to distract him that easily. He persistently pestered Jon for an answer until finally he gave in and told him his age, giving rise to more questions.

“Wow! That IS really old! Were there dinosaurs here when you were my age?” he wanted to know.

“Not quite, buddy. I’m not THAT old” Jon grinned, rolling his eyes.

“Don’t let him fool you, Jakey. Jon had a pet brontosaurus when he was little” I teased.

Jake’s eyes widened in surprise and new found respect for his Dad while Jon pouted and gave me his famous “duck lips”.

“Just like the Flintstones?” Jakey continued and I giggled.

“Ask Trish, see seems to remember” Jon goaded him, raising his eyebrows at me.

“Oh, yes, just like the Flintstones, sweetie. Your Dad’s really, really old” I replied which provoked Jon to tickle me until I gave in, admitting the lie.

“No! I give! I was just kidding… there were no dinosaurs, even back then” I panted breathlessly as Steph and Jesse arrived carrying trays of food.

We ate our breakfast in bed with all the kids piling on and we complimented Steph and Jesse on the fine breakfast they’d prepared. Jon cut up small pieces of pancake for Romeo and Steph had brought applesauce for him too. Not a morsel remained when we were finished and Stephanie looked very pleased with herself.

“How about if I give you a hand with the clean-up?” I offered and she nodded appreciatively.

Steph and I went down to the kitchen and we had a few moments to talk while Jon got Jakey and Romeo cleaned up a bit.

“That was a terrific breakfast, sweetheart! You’re quite a cook!” I commended her as we proceeded to clean up the wreckage.

“Thanks, Trish. I’m so excited about the party! I can’t believe Dad doesn’t suspect anything!” she bubbled.

“Me too, Steph. I just hope your Dad likes surprises” I whispered.


By mid-afternoon it was time to head out and Jon was stalling.

“C’mon, it won’t be that bad. It’ll be over in no time and the birthday revels may commence” I said coaxingly.

“I know, I know. I’m almost ready” he grumbled, pulling the jersey over his head.

“Hey, we should get a picture of this, love. You know, with all of us dressed in our jerseys” I prodded.

“I know it’s my birthday when I see YOU wearing a football jersey. Let’s take the camera along; it’s really nice that you all got decked out to support the Team” he added, surveying his family. “The guys will really love it” he grinned finally.

We drove to the airport and boarded the small plane for Denver just before five with Jon assuming we’d all go to dinner after the interview. We looked like a real group of fans ourselves as we stepped off the plane and John Elway would’ve had to been blind not to recognize us. He waved a big “Hello” as he strode forward and Stephanie gave him a hug.

“How’s my big girl?” Elway grinned, reaching around her to shake hands with Jesse.

Jakey extended his hand and Elway covered it with his big paw, making Jake feel like the little man that he was. Jon held Romeo in his arms and smiled as he introduced me to Elway.

“It’s such a pleasure to meet you in person” I said, winking so only Elway could see.

“Indeed, the pleasure is mine. It’s great that you and the kids could all come along” he said without a hint of anything more than a genuine greeting.

“It’s my Dad’s birthday today! Did you know that?” Jakey said jubillantly.

“Yes, son, actually I did. I’m real sorry we had to do this today, but it was the only time both teams could be here and we need the publicity. Jon, thanks man, for doing this today. I know there’s other things you’d rather be doing” Elway pretended.

“Hey, if it helps out the AFL and the teams, then I’m glad to do it” Jon lied.

“But Daddy, you said you’d rather…” Jake interjected but Jon cut him off.

“be watching a game than talking about one” Jon swept in smoothly and Elway grinned. He could imagine what Jon had really said.

“Well, c’mon then, let’s get moving and get this over with so your Dad can celebrate. Make sure you mention your birthday in the interview” Elway suggested.

Nice touch, I thought to myself. If Jon could see through this charade he’d have needed more psychic talent than either he or I possessed. We climbed into the limo and headed off to The Magnolia Hotel and I hoped that the swanky venue wouldn’t finally give us away. Elway kept Jon talking and explained that they were holding the press conference there with a welcome reception for the press and Jon never batted an eye. He understood that offering free food, booze and a party was the best way to schmooze and they wanted a good turn out from the media.

When we arrived, there were even a few of the players in uniform milling about in the lobby just for good measure. Jon stopped and shook hands with a few as we made our way towards the ballroom. Elway pushed open the door and he and Jon entered the room, followed by a thunderous shout of “Surprise!”

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Sauna Part 297

The week had passed by with relative calm and so far I had managed to keep Jon in the dark about the true nature of Monday’s event. There’d been a few close calls with people phoning the house but I’d managed to intercept those that might have tipped him off. Now with the kids here I’d have a little more space as they kept him occupied most of the time.

Jon didn’t know, but Dot and John were already in Denver as they’d decided to make it a weekend away since we had the kids. Carol and John Sr. had checked in as well, Stephanie had told me when we were alone. Steph was thoroughly enjoying her role as co-conspirator as all the family had been instructed to check in with her and she took her job seriously.

“Are you sure that Dad doesn’t suspect?” she asked under her breath.

“Not a thing, sweetheart! You’ve just got to convince him tomorrow that you all want to go to the press conference and see Ron and the guys” I reminded her.

“No problem, Trish. Daddy always gives in when I ask him to do it for me” she grinned.

She was right about that. Jon had become softer and he was quite a pushover when it came to his kids and especially his daughter. They’d spent the morning taking turns with him on the snowmobile and Steph and I were fixing hot chocolate while the “men” made a fire.

“I love this house! It’s so beautiful and it feels like we’re out in the woods!” Steph said again for the five hundredth time.

“I love it too and we’ve got plenty of room. Maybe you guys could come spend some time here in the summer. There’s lots to do and your Dad and I would love to show you around” I smiled, placing the mugs on the tray that she held eagerly.

“That would be cool! Do you think dad would let me bring a friend?” she bubbled.

“As long as it’s a girlfriend, I don’t think he’d mind” I teased.

“Trish! I don’t have a steady boyfriend yet” she blushed.

Thank Goddess, not yet, I thought to myself. I could only imagine how Jon would react when Stephie began dating in earnest. And she’d have quite a few suitors in just a few years, of that I was sure. She was growing into quite a beautiful young woman and I knew she’d give Jon a few more gray hairs before it was over. Adolescence is rougher on parents than teenagers, I thought.

We took the hot chocolate into the guys and found them engaged in a wrestling match. Jake had Jon pinned on the ground and Jesse was doing the count, just as I’d seen on WWF, while Romeo was trying to climb on top of them both.

“Ready for a break?” I laughed, watching them play.

It did my heart good to see Jon and the boys having such fun and I felt a twinge of guilt for preferring the house here in Colorado over the one in Jersey that was close to the kids. I really hoped that Steph and the boys would come out for the summer, at least for a while, but I knew we’d still make plenty of trips back east to spend time with the kids. Colorado was like our own private retreat and life here was different than it had been before we moved. I liked having more time with Jon all to myself and I had no intention of giving that up.

Jon acknowledged defeat and Jakey squealed with delight as they sat up and I poured their hot chocolate. Stephie had diluted Romeo’s with some milk to cool it down as he wasn’t yet at an age to try sipping. We sat down and joined them on the big rug in front of the fireplace.

“So, did you girls think of anything to do in Denver tomorrow?” Jon asked, looking at me and then at Stephanie.

“Dad, we really wanna go to the press conference. Uncle Ron’s gonna be there and all the guys on the team! Please?” she said so convincingly that I half believed her myself.

“Aaaww, honey, are you sure? I think you’re gonna be bored” Jon tried to dissuade her.

“C’mon Dad, it won’t be that long and we wanna see all the guys. And the Crush is gonna be there too, right? We won’t get in the way, we promise…” Jesse chimed in.

“Alright, alright, I can’t take the pressure!” Jon joked. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you if you find out it’s boring” he added.

“Thanks Dad!” they all said as one and soon Jon was tackled again by his mob of children with Stephanie joining the fray this time as well.

He reached out his arm from under the tangle of squirming bodies and winked at me to come join the gang and I couldn’t resist the opportunity as I jumped on the pile, tickling and giggling as we wrestled happily as a family.


Jon and I lay quietly together in bed after we’d tucked in the kids and settled down for the night. I snuggled into Jon’s arms and he sighed contentedly. Tomorrow was his birthday and he was just where he wanted to be-home with his family. What more could he ask?

“Watcha thinkin’, love? You’ve got a smile a mile wide” I wondered.

“Just thinking how happy I am, babe. It’s been a great week and it’s so good to have the kids here, but it’s also good to have you all to my self” he grinned, nuzzling my neck.

We’d taken it easy since the kids had arrived and our love making had been quiet and tender. It was a good thing we’d had the first part of the week alone with each other, so we were ready to behave like regular parents once the kids had arrived. They’d be here through Tuesday and would fly home on Wednesday so they could go back to school before the week ended and get any assignments they’d missed while they were gone. Steph had a math test on the following Monday and Dot and Jon both knew she’d need a weekend at home to catch up and study.

“So, have you decided how you’d like to celebrate your birthday tomorrow? After the press conference, I mean” I asked, doing my part to keep the myth of tomorrow alive until the last minute.

“It doesn’t really matter to me to be honest. I’ve got both my girls and all three of my boys here with me, so whatever the kids want-that’s fine by me” he yawned.

“Okay then, we’ll just play it by ear then” I agreed, tucking my head into his shoulder.

“Night, wife” he said sleepily, closing his eyes.

“Sleep tight, husband” I replied, closing my eyes too.


I’d tossed and turned through the night as I went over everything in my head. I’d heard back from nearly all two hundred and fifty of the guests I’d invited and just under two hundred were scheduled to attend. Richie had emailed me that he’d talked to John Elway and everything was all set on his end. Richie was flying into Denver tonight, in fact he’d already be there. He’d help out with any last minute details and he knew John and Dot were available too if he needed them. He’d had reservations about inviting Jon’s parents, but he trusted my judgment, or so he had said. I heard the hesitation in his voice when I’d snuck a quick phone call, but it was already too late to make any changes. Please keep Carol on her best behavior, I prayed again to the Goddess.

I’d sent the check to the caterers and we were all planning to wear our Soul jerseys “to support the Team” so costumes were all taken care of. Dot hadn’t told Jake or Romeo about the party as she was certain they’d blab, so they’d be just as surprised as Jon when we walked into the banquet hall. Jon’s assistant had arranged for a small private plane to fly into Denver and we’d be met at the airport by John Elway himself. Everything seemed to be in order I kept reassuring myself until finally, exhausted, I fell into a fitful slumber.

I dreamed we’d arrived and that Jon was completely surprised, just as I’d planned. The room was just perfect and decorated in pale blue and white and every square inch of the ceiling was covered with balloons in the same matching colors. The crowd was enormous and the costumes ranged from mild to fantastic elaborations on the Soul uniform. I’d never be able to keep track of Jon amidst the sea of Soul uniforms.

John Elway and Jon entered first, followed by a raucus “Surprise!” I spotted Ron Jaworski and then Richie and Jim with Cherie at his side. Cherie looked lovely and her eyes sparkled like diamonds when she looked at Jim’s face. Eva and Tico were dressed to the nines with Tico sporting a tie along with his jersey and Eva glimmered with gold and sapphire accents. David and Elena were present and accounted for and Elena’s petite frame was dwarfed in the oversized jersey . Hugh was there too with his wife on his arm and she hugged me immediately as Hugh introduced us.

Tony cut quite a dashing figure in blue and white as he introduced his girlfriend, a tall slender blonde. Jon was beaming and having a ball and I was feeling relieved that the surprise had been welcome when I saw the change in his features. I followed his eyes, and almost as if in slow motion, I saw Carol approach with a drink in her hand. My heart sank as she staggered and slurred out a greeting and I saw Jon recoil in disgust.

I woke with a start, my heart racing wildly and my forehead covered with beads of sweat. No, no, no! It was just a nightmare! It wasn’t real, it was only my nerves, I told myself as I tried to quell the acid that was churning in my gut. My hands were shaking as I reached for the glass of water on the nightstand and took a big gulp. I fished out the jar of antacids I kept in the drawer and chewed down a handful as my breathing finally came under control.

I looked over at Jon, still sleeping peacefully and looking angelic as the moonlight that streamed through the window illuminated his face. He was still smiling. I hope you’re still smiling after tomorrow, I thought one final time before dispelling my demons and huddling back under the covers. Please, Goddess, please.