My friend Tina Jensen and aquaintance Norma Voges were murdered on 14 May 2016. This is my tribute to these two very fine women. I make it in the hope that something positive may eventually be won from this tragedy, that maybe some potential killer will stop and think before he acts, and choose a different path.

How We Define Ourselves

Turmoil and despair. Some people define themselves by the way they live. Tina Jensen and Norma Voges were such people. I met Norma many years ago when I started working for the post office. She stood out in a crowd, raven black hair with a bold white streak running from the front in a "bride-of-Frankenstein" style, kinda clunky-looking black plastic glasses. I was impressed from the moment I first saw her, she struck me as bold, confident, someone firmly rooted who knew who she was and who she wanted to be. I admired and respected Norma, she seemed to me to be a fine woman with a good grasp on her life. I had the opportunity to visit with her at a party she hosted. Every time I encountered Norma in my early days at the post office, my respect for her grew. But, she moved on to become a letter carrier, and I only very rarely encountered her after that. I did see her a few weeks ago, and noticed she got rid of the white streak. (Sigh.) I kinda dug the streak. :o)

I also met Tina early in my postal career. She reminded me a lot of another woman-friend I loved but had parted ways from in California many years prior, J.D.. I was a bit nervous at first about starting any kind of relationship, Tina was too much like J.D., and I didn't want to project my feelings for J.D. onto Tina. But, eventually, I took Tina to a movie and dinner, we had a pleasant time and conversation, but both of us realized the chemistry wasn't there, so we just remained friends. I met D.B. (Dee) via R.B. and Tina, and one night at work Tina came to me concerned about Dee. Winter was coming, Dee had lost her home, and was in a difficult situation with her big dog, Kain, no money and no place to go. I'd helped out Dee a year or two before with some computer problems at the request of R.B., she was kinda funny, obsessive-compulsive (I'm OCD myself, so I know the signs). I was starting to get serious about sculpting concrete, Dee was an artistic person, and I really needed an assistant with the art, so I figured, what the hell, maybe Dee can be my artist assistant. So, I took her in. (Eh, so, the assistant thing didn't work out so good due to outside interference. It could have worked, it just didn't.) Dee and Tina were close friends while Dee was staying with me. It was with much heartache and consternation I had to make the call to Dee, I know she loved Tina as a best friend, even though they hadn't parted on the best of terms. Dee, hon, I know you wronged me, but I still love you as a friend, and I know you loved Tina and Tina loved you. The spark that powers these machines we're in, it keeps going, hon, and it will usually either find a new machine to power up, or goes into the maintenance craft, (invitation only, I'm afraid, got to have some serious life-experience under your belt to pass the interview.) Trust me on this, I have lived and died so very many times that I remember when we lived in caves and hunted the jungles. I can tell you from my own experience, we are woven with our friends like ropes in time. Each strand of a rope is made of smaller strands of fiber, laid together and twisted. The fibers overlap, so that before one ends, another begins. Each of our lives is a single fiber, intertwined with the fibers of our friends and families. If you live long enough, you may see people you have loved and lost come back into the world as children. The eyes truly are a window to the soul. The soul is closest to the surface in the eyes, because it sees what the flesh sees, but it also sees in astral light, and the glow of our souls in astral light carries our emotions, and who we are. This is why we so rarely gaze into the eyes of others, because we are naked souls in the eyes, and to gaze upon another's soul is to reveal our own soul to them. Someday you may see it, hon, you will look into the eyes of a person, and you will know their soul, who they once were, even if you don't know who they are now. I once looked into the eyes of a woman and realized she had been my wife over 100 years before. It was quite a shock, because for just a moment, I was seeing through her eyes. When she spoke, I could actually feel my soul turning in my body towards the sound of her voice. (That must have been a really good life.) As long as you choose to stay, to exist, the people you love are never really lost. They are out there somewhere, doing something, and you will likely cross paths again, if not in this life, perhaps in the next.

Tina suffered from fibromyalgia (sp?), a chronic pain condition that had her on some pretty strong meds. She missed a lot of work, and sometimes had some difficulty making ends meet because of this. I bought a leather sofa from her during a financially difficult period for her, I knew she needed the money, so I paid her twice what she was asking. You do what you can to help a friend in times of need. And Tina was a friend. In spite of all the suffering, she was not a whiner. She always had a cheerful "Hi Jim!" for me, no matter how bad she felt. She was always willing to lend a hand, and went out of her way to help out a friend. Tina lived with a burden, I have heard some fault her work-ethic, others say she had a drug problem. But the truth is, she had a difficult medical condition that forced her to take strong pain meds, and she used other drugs to counter the deleterious effects of the pain meds. Tina did what she did to be the best person that she could be, and that is a model for living that is worthy of respect. Tina defined herself by the way she lived, she was an outstanding, caring, giving individual, worthy of the love of her many friends. She will be sorely missed.

Some people define themselves by the way they die. Ronald "Blake" Heritage was such a person. He had a nice veneer, seemed a pleasant enough fellow on the surface. Blake lost his wife a couple years back, and that probably had a lot to do with his disintigration. Now Tina was leaving him, and when he realized he couldn't have things his own way, the selfish, spoiled brat inside him came to the surface, he picked up a gun and started killing people. Not just any people, the people he loved. He was in pain, and he wasn't strong-enough to take it, so he decided to make everyone else feel it. He put himself and his feelings first and foremost above all other considerations. He gunned down my friend Tina, then Norma. Then, probably for the first time that day, then he turned on his brain and started to think. Fear kicks in. "Should I run?" Now the gravity of what he has done hits him. He looks again at the bodies. The world comes crashing in on him, the reality of his actions. Shock. "What have I done?" Now he starts thinking of the future, of facing the families of the people he's killed, of the hate and animosity he will face, the betrayal of his own family and how he has shamed them, of the prison time, and the very real possibility of death row. A pity he didn't turn his brain on a little bit earlier, because now he realizes that he is done, all his options in life have been distilled down to two, live with the consequences, or die to escape them. He invokes God, but God is not there for him, he just murdered two beautiful people. So, Blake does the first, and only, smart thing he did that day, he turns the gun on himself. Blake Heritage defined himself by the way he died. He thought only of himself, he let his emotions control his actions, not a shred of compassion for the other people in his life; for Blake Heritage, in that moment, it was all about Blake Heritage and nobody else. That was Blake's defining moment. He has gone before God for judgement, and God may give him another chance, but it isn't going to be easy; I suspect Blake will face hard lives of pain and suffering to build his character if he chooses to go on. God may still love and one day forgive you, Blake, but I don't ever want to see you again. You killed my friends.

You can define yourself by the way you live, or you can define yourself by the way you die, some people do both. You can live or die as a hero or a villian. Do not let your emotions rule you. You have a mind, think before you act, timeout, count to ten, whatever it takes to get a handle on your emotions and think first. As long as you think first, there is always hope, there are other options. Try something new. Find someone else. But don't destroy what you love, don't throw it all away because you let your emotions rule your actions. Choose to be the hero, knowing that hero's often must suffer so that others do not. It's what we're here for, people, to define ourselves. Tina, Norma, they're on vacation sipping tea with the angels tonight, I have no worries for them. They'll be back, probably in 2 to 4 years. In the meantime, we must wait, and watch, and carry on with our lives.

Death eventually cures all of us of all our pains, so we can start having all new ones.

My name is Jim, I work in maintenance.



Marie Sklodowska-Curie, 1867-1934