Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 309

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

April 10, 2014

Day 309

I think I’ll have to work on this post, little by little today.  I’ve got a lot to do!

Lizzie’s surgery went well yesterday.  I hope I did the right thing.  I had some doubts about the whole idea of yanking out one (two) of her body parts, but it seemed like the right thing to do.  Today she is a little more querulous.  The forced inactivity, sore throat, and limited diet are starting to get to her, I think.  She about cried last night when my friend brought us some supper, a taco dish, and she couldn’t have any!  I do have the recipe and was able to assure Lizzie I’ll make it for her after she heals.

We had to be at the hospital at 6am, which meant I had to be up by 4:30.  As it turned out, I awoke at 4 and was so worried I’d miss my alarm that I never went back to sleep.  Grrr!  Lizzie was all excited and lapped up the attention she got, being the patient,  and cute and little, to boot.

My pastor came and I was so grateful for that.  If Paul had been alive, he would have been there with me.  But as it was, I would have to be there alone.  I knew I had probably more than a dozen people I could ask to come and they would, without hesitation.  But I hated to ask that of anyone, especially knowing it would probably be an early morning situation (there goes that besetting pride again!).  But Sunday Pastor told me to let him know the surgery time and he’d be there.  Oh, how grateful I was for his comforting presence! Having a child’s tonsils out aren’t a major surgery by any means, but it’s kind of lonely to sit in a waiting room all by yourself. Plus, I had the opportunity then to talk with him about a number of things on my mind – finishing my house, Paul’s family, and the possibility of remarriage someday (!), among other things.  It was good and I’m grateful for his time and wisdom.

Monday night I had gone out to eat with a couple of friends and my friend, Debbie, handed me a stuffed dog.  Her 7 year old son had picked it out of his own collection and wanted Lizzie to have it for her surgery.  I about melted – so sweet!

While Lizzie was in recovery they had me come back and they put her on my lap.  A chatty nurse came back and wanted to know how long Lizzie had been adopted.  A lot of times anymore, I forget until I get questioning looks, that Lizzie and I aren’t the same color!  I ended up telling her the whole story.  She exclaimed, when I told her about Paul’s death, “Oh, that’s not fair!”

May '93 - taken in the rain at the Old Market in downtown Omaha when with friends
Not fair?  I guess I haven’t really thought about it in terms of fairness.  I’m not so sure life is intended to be fair, really.  The Bible is full of examples of individuals that seemingly got a raw deal while alive.  Fairness isn’t something that is going to happen until eternity.  I think we Westerners, in particular,  tend to develop a sense of entitledness, born out of the relative ease of most our lives.  Then, when something bad does occur – as it is bound to, living in a sin-sick, dying world – we scream out, “Hey – no fair, NO FAIR!”  It kind of reminds me of a toddler, actually.
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I’ve been doing better this week.  Maybe I just needed to get past the 6th.

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Will put in my octagonal window yesterday in my bedroom – I love it.  It lets so much light in there!  He’s only got about 7 weeks until he leaves and I still have a list of stuff for him to get done around here!  I am scared to death about left alone without him, but I am trying not to dwell on that.  He needs to go.

He also got my new tail lite cover put on the van.  Mine broke out this winter, thanks to a violent encounter with my pastor’s mailbox.  Will had checked at a salvage yard, but didn’t have any luck.  A young man at church who works on my van when needed priced them for me and told me it would be $100 – yikes!  On a whim, I checked Amazon the other day – and found one – brand new -  for less than $50!

I also found bunk beds for the girls that I’m going to order.  I haven’t had much luck with Craig’s List and Homemakers wanted more than I really wanted to pay.  But Walmart has some nice wooden ones that can be taken apart and made into single beds if the girls would ever want that down the road.  Ellie’s crib is falling apart and I’m getting kind of anxious to “do” the girls room now.  I haven’t touched it since I got it ready while we were taking our classes 2 ½ years ago – I’ve been too busy!

Walmart.com also has caskets.  I had read that sometime ago and always meant to check them out, to see how much I over payed for Paul’s.  So I actually did the other night.  I bought the cheapest one the funeral home had for him (I know that would have been with Paul’s full approval – he always said we should bury him in an appliance box in the backyard!).  As it turns out, I paid less through the funeral home than I would have through Walmart.  I have actually toyed with the idea of going ahead and buying mine and storing it.  However, I may live for a very long time yet – not sure how well a stored casket would maintain for decades.  Plus, it might freak the children out – just a little.
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The other day I could not wake Ellie up after her nap.  We always get her up at 5pm so she will be ready to go to bed at 9.  But she must have been extra tired and no matter how I tried, she was not going to wake up!  Lizzie seriously asked me, “Do you want me to spray Ellie with the spray bottle, Mom?”  What - ??? Then a minute later, she tried again, “I’ll go get the bottle, Mom – I know she’ll wake up if I spray her!”  This child has a sadistic streak a mile wide, I’m thinking!
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Ben had his Spring Special Olympic events on Tuesday.  Oh, boy was it cold and windy (they’re all outside events)!  I was honestly hoping he wouldn’t do that great because the first place winners go to Ames at the end of May.  I’m already taking him up there on the 22nd for his bocce ball competition.  David let me know, in no uncertain terms, that only bad mothers hope their kids don’t do well in competitions.  Whatever!

Things were going fine when he did the 100M dash.  He lagged behind so I figured we were good.  As it turned out, he placed 3rd – all good.  And then the kid went and placed first in the softball throw and relay race!  Argh!  Now, he has to go to Ames not only on the 22nd, but the 23rd, and 24th!

It was a good day, though, despite the blue ribbons, wind, and cold.  The competition was held this year within view of our church.  So Ben’s youth pastor and another young man in the church walked over to watch him compete.  That was so nice of them.  Then, later, the man from our church (who has a brain injury himself) called Ben to see how he had done in his other competitions.  Sweet!
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I have some of Paul’s songs on my mp3 player and sometimes, they come up on my shuffle list.  Sometimes I actually listen to them.  The other day, I heard him singing, “Find Us Faithful” originally recorded by Steve Green.  I suddenly recalled that at my high school graduation (25 years ago!) my friend Julie sang that song.  Julie died at age 38 from breast cancer.  And of course, Paul died, too.  Realizing this, the words from the song seemed to increase in their meaning for me:

Oh, may all who come behind us
find us faithful
May the light of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave,
lead them to believe,
and our lives inspire them to obey,
Oh, may all who come behind us
find us faithful.

Both of them were faithful and my life is richer for having been part of theirs'.
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Two days ago my friend, Joy, who has walked through the valley of death herself, sent me these verses.  I’ve been ruminating and rejoicing over them ever since:

Psalm 94:17-19
Unless the Lord had been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
 If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
 In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

It does.  And He does.


















































Sunday, April 6, 2014

Day 305

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

April 6, 2014

Day 305

10 months ago today…dear, merciful God, it’s been 10 months…All week long I’ve been so heavy hearted, feeling a deeper burden and hurt inside than normal.  I just want him back!  I don’t know.  Spring is slowly coming to life and Paul died when it was warm out.  So maybe the weather is affecting me.  Maybe it’s just another grief wave and it will pass in the coming days and weeks.  Last week I was thinking about the 6th coming up but I actually lost track of dates as the week went on and kind of forgot about it.  But then today my brother texted me and reminded me and my friend, Sara, emailed to let me know she had remembered.  I was appreciative, but had to laugh at myself.  Typically, I’m so “date” minded, but apparently not this week!

I find myself, more and more, wanting answers.  I know I wrote about this not too long ago.  Why?  I know all the answers.  I know that if God wanted me to know, I would.  I know that to insist He filter events through my understanding would lower Him to my human level and then He could not be God.  I know He is all loving, always good, and possesses wisdom that I cannot begin to fathom. I know that all that happens is for my good.  I know all this. Most of this time this knowledge provides the comfort and assurance I need. 

But right now,  in my stubborn humanness and hurt, I want to know.  Because it just doesn’t make sense.  But mostly I just want it to not have happened.  I know I won’t always feel this way.  I think that someday I will find a measure of happiness again and I will be able to thank God for His sovereignty in allowing the events in my life – even the death of Paul – but right now I’m not there.  Right now I just hurt.

I was in a store the other day and I heard a child cry out, “Daddy!”  The hurt zinged me in a way that was nearly physical.  In fact, a physical jolt would probably have hurt less, I think.  It gives me great pain to know that my kids will never, ever have a man they call “Daddy” again.  I carry their hurt, too, and at times, the load of all our grief seems nearly impossible for one woman to carry.

Well, I’m just a bundle of sunshine tonight, aren’t I?  But I am hurting and there is relief for me in writing it out.  Unfortunately, I then transfer that hurt to those that read my writing and then they worry about me.  I’m fine.  I’m not going to do anything foolish and someday, I will pass through this valley.  Just continue to pray for me, for the kids.  That’s all that can really be done.

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Going to have to take a break here and get the girls to bed.  Ellie just dumped Juicy Juice all over the counter and into her $25 8 oz container of hair cream.  I think her day is over!  Just when I think I am finally beginning to see the light at the end of her very destructive tunnel, she goes and destroys yet something else.  My boys had nothing on her!
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This week we started eating meals together again as a family.  It’s not that it’s a new thing, but for the past 4 years, it’s been an inconsistent thing.  I’ve made it happen on most Sundays since Paul’s death, but that’s really been it.  Four years ago Paul started the basement project, which quickly became all-consuming.  He would come home from work and immediately jump on the skidloader or grab a shovel.  It was a tremendous project.  And because he was so limited on time, it became more expedient to just serve supper from the stove and for him to eat after it got too dark to work.  It definitely made less work for me.  A few times Paul would suggest that we probably should make more of an effort to eat together as a family and I’d agree in theory, but we never got consistent.

Will has been pretty consumed with the work on the house since November.  Knowing his available work time is limited, I haven’t wanted to interfere with progress.  But he’s nearly done now.  So, anyway, I decided this week that we’re going to make family meal time a priority again.  Anytime we don’t have to rush off somewhere in the evening, we’re going to sit down together – and figure out how to be a family around the table without Paul there, too.

The first night Sam was a little beast.  I couldn’t believe how poor his table manners were!  But then I mentally subtracted “4” from his age and realized he had not been exposed to regular family table times since he was 2 years old.  He hasn’t been trained and that’s my fault.

The first night we attempted this I was on the computer later that evening.  Will came up behind me and said quietly, “I like eating together as a family.  It was fun.  This is a good thing.”  My heart soared.  Maybe we can learn how to be a family without Paul.  So we did it again Tuesday and then on Friday night and then today for lunch.  We’re going to figure this family thing out.
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I’m figuring other things out, too.  Wednesday I was up at City Hall working.  I really don’t have time to be the clerk anymore.  I don’t feel like I do that great of a job because of my time limits and because I’m really not all that smart.  But even if the city could find somebody willing to take over for me, I don't have time to train anyone, so I kind of feel stuck.  But I am appreciative of the little bit of money the work brings in, too. Anyway,  I opened up an email sent a month ago from the USDA, through which the city has a loan for their water system.  I was supposed to file an annual report with them last Sept. and now our loan was out of compliance.  The thing is – I don’t get those reports.  There are two reports that have to be filed a year (well, now I know there are two reports – I had no clue until Wed!) and I’ve never understood how to do them.  I managed to muddle through the needed water budget last spring, but I was never trained well, the report forms are extremely complicated, and my brain just does not naturally fall into a pattern of thinking that does well with forms and budgets.  And because of that the entire city was in huge trouble.  Our loan could be called in at any moment and the loan amount is for more money than the city has in all their budget columns.

I sat at my desk and bawled.  All of a sudden, all these plates I’ve been spinning for months – parenthood, Learning RX, grief, homeschooling,  college planning, Ben’s care, Lizzie’s needs, housework, my finances, remodeling, this little  part time job with the city and more seemed to come crashing down, breaking on top of eachother.  I can’t do all this.  Or, at least, I can’t do all this and do it all well.

Love, Love, love this picture!  Taken at Worlds of Fun on the hottest summer day of 2011
I called the USDA and spoke with a couple of very nice women there.  They were horrified at my tears and assured me that I had options.  I didn’t know I had any options.  I thought I had to do these forms if I want to keep my job.  But they gave me some ideas to present to the council which I did the next night.  I told the council that if they wanted to keep me, something else had to be done.  They want to keep me.  So now I have the job of calling some banks and local CPAs to explore some suggested options.

But that Wednesday I couldn’t work anymore.  Well, I really could not have anyway, because I had to take Ellie to a pediatric dentist to find out what to do about her mouthful of cavities.  Earlier that day, I had taken Lizzie to her pre-op physical (and had gotten lost in downtown DM – I am so dumb at times – how long have I lived here?) and I was fitting the work at City Hall in between appointments and before evening church.  See what I mean about my time?  I couldn’t work anymore because I was upset.  I came home, still crying.  Will and David were putting up a suspended ceiling in one of the basement bedrooms.  I think they were kind of nonplussed by my tears.  I don’t normally cry in front of the kids, or anyone, for that matter.  But I couldn’t stop.  I was just so overwhelmed and feeling like such a failure because I’m not living up to my responsibilities.

I ended up sharing this in my prayer group Wed. night, just asking my friends to pray for wisdom for me so that I can figure out how to do things better.  The next day at Learning RX I talked with David’s teacher.  I definitely don’t want to quit LRX, but it is a huge time-sucker right now.  But it’s temporary.  As I thought about my options I briefly considered spending another $2000 and having David do the program solely out there, eliminating my home training portion.  But that wasn’t such a good idea, either, I didn’t think.  When I started this in Jan. I was encouraged to always sit through David’s sessions with him so I’d understand what is going on.  But since then I’ve realized that his trainer does a whole lot more with him than I do at home.  I’m only asked to do a handful of exercises.  And I know how to do those now.  For the last couple of months I’ve spent that hour and a half, twice a week, answering texts and reading my Kindle.  It occurred to me that if I did not have to be back there with David for those 3 hours a week, I could bring along a Little and get some homeschooling accomplished.  Don’t even ask me how homeschooling has gone this school year…So I talked to David’s instructor and she was very encouraging of my thoughts.  She’ll pull me back for a few minutes once a week to give me some tips and how-to’s on the home instruction, but the rest of that time is mine.

So that’s one thing figured out, anyway.  Then today, I humbled myself and asked my friend Mishelle at church if she would take the Littles for an entire day later this month.  I hated to do that.  But if I could have one day without them the boys and I could get the garage cleaned out (the city is renting a dumpster for residents’ use in a few weeks and we have lots to put in it) and maybe I could even work on my very messy basement.  When I asked Mishelle she told me “yes” immediately.  And then she told me she’d been thinking since I had shared Wed. night and she wants to figure out how to do something for me on a regular basis.  She said, “You can’t do all this, Sarah, and I want to help!”  I wanted to cry.  But my mind is mulling this over as I try to think of possible scenarios of how to best accept her generosity.

So maybe I am going to get it figured out, bit by bit.  I just know I can’t continue the way things have been.  Someday I may look back on this time in my life and wonder how I managed.  But I hope I’ll be quick to remember that it was only by the grace of God and others that I survived.
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We’re into softball season now.  Well, we will be soon.  The first game is April 15, but practices have started.  Will is coaching Sam’s team.  That wasn’t planned, but Thursday I got a call from the homeschool softball director telling me that Sam’s coach had backed out at the last minute.  He was wondering if I’d be ok with him asking Will to take over.  He didn’t have to do that, but it was appreciated, just the same.  Will agreed to the offer and is actually pretty tickled.  We had to make a trip out to Scheels the next morning to get some bats and balls for his team and Will had his first practice with his minor leaguers yesterday afternoon.  What’s kind of neat is that David’s coach’s daughter is on Will’s team.  They had back-to-back practices yesterday afternoon so during David’s practice, Sam ended up just going to the coach’s house, which wasn’t too far away, and hung out with their kids.  I’m getting a kick out Will.  He’s so enthusiastic about coaching!  Considering he wants to go into coaching as a career, I suppose this is a good thing!

The games will start up and my Tuesday nights will be gone until mid-June.  It’s set up so that the kids play by age – minor league for an hour, major league for the next hour, teens the last hour.  I’ve got kids on the minors and teen teams so it will be a full night for us.  Softball season represents sacrifice on my end.  I enjoy watching the teen games, but everything else I could do without!  Although, Will is telling me that Sam is really, really good, so he might be entertaining to watch.  But I don’t enjoy freezing in the beginning of the season and sweltering by the end.  I don’t enjoy chasing small children or eyeing foul balls, trying to judge whether or not we need to duck.  I don’t enjoy carting chairs and drinks, and gloves, and bats all over the fields.  I don’t enjoy the time it takes. And now I'll be doing it without Paul's help.

But – these years will be gone in a flash.  I know that.  My life is not about me, as much as I would prefer to think it is.  The things my kids gain from playing organized sports are things they aren’t going to learn at home.  So, I go and I will continue to go for years to come.

I just realized today, though, that this means I’ll miss The Goldbergs until June!  Oh, I’m sad now.  I hardly watch any tv at all, but this show started airing on CBS in January and I totally love it.  It takes place in the 1980s and maybe that’s the attraction for me since that is “my” decade.  I don’t know.  But it is well-written and funny, too (although, back during the real '80s I sure never  never heard some some of the words they use on the show!). I commented on that to the boys and somehow the conversation turned to Will and David declaring that I am Beverly Goldberg all over again!  What?!  She’s the mom on the show and she’s not just a normal mom.  She smothers her kids.  She’s overly involved with them.  She lives for them and through them.  I certainly hope the boys were just trying to get my goat.  I prefer to think I’m more of a “hands-off” type of mom, available if they need me, but content to let my kids live their own lives.  Beverly Goldberg – hmph!
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I bought Ben an alarm clock a few weeks ago but have been too busy to get it set up for him.  This week he came to me and asked me to teach him how to set his alarm.  He said, “Mom, I need to be more responsible!”  Alright, then.  And you know what?  He is!  He is getting up now at 6:30 every morning, dressing and feeding himself.  I stumble out of my bedroom, bleary-eyed at a quarter to seven and Ben is sitting quietly in the lazy boy, eating his pop tarts and watching the news.  Glimmers of hope…

But then, there are other moments, like yesterday, when he dumped the entire contents of the fry daddy all over my kitchen floor.  My kitchen floor that had been mopped less than an hour before.  Of course.  Any idea how slippery a wood floor gets with cooking oil all over it?  Deadly slippery.  Fortunately, Ben’s SCL worker was there at the time and he suggested I use Dawn dishwashing soap.  I did and it cut through all that grease like magic.  Now I have just have a section of the floor that is really, really shiny.  But it’s not going to be a death trap, like I had feared.  But still – if I hadn’t been around, Ben would not have known how to take care of the mess.  How can I even think of having him live somewhat independently someday?
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I had some song lyrics to post tonight but I think I’ll wait.  This post is getting way too long as it is.

This week one of my Facebook friends posted about her husband being out of town and how “hard” it was.  My hand actually hovered above my keyboard for a moment.  I so badly wanted to say something, but I didn’t.  The truth is, it is hard to have your husband out of town.  A year ago, I would have totally commiserated with my friend.  But now, I wanted to shoot off, “Well, at least he’s coming back to you!”  Sigh…But I can’t make my pain everyone else’s.  It’s not right for me to try to make them feel guilty for the normalcy of their lives.  But anymore, I just feel like I can’t relate to people.  It’s almost like I’m in this glass box made up of loss and suffering and everything I view through the box is distorted by the type of glass I am now looking through.  Will the day ever come that I step outside that box and rejoin humanity?  I don’t know.  Maybe.

 But I know I won’t ever be the same as who I was before.















































Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 299

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

March 31, 2014

Day 299

No more rambling posts, I promise!  I am actually feeling somewhat human again.  Friday morning I put myself back to bed after getting Ben on the bus.  As I laid there, it suddenly dawned on me that I knew these symptoms.  I had been so focused on the fact I’d had the flu that it had not occurred to me I might have something else going on, too.  This was a classic sinus infection.  I know that because I’ve had them numerous times before.  I made an appt. with the dr. and she confirmed it.  I got a prescription for an antibiotic (magic in a bottle – until you take it so often that you end up getting a SuperBug and dying from an infected paper cut, that is) and I am now feeling much better.  I am still getting the migraine-like sinus headaches, but they’re treatable and temporary.

Maybe my body just decided that it needed a time to shut down.  The past three years I’ve had minor surgeries, all in March, that required me to take it easy for a couple of weeks.  No surgery this year, but my body was determined to take its rest, anyway!

The circus '03 - I LOVE the expression on David's face!
The other night Lizzie said to me, “I am SO excited about my surgery! (her upcoming tonsillectomy)”  That struck me as odd and so I asked her why.  She excitedly exclaimed, “Cuz I won’t have to do any chores for a whole week!”  Geez, Louise…that makes me feel like Mrs. Haniford (was that her name?  The mean housemistress in “Orphan Annie” who made the poor orphan girls work all the time?)!  Oh, speaking of “Annie” I saw that a movie version is coming out soon.  That should be good.

I took David sandal shopping last Friday.  This was NOT fun.  I found some for him.  I had to spend $100, though.  One kid.  One pair of sandals.  One sighing mama…But this is what happens when your one kid has size 14 shoes and stores don’t carry sizes that large.  I went to Scheels and I knew they’d be a little pricey, but I also knew they had larger sizes.  But the salesclerk told me they only have a few size 15s so if David grows any more, he’ll be out of luck even with them.  Will informed me he needs some new crocs for this summer.  Crocs aren’t even in style anymore, but he is determined to have some.  That’s all he likes to wear in the summer months.  Since he wears a size 15 tennis shoe, I told him “good luck” on the croc thing…

Kathy and I met up on Sat for some shopping.  That was much more fun than sandal shopping for my big-footed boy!  Although, we made quite the pair.  I was still wheezing and blowing my nose every three minutes and Kathy was hobbling on a broken toe.  I kind of shudder to think what kind of a shopping duo we will make when we’re both 80 and still getting together!


I took David to the dermatologist today.  He’s had a real dandruff problem for a couple of years now.  We’ve tried all the over-the-counter stuff and I have even rubbed lavender oil into his scalp and ordered a $26 bottle of essential oil shampoo that is supposed to be good for that problem – no avail.  So I was able to get a prescription shampoo today. While we were there, I asked about a couple of his moles and the dr. volunteered to snip them off today.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I had actually taken David in for his moles about 6 months ago.  We had seen a different dr. but she seemed a little reluctant to do anything with the moles at the time.  But this one was more than willing.  So we had one removed from the back of his neck and one above his lip.  David was less-than-thrilled with the whole needle in his face thing and all day long I’ve been hearing updates about his bleeding and pain levels (they’re moles – it’s not like I had his leg amputated!).  At one point he sighed and said, “I would have left the one on my face alone, but you seemed to think I should have it taken off, so…” He has always been especially good at twisting-the-knife, amping-up-parental-guilt levels!

Tomorrow we see his orthodontist.  I had finally found an orthodontist that takes Medicaid.  A friend told me about this place.  I called them and they told me that they are actually the only place in the entire Des Moines metro accepting new Medicaid patients and as such, they have a waiting list of more than a year.  Yikes.  David is getting his senior pics done in 3 years, so I don’t think we can wait that long.  So I called the ortho he has been seeing for awhile, even though I’ve been told he is the most expensive ortho in the metro.  They were willing to take David’s Medicaid since he’s an established patient.  I’m not even overly fond of this dr.  He is decidedly effeminate which may or may not mean anything, just like his wedding band may or may not mean anything.  But it bothers me just the same.  However, it looks like I have no choice.  Maybe we can get away with just straightening David’s bottom teeth.  Hopefully.



Our 1st homeschool conference - what a fun weekend!  It would be 10 yrs later, almost to the very day, that Paul would die. 
The youth service went really, really well last night.  I was somewhat nervous for Ben and David, but I wasn’t twisted up as tight as I have been known to get in the past.  The entire youth group quoted a book of the Bible, with various kids being responsible for different verses singly, in duos, trios, and other groupings.  I really did not have time to work much with Ben, but David took care of it.  Ben did splendidly.  He didn’t even sway all that much up on stage.  I was pleased.  And then David ushered and spoke.  He did great.  I was really proud of him.

My friend, Mishelle, told me, “I could just hear Paul up there!”  I know.  Another, older, friend told me, “You must be so proud!”  I am.  I am curious to see what David’s future holds.  From the time he was a little guy I have been convinced that full-time ministry is probably in his future.  To my credit, I’ve never said any such thing to him, not wanting to influence him in any way.  But sometimes a mother just senses things.  I’ve always “sensed” with David.  Indeed, as he has gotten older, he has mentioned from time to time that he wants to be a missionary.  Hmm…Iowa could use missionaries, right?  Of course, David’s young yet. There’s a lot of growing that needs to happen between now and then, of course, and a lot of cavernous pitfalls to be steered around.  I’ve got a whole lot of single parenting left to do with him.  So, we’ll see what happens, I guess.

We got home last night and David was typing on his phone.  He handed it to me, so I could double-check his spelling and grammar before he posted to Facebook.  He had written, “I hope my dad was looking down tonight as I spoke at my church for a youth service.” 

Yeah, I choked.  I nodded and told him his spelling was fine.   And then I told him I was pretty sure that tonight was a night that Paul had, indeed,  seen him.  God had rolled back that floor and Paul had a front row seat as he watched his boy take some steps toward manhood and possibly, potential service someday.

But, oh, what I would have given to have him sitting beside me, watching together!

















































Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 295


DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW




 March 27,2014

Day 295

 

I’m back…sort of.  I have honestly never been so sick in my life.  Well, I seem to recall the Oct. I was 15 coming down with the flu and then pneumonia on top of that.  But that was different.  I had parents to take care of me and very few responsibilities and NO CHILDREN.  This time around…ugh!  In fact, I found myself quite envious of Paul at times.  He’ll never be sick again and it’s just not quite fair.

 

So, I wasn’t imagining things on my birthday.  I really didn’t feel well all day long!  But that night we were still able to celebrate.  The kids and I went to Fuddruckers which is where we went last year on my birthday.  Of course, everything was different this year, though.  I’m not even sure I’m still the same woman.  At times I have wondered if we are even a family anymore (we are, of course, it’s just that thoughts like that do creep into my mind sometimes).  We had a nice meal and then went home and the boys surprised me with not one, but two presents.  They got me Forrest Gump which is one of my all-time favorite movies, but  I have never actually seen the whole thing – just bits and pieces when they’ve aired it on tv.  And then David got me a book about Duck Dynasty, written by Willie and Korie Robertson.  I loved it.  I already read it.

 

I have gotten sucked into that show, despite my best intentions.  It’s just funny!  I bought the kids Season 1 on dvd at Christmastime and we’ve been working our way through the episodes ever since.  I still am not overly fond of the family members’ beards and scraggly hair.  I know there’s a verse in the Bible about long hair being a shame to a man.  However, from everything I see and have read now in the book, I really can’t find any glaring faults with the Robertsons’ Christianity.  It’s real.  I guess they’ve found a way to reconcile that verse with their faith.  So I’m just going to enjoy it.

 

Ben had gone out on my birthday with his now-retired aide.  He insisted they stop at a store and get me a birthday card, which touched me.  He is maturing.  But it was what Will wrote in it that made me cry.  So often during this journey I have wished for some confirmation that I am doing things, “right.”  But the kids aren’t exactly prone to handing out compliments even if they could recognize I was handling things ok.  But Will wrote, “I’m not sure many moms could have persevered the way you have this last year.  We love you!”  Oh, I about lost it – just to know they think I’m doing ok means so much!

 

Then I blew out the candles on my lopsided cake and we all eventually made it to bed.  Then, when I woke up in the morning I made the terrible realization that I was sick and life hasn’t been the same since.

 

What is ironic is that about two weeks ago I was commenting about the luxury of having a television in my bedroom now.  I said I really didn’t have time to watch it but maybe one of these days “I’ll get really sick and have to stay in bed!”  Yes, well…when will I ever learn to bite my tongue?

 

I had lots and lots of time to watch tv this last week.  I didn’t even make it past the hallway until the weekend, I was so sick and dizzy.  I watched so much stupid tv it made me more sick.  I don’t know what is more disturbing – the daytime fare that is offered up or the fact there is an actual audience for such tv!  It’s disgusting and pathetic.

 

The boys took good care of me – until they got sick themselves.  I don’t think anybody is back to 100% yet.  I cannot quit coughing.  I went from having the flu where even my eyelashes hurt to developing the crud where the entire inside of my head is coated in green goo.  I’m quite convinced I am going to tear a muscle or crack a rib before I get done.   And I am just so weak, it’s aggravating!  But Will and David are complaining of the same thing, so I don’t think it’s indicative of my encroaching age.

 

I did feel well enough to go out Monday night with my friend, Mari, for my birthday.  That was nice – I totally needed to get out of the house!  I’ve been able to take it pretty easy this week, thankfully.  Tomorrow I will do my bi-monthly grocery shopping, but I may take all day.  Then, Saturday, Kathy and I are meeting in Council Bluffs.  I’ll probably be wiped out after that, but it will be worth it.  Then, the pace picks up a bit again next week.  I hope my body cooperates!

 

I found that I seemed to miss Paul more the days I felt physically worse.  I suppose it makes sense that the emotional hurt was only compounded by the physical.  Plus, it would have been nice to have him there to help take care of me!  I miss him.

 

Occasionally, I have asked God, “why.”  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  I know I won’t get an answer, but I ask anyway.  There have even been times that I have, irrationally, asked God to send Paul back.  I know that’s not going to happen, but I still ask because sometimes the pain just seems to heavy to bear.  But you know, I have found in recent months, maybe the past 4 or so,  that every single time I ask God “why” He answers me with John 9:3, “…that the works of the Father may be glorified.”  This still puzzles me and I haven’t quite figured it out.  This passage isn’t even talking about death, so why does it immediately leap to mind every time I want to know why I had to lose my husband?  I suppose the obvious answer is that God can be glorified through Paul’s death.  I believe that can happen.  I believe it has already happened, to a certain extent.  But  still, I remain a bit puzzled.  It just seems odd to me that every single time I question, this is the response I get. 

 

But the  more I puzzle it out in my mind, the more hope I am beginning to feel – hope for a reason for the suffering and hope for a future.

 

And then I watch the news and see things like stories on Flight 270 and the mudslide in Washington State.  I am not the only one in pain.  I have not lost everything like some of these families.  In fact, I am reminded that ALL of life is fleeting.  It is best to hold onto it with a loose grip because when it is wrenched out of your hands it will hurt even more if your grasp is too tight.  I think Corrie ten Boom actually said something to that effect, once.

 

 100 years from now everybody that is alive now will be dead.  Life is short.  All the suffering will have come to an end – except for those in Hell, of course.

 

Ah, I’m rambling a bit tonight.  My body hurts and my mind isn’t thinking straight as a result.  I’d better wrap this up.  The thought of my bed seems awfully appealing at the moment.   I just need to pick up the house, make a lunch for Ben, help him memorize some more verses for Camp Coins, and listen to David’s sermonette one more time.  The Youth Group is doing the Sunday evening service and David is “preaching.”  I’m nervous for him, but I know he’ll do well.  If he does end up becoming a missionary someday, as he still insists is on the agenda, then I may very well remember this first sermon with a certain degree of fondness someday.

 

I just wish Paul could hear it, too.  He’d be so proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Where I Have Been

In bed.  That's the short answer.  Oh, I've kind of disappeared the last few days, so I thought it would be easiest to just update on my blog.  I have had the most horrible case of the flu - EVER.  I ended up having a very nice birthday with the kids even though I didn't feel totally terrific.  Wed. morning I had to go do a sausage pick up for Zaycon and I knew something was drastically wrong.  I could barely drive.  I got the sausage, came home, and then went to my dr.  I thought maybe I had strep or something that could be treated with medicine.  I hoped I did because I was miserable!  They ran all these tests at the dr while I waited in misery only to tell me I had the flu.  Seriously?  I was given a prescription so I dropped that off, waited in my van for 20 min for them to fill it, and went to pick it up.  They wanted $114 for it! This is the second time I've noticed that the prescription coverage with this new insurance is not as good as what I used to have through Paul's work.   I wasn't about to pay that, ...so I wasted all that time and energy for nothing.  I have been in bed ever since.  I am beyond miserable.  Every single part of my body hurts.

I have had to cancel so many plans this week and I find myself increasingly worried about  how I am going to get all my stuff done now.  I know I can't focus on that, but my mind goes there and gets all panicky.  The kids have all done a great job of taking care of me.  But now - they are all sick, too.  Ben and Sam are the only upright ones left in the house.

But I think I am doing a little better today.  So hopefully, I will be able to take care of the fallen ones on my own soon.

There's nothing like abject physical misery, I am finding, to make one's emotional hurts rise to the surface, as well.  These past four days I have missed Paul intensely and not just because he would have taken care of me.  Sigh...I have also found myself quite envious of him.  He'll never get the flu again!

So that's where I am - not overworked, not ignoring anybody, just trying to survive while this virus works its slow, painful way through my system.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 286

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

March 18, 2014


Day 286

Today is my birthday.  I’m finding it even more difficult than I thought it might be.  Paul always made it so special.  He’d awaken me early in the morning so he could be the first to wish me a happy birthday.  Some years he even surprised me by taking the entire day off work so we could spend it together.  He never forgot.  Of course, his biggest coup was three years ago when he planned a surprise party for my 40th.  I went out to lunch with two friends and when I came back to my house, almost our entire SS class was standing in my kitchen.  I had NO idea this was in the works!  Oh, I miss him, today more than ever…


I don’t even like the number 43.  “42” had a much crisper sound to it.  43 is kind of blah.  The only thing in its favor is that the numbers are in order, descending backwards, like 32 or 21.

And it feels weird to be older than Paul for the first time, ever.  He will be forever 42, but I will keep getting older, even though he was born before I was. 


But I’m doing an awful lot of complaining on a day when others seem to be going out of their way for me.  I’ve received tons of Facebook birthday messages already and I had a stack of birthday cards to open this morning.  Of course, I blubbered all the way through doing that, but it was still appreciated!


I don’t feel well and I think that is coloring my perspective, too.  I thought Ben was having a terrible allergy attack over the weekend, but I realize now it was a cold that came on very suddenly.  Since yesterday afternoon I can tell my body is fighting something – I’ve got the sinus headache and awful body aches.  I’m fighting it with my essential oils and Aleve (“Better living through chemistry!” as David’s tutor always quips when she sees me pull  my pill container out of my purse).  I haven’t succumbed yet to being totally sick, but I think I’m teetering on the edge.  I’m hoping to keep staving it off.
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Last week was a bit rough.  I had an older neighbor proposition me.  It freaked me out a bit, to say the least.  Despite quickly turning him down and almost literally running away, I still felt kind of  guilty because I know he’s old and lonely.  My pastor’s wife reminded me, “He is NOT your responsibility!”  I know, I know.  It was upsetting.  Since then, he has “apologized,” although the more he talked the more I began to suspect he just wanted another chance to present his “case.” Ugh.  I had to remind him again that what he was suggesting was wrong and highly inappropriate.  I never realized just how much protection marriage offered to a woman until I was no longer married. 


And then late last week things came to a bit of a head with the in-laws.  It looks like we may be meeting with a mediator soon.  I hate conflict and find myself just shaking at the thought of having to sit down with them!


You know, I’m realizing that Paul fought all my battles for me.  He went ahead and made my path smooth.  Now I’m on the front lines All.The.Time.  It’s wearying.  I know God is there with me.  He has answered my many prayers for wisdom and continues to be my strength.  I also know that I have many, many friends and family members who would gladly fight those battles for me.  But I recognize that some battles have to be faced alone.  These two I mentioned are an example of that.  I have to be strong when I just want to run away and hide.  I feel a bit like David facing Goliath on that field!
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Well, this is turning into a bit of  a depressing post, particularly on my birthday!  There are better things to talk about.


Saturday Ben needed to go to Iowa City to participate in the state Sp. Olympics basketball championship.  Will and David had a wedding to attend so it was just the Littles, Ben, and me.  I’ve never been to Iowa City in my life!  And I got lost, which was stressful.  Will tells me  he is going to give me his GPS.  He just upgraded to an i-phone and no longer needs a separate GPS unit.  That would probably be good.  Mapquest just isn’t always that reliable – obviously.  Fortunately, I had left early enough to allow myself some extra time.  I finally made it to the university, but by that point I was seriously wondering why I had even bothered.  Ben was so sick.  I assumed at the time it was a massive allergy attack.  Of course, I had NO tissues in the van at all.  So I ran to the bathroom and got as much cheap toilet paper as I could.  The poor kid had a streamer of TP flying out from his hand as he shot baskets.  The Littles were bored and hungry and at eachothers’ throats.  These events are always so, so crowded, no matter what the sport.  Each athlete comes with at minimum, one helper, Many, like Ben, bring a whole cheering squad. You constantly have to be watching out, too, because most special needs individuals, like Ben, tend to be not-spatially aware.  It is not uncommon for them to run straight into you because they just don't see you.  The events are always chaotic and stressful.

But…it’s so worth it.  I stood on the sidelines and just watched in awe as Ben shot basket after basket.  He is good!  And he has nearly NO fine motor control.  This is a boy who can’t eat without making a mess.  He is incapable of buttoning his clothes or zipping up his own pants.  But he can swoosh that ball!  I was bursting with pride when they led his group out to the podium, helped Ben up to the highest step and placed a gold medal around his neck.  I could have cried, quite honestly.  Knowing that he felt miserable, physically, just made me even that much prouder of him.  He never quits – ever.  I remember when he was learning to walk right around his 3rd birthday.   For more than six months he fell more than he took steps.  But he didn’t quit in frustration.  Every single time he got up and tried again.


Afterwards, the kidlets and I went to a nearby, crowded mall and bought tissues and allergy pills for Ben.  Then we ate lunch and headed home.  I really missed having David or Will to handle the Littles.  I was up ordering at the counter and I heard a fuss back at our table.  Ellie was throwing a tantrum because Ben wouldn’t let her come up to the counter with me, as I had instructed (“You all sit here and don’t move a muscle!”).  Argh – what to do?  I was in the middle of placing an order, but I couldn’t leave Ellie to scream and holler and ruin all the other patrons’ lunches.  I really look forward to the day when they are older and more capable of regulating their own behavior!  As it was, I had her come to me and then when I was done ordering I took her to the bathroom and spanked her.  Sometimes single parenthood is the pits.


I got home and in the mailbox was an envelope from the Eye Donor Network.  Inside was a card and letter from a woman who received one or both of Paul’s corneas.  She was a terrible speller but so thankful and expressed real sorrow for our loss.  It really made me feel good.  I do have the opportunity now to write her back and tell her about Paul if I want.  When I feel up to it, I will.  Saturday I was really feeling the grief laying extra-heavily.  This letter made that burden seem a bit lighter.


April '93 - in our first apt.
I had a dream last week.  In it, I had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  My first thought upon hearing the diagnosis was actually dismay.  In my dream I thought, “Oh, now I’ll never re-marry!”  My second thought was a little more cheerful as I began to anticipate being reunited with Paul.  I woke up and I thought about it.  My first response was kind of telling, I think.  I suspect that there is a part of me that is beginning to anticipate the future, just a little bit.  I certainly hope re-marriage is a part of that, someday, although I honestly don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on that right now.  But it came out in my dream world.  Interesting!
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This morning, Ben was talking about the fact that we used to have only one tv in our house and now we have four.  Yes, well, Mom is a little more into being entertained than Dad was!   I explained to him that his dad wasn’t a big fan of having the tv on continually and found a lot of what was on objectionable.  I agree with that in theory, anyway, although sometimes it is nice just to flip it on without thinking!  Sam piped up and said, “Well, someday if I find my kids watching inappropriate stuff on tv, I’m just going to take my tv right back to the store!”  Lizzie gasped and exclaimed, “Then you wouldn’t have a tv anymore!”  Resolute, Sam replied, “That’s ok.  My kids can find other stuff to do!”  He is his father’s son and doesn’t even realize it…
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So, it’s my birthday.  As of 3:08 this afternoon I’ll be 43 years old.  I am older than I’ve ever been, but this year I, understandably,  feel much, much older.  It’s a day of mixed emotions, most of them being a bit melancholy as I miss what I used to have.  But as I blow out the candles on the cake I’ll have to bake myself (another first) I hope I remember that I am having a birthday for a reason.  My purpose on earth has not been completed yet.  Until it is I’ll keep having these birthdays.  If it were up to me, last year’s birthday would have been my last and I would have died with Paul last summer.  But in my attempt to live a life fully surrendered to God’s control, I am willing to keep having birthdays and to live out my days, accomplishing His master plan.


It’s really not a bad thing.