The Nature of Horrible Things

And how they still sneak up on you sixteen years later

a man looks down into an almost empty glass of beer
Photo by Jimmy jimmy via Pexels

We meet the afternoon chill in the air with our bodies tucked further into warm clothing. Jernee steps out before I do and I hear my neighbor briskly skip down the stairs. The faint scent of liquor speaks to me before he does. I nod — say “Good afternoon,” and attempt to mind my business by watching Jernee search for a proper spot in which to relieve herself. He is the type of person who does not understand personal space. He comes closer to us and, unlike Jernee with him, she growls under her breath. I step back from him — putting at least three more feet between us.

I recall the time and it’s just barely 1:45 p.m. He is home on his lunch break. He smiles. He sends his “Heyhowyadoin’” to me within seconds of stepping on the final stair. It’s all mumbled together — glued, yet I am fluent in slurred speech. I know this speech just like I know the smell. I know the smell. I know the smell. He has tried to hide it with Old Spice and two gulps of water but to no avail. I cock my head to the side and whisper to myself, this cat is drunk and is going back to work. Hell . . . naw.

He tells me his grandchildren have been staying with them. I know this. I speak to his wife — to their little ones. I see them as they come and go. They are beautiful mini models of their mother and father — his son and his son’s girlfriend’s children. He says as erratic as a functioning alcoholic can, “They get up at 4:30 in the morning sometimes, see. And you know, I don’t get up until 6:30 and that throws my day all off, you see?” I do see. I understand. One’s sleep is important.

He steps closer again. I step back. He holds up one hand and quickly says, “I ain’t gon’ keep ya. I know you gotta walk ya dog.” I thank him. He wanders off toward his car and away from us. His wife knocks on my door five nights later. She has a flier in her hand — an invitation to her church for some sort of celebration. It is the same church she drags him to on Sundays. And I understand — I get it. She is looking to God to save her husband. Just like I was looking to God to save my mother — to save me.

I don’t have the heart to tell her I do not do large gatherings — even if they’re outside. I do not do well in crowds nowadays and neither would I want to. I take her flier. I smile at her. I tell her to have a nice night and to be safe. She smiles back and thanks me.

I ran to the church for so many reasons in my early twenties. I ran even harder in my mid-thirties. So much of me wanted to heal my mother and so much of me needing healing of my own.


I drank because I couldn’t get my mother to stop drinking and doing drugs. I drank because I was afraid of coming out. I drank because I was going through a series of harsh breakups and couldn’t find the answers why. I moved out of the townhouse my best friend and I shared. I left. I gave no reason — only a 30-day notice and paid my half of the utilities and mortgage for the next two months, or was it just the following month? That detail is foggy.

She faced me the day I told her with tears in her eyes, asking me to please talk to her. And I couldn’t. Here was a woman who would cause me to stop drinking. It would occur several months after I moved out. The night I knew I wouldn’t drink anymore, my best friend and I had attended a work-related party at a small pub near her place. Her colleagues — her comfort zone. I am told I had too much to drink. I am told, on the way home, she had to pull over to the side of the road so I could vomit. I am told she had to help me up the stairs, get me into some pajamas of hers, then help me to the toilet so I could vomit some more.

I awakened the next morning in her bed and could not remember what had happened and why I was there and not at home. She was sound asleep, but her expression had seeped in worry. I got up to use the bathroom, and this caused her to stir. I asked her what happened, and she told me. She calmly said, “I was not going to take you home where I could not keep an eye on you. You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And that was my “A-ha!” moment.

When a person loves you enough to ensure your safety in your inebriated state — when they care enough to make sure you’re not sleeping in the clothes you upchucked in the night before — when they clean you up, change your clothes, and guide you to their bed so you can sleep; there is nothing else that can match that. Cold turkey is what they call it, yes? I stopped drinking.

I could not imagine what she must’ve been feeling to do all of that for me and not completely cuss me out, as I had done so many times with my mom. She cared about my life — she showed me. I don’t think no one ever had before then or I had forgotten it if they did.


A year and one half later, I brought Jernee home. I was determined to shield myself from the past evils that attempted to drag me down with them. I needed this four-legged creature to keep me safe — to give me joy. I had something to do when I awakened — something to train, to feed, to nourish . . . to love. I had a feeling of purpose again just barely two years before — I felt I hadn’t, and I did not want to go on.

So when I see my neighbor and he is running away from whatever demons chasing him — I understand. I may not know the cause. I may not know exactly what’s beating him day in and day out and pulling him toward drowning his sorrows in tempting liquor mid-day. I don’t even know why he feels the need to talk to me — to step into my space, but I can listen.

Had it not been for my best friend, I would’ve been following the paths of my maternal great-grandmother, grandmother, great-aunts, aunts, and uncles — my mother. I understand because I can still see the bottles of Hennessy and Tanqueray and Old English my mom kept stored in her home. I can smell each one of them while they’re still locked in their casings. I can see her struggling to piece back together a broken home — a dysfunctional family — unruly boys.

I see myself trying to find a way out. I hear my best friend’s voice . . .“You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And I understand.


*No one’s shit smells like roses and honey, baby. Everyone has a stench.©My late maternal grandmother.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

I’m a Bit on Edge, but She Doesn’t Care

Working from home isn’t supposed to be painful, too. Is it?

Jernee Timid, my little monster. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Jernee Timid, my little monster. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

For those of you who have followed me through some recent transitions, you know I changed positions last November. I shifted from working in an imaging facility to schedule patients for their imaging services and invasive procedures instead. The change came with a “Get Out of Hell Free Card” and I happily jumped at the opportunity to be safe at home while still working for an organization that has consumed my life for over three years.

At my previous job, I began as a Patient Access Specialist, assisting patients during their check-in process and showing them to various departments within our facility. My job also included accepting their payments and explaining their estimate printout to them for their services.

And then, there was COVID-19 . . .

And our world changed. We had to prepare ourselves for what was quickly shaping up to be a royal pain in the ass. Our facility needed screeners for Coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms. And since I was my team’s Patient Experience Innovator, I felt obligated to volunteer for this task.

We started off with four screeners. Soon after dealing with a few irate patients and the possibility of contracting the virus, we dwindled down to two. Because of the influx of patients we began seeing for chest X-rays and chest CT scans, it was obvious we needed all Patient Access Specialists at the front desk to assist with the check-in process, but a screener had to remain. That screener was me.

The job . . . was a mind-numbing, heart-crushing, soul-deadening position, but it had to be done. And I am glad my time doing that — screening people in the depths of a deadly virus for the actual symptoms of that virus, is over. But the pain of it all has followed me to the safety of my home.

Although I have no physical contact with any of the patients with who I communicate, I am still there with them. I feel their pain. I try to understand their concerns and their worries. With the Delta variant of this virus scooping up the lives of many, answering the phone to schedule patients for hundreds of imaging scans and invasive procedures is becoming a full-feature film, completely immersed in the lives of others.

Many of the conversations I have with patients now include the following phrases or some variation of them: “I’m sorry, but I have to cancel my appointment. I’ve got COVID,” “Hey! I have to reschedule to a later date. My husband tested positive for the virus,” “I can’t make my appointment. My child’s school sent them home,” or “I’m sorry . . . I’m going to have to bury my mother soon, and I can’t think about anything else right now. I need to cancel.”

And this is my daily interaction — speaking with the sufferers or suffering and my heart is about to explode!

I am often told by my patients who I schedule I make their scheduling experience easier — lighter. I’m easy to talk to and efficient and thorough. My supervisors commend me as their voicemails pile up from little snippets of recorded calls from these interactions. This is all fine and well, but . . . I thought I would feel differently at home.

I don’t.


Keeping watch: Jernee Timid Loadholt. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

These are the times in which I am glad I am not completely alone. Many of you know of how I have spoken about and still speak about the healing powers of my little Chorkie, Jernee. She has truly been a godsend. I can feel myself cracking — breaking away slightly, but I can take one look at this being in between calls, and something in me settles, sits back, and realigns itself.

The tears stop flowing. The pain slowly subsides. Life feels fresher — freer again, if only momentarily. Those few moments are necessary throughout my workdays.

What do you say to someone who is going to bury their mother amid a raging virus? How do you comfort a worried parent who has to take time off work to quarantine with and care for her child? How do you comfort a wife who will now be her husband’s caretaker as he wades himself through the various symptoms his immunocompromised body will endure? What do you tell a mother/grandmother whose adult daughter had to be rushed by an ambulance because she couldn’t breathe on her own?

Hundreds of scenarios pass by my ears. Hundreds of people hurting, worried, scared, and counting down the days before death slips them a calling card. All of this . . . and then, Jernee. And then, Jernee. And then, Jernee . . . again and again.

And I have to tell you, I am a bit on edge. She must know this. She sees this. And she doesn’t care. The only thing she knows to do is approach me with love.

And right now, during these dog days of living, I need that love — her love. Right now, I am grateful it exists. She’s not judging me for breaking down. She’s not telling me to be stronger. She is simply being here for me.

Working from home isn’t sheltering me from any pain. It only keeps me safe. And really, is that enough?

I hear of stories from my team members who are still at the facilities, still trying to make caring for patients work and people have gotten beyond rude. I am told patients hurl objects at the Patient Access Specialists or screeners who ask them the COVID-19 screening questions. It gets worse when someone questions if they’re going to follow up with their second dose of the vaccine (really, if you knew how many people actually only received one dose and are simply avoiding the second dose, you’d raise an eyebrow, maybe two).

Is this living? Are we living? When did it ever become acceptable for healthcare workers to be abused based on someone’s fucked up sense of “freedoms” and “rights”? I seriously want to know. Do any of you have the answers?

I sit at home, stare off into space in between calls or I say a prayer or two or three, and I look to Jernee to get me through each day. As time plows on, I hope this is enough.

I hope it is. I really hope it is.


Musical Selection: Michael Jackson, The Lady in my Life

Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

When Death Comes Like a Thief in the Night

I miss them. I do.

Photo by Lucxama Sylvain via Pexels

I woke up crying a couple of nights ago. My head was aching. My stomach had knots in it I could not reduce or massage away. Their voices rang in my head — each one of them begging me not to forget them. And how could I? I have not. I never will. When death comes, it enters like a thief in the night — snatching up your last breath. Death has one agenda; kill you. It will complete its task. When it’s time — your time, it will prevail.

You cannot fight it. If you do so, prepare to lose. And you will lose horribly.

As much as I wanted to silence them, it felt disrespectful not to let them speak — not to give them the floor. I had to step aside. It was time I stepped aside. I am sharing my beautiful friends; once here, no longer here, with all of you.


Marlene was a burst of sunshine — a blossom of hope and beauty. She had this infectious laugh that would seep into your bones and stay with you for years. I can still hear her laugh echoing in the corners of my mind. She had many talents — many gifts, but the two that drew people close to her were photography and writing.

Her Flickr page is still up. After all these years, it has survived. No one shut it down. I am both happy and sad about this. Why? Happy because people still get to see how incredibly talented she was. Sad because my friend will never create tons more of these beautiful images for the masses. My friend is no longer here . . . No longer here . . . My friend.

I reached out to her ex-husband when I found out. He was a friend of mine as well. But not as close to me as Marlene was. She was in the throes of a violent asthma attack in the middle of the night. She called him. He didn’t answer. She called 9–1–1. She died a few hours later. Her breathing would not stabilize. She took her last breath. She would never see thirty-five.

I can still hear her laugh echoing in the corners of my mind.

I let the tears flow upon finding out. I did not hide them — locked myself in my apartment, sulked, took time away from work, and buried my pain in the blank pages of my journal. It’s still there. I am afraid to read those words.


Zulie (Ricka) was a powerhouse of a woman. She was independent, a single mom, an artist, and one hell of a writer. We would spend hours chatting on AIM or MSN messenger or texting or talking on the phone. She was five years older than me and always seemed ten times stronger.

She had two handsome boys — eleven years apart. I enjoyed watching them grow, learning of their happy moments, and understanding her care in managing their down moments.

The culprit? The what-seemed-so-unfair demise? Cancer; metastasized from her breasts to her bones. She’d fought it and escaped its grip years prior. But it came back for her. And it attacked her, bled her dry, and left her young children without a mother.

She was five years older than me and always seemed ten times stronger.

I mourn her still. It doesn’t get any better. The pain just gets older. She would never see forty.


Nikki . . . Really, I don’t think there are any appropriate words to describe her. She was the last day of school before the summer break. A freshly made coconut icie. A feature film in the movie theater with a medium-size popcorn. She was lively and always ready to love you . . . If you needed to be loved.

But she could not best her demons. She tried her hardest, but past trauma invaded her head and her heart and on many occasions; I found myself (as many of our mutual friends did), pouring love and words of encouragement into her to get her to see just how much we wanted her to stay with us. Just how much we needed her to be around for us to further enjoy her incredible presence.

She was lively and always ready to love you . . . If you needed to be loved.

But she knew what she could and could not take. And stick around with us, she just could not do. She took her own life. She would not meet thirty-five.


I lost my first friend when I was just fourteen years old and entered my first year of high school. Jason, who met his demise by bullets meant for him, was only fifteen. We grew up in a neighborhood that either pulled you into its gruesome grips or pushed you away from it when it felt you wouldn’t/couldn’t survive it.

We’d known each other since before kindergarten. He was an unruly kid who was one of the first people I would ever know to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder before it became a term I would hear more and more. We clicked. I was “The Girl No One Could Mess With.” I had been protected (by him).

The life he shifted away to lead was one that frightened me and upset me. He was intelligent; brilliant, even. We would have word battles and cartoon-themed inspired conversations that turned into debates. He would sometimes walk me home from school before he dashed into the streets to do what Street-dashers did.

Another friend of ours, Nicole, found me in one of our high school hallways the day he died and looked at me with worry in her eyes. She pulled my hands into hers and said, “Jason, he’s gone, Tremaine.” And I don’t know if it was me who screamed or her, but I felt like my soul was going to jump outside of my body. I felt like the world had kicked me in my chest and dared me to breathe.

I know I told my mom because I remember her hugging me close to her and rocking me as I cried, but I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember if I came straight home and told her or if I did my homework first because I was so hard on myself and disciplined. But I remember she had known.

Our next-door neighbor told her. News like that spread like wildfire. Everyone knew. I stood with that pain. I sat with that pain, slept with that pain. My first real boy friend. Not a boyfriend, but a friend who was a boy . . . had left me.

I can still see his smiling face or the sometimes sly smirk he would have plastered across his lips when he was up to something.

I felt like the world had kicked me in my chest and dared me to breathe.

That pain has grown with me for twenty-seven years and I hate it. We don’t chit-chat. We don’t share friendly words or have tea time. I spend most of my living days trying to continue to forget about it.

But it’s still here. That pain will never leave.


Who am I to silence these voices I hear? The ones of the people I loved, love. There is no past to love, correct? Once you’ve loved someone, deeply loved someone, love stays present. Doesn’t it? I have holes in my heart and I still have extremely bad days, but I move through hell as best as I can.

I move through this hell not trying to forget them — my beautiful friends, but simply trying to be rid of this damn pain.


This isn’t something I am all too eager to talk about. I just sit with it from time to time whenever moments of despair and intense pain about losing these beautiful people hit me. I still tear up immediately upon mentioning any of their names. It isn’t easier. It is just older — the pain, that is.


Originally published on Medium.

Inflation: Prices Are Increasing From Gas to Groceries but My Income is the Same

Pandemic surging prices are hitting my pockets and everyone else’s, too.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3WYIaJ_0b7bQUzN00
Photo by Tatiana Maramygina via Redshot

As we slowly climb out of the depths of over sixteen months of this pandemic, one cannot turn their cheek to the soaring prices. Everything from gas to groceries to plane tickets has sky-rocketed in pricing when compared to several months prior. I have noticed the steady increase just over two weeks ago, but it first struck me as insane when I went to have some additional work to my car at my mechanic’s shop and had been informed that my previous quote for a 4-tire balance of $39.99 had risen to $95.99.

Luckily for me, I had my estimate from the week before when I took my car in for an oil change with their quoted price of $39.99. I pulled out my estimate which was initialed and dated by me and handed it to the representative. She consulted with the store manager and charged me what my quote listed, regardless of their recent price hike. So, they lost over $60.00 in this case.

Many tire shops offer free balancing as part of tire packages that are purchased from them, but you’ll have to pay for it in other cases. On average, plan to spend between $15 and $75, depending on your vehicle, the tires, and the shop. — Chris Teague, The Drive

In just one week, the store manager stated the prices of the following had increased; oil changes, labor, tire balancing, and basic maintenance for one’s vehicle. I was not the only person hit with a surprise when I walked through the door — he said. Even he could not prepare himself for what occurred while he was away on vacation.

Imagine returning to the store you manage and bombarded with several recent changes, especially to the pricing of which you’ve been familiar for years and those have changed — drastically.

Money doesn’t grow on trees.

When I purchased, and I counted, twenty-seven items from my community Walmart in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this past Friday, I was greeted with a price tag of $78.22. Just three weeks ago, many of the same items in my cart, save a knick-knack or two, cost me $66.58. Now, you may think an increase of just under twelve dollars isn’t much, but couple that with the steady rise in gas prices, at local eateries, in various other grocery stores, and in apartment/housing markets, and one could end up in the poor-house before an eyelash bats.

As I stated, I am not the only one affected by inflation, everyone is. Based on information reported by Emma Withrow with WNCT9 in Charlotte, The Labor Department states the current prices are the highest tallied since August 2008.

A recent rise in inflation hit everyday Americans where it hurts most, the pocketbook. Some economists are saying it’s temporary, others are saying it’s a big threat, but people everywhere are being affected regardless of how long it might last. — Emma Withrow, WNCT9, Charlotte

Farmers and those working in agriculture have been hit with heavy increases in pricing as it pertains to their specialty and they can dish out a few more cents here and there, but eventually, we will have to take on the brunt of those costs and we already have.

“When you go to increase in the cost of a dozen eggs to produce by 10, 15, 20 cents, you can pretty much eliminate the profits out of it really quickly,” Simpson explained, “We can’t take it forever. We’ll take it here for a little while. But sooner or later, it’s gonna have to trickle down to the consumer.” — Alex Simpson, Simpson’s Eggs, courtesy of WNCT9, Charlotte

Several restaurants are dealing with price hikes as well and they’re not fairing well from it — which means, we see the additional cost to us as the consumer when popping in to pick up our favorite lunch or swinging by to retrieve our family’s evening dinner.

The price index is up by 5.4 percent . . . Experts blame inflated prices on high demand due to the pandemic. They expect inflation pressures to ease with time. — Colette Stein, WXII12, Winston-Salem

How long will this last is the question? As it stands, no one is truly sure.

Getting by because I have to.

With prices increasing for everything I purchase, there’s only one thing that has not increased — my income. Recently, I lost my secondary income with a part-time editing and publishing job and I am steadily looking into replacing that supplemental funding. I have been working full time with my “main” job for three years and within this current department for eight months.

From last November up to now, there has been no change in my income at my primary job. I am hopeful this will prove well in a few more months when I am due for my yearly evaluation. But until that time, my pockets are taking a hit from this most recent inflation and I fear this will not end soon.

I am searching for a new place to live and currently have three property tours set up for next Saturday, July 31, 2021. Upon researching apartment homes/condos/townhouses for rent in Winston-Salem, NC, and a few surrounding towns/cities, I have noticed an increase within this market as well. I could only shake my head and sigh heavily.

Money really makes the world go ‘round.


Originally published via NewsBreak.

She Rides Shotgun

Jernee, riding shotgun, post a Groomer’s visit on Saturday, July 10, 2021. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Not to beat an already dead horse regarding Coronavirus COVID-19, but it appears, normalcy is trying to sashay its way back into our lives—at least, this is taking place in many cities and states in the United States of America. New variants, notwithstanding, people are venturing out more. They are making plans to seal deals on various flight tickets and jet-set their way into post-COVID happiness. I won’t lie to you; I feel a deep stirring in my body to regain my shoddy confidence and get back to traveling. However, the kind that involves flying is not yet on my list.

I am interested in loading up my car with various selected items, encouraging playlists, a full stomach, my partner-in-crime; my dog, Jernee, and whisk away to the majestic mountains of Western North Carolina for a few days or a week. The beauty of nature and its luring embrace is calling me. I much prefer a scenic drive to my places of interest as opposed to the “friendly skies.” If I can get there in about one to six hours, I will make the drive to that destination. And with a buddy who sleeps most of the drive to that place and hasn’t the verbiage to “backseat” or “passenger seat drive” to accompany me, it is usually something to which I truly look forward.

According to Julie Hall, APR:

More than 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways and skies this Independence Day (July 1–5), as travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million.

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

With those estimated numbers, many Americans have moved from isolation and are back to what they find to be most appealing—the freedom of living. I have been toying with the idea of rising from the deep and heading toward the surface just as many others, but a familiar fear still hovers over me. My plan: to go about things slowly regarding this transition but eventually catapult myself back into a familiar world; a pre-COVID-19-like world . . . baby steps, though. Baby steps.

Jernee, my four-legged companion, is easy to please. As long as I accompany her, she will travel to the edge of the world if it means she can still have her daily walks and favorite treats. I mean, with those additions to an already spoiled life, why not? Having her beside me as I tackle the come-hither calls of an adventurous world, awaiting my attendance and participation, is welcome. I don’t think I could get the look of sheer contentment from anyone else in my car as I sing loudly to my favorite songs. No one else would be willing, I’m sure, to appreciate my sometimes alto, sometimes tenor, singing voice. But Jernee?! Jernee glances up toward me as if this voice of mine was made for her and for her only.

Another point from Julie Hall’s article, explains:

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

Traveling was on an upswing as we headed into the Fourth of July weekend. The travel bug had bitten me at that point, but I did not take the plunge. I still played it safe here at home with my favorite cuddler—oh, but I dreamed about blazing a few trails. The next holiday on the calendar for which many intend to travel is Labor Day. With September just around the corner, I long for a hike or two or three in the fresh mountain air but first . . . I have to get there. If I were a guessing person, which on most occasions, I am, I’m willing to bet Jernee is ready for a bit of adventurous action too.

Wouldn’t it be grand if I could actually interview her regarding this topic—regarding any topic? The mind of a dog has to be an exceptional place. I create an internal dialogue between myself and Jernee sometimes. I am not ashamed of this; it’s entertaining. So, on those semi-long driving trips we used to take, that internal dialogue could look a little like this:

Jernee: “Mommy, are we there yet?”

Me: “No, sweetness, not quite.”

Jernee: “How much longer?”

Me: “According to Google Maps, 1 hour and 23 minutes.”

Jernee: “That precise, huh?”

Me: “Well, what were you expecting? A guess?”

Jernee: “Not really. I thought you were going to just reach on over here and hand me another treat.”

Me: “Touche’, sweetness. Touche’.”

I tell myself the trips I’m meant to take with my favorite road dog are waiting patiently in the near future. All I have to do is to succumb to their welcoming arms once again. Regardless of when those road trips will take place, there is one thing of which I am certain, my traveling buddy will ride shotgun. It’s the perfect place for a traveling woman’s best friend.