Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 205


December 27, 2013
Day 205
Well, the Christmas tree is down, along with all the other Christmas decorations.  My mom had suggested I talk with the boys before dismantling everything.  I thought I said something about taking stuff down, but all 6 kids were a bit dismayed when they discovered everything down.  Now David is trying to elicit a promise from me that in the future everything will remain up until Jan. 1.  I don’t know.  Even in my good, pre-death years, I always seemed anxious to get my house back in order after a month of extra stuff out and around.  But this year, especially, I just need Christmas to be over.  In fact, yesterday, after my folks left, I drew up a schedule for the day and was ready to jump back into things.  It didn’t take long to figure out that the older boys had a different agenda.  They wanted to take it easy all day and spend their time eating and watching movies they had gotten for Christmas.  So we did.  I guess I’m not a completely terrible mom!
I am ready for the end of 2013.  The year was just an odd mixture of highs and lows.  I had nasal surgery – a low, especially considering that the dr. led us to believe it was a simple surgical procedure.  It wasn’t.  I was in agony for several weeks.  Four of the kids got the chicken pox (at the same time I was recovering from surgery) and there is just nothing more miserable than a teenager with the chicken pox!  A high was Will’s graduation and party.  That was pretty special.  The most obvious low, of course, was Paul’s death.  “Low” isn’t even an appropriate word.  But because of that several “highs” came about.  The biggest high would be the way that I saw God take care of us through His people.  That has been absolutely unbelievable.  I could write all night about that alone!  Another high would be that I am now completely debt-free, thanks to the little bit of life insurance Paul carried.  That was a desire of both of ours for a long time, but something that would not have happened for a number of years yet.  My house is nearly finished, something that also was quite a few years off in the planning.  Along with that, I’ve acquired quite a bit of new furniture  and household goods since summer.  It was needed stuff that came with the remodeling and to be perfectly honest, I care very little about it all.  I would have happily used and sat on my older stuff if I could have kept my husband.  But, even with that, I will admit that  I do take a certain amount of pleasure in it, still.  So I guess that would count as a high, although it seems a bit shallow at the same time.
The girls’ adoption was a definite high, although having them continues to be one of the more challenging events in my life.  But I had been dreaming about adopting since I was a young girl.  

Our trip to Colorado in Feb. was a definite high – so romantic and special.  I just wish we’d been in the habit of doing stuff like that more often!  But, oh, I will cherish the memories of that trip for the rest of my life!
So anyway – events all over the place, I guess.  But I don’t know that I can ever say, “Well 2013 was the worst year of my life” because it wasn’t.  On one hand, it was beyond devastating, but there were enough highs on the other hand that I think I will always have to look at the year with a certain amount of gratefulness, anyway.
I took the kids to see Jolly Holiday Lights on Monday night.  It’s a 3 mile stretch of park land decorated with hundreds (?) of holiday light displays.  You pay $5 a vehicle and the money goes to the Make a Wish foundation.  I’ve been hearing about it for years but we had never made it.  I was kind of hoping that maybe we’d like it so much that this would be an annual tradition from here on out. But…I don’t think so.
The light displays themselves were fine.  They had all kinds of lighted trees, Santas, snowmen, reindeer, teddy bears, etc.  But you had to creep along at a snail’s pace to avoid hitting the vehicle in front.  The displays did not get increasingly spectacular as you drove along, so by mile two, it was kind of like, come on, let’s get going!  But what really bothered me the most was that with all those displays, there was not a single nativity one.  I know, I know – I’m sure the powers that be fear having the ACLU breathe down their neck for religious coercion of the unsuspecting public.  But it’s baloney.  I know they make lighted nativity displays because I’ve seen plenty on private properties.  And can it not be argued, by having only Santa and such type displays,  that we are being coerced into accepting that Christmas is purely a secular holiday?  Sounds like coercion to me!  So anyway, I don’t think we’ll be back.
I had a visit last week with a couple of older widows from church.  They’ve been out several times since Paul’s death and I always appreciate their visits so much.  We got on the subject of bedrooms.  One redecorated, one moved, and I’m going to have a new bedroom built soon – all since the deaths of our husbands.  It was so interesting to me that all three of us expressed the desire for restful bedrooms.  We had similar choices in colors, but our overriding desired theme seemed to be that of peace and retreat.  Mine is going to be painted in shades of pale green and I’m looking for a quilt with a white background.  I’ll have my brass headboard and I’m starting to collect some rustic type things – the door Paul made, the armoir I bought this fall.  I can’t express how eager I am to have this room!
Sam’s tooth finally wiggled out on Sunday evening.  It was so loose that there was barely any blood at all.  He was just happy that he beat Lizzie, who also had a very loose tooth!  The tooth fairy paid him a visit that night and the next night I saw him slipping the baggie with his tooth in it under his pillow again.  I asked him what he was doing and he shrugged and said he was just curious to see if he’d get more money!  I see the burgeoning beginnings of a shrewd businessman…or a felon…
Four days later Lizzie’s first tooth fell out.  Of course, that’s what happens when your brother lobs a football at your head…
Today Sam and Lizzie played outdoors in the snow.  Sam came in the house and announced that he had thrown a hammer into the snow and now could not find it.  “But that’s ok, Mom, because the snow will melt this spring and then we’ll find it.”  Uh, sure…not that we need to talk about the wisdom about throwing hammers at all, let alone in the snow,  do we?
While they were still out there, Lizzie complained to me that Sam kept throwing snowballs at her.  I told him to not do that.  “Well, Mom!  “ Sam exclaimed in that “duh” tone of his, “She’s my target!”  Maybe Lizzie should just be grateful he was throwing snowballs at her and not the hammer…
There have been times I have wondered if the girls will remember Paul much at all.  And I would rather imagine that their memories will be pretty minimal, based on their ages and the short length of time they knew him.  If anything, they’ll “know” him by the way the boys and I talk about him and keep his memory alive.  But still, even with that, he had some influence.  The other day I had to bite my cheek to keep from laughing out loud when Lizzie put one hand on her hip and declared to Ellie, “I am not coming to your pritty (pity) party!”  That was one of her dad’s favorite lines!
Today David’s SS teacher came to our house (40 min away from his own) and picked up David and took him muzzle loader hunting.  David has always been a bit skittish about the idea of hunting, which is fine.  Not everyone is born to love the outdoors.  I’m certainly not!  While he was here, we chatted and I was so encouraged.  This man lost his own dad when he was somewhere around David’s age.  He encouraged me that it is still possible to raise David into a “manly” man despite the loss of Paul and David’s differing interests from his dad and Will.  That’s a concern of mine.  David had an incredible time and is anxious to go again.  He told me all he could think about today was killing a deer.  It didn’t happen, but I think that blood lust was ignited in his veins.  He also got to do some target shooting, which helped him overcome some of his fear of guns.  So, maybe he’ll be out in the fields next December with Will.  And if he never wants to hunt, that’s ok, too.  I’m not pushing him one way or the other on that.
Another definite Daddy-void...I'm going to have to learn to tie ties when Will leaves home!
But I am so thankful to his SS teacher and other men who are willing to come alongside my children and help fill the void in their lives.  There is a man at our church who serves as a door greeter every Sunday.  He’s in his 50s and I know his knees bother him because I see him wincing every Sunday morning when he gets down on his knees as he sees my girls running into the building.  They both get great big hugs from him, which is helping fill the daddy void they experience.  I’ve noticed that, Ellie, especially, seeks him out now between services.  They’re hungry for something they no longer get at home.
None of this is as good as what used to be, of course.  It’s not what God originally intended.  But it helps.  And for that I am very, very grateful.

Thursday, December 26, 2013



December 26, 2013




I survived.  We all did.  And I am thankful.


A friend wrote me a short letter and gave it to me on Christmas Eve.  In it she expressed the hope that we would do more than endure the day, but that we would find real meaning to take away and even create some memories.  She reminded me that the very first Christmas was rooted in loss, when God willingly gave up His Son for us.  I appreciated that.  I appreciated my friend’s sentiment, too, although a bit of me was tempted to think, “Well, she hasn’t been in mourning at Christmas, so she can’t really tell me how to feel.”  And that’s true.  But, I was appreciative, just the same.


I was reading an article the other day in which the writer was sharing that she and her husband had recently lost an unborn baby – a couple of inches long, she said, and a boy, so they were able to name him.  She must have been, what – 3, 4 months along then?  But she made this comment, “I cannot mourn, for he is experiencing the delights of Heaven” or something to that effect.  That bothered me and still bothers me.  You do mourn and you should mourn even when you are happy for your loved one at the same time.  As Christians, our mourning is tempered by the knowledge that our parting is temporary and that our loved one is experiencing amazing things now.  But we hurt just the same. I firmly believe that to deny ourselves that time is incredibly hurtful and will only delay the healing process.  Of course, I say “healing” like a person recovers from death like they do an injury.  I’m not so sure that ever happens, really.


And Christmastime makes it worse.  It’s a time when we feel most keenly the shadow of separation.


Will chose to butcher two of our dead deer on Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, two of his friends came to help with that messy job.  My parents arrived mid-afternoon.  A couple of hours later, Will, David, Lizzie, and I headed off to the Christmas Eve service while the others stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.  I wanted to be at church that night.  And I was doing ok, until afterwards, when a woman came up to me and hugged me (I got lots of hugs that night) and said, “I know it hurts.  I’m just so sorry.”  And then I was blinking back tears in a hurry.


I was given several cards that night.  I opened them later and was astounded to find that we had been given money by several.  That made me very thankful.  Money concerns are near the top of my “worry” list it seems, now that I am  responsible for it all.


We swung by Paul’s grave.  I had noticed the other day that his tree had tipped over and I wanted to upright it for Christmas.  I also wanted to talk to him.  But when we drove in there, I realized that the tipped-over tree was buried by the 6” of snow we got Sunday morning. And I wasn’t wearing boots.  It never occurred to me that I would have to tramp through snow to get to Paul’s stone.  So I just sat in the van and looked.  Really, his stone and all the others in the cemetery looked quite beautiful with snow drifted up beside them.  Many of the graves, including Paul’s, have solar lights.  Driving past, those pretty lights reflected on the snow.  It’s so still and breathtaking – and terribly sad at the same time.  Each stone represents at least one broken heart, I would imagine.


And Christmas was bearable.  I was so touched that my parents came to me.  I just don’t think I could have gone anywhere this year.  I wanted to be home, in the house Paul and I shared – our haven.  My mom is recovering from two surgeries she had a week apart last month, but she still came and slept on my couch (with my cat, who is inordinately fond of her for some reason).  My dad bought a cot for himself and set it up in the living room.


My phone started going off in the early hours of the morning, which made me laugh.  My friends were texting me, making sure I knew I was in their thoughts and prayers this first Christmas alone.


I made it through – the chaos of gift opening, making lunch with my dad, and the clean-up.  We all watched Ben’s new “Despicable Me 2” movie and laughed.  But I noticed that my ear kept straining to hear Paul’s distinctive laugh.  He loved the first Despicable movie and would have gotten a kick out of this one.


Tears did threaten at one point.  Paul’s mom had found a tea cup and saucer for me, painted to look like blue spatterware. I didn’t expect gifts from anyone on that side of the family, but she wrote me a sweet note and that about undid me.  One of these days the two of us are going to have to talk, I suppose.


The boys bought me gifts, which was a first.  Paul always picked out gifts for me that had the kids’ names on the tag.  They did really well.  The boys got me a new cookie jar (since Ellie shattered the ceramic lid on the one Paul bought me last Christmas!), a keychain, and to my surprise, Will found a sweatshirt for me at Cabela’s in Omaha when he was there last weekend.  I had commented a few weeks ago that I was really starting to like the pink winter camo prints I was seeing.  I have tumbled so far into redneckville…but he found me just the perfect, comfy sweatshirt with that print, guessed at the size and got it right on the nose!  I guess it’s good preparation for when he finds a girl someday.


And then this morning when my parents were leaving, I struggled.  Dad said, “Take care of them” to me and that was what he always said to Paul when we’d say good-bye.  Now it’s my job to take care of them.  The tears fell then and all the blinking in the world wouldn’t stop them.


Today I’m taking down Christmas.  I just want it to be over, even though it wasn’t a dreadful holiday, really.  One friend sent me a message on Christmas Eve and told me that even in the midst of grief one will find windows of  normality and she wished that for me this year.  I had windows and I was thankful for that.


I am looking forward to turning the calendar to 2014.  Well, I need to buy a calendar first in order to do that, I suppose!  That’s on my list, anyway.  My mom said that when 2013 started she told herself she wasn’t going to be superstitious just because it was a “13” year – she vowed it would still be a great year.  Hah!  But I’m looking forward to leaving the year behind anyway.


Only a lifetime of Christmases to go.  Others will be better, I’m sure.  A few may even be more difficult.  We’ll figure out what works for us and how to celebrate without Paul. 


I’ve wondered if there are Christmas celebrations in Heaven.  I think there must be.  Do they happen on Dec. 25?  Maybe not.  But then again – why not?  Surely they all know what is happening on earth and would want to echo that celebration in Heaven.  Christmas was a temporary loss for Heaven, but they must rejoice because of what that Baby meant for the world and then for Heaven, as a result.  It was a big play in God’s plan of redemption and it had to have been a cause for rejoicing then and now, too.


This year Christmas stings.  But a day will come, whether here or in Heaven, when it won’t anymore.  I’m looking forward to that.


Christmas Past - 2000 - not the greatest picture of Paul or me in my big glasses...but we were together, which was the important thing - we were both 29 here














































Friday, December 20, 2013

Day 198


December 20, 2013


Day 198


198 days?  Almost 200 – wow…and I’m 198 days closer to being reunited with Paul.  While a morbid thought, I know, it fills me with hope right now.  But other things do,  too (fill me with hope), so I’m not completely fixated on my own eventual death!

Our 2nd date - FBBC spring banquet - Apr. 1990 -posing for this picture was the 1st time we ever touched.  I still remember the thrill that ran through me when the photographer posed us!

My house is pretty quiet right now and it’s going to get quieter.  I’m excited!  My friend, Sarah, took my Littles this afternoon and will have them until early tomorrow evening.  Sarah does my hair and the girls’, from time to time.  She’s a single mom of 4, but wants to give ME a break.  At least I have teenagers to help.  Will is out of town hunting.  Ben is at school for another hour and David is quietly decorating a gingerbread house.  This evening I will run he and Ben over to the church for the youth group Christmas party.  And then I will have the house to myself for several hours!  I think I’m going to stop and get a movie and spend the evening sitting in my new recliner, not doing a single thing except entertaining myself and eating.  That sounds pretty self-absorbed, now that I read it!  But I’m still looking forward to those few hours.


I probably won’t write again until after Christmas.  I’m pretty much ready for the day.  My parents are coming down, which will be nice.  I had a friend take me aside the other night.  She informed me that her family was deliberately keeping their Christmas plans flexible so that if we needed them, they could be there for us.  How have I been so blessed?  I have received several financial gifts in the last week or so and I’ve also gotten a few cards and notes from friends, letting me know that they understand that this first Christmas has to be hard, but that they care and are praying.  I wonder if part of God’s bigger picture was simply to give me a reason to understand how loved I am – loved by Paul, certainly, but also by those around me.


And it has been rough.  I knew it would be.  The other night on Facebook  I listed a number of Christmas-related events that had occurred and gave me pause.  The first was that our Christmas program was last Sun. night.  This was the Cantata year (they alternate between a Sunday School kids program and a grown-up cantata).  Will participated and looked so handsome standing up there (no motherly pride involved at all, of course!)But  my eyes kept drifting over to the right side of the loft, where Paul always was and where he should have been this year, too.  David had a speaking part and did wonderful job.  He was SO scared and confessed to me that every time he practiced his knees wouldn’t keep shaking.  He’s more self-conscious, too, than other kids, so I know that made it more difficult.  But he did it anyway and oh, I was proud!  A woman told me later she knew Paul was proud, too.  He would have been.  And – maybe he got to witness the program, after all.

June '90- Worlds of Fun

They had the younger SS kids sing the first song with the choir.  I was busy snapping pictures, but I had several people tell me later they couldn’t take their eyes off Lizzie, who sang with complete gusto and knowledge of all the words.  I wasn’t surprised.  She is extremely bright and loves to sing.  Sam was up there twisting his arms around, up and down.  Oh, I was about ready to smack him!  But I laughed instead.  He’s 6.  If he’s still making distracting arm movements at 16, we’ll talk then!


Later, that night a man said to me that I “seem to be doing just fine” since Paul’s death.  Not really sure how to respond to that because I know I’m not doing “just fine”!  But I kind of hate to dispel this competent appearance I am apparently exuding, to some at least.  I had one of my Facebook friends point out to me, and I think she’s right, that there are people who want me to be doing “just fine.”  If they can convince themselves that I am fine then it relieves them of the burden of having to watch me struggle as I grieve.  That, of course, makes them feel helpless since they can’t take it away from me. 


We stopped at Paul’s grave on the way home.  I just wanted to be near his body.  You know, it only recently occurred to me that he’s not resting just underneath the surface of the ground.  All this time I’ve been thinking that the only thing that separates us is the coffin lid, the vault lid, and a layer of sod.  A few weeks ago, though, I suddenly realized that he’s way down in the ground (hence the term, “six feet under”!)!  Bummer.  I liked the idea of him being closer.  Lizzie called out, “Hi Daddy!  I singed in the program tonight!  I love you, I miss you!” And Ellie echoed, “Wub you, Daddy!”  Touching and so, so heartbreaking at the same time.



I finished up my Christmas shopping on Monday.  I took Sam and Lizzie with me so they could buy gifts for their siblings (the kids exchange names).  Sam had David’s name and when we got home, David asked, “So what did you get me, Sam?”  And Sam told him!  And then later, Will asked Lizzie the same thing and she told him what he’s getting!  ARgh.  I could just throttle these teenagers sometimes!


I bought a Soda Stream this week.  Paul had kind of wanted to get one and we just never got around to it.  I had started thinking more seriously about it in recent weeks and had been doing some research.  The kids are probably the main reason I went for it, though.  They all seem to have a real interest in keeping me alive these days.  It’s understandable.  But every time they see me drink pop (which is every day – I seem to need my fizz) someone invariably cries out, “Oh, Mom – you’re going to die if you keep drinking pop!”  That’s thanks to Will and David.  Neither has drunk pop for about 2 years now, which is great.  But they don’t need to drop comments about how I’m shortening my lifespan, either, especially in front of the Littles!  I was at Target on Monday and thought I’d just price their Soda Streams.  They just happened to be having a deal where if you bought one (for the same price I would have paid on Amazon) then you get a $20 Target gift card.  Plus, since I have a Target debit card I would automatically get another 5% off.  And there was one left.  And it was red.  I think I heard the voice of God.


Of course, the story of how hackers got into the Target card accounts broke two days later, and if my account has been compromised, then I will have lost all my savings that I gained by buying it now…


It’s working really well, though.  Tastes like pop, anyway!  And there’s no high fructose corn syrup, which is the best part and will hopefully prolong my life - for the kids' sake, anyway.



Sam told me that he no longer wishes his “real” name to be Samuel.  Instead, he wants to be “Samson” because “he’s way cooler, Mom!”  Maybe I should remind him how the Biblical Samson ended up?



Ben told me yesterday that he had dreamed about Paul the night before.  He couldn’t remember any details, but said it made him happy.


Oct. '90 - both of us 19 - we'd been together 6 mos. here
I received an encouraging note yesterday from Paul’s aunt in a Christmas card.  That was nice.  I also got a short letter from another relative.  In it, she commented several times how she just didn’t understand how God could “do this to you.”  It took me aback, because I had never once thought about Paul’s death in terms like that.  I wasn’t offended, but it did make me think.  I understand her heart.  She’s old and hurts not only because of Paul’s death but because of the position the kids and I have been put into.  It doesn’t make sense to her to have a young person like Paul taken out of the picture when there were so many that needed him.


So I’ve been thinking.  Of course I understand that Paul dying was not something a malicious God “did” to us.  But what was it, then?  In many ways, it was an act of mercy.  Paul dying at 42 means that he escaped so much.  Never will he deal with seizures ever again.  No more working, no more stress.  He will never experience any of the indignities that can come with old age and failing bodies.  Paul could have lived that night, but been terribly brain damaged as a result of the loss of oxygen.  What a tragedy that would have been.  Financially, we would have been ruined.  I would have had a tremendous burden placed on me.  And Paul would have been just as lost to me as he is now, being dead.


The thing is, God never promised us lives of ease upon becoming Christians.  One of my favorite verses is John 16:33 – “In this world you will have many troubles, but rejoice, for I have overcome the world!”  Troubles are pretty much guaranteed and come in a variety of forms.  It has to be that way when you live in a decaying, sin-sickened world.  Anything new and good is temporary, at best. 


But what we were promised was that when things around us fell apart, as they invariably do, is that God would be there to catch us, whispering words of love and comfort.  He would remind us that our current afflictions were so temporary - For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18~


It isn't what He has done TO us.   All of this is possible because of what Christ did FOR us at Calvary.


Merry Christmas, Everyone! 


Merry Christmas to Paul, who celebrates this year, sitting at the scarred feet of Jesus.  I have a feeling that all our glittery celebrations down here pale to what he’ll be experiencing.  I’m a bit envious, really.


Merry Christmas, my Love…
















































Saturday, December 14, 2013

Day 192


December 14, 2013


Day 192


Long day…and I’m starting to feel it.  Yesterday I spent doing my bi-monthly grocery/Walmarting (by the way, I went to the new Aldi’s at Jordan Creek for the first time – very nice!  The south side has been forever ruined for me.  I think that maybe even the air is fresher out in Jordan Creek…)  I got home and had to make peanut brittle for Will to take hunting, as well as biscuits for supper, and then I had to feed said supper to the people who live here.  Nathanael spent the night and he and Will were out the door before sunrise this morning.  They did get one deer, so far, I’ve heard.


As the boys were preparing their rifles last night in anticipation for today I had a sudden flashback to all the times Paul sat at the table the night before hunting doing the same thing.  It’s just not right that he’s not here doing that this year.  Except, it is, of course, in light of God’s perfect will, but it still doesn’t feel right to me.


I had to run David, Sam, and Lizzie to program practice first thing this morning.  David had to stay longer, so I then had the fun of dragging all 3 Littles and Ben to the bank and Hobby Lobby.  I needed to go to Bass Pro, too, but after the ordeal of taking them through Hobby Lobby I figured Bass Pro could wait.  I’m not that crazy!


And I’ve been working non-stop since I got home.  I’m tired!


This week I finally got to all of Paul’s John Deere and Tonka stuff.  He has tons of John Deere tractors and memorabilia.  A lot of it used to be upstairs.  In fact, one of my friends once referred to my “John Deere” living room, which appalled me.  That is definitely not the look I was going for!  Thankfully, this spring Paul had moved all his cabinets down to the basement.  He housed his John Deere collection in those.  He has many, many, many little metal Tonka trucks, dump trucks, and fire engines, too.  He’d pick those up every single time we went antiquing together.  With all the construction we’ve been doing, those things have been in boxes.  He also had a huge John Deere Rubbermaid tub, too – with a John Deere emblem on it, even – full of stuff.  He’s been storing things in there for decades because we never had room for it all.


So, anyway, I started unpacking it this week.  I would have been ok with just saving a few things and selling/giving away the rest, but the boys are adamant that it all stays.   They don’t know it, but someday, it will all be at their houses!  I mixed it all up, interspersing the tractors with the trucks.  Paul would have had a heart attack, if he wasn’t already dead.  He also had a number of unopened small tractors still in original packaging.  I know collectors everywhere are cringing, but I opened most of those up, too.  I have never understood the point of owning things and not opening them up.  Yes, it increases their sellable value, but why?  Isn’t it better to enjoy things?  I don’t enjoy things if they’re still in packaging.  Paul would have skinned me alive, but I did it anyway.  I guess widowhood has some privileges!  He had way more than we had shelf space for, but then genius struck.  There’s a huge metal beam running the length of the basement.  It has a 3” ledge on both sides and all those little toys fit on there just perfectly.  So far, nobody has been beaned on the head walking underneath, so I guess they’re not going to roll off, either.  Sam has been in 7th heaven this week, playing with a couple of huge (huge!) semi trucks and trailers I found in the John Deere tub.  Toys are meant to be played with, not looked at.


Now, I have officially gone through all of Paul’s things.  I’m still sorting through all the cards we gave eachother, but there’s no real surprises there.  There’s a part of me that wishes I’d stumble across one last letter or gift – saved back for a special occasion - from him, but I know it’s not going to happen.  Well, I know the gift thing wouldn’t happen, since he was generally a last minute shopper.  When he’d disappear for a few hours, right before Christmas or my birthday on some imaginary, immediate errand, I knew what was going on, but I’d play along anyway!  I miss him.


I changed the water filter in the fridge by myself last night.  I was waiting until Will had time to do it, but I told myself, “No, he’s going to leave – you need to be learning how to do these things yourself!”  So I opened it, read the directions, and successfully installed it myself.  I was patting myself on the back for awhile until the first person went to use the water dispenser on the fridge and the water kept trickling out even when they weren’t pushing it.  Will looked at me and said, “You didn’t read the last step in the directions, did you?”  Umm, last step?  Yeah, the one where you have to flush 1 ½ gallons of water through the dispenser to get out the air bubbles or something – that last step!


I woke up this morning thinking once again about starting my autobiography.  I know I mentioned this last spring.  It is just something I’ve been thinking about for a year or so.  I remember Will joking that I could write it and then he’d sell copies at my funeral for $29.95!  I wouldn’t write the autobiography because I have a burning desire to share my life with the world (I do that enough on this blog!) but so that I could reach future generations in my family.  I remember last spring wrestling with the idea that before I started I would need to have a “theme” my story.  It isn’t enough to simply record history.  What key do I want to impart to these future descendants that I may never meet this side of Heaven?  I think I know now.  I want to show them hope – hope through Jesus, alone.  It would just be something I poke at here and then.  I don’t even think I’d write down every single thing I remember.  I don’t think that would be all that interesting, even to people who know and care about me.  Up until Ben’s birth,  I lived a pretty unremarkable life.  Since then, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride!  Now, I just need to get a flash drive, learn how to use it, find some free time and quiet space…yeah, it might be awhile before I start this thing!


I bought some jelly bellies yesterday.  It was a complete impulse decision guided by pure emotion (the perfect consumer for a marketing director).  But I’m not regretting it yet.  I was in the big candy store out at Valley West hunting for “square” gum for Ben.  He said that’s what he wants in his Christmas stocking.  I had no idea if he was talking about Chiclets or Hubba Bubba or Bubbalicious, so I bought them all!  Ben so rarely asks for anything and it’s hard to find things to buy for him at gift-buying time so when he does mention something, I hurry to go grant his wish!  Just recently, I had been thinking about my Grandma Daniels.  She died a week after the girls arrived.  I always meant to write a blog post about her, but never got to it.  She was a huge part of my growing up years.  Well, really, all my grandparents were.  She moved away to Texas permanently the summer after I graduated and I only saw her once more after that.  But we wrote letters to each other all the time.  After I found out I was pregnant with Will, she was the first person I called after I told my parents.  I remember she asked, “Does Paul know?”  What kind of a question was that?!   A number of years later she was the one who emailed me after our miscarriage  and advised me to be a comfort to Paul.  She was the only person who suggested that to me.  But she had walked through the loss of a baby and understood that daddies hurt, too.  After my grandpa died in ’01, a big part of her died, too, and she was never the same.  Of course, now I understand how that happens.  I didn’t before.


But standing in the candy store, I spied the Jelly Belly rack.  I was instantly reminded of my teenage years when Grandma kept me supplied with books and Jelly Bellies.  I remember spending hours and hours on my bed reading the Sweet Valley High books that transported me to sunny California and the charmed life of identical twin sisters (what were their names?).  All the while I was popping jelly bean after jelly bean into my mouth.  That might explain why my teeth all started to fall apart when I turned 30…And I smiled.  And before I knew it, I started filling up a little bag with jelly bellies.  And then some more.  And more.  Before I knew it, I had filled two bags with a little bit of every flavor (except coconut and black licorice – yuck!).  Really, my tastes these days are more inclined to things chocolate.  But I was buying memories.  And I don’t regret it.  When I get some free time I’m going to lay on my bed, grab a book, and pop bean after delicious bean into my mouth!


Yesterday I had a scheduling conflict with Will and David that meant I had to run down to Genesis and pick Ben up rather than having him return to the school.  So I did that and then drove back to West Des Moines to wrap up my shopping.  He loves Christmas music, but is very particular about when we can start listening to it prior to the start of the season and what songs we listen to.  So I was just letting him control the radio buttons while we drove.  “Jingle Bell Rock” came on the radio and before I knew it both of us were singing at the top of our lungs.  When I first started singing Ben gave me an annoyed look, which I get (my singing voice is a cross between a cow in labor and a crocodile that’s had its tail severed) but he soon got into it.  In fact he was so into it, that he was rocking back and forth in the front seat there.  When he’s really over-stimulated/excited, his body gets real stiff and then he does this quick rocking motion over and over again.  I’ve always put a stop to it because it’s weird and he needs to develop at least some normal social behaviors.  However, it wasn’t until I went to my first Special Olympics event a few years ago that I realized rocking isn’t a behavior exclusive to Ben.  About 1/3 of all the participants were rocking in between their competitions – I felt right at home!  As we pulled to a stop at a light I happened to notice this guy in the SUV next to us.  He was grinning and rocking back and forth, too.  That did strike me as a little strange/inappropriate but I decided to assume that he was simply getting a kick out of Ben’s joyful behavior and decided to join in, as well.


And that’s what it was.  It was a little sliver of Christmas joy – the two of us with wounded hearts, minds, and bodies, finding for the briefest of moments a bit of happiness that bubbled up and out.


Paul would have been singing, too.