You might have caught that Angelina and I are and enterprising couple. We imagine ourselves like Bill and Melinda Gates in a much minor league of philanthropy. This is the story we provided to be published in an upcoming book; 'The Power of Small Business'.
The cold grey sky mirrored my chilly mood. I had passed a dozen opportunities to stop driving but I was so heart-sick I couldn't stand the thought of sleeping alone in a dingy North Texas motel room.
Everything I owned was following me and stuffed in a trailer I was dragging back to the Pacific Northwest that bitter-cold day. It seemed to be my only companion. Together we agreed to sleep beneath the orange glow of a single parking lamp that punctuated an empty rest area.
I turned the ignition off and was struck by the silence of that lonely highway respite. I crawled into the back of the Xterra to find it filled with memories of camping adventures with my wife Angelina.
The winter sleeping bag quickly warmed but my emotions were still numb. I thought it was odd to miss her chilly feet and peacefully warm "goodnight" kiss but I had made up my mind and this is what I had chosen. She was staying in San Antonio and I was moving on.
As I waved Daniel off my heart saddened for the time we would be apart. We had been together all day and every day since we had met. My plan was to join Daniel in a few weeks after I situated my kids, 19 and 21 then, into a new living arrangement. I felt that was the responsible 'mom' thing to do since I was their only parent.
I was excited about our transition into becoming empty nesters together and rebooting our lives in a new location. We talked about renewing our vows once we settled in. Then this journey shifted into the unexpected.
Staring at the headliner I could already see my breath becoming frosty so I closed my eyes on the night. My thoughts began highlighting challenges and championships Angelina and I had faced as an enterprising couple.
I was still miffed that 'our' two Small Business Administration awards recognized Angelina as if she was a solo actor by not including my name. The Business Journal had trumpeted "Ms. Musik - SBA 'Champion of the Year' with no mention of a partner or spouse with baggage.
The little kid in me murmured, "What's with awarding 'women in business' and NOT the men behind them? What's with the selection of just Angelina for Trump's "The Apprentice" series? I understand she's got the looks and personality - but give ME a break too..."
I recognize Daniel consistently, though often unknown to him. I had no idea that the Business Journal was writing an article much less would leave him out of it since he deserved the same recognition as me. As a 'Daniel and Angelina' team we achieve more together dynamically and successfully through our combined talents and strengths.
We have military work ethics, from Daniel being in the Navy and me being raised an Army brat by a white gloving medical military stepdad, from Guam. However, we struggled personally and didn't resolve the differences in our personal lives for many years.
We come from different cultures as I emigrated to the U.S. from Germany when I was 14. We are ten years apart so perceptions from two different generations didn't help either. Where I look forward to each day greeting me with challenging opportunities to overcome and celebrate Daniel greets the day with "what needs to be fixed now : ( ?"
To be fair, now we both greet each day with more sunshine in our attitudes together.
Looking back four years on all the spotlights and recognition, I remember that Angelina and I had no clue that we were about to lose it all. Everything we had built and relied on to scale our business came to a screeching halt in what normally was a commute home one day. Rush hour traffic turned into disaster for us just five days before Angelina was filming for 'The Apprentice' Season 3 while I was out of town on business.
Angelina seemed 'OK' while explaining to me on the phone that the car was crushed all the way into the back seats after being hit from behind at 50 mph. This resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) with cerebrospinal fluid dripping from her nose for more than a month.
We had no idea what a traumatic brain injury looked or sounded like much less how this unexpected journey was going to interrupt and frustrate the momentum we had worked so hard to achieve together in our family, business and marriage.
We cancelled the MOMtrepreneurs™ magazine and turned down the dial on the MOMtepreneurs™ network. We produced and aired only a half dozen episodes of the 'Angelina TV show' before I retreated to help heal my brain and slowly my heartache from what I needed to temporarily let go of that we had built as a team, and to eventually heal our relationship.
As I struggled to fall asleep, the frosty air reminded me of the bite we had taken. Everything Angelina and I had sacrificed to build - TOGETHER was gone. Angelina - as I knew her - was also gone for four years now.
I tried to believe that it could have been worse but I also didn't want any more of it. She planned to 'catch up' with me in a few weeks or months but I believed it was over so I moved on without her in my life and business. I tossed around in the cold a bit, trying to get the memory foam warmed up so it would relax its frigid grip on me as I ponder back to how we started as an eccentric couple from the beginning.
We met online in 1999 - long before people accepted online introductions. Angelina was leaving a crazy marriage with a bi-polar and controlling husband, and I had been asked to move out of the home I had build after discovering my 20 year marriage partner had extramarital activities going on at her work.
I barely had a couple years experience as a web technology start-up when I had to move in with my web servers in a historic warehouse in downtown Tacoma, Washington. That is where Angelina and I began our crazy journey as best friends and enterprising partners in business and life.
Between coding sessions for projects that grew a bunch of big-block corporations, we started building our dreams and dealing with our nightmares. We didn't know that the drama was yet to begin.
Within months we had to relocate to San Antonio, Texas - half-way across the country - to deal with a drawn-out legal battle for her children.
We were keeping our lives afloat while clinging to our dreams and praying that the cash would keep flowing in our enterprise. We tried our best to raise my two teens remotely and her two children - now in custody. We were grateful for the